Feature Story Page 2

The National Education Service Award will be presented to Tom Fribley, assistant vice president of technical services for Coachmen Industries. Fribley was cited for his contributions to the development and expansion of industry education programs. He is an active member of the Industry Education Committee, serves as a Trouble Shooter Clinic instructor and sits on the RVDA/RVIA Service Technician Certification Test Governing Board.

RVIA,'s Distinguished Achievement in RV Journalism Award will be given to Warren Brown, Brown approached his first RV trip last year with the typical stereotypes, but was quickly converted into an RV enthusiast and industry ally.

As automotive editor of the Washington Post and author of a nationally syndicated auto column, Brown has helped elevate the industry's profile by providing accurate, useful RV information to millions of readers.

Ross Roberts

Keynote speaker Ross Roberts, Ford Motor Company vice president and general manager of its Ford Division, said "creating partnerships" is the key to achieving long-term success. Roberts offered a simple formula for building these relationships. "I've found in my years with Ford Motor Company that successful partnerships are built on good communications and teamwork. This is what we've tried to concentrate on, year in, and year out, in our partnership with you. Whether you're a motorhome. or trailer manufacturer, a van or pickup truck converter, an RV dealer, or a supplier to the in-dustry, we all have to be good partners in order to move forward now and in the future," he continued.

Roberts outlined how Ford works to be good partners with the RV industry, including:

* Being a strong advocate and financial supporter of the industry's Go RVing national advertising campaign. "I'd especially like to compliment the industry on the Go RVing program," Roberts said. "You took the time to do it right, and I think there will be plenty of positive impact."
* Working with the RVIA/ RVDA Manufacturer/Dealer Task Force to discuss chassis service issues and identify strategies that RV manufacturers, chassis makers and dealers can use to improve chassis service for motorhome owners.
* Participating in RVIA's Retail Arbitration Agreement that resolves certain retail buyer complaints concerning motor-home and conversion vehicle chassis. "We're glad to be part of this. What I think is the strongest point of this program is the focus on taking care of the customer first and foremost," Roberts said.
* Improving the product quality and customer satisfaction for mutual customers of Ford and the RV industry through Ford's Conversion Van and Pickup Quality Program and the Motorhome Qualified Vehicle Modifier Program.
* Working closely with the industry to determine what RV manufacturers and consumers need and want in vehicles and applying that knowledge to vehicle design and technology.
* Conducting focus groups to ensure Ford hears the voice of the RV consumer as often as possible. Recently, conversion vehicle customers, dealers and manufacturers met in Dallas to discuss how to make the Ford Econoline van a better product.

Citing factors that favor the national economy and automotive market, Roberts told attendees there is reason to be optimistic. He said, "I think the RV industry has an excellent future, in particular with the spirit of cooperation that exists within the industry."

Roberts concluded his remarks by encouraging the industry to "strengthen your existing business partnerships and establish new ones to help your people in the future. We'll all be very successful if we continue our communication and teamwork."

In the president's report, David Humphreys told members that the access to public lands poses a serious threat to the long-term health of the RV industry. He also said, "We have some very difficult situations in regard to governmental relations and we do have some battles with dealers. Obviously we want to prevent problems from occurring, and we do a lot to do that, but if they do occur, we want to win."

Humphreys continued, "Our number one priority is still dealer relationsó and that is not a simple task. We have a dealers relations committee and also a joint task force. I think working as partners on the Go RVing campaign will help in this area.

ëLast year we had a situation in Utah where, in my opinion, dealers thought they pulled one on us, franchise legislation was passed and there was a lawsuit, but it has all been resolved. The lesson for both of us was that we should have been talking first. Last year I was very unhappy about the situation with dealers in Missouri. They got involved in franchise legislation; we had a big battle and we thought we had won that battle only to learn that they were going to come at us again. Subsequently, they have decided to postpone any action to give RVIA a chance to respond to their issues.

"The situation in Texas is a disaster ó we are essentially at war, I don't know any other way to put it. And now we have learned that dealers in Maine have decided to drop a bill in the hopper. It is frustrating to RVIA and RVDA to find these problems recurring."

Humphreys indicated that RVIA will have some challenges with the budget. He said, "The Go RVing program, as phenomenal as it is, is going to hit us in the pocketbook to the tune of about $100,000. You ask, ëHow can that happen?' Well, we put a surcharge on show space, suppliers basically, and the hit is going to come primarily from non-members. Twenty-five percent of the suppliers who exhibit in our show have decided that it is not in their best interest to be members because they don't do enough business in the industry. While we think we are going to help Go RVing, we are going to hurt our own budget by perhaps, a $100,000.

The point I'd like to make - while the current numbers are good - as we look down the road we believe we should pursuing what I call other sources of in-come, rather continually going to members. Humphreys reported that the executive committee has decided not to ask for any in-crease in member dues nor exhibit space increases this year. Continued

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