Representatives of a wide variety of industry factions attended last week’s 2010 RV Business Top 50 Dealer Awards
reception and dinner during the RV Dealers International
Convention/Expo at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to
show their support for the 50 U.S. and Canadian RV retailers being
recognized as part of the three-year-old, bar-raising, quality-focused
The awards program is underwritten by RV Business magazine as well
as RVBUSINESS.com and its parent company, Affinity Media.
The Oct. 6 dinner drew about 360 diners and capped the last full
day of the national dealers’ convention, which is organized by the U.S.
Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) and the Recreation Vehicle
Dealers Association of Canada (RVDA Canada).
“Our theme for the evening was ‘Leading the Country Out of
Recession’ because the RV industry is always at the head of economic
trends, and the trends we’re seeing are positive,” said Affinity
President and CEO Mike Schneider in his opening remarks. “RV shipments
through August were more than 70 percent ahead of last year’s. Record
crowds were reported at the recent PRVCA show in Hershey, Pa., and there
was enormous buzz around the open houses that drew hundreds of dealers
in late September to manufacturers’ facilities in northern Indiana.”
RVDA President Mike Molino welcomed the diners, while outgoing
RVDA Chairman Debbie Brunoforte, of Little Dealer Little Prices in
Phoenix, Ariz., and new Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA)
Chairman Gregg Fore introduced the dealers on stage.
Keynote speaker and conservative pundit Ann Coulter took questions
from the audience for a Q&A session after her remarks.
The goal of the RV Business Top 50 Dealer Awards program, said
Schneider, is to help provide benchmarks for retailers with regard to
overall professionalism and the general spirit and specific
recommendations of the Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence.
“When we showcase the best, we highlight what we’re doing right in
the industry and are inspired to push ourselves in new ways,” said
Schneider.Named to the Top 50 roster this year, along with 45 other
dealers, were five Blue Ribbon dealers, whose achievements were deemed
to have exceeded the rest by the panel of experts that annually selects
the award winners from among applications of dealerships that were
initially nominated by RV manufacturers.
This year’s Blue Ribbon winners included Altmans Winnebago,
Carson, Calif.; ArrKann Trailer & RV Centre, Edmonton, Alberta; Bill
Plemmons RV World, Rural Hall, N.C.; Campers Inn, Kingston, N.H.; and
Lazydays, Seffner, Fla.
That judging panel also names an Altman Lifetime Achievement Award
recipient for excellence in RV retailing. This year’s unanimous
selection: Crosby Forrest of Dixie RV Superstore in Newport News, Va.
As a 34-year RVDA member, Forrest served as president, vice
president and treasurer of that Fairfax, Va.-based trade group. In 2000,
he received RVDA’s James B. Summers Award for outstanding contributions
to the association and its members, and in 2006 was inducted into the
RV/MH Hall of Fame.
“Crosby has always been a fanatic about the importance of customer
care and making sure every person who stepped onto his dealership was
treated right,” Schneider said. “He’s an obvious and fitting choice for
2010’s Altman Award.”
As part of the awards process, U.S. and Canadian manufacturers
each spring are asked to submit the names of their best dealers not just
in terms of sales, but in overall professionalism and best practices.
Nominated dealers were then invited to apply for the Top 50 award
program using an extensive application.
The five key criteria on which the Top 50 were evaluated included
F&I, technician training, aftermarket stores, civic involvement,
and, above all, consumer care. Elements from the Go RVing Coalition’s
Committee on Excellence and the late Gaylord Maxwell’s Consumer Care
Commission were the “springboard and inspiration” for the content of the
application, according to RV Business Publisher Sherman Goldenberg.
The purpose of using those parameters, Goldenberg said, is to
emphasize that any dealer, regardless of size or location, can exemplify
what an excellent dealership should be. “We wanted to include dealers
both large and small, urban and rural, towable and motorized, old-school
and ultra-modern to achieve a wide representation,” he explained.
“I was glad to see the mention about the Committee on Excellence
Task Forces,” said Rick Horsey, president of Top 50 dealer Parkview RV
in Smyrna, Del. and chairman of the RVDA Education Foundation. “Those
are solid, legitimate benchmarks.”
