Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will pay a high-profile visit to Northern Indiana in mid-May as keynote speaker for the 2016 RV Industry Power Breakfast, which is expected to draw an audience of industry constituents, area civic representatives, elected officials and business leaders from 7 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., Thursday, May 12, to the RV/MH Hall of Fame’s Northern Indiana Event Center in the RV-building center of Elkhart.
Also on the agenda for this year’s breakfast is a rare “fireside chat” with the competitive chief executives of North America’s two largest RV builders representing 71% of U.S. shipments — Forest River Inc. CEO Pete Liegl and Thor Industries Inc. Chairman Peter Orthwein.
Liegl, who started Forest River in 1996 and sold it in 2005 to Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and Orthwein, whose publicly-held firm also manufactures several of America’s best known brands, have become good friends over the years. They’ve joined forces in some charitable endeavors and, as personal friends, have been known to dine together on occasion at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Mishawaka, Ind.
“This year’s Power Breakfast combines a fast-paced agenda with an all-star-laden cast of outstanding speakers and a grand finale that has never been seen before,” noted Doug Gaeddert, a Forest River general manager, immediate past chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and a Power Breakfast co-founder. “This is truly a ‘can’t miss’ event.”
“No one can afford to overlook the information and knowledge that will be shared by the outstanding lineup of speakers at this year’s Power Breakfast,” noted Dicor Corp. President Gregg Fore, also a former RVIA chair and breakfast organizer. “You can hear what’s happening at the local, state and national level — along with updates on RVIA and Go RVing — and no one wants to miss Pete and Peter’s fireside chat.”
Also on tap for the breakfast, facilitated by RVBusiness (sister publication to Woodall’s Campground Management) and co-sponsored by Cummins Inc., Dicor Corp., Dometic Corp., Forest River, Jayco Inc., Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), RVIA, Thor, Spartan Motors Inc. and Wells Fargo Commercial Distribution Finance, are top-line briefings:
• RVIA President Frank Hugelmeyer, a former Outdoor Industry Association exec, will provide industry-centric updates from the Reston, Va.-based trade association.
• KOA Senior VP of Marketing Toby O’Rourke, chief franchise operations officer for Montana-based KOA, will highlight new market studies from the 500-park franchisor, the nation’s leading campground brand.
• Teleconference reports from key lawmakers, all three of whom are co-chairpersons of the Congressional RV Caucuses, a legislative outreach developed and coordinated by RVIA, including Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Indiana 2nd District U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski.
The early morning Matterhorn-catered event, which last year drew a capacity crowd of about 750, strategically targets manufacturing and supplier companies concentrated in and around the RV-building hub of Elkhart County. But it’s also been drawing attendees from outside the immediate Elkhart RV Zone and from a variety of business sectors that fuel RV sales throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“Attendees will come away from this breakfast smarter and better prepared to plan for the next several months,” added BJ Thompson, president of Elkhart-based BJTA and an event organizer since day one. “And they’ll love the bacon.”
Online registration goes live at the RVBusiness website early next week. Single tickets are $35, while tables of 8 are available for $250.