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RV News & Notes: March 2006 Print Email
Hall of Fame pitcher and avid RVer Bob Gibson recently was honored with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association's (RVIA) Spirit of America Award, recognizing him as an exemplary representative of the traditional American values inherent to RV travel. He accepted the award on November 29, 2005, during the association's 43rd Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky.
The former St. Baseball Hall Of Famer Bob Gibson Receives RVIA Spirit Of America Award

Hall of Fame pitcher and avid RVer Bob Gibson recently was honored with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association's (RVIA) Spirit of America Award, recognizing him as an exemplary representative of the traditional American values inherent to RV travel. He accepted the award on November 29, 2005, during the association's 43rd Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky.

The former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, regarded as one of baseball's all-time greats, received his first RV as a retirement gift from the team in 1975. “[Team owner] August Busch asked me, ‘What do you want when you retire? We want to get you something spectacular,’” Gibson recounted. “Of course, I wanted a motorhome.” With 50,000 fans watching, Mr. Busch surprised him by driving the motorhome right into the stadium.

Mr. Gibson and his wife, Wendy, have been on the road ever since. “I enjoy the RV world,” he said. “I will have one until the day I die."

The couple has owned seven RVs during the past 30 years, including their current 40-foot Itasca Horizon type A motorhome.

Mr. Gibson described his family’s RV travels to such locales as Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Big Sur in California. “We’ve gone from one end of the country to all four corners by RV,” he said. “It’s been really a wonderful life for us. We’ve met a lot of very, very nice people along the way."

Intimidating and dominating on the mound during his 16-year career with the Cardinals, Mr. Gibson won two Cy Young Awards, two World Series MVP awards, nine Gold Gloves, and the National League MVP trophy in 1968. His performance during the 1968 season is frequently referred to as the greatest ever by a pitcher. He also was named a member of baseball’s All-Century Team.

RVSEF Emphasizes Education

Board members of the Recreation Vehicle Safety Education Foundation (RVSEF), C5999, met for a two-day workshop in Louisville, Kentucky, in late 2005. With the assistance of John Haines, of John Haines & Associates, the board redefined priorities and set new goals for 2006 and beyond. One of its first missions was to change the name of the organization to the Recreation Vehicle Safety & Education Foundation.

“It’s amazing what a difference a single word can make,” said executive director Walter Cannon. “By adding an ampersand in our title, we feel we have broadened our mission and are now able to expand our focus and concentrate on education. The members of the board quickly embraced new educational goals that will mesh perfectly with the safety programs RVSEF currently promotes.”

RVSEF’s aim is to take a proactive role in directly educating RV consumers about properly and safely operating their RVs. While the organization is well known for its weight and tire safety programs, it also produces the RVSEF "Safety Training Program" package, which contains detailed information that every RV owner should be aware of about weight, driving, propane, fuel, fire safety, and more.

Data gathered since 1993 by RVSEF indicates that the percentage of overloaded units is declining. The organization cites several possible reasons for this trend:
  • The RVSEF program, which began in 1993, is having a positive effect.
  • The population that attends RV events served by RVSEF and, therefore, represents the weighing statistics, is heeding the message.
  • The general population is heeding the warnings and embracing educational efforts of the RV press.
  • The RV manufacturers are improving the weight-related design aspects of their vehicles.
For more information about the RV Safety & Education Foundation, call (321) 453-7673 or visit www.rvsafety.org.

Wheel Masters Relocates

Wheel Masters, C2580 — a leading manufacturer of dual tire inflation hoses; stainless-steel wheel liners, wheel covers, and lug nut covers; tire gauges; tire safety products; and other accessories — has relocated its corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility from Portland, Oregon, to a new 30,000-square-foot facility in Vancouver, Washington.

The larger factory and offices, which were built during a 10-month period, will provide the company with added space to support continued growth and product development, according to general manager Bruce Bickford.

