RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind.

The RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Ind., has restructured its financial obligations with its secured investors and is now on a path to long-term stability, thanks primarily to “the generosity of the family of longtime benefactor Boots Ingram (deceased),” according to Chairman Bill Garpow.

“The RV/MH Hall of Fame will live on,” Garpow said in a press release, reported by RVBUSINESS.COM. “Our glorious building will remain open for years to come. Our history will continue to be preserved. It’s a day of triumph and celebration for the RV and manufactured housing industries, a day made possible by the continued generosity of the Ingrams.”

Under terms of the agreement between the Ingram family and the hall, former treasurer, board member and Hall of Fame inductee Darryl Searer will assume the position of president and COO on a volunteer basis. The current staff remains in place. Click here to read a story about Searer’s appointment.

“This day has arrived because of the hard work of a dedicated group of Hall Executive Committee members who fought for the hall’s future despite many obstacles and because both First Source Bank of Elkhart and Tony Ingram and his siblings wanted to see the Hall survive and came up with a solution that allows that to happen,” said Searer, chairman of Elkhart-based Ultra- Fab Products Inc. “I’m sure one person smiling down on all of us today is Boots Ingram, a friend to this organization like no other.”

The hall, situated on the northeast side of Elkhart along the Indiana Toll Road, has been facing a collective obligation of $4 million with the majority of it due in mid-2012. The restructuring plan allows for the bulk of the obligation to be paid over a term that reduces the monthly payments to what the hall can afford. First Source has significantly lowered its interest rate and restructured its agreement. The Ingram family forgave overdue interest obligations, agreed to forgo any payments or interest on its loan until after the bank is fully paid in 2016 and has agreed to donate one dollar for each two dollars of principal that is retired each month by the scheduled payments beginning in August of 2016 or by prepayments.

The Ingrams also announced a $100,000 matching “Let’s Pay off the Bank” gift if a like amount can be raised by individual donations before the end of August 2012.

“The Ingrams and our banking partner and our dedicated officers have given the Hall a new life — a chance to survive during these turbulent economic times when our industry has suffered and when contributions to museums and other types of organizations that depend on contributions have seen major reductions,” said Garpow. “This new plan allows us to get to the light at the end of the tunnel.”

“This is step one,” Searer said. “We are now going to go out to the other pioneers and leaders who have built their lives around this industry and ask them to follow the inspiration of Boots Ingram and his family and make significant long-term contributions to this wonderful treasure that showcases who we are and how we help Americans discover their country.

“And the new message to contributors is as clear as a summer sky over a mountain campsite — you can contribute knowing your money will not be wasted. The museum is no longer under threat to close. Their contributions will be used to keep the museum open and staffed to meet the hours of operation, to maintain the property and its many historical exhibits, to maintain the library and put on programs for the industry and consumers, and to promote attendance and bookings of events. Contributions are greatly needed. Those who contribute can be assured their money will be used smartly and their generosity recognized.”

Tom McNulty, the hall’s executive vice president, added, “Those within the industry and outside the industry who have contacted us about booking our attractive event space but were scared off by the worry of our not being open, now, obviously, have nothing to worry about. Please bring us your bookings. We have the biggest and best event space in the area. We will work hard to make sure your event is successful.”

Garpow added, “There were many people who believed that if our industry showpiece closed down, it would cast a dark shadow over us at a time when we need to send out only positive signals. Today, we are sending out the most positive of all messages — the sun is shining bright on our beloved home.”