The selected dealers will be included in a comprehensive marketing
and advertising campaign through RV Business and its sister
publications Trailer Life, MotorHome, Highways, Coast to Coast and
Camping Life. Dealers also receive stock press releases for their local
newspapers plus promotional Top 50 logo items, window decals and other
PR tools to help them publicize the award at their dealerships and in
their local communities.
“These dealers have earned the right to toot their own horns about
this very notable accomplishment. We want to help them spread the word
in any way we can,” said Goldenberg.
Dealers agree it’s something to brag about. “The Top 50 award is
an excellent example of the importance and dedication of small business
in America, and we should all be proud,” noted Jeff Hirsch, of Camper’s
Inn. “This is a terrific tribute to our founder’s dream. I was very
proud of everyone who had a part in helping realize this dream over the
last 44 years.”
Among this year’s other Top 50 winners (in alphabetical order):
• Aberdeen RV Center, Aberdeen, Miss.
• Aloha RV, Albuquerque, N.M.
• Alpin Haus, Amsterdam, N.Y .
• American RV Sales & Service, Grand Rapids, Mich.
• Apache Village RV Center, Hazelwood, Mo.
• Beckley’s Camping Center, Thurmont, Md.
• Big Country RV, Bend, Ore.
• Boat N RV Superstores, West Coxsackie, N.Y.
• Bucars RV Centre, Balzac, Alberta
• Capital RV Center, Bismarck, N.D.
• Carolina Coach & Camper, Claremont, N.C.
• Coachlight RV Sales, Carthage, Mo.
• Coates RV Center, Columbus, Minn.
• Colonial Airstream & Itasca, Lakewood, N.J.
• Curtis Trailers, Portland, Ore.
• Dodd RV, Portsmouth, Va.
• Driftwood RV Centers, Clermont, N.J.
• Dusty’s Camper World, Bartow, Fla.
• ExploreUSA RV Supercenter, Plano, Texas
• Greeneway RV Sales & Service, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
• Guaranty RV Supercenters, Junction City, Ore.
• Hilltop Trailer Sales, Fridley, Minn.
• Kings Campers, Wausau, Wis.
• Little Dealer Little Prices, Phoenix, Ariz.
• Mike Thompson’s RV Super Stores, Santa Fe Springs, Calif.
• Modern Trailer Sales, Anderson, Ind.
• Mount Comfort RV, Greenfield, Ind.
• Parkview RV Center, Smyrna, Del.
• PleasureLand RV Center, St. Cloud, Minn.
• Pontiac RV, Pontiac, Ill.
• Poulsbo RV, Kent, Wash.
• Richardson’s RV Centers, Riverside, Calif.
• Rick’s RV Center, Joliet, Ill.
• Roy Robinson Motorhome & RV Center, Marysville, Wash.
• Safford RV, Thornburg, Va.
• Steinbring Motorcoach, Garfield, Minn.
• Tennessee RV Sales & Service, Knoxville, Tenn.
• Terrell Camping Center, Terrell, N.C.
• Tom Johnson Camping Center, Marion, N.C.
• Topper’s Camping Center, Waller, Texas
• Veurinks’ RV Center, Grand Rapids, Mich.
• Wilkins Recreational Vehicles, Bath, N.Y.
• Windish RV Center, Lakewood, Colo.
• Woody’s RV World, Red Deer, Alberta
Providing sponsor support for this year’s program were the
following Leadership Alliance members: ADP Lightspeed, Salt Lake City,
Utah; Bank of the West, Walnut Creek, Calif.; Blue Ox, Pender, Neb.;
Cummins Onan, Minneapolis, Minn.; Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.,
Gaffney, S.C.; RV America Insurance, Simi Valley, Calif.; RV Trader,
Norfolk, Va.; and Protective Insurance, Chesterfield, Mo. In addition,
Mannheim Auctions, Atlanta, Ga. and GE Capital, Tempe, Ariz. were
pre-event cocktail party and keynote speaker co-sponsors, respectively.