Wheel Masters is now located at 12307 N.E. 56th St., Vancouver, WA 98682. For more information about the company and its products, call (800) 325-9484 or its new phone number, (360) 213-0380; or visit www.wheelmasters.com.

Monaco Coach Corporation Unveils Changes For 2006

Monaco Coach Corporation, C2111, based in Coburg, Oregon, debuted several major product innovations during the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, late last year.

Among them was the Monaco LaPalma Diesel, which the company touts as the most affordable diesel motorhome ever offered by Monaco Coach, starting at a suggested retail price of $135,000.

The new LaPalma Diesel is built on a custom Roadmaster chassis and is equipped with a 300-horsepower Cummins diesel engine and a five-speed Allison transmission. The 34-foot-long coach has a 22,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and comes with a 4,000-pound hitch capacity. Two double-slideout floor plans are available in four décor choices, with each décor choice including three wood options and luxurious fabrics, among them a Ralph Lauren package. Other high-end features include a one-piece Panaview windshield, Corian solid-surface kitchen countertops, a 5.5-kilowatt generator, and full body paint with vinyl graphics.

Holiday Rambler, a division of Monaco, introduced the new Ambassador 40 DFD floor plan, a 40-foot diesel motorhome that features a 24-foot full-wall slideout on the street side and a curbside bedroom slideout.

The full-wall slideout creates a wide-open space that stretches from behind the cockpit to the rear of the coach. This huge living area has no bulkheads or divider walls to reduce the usable space. The floor plan includes a full bath in the rear with a half-bath on the curb side just in front of the bedroom area. The full-wall slideout also creates an unobstructed patio area on the street side of the coach, with easy accessibility to the pass-through storage bays.

The Ambassador 40 DFD is built on the Roadmaster RR8R chassis with eight outboard-mounted air bags that are said to provide excellent handling and a smooth ride. Other features include a 330-horsepower Cummins ISC engine, a 33,000-pound GVWR, an interior height of 7 feet, and a Panaview one-piece windshield. The floor plan is available in five décor choices, including two packages by Liz Claiborne. The manufacturer's base suggested retail price for this floor plan is $214,513.

For more information about these or other Monaco Coach Corporation products, visit www.monaco-online.com or call (877) 466-6226.

RV Industry Launches Dynamic New "Go RVing” Campaign

Phase four of the RV industry’s high-profile "Go RVing" national advertising campaign launched in February 2006 with new television, print, and online ads.

The “What Will You Discover? Go RVing” campaign evokes the varied experiences RV buyers can expect to enjoy. Actor Tom Selleck was selected to voice TV spots for the current three-year campaign, as he did for phase three. RV industry leaders set the stage by authorizing an unprecedented $66 million for the current campaign, which is expected to reach millions more potential buyers and propel the momentum of strong RV market growth generated by the earlier ad campaigns.

Eight phase four print ads and five television commercials were shot at scenic locations on the West Coast. From four-wheeling to fishing, and from tailgating to taking in the natural wonders of North America, the activities portrayed in the ads ranked as favorites among the campaign’s target audiences: adults ages 30 to 49 with children and empty nesters ages 50 to 64.

The new series of ads was developed by The Richards Group of Dallas, Texas, using some of the most respected talent in the industry. Photos used in the print ads, which were slated to hit newsstands in February in a mix of 28 national and regional publications, were shot by highly regarded outdoor photographer Andy Anderson. Mr. Anderson has worked for Harley Davidson, Nike, Outdoor Life, and Men’s Journal, among many others. And award-winning motion picture director Scott Hicks directed the “What Will You Discover? Go RVing” TV commercials. Mr. Hicks was nominated for an Academy Award in 1996 for his direction of the film Shine, which also was nominated for seven other Academy Awards and five Golden Globes. He has directed other critically acclaimed movies as well as other major television ad campaigns.

