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5/13/2017 5:49:00 PM
'Golden Era': RV industry looks to keep gaining customers, improving quality to grow

Ben Quiggle, Elkhart Truth

ELKHART — With record breaking shipment numbers in March and continued growth on the horizon, there were a lot of smiles in the room when the recreation vehicle industry met for its 5th Annual RV Industry Power Breakfast early Thursday morning. 

Recreation Vehicle Industry Association President Frank Hugelmeyer called this new wave of success for the industry its new "Golden Era."

"The 1970s were good decades, but we are topping them now. We are seeing double digit growth, manufacturers and dealers have low inventory numbers and many have doubled their manufacturing capacity," he said. "The U.S. produces double the RVs compared to all other countries. The industry is in the green in every important statistic we measure."

Held at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in northeast Elkhart along the Indiana Toll Road off of C.R. 17, the breakfast also broke a record of its own with well over 600 people in attendance and 107 tables set up. Billed as a way for industry leaders to connect, collaborate and look to the future, Thor Industries President and CEO Bob Martin said the breakfast helps unify the industry.

"We get to see suppliers and share information," he said. "I heard information here that I hadn't even looked at and I am coming away with a better outlook than I had even expected."

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, along with U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski of the Second District and Jim Banks of the Third District, all took part in the event, as well as a number of local leaders. 

Holcomb told those gathered that the industry's comeback since the Great Recession was "amazing" and that with over 80 percent of the county reliant on some aspect of the RV industry, the slowdown in 2008 and huge comeback just showed the resolve of industry leaders. 

"The industry did what Hoosiers have been doing throughout our 200-year history," he said. "They rolled up their sleeves and got to work."

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