Laughing at RV industry’s silly spin on bad news

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By Chuck Woodbury
The RV Industry Association just announced that RV shipments were down in August by 15 percent, and 20 percent for the year. If you are in the RV industry that is not good news. It would be a challenge to spin it otherwise. But, as evidenced below, that can happen.

Total RV shipments in August were 33,674. That included all types of RVs.

Of those shipments, a mere 390 — one percent — were park model RVs, which finished the month up 27.5 percent from a year ago, about 100 additional shipments. That’s two per state. To me that’s like, “What’s the big deal?”

And so I had to laugh at the headline in today’s online edition of the RV trade publication Woodall’s Campground Management, which serves owners of RV parks and its suppliers. It read:

Park Model RV Shipments Up 27.5% in August

Are you kidding me? Shipments of 99 percent of all RVs are down for yet another month but one minuscule segment is up — and that’s the big news?

Once again, an RV industry cheerleader publication has put lipstick on a pig and tried to pass it off as more attractive!

It reminds me of last year when the RV Industry debuted its national RVX convention. Oh my goodness, the pre-event hoopla! There was nothing like it ever before and there never would be again. Well, at least half that statement proved true. It bombed! It will never be repeated because it was such a huge disaster! The guy who spearheaded it, RV Industry Association president Frank Hugelmeyer, was praised beforehand by the RV industry media for his brilliance. Well, he jumped ship right after the event for his “dream job” (he actually said that) in the boating industry.

* * *
I REMEMBER a similar situation to today’s headline when I was in college when liberal, anti-war candidate George McGovern ran against Richard Nixon for President. Nixon won by a landslide, taking 49 of the 50 states.

I have never forgotten the huge (tongue-in-cheek) banner headline the next day in the liberal U.C. Davis student newsletter. It read:

MCGOVERN WINS MASSACHUSETTS!

Clever and funny, I thought — putting a little lipstick on the pig, for sure, but just for fun!

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Gene Cheatham
11 months ago

Good comments. Reminds me of the ancient joke about the lawyer and the accountant that runs something like the lawyer stating that’s what it says and the accountant asking what do you want the numbers to say.

Sam W
11 months ago

I am new to RVing, but cruised on a boat for a while. My first purchase was a Hunter 25.5 sailboat, which we thoroughly enjoyed. The boating people are, on the whole, a wonderful bunch of people, and when cruising ran into the same people a number of times. We are hoping the same type of harmony and good will exists in the RVing community. I will be purchasing a used Airstream in early 2020, make a few adjustments & upgrades to the trailer, run a few short trips to get used to setting up and feeling comfortable with the initial check lists and routines. I can see that trip planning on the road is as important as it is on the water. Always spent as much time as necessary to set up way points for the next days travel objectives, and chose alternatives if the weather turned bad.

I have read and continue to read many horror stories of people buying new RV’s and immediately running into expensive problems. Squabbles between the buyer, seller and the factory as to remedying their problems do not make for a trustworthy situation when considering a large expenditure of time and money by the RV owner. The RV industry needs to set up ISO standards for manufacturing and procedures for checking the work prior to leaving the factory. I would not buy a unit unless a certified RV Technician, similar to a Marine Surveyor, completely checked the unit out and submitted a report about the unit’s condition. Any shortfalls would have to be corrected by the seller prior to purchase.

Wayne Caldwell
11 months ago

Chuck, The news could have been worse, not much, but worse. They apparently took the advice from Dick Feller’s 1974 country song, “Making the Best of a Bad Situation”, or Nat King Cole’s 1954 song, “Smile When Your Heart is Breaking”.

Richard Whitney
11 months ago

Reminds me of the 1968 Harvard Yale football game which ended in a tie. Harvard scored 16 points in the last 42 seconds of play to tie the game. The Harvard student paper, The Crimson, headline was “Harvard beats Yale 29 – 29”.

Greg T
1 year ago

I’m still laughing after reading the banner headline in the student newsletter. Thanks Chuck. That made my day.

Gr8ful
1 year ago

I live about 30 miles or so from where many RVs are built in northern Indiana. I’ve been in the plants, have friends that worked there & have seen what IMHO the cheapest material & just get them out the door attitute of many of the brands. I also think the trend is for smaller, easier to drive & park units. I wanted a diesel & was lucky & found a very low milage ambulance in mint shape. Was the spare unit of a small firehouse & so well built & maintained. After seeing how RVs are built I couldn’t be happier!

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago

I think any decline in sales may just be market saturation, kinda like what Tony said. Folks that wanted an RV, now HAVE an RV. My wife and I hang on to our cars, our RV’s, and even our house “forever”. Our first trailer was loved by us for 16 years. Our cars generally hang around for 15-20 years. Our house? 30 years. Nobody is making money off US in buying new stuff every year!

Wayne Caldwell
11 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

I fully agree. Our home is 47 years old (we’ve been in it for 26 of those years). I kept my previous truck for 17 years (and bought it used). We replaced our bed last month. It was a king size waterbed that we’d had for 35 years. We bought our RV three years ago from the original owners and it’s a 18 years old. If these companies are depending on us to keep them in business, they lose.

Tony
1 year ago

I can’t help but wonder if most of the decline is due to market limits. For many years (2008-2015) people weren’t buying new Rvs due to concern about the economy. When the economy improved people who had been holding back finely made their purchase. Over the next few years, everyone who wanted a new RV purchased one and it will be a few more years before they are ready to purchase again ( if they ever do after seeing the products that are being shoved out the factory doors ).

Rick
1 year ago

As a long time RV owner I enjoy the News a lot! I read it on my I Pad. I also am a summer work camper and find your news very informative.

Linda
1 year ago

As an RV owner, this news, regardless of the spin is disturbing. We are all concerned with the value of our current RV and how a dip in the industry effects value.

I am with those who want transparency, quality and accountability in the industry. We spend a lot of money and emotion on our traveling homes and we deserve those things.

Sometimes, when information is presented as above it appears there is more of a celebration in the decline than concern. As if, finally they are getting their payback. Not very constructive. Not very encouraging.

I do appreciate your emotional devotion to keeping accountability in the industry.

Carl J
1 year ago
Reply to  Linda

Unfortunately a used RV(and lets be clear here, the second you sign the paperwork, your shiny new RV is now a used RV) has just dropped 35-50% in value. And it keeps dropping significantly over the next 3-4 years. A 5 year old RV will only fetch you 25% (at best) of what you paid for it new.

Bob p
1 year ago
Reply to  Carl J

Maybe enough people are waking up to the fact that new RV s are way overpriced just like the auto industry’s truck market.

Brian
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob p

well I tried to help, went out and bought a new 41` Montana and a new Ford Dually last year.

Jrw
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian

I did the exact same thing ! Not to help the industry but to please wifey.