The 2006 Go RVing media plan kicked off February 10 during NBC’s coverage of the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. The ads continued throughout the Olympics, which were broadcast on NBC, USA, Bravo, CNBC, and MSNBC.

Go RVing television ads also will air on cable TV from February to October, including an expanded presence on Speed Channel and during the FX network's coverage of the 2006 NASCAR season. In March, a 60-second spot will air in movie theaters nationwide that are showing "G"- and "PG"-rated films.

Go RVing Internet ads will appear February through December on 28 popular Web sites and search engines, including AOL, Google, MSN.com, Weather.com, and Yahoo! The campaign also is building on a successful test of TiVo showcase advertising in 2005, running TiVo-embedded spots to enable viewers to preview and order a free video.

For more information about the "Go RVing" campaign, visit www.gorving.com.

Blue Bird Completes In-Court Restructuring Process

Blue Bird Corporation, C4, announced that the company's restructuring plan filed in late January with the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Nevada, was confirmed and became effective on January 30, 2006. According to Blue Bird officials, the completion of the in-court restructuring process allows Blue Bird’s management team and employees to focus their full attention on strengthening business operations, improving financial performance, delivering best-in-class product performance and innovation, and providing world-class customer service.

“We are going to take full advantage of the opportunities this restructuring plan provides Blue Bird,” said Jeffry Bust, president and chief executive officer of Blue Bird. “With the new financing this plan provides, the hard work of our employees, and the ongoing commitment of our suppliers and distributors, Blue Bird will remain one of the world's leading school bus and motorhome manufacturers for many decades to come.”

The restructuring plan, which was supported by 93 percent of the company’s lenders, increased Blue Bird’s borrowing availability by $52.5 million through a new and expanded loan agreement and included a debt-for-equity conversion plan that is said to have dramatically strengthened the company’s balance sheet. The plan also provides for a full recovery to all of the company’s general unsecured creditors.

The law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and Kroll Zolfo Cooper (KZC), a company that specializes in financial and operational restructurings, are advising Blue Bird on its restructuring. Three members of the KZC team also have been appointed to Blue Bird.

Lazydays Mourns The Death Of Ken Scolaro

Ken Scolaro, general sales manager of Lazydays RV SuperCenter, C1702, in Seffner, Florida, died unexpectedly on January 13, 2006. He was 44.

Ken began working at Lazydays in 1978 when he was still a high school student, starting as a lot porter. Throughout his career with the company he held numerous positions, eventually becoming the general sales manager of one of the largest sales forces in the RV industry.

“Kenny and I grew up together in the RV industry," said Don Wallace, Lazydays founder and chairman. "He became a dear and close personal friend of mine. Until the birth of my own son, he was like a son to me. Kenny devoted his entire working life to making Lazydays and the RV industry better. He was loved by all the partners in our company and by every customer who came in contact with him. We all miss him dearly.”

Mr. Scolaro is survived by his wife, Arlene, and children, Brittany and Dalton. A fund has been set up for the children. Those wishing to make a donation can send a check to the “Scolaro Children’s Fund,” in care of Harold Oehler, General Counsel, Lazydays RV, 6130 Lazy Days Blvd., Seffner, FL 33584.

Search-By-Highway Campground Directory Breaks New Ground

Highway travelers in the United States now can access information about thousands of campgrounds and RV parks in a format that is geared to them by logging on to www.roadcamping.com. Once at the site, users simply enter any state, U.S., or interstate highway number and a list of campgrounds along the route is displayed.

According to James Love, president of Mile By Mile Media, the creator of the site, RoadCamping.com is the only campground directory that provides information by highway number and town name. Campgrounds are not charged a fee for being listed on the site, and Mr. Love indicated that a low-cost print version of the directory is planned for the future.

He said he also plans to ask campground owners to create highway guides for MileByMile.com. In exchange for creating a mile-by-mile travel guide for local highways, campground operators will receive exclusive advertising on the online guide as well as other benefits.
 



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