By ROGER SCHNEIDER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The final adjustments were being made to recreational vehicles Monday afternoon as workers prepared the units for the annual National RV Trade Show that will open Tuesday.
Hundreds of RVs, ranging from the tiny teardrop trailers to massive luxury motorhomes, have been arranged inside the Kentucky Exposition Center by manufacturers so their dealers can see and touch new features and make deals for the spring and summer sales seasons.
“We have pretty high expectations,” said Paul Campbell, marketing director for Gulf Stream Coach in Nappanee, who was at the company’s main display in the West Wing. “The year has been good — up substantially over last year. So we think there is still substantial demand in the market. We continue to refine our product and we have been very excited about the products we are putting out in the market.”
Gulf Stream has about 30 RVs on display at the show, including a few opposite competitor’s displays in the South Wing. There’s some strategy behind having two booths at the show Campbell said.
“It would be handy for dealers to step from some of our competitors’ units right into ours and see some of the differences,” Campbell said.
All the manufacturers at the show look for little advantages to lure dealers into their units, the first stop in signing them up to sell those units. Free ink pens, candy, chances to win cash and warm welcomes are things every dealer will be offered when they tour the three show halls.
Near the Gulf Stream display, Eric Burns and Ryan Spencer were sitting on the floor under Travel-Lite pickup truck campers making final adjustments to their units.
“We are definitely going to have an excellent Louisville show,” Spencer said, because every product we have brought is new with new features. We have never brought so much new stuff.”
Travel-Lite units are manufactured at the company’s New Paris plant along C.R.23.
Like most other RV manufacturers in Elkhart County, Travel-Lite took part in the industry’s open house in September. That event draws dealers to the county to tour manufacturing plants and view new units.
“We expect very good numbers,” Spencer said. “The open house was strong and we expect to follow that with a great Louisville.”
Spencer will change his red-checked flannel work shirt Tuesday for company togs and spend the day promoting the new RVs. The company is one of 61 manufacturers displaying RVs at the show.
Jeff Fought, president of Cruiser RV in Howe, was taking a few minutes to relax in a chair Monday afternoon before the show rush begins Tuesday.
He said the Elkhart County open house was very successful for his company and many Cruiser dealers attended that show.
“We don’t anticipate as many dealers (at the show) as some dealers won’t come to both,” Fought said. “But anytime you can get in front of your dealers, it’s important.”
He was expecting a good turnout from dealers in Canada, many of whom skipped the open house.
Fought’s family-owned company and its sister company, DRV Luxury Suites, will have 14 units on display.
And 2013 has been a good year for Cruiser/DRV, according to Fought.
“The market has been coming back strong,” he said. “Our retail numbers are up again this year. We have been up every year since the recession and we are up above pre-recession numbers. That speaks well for the RV industry.”