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Thor Industries Inc. President and CEO Bob Martin greets dealers at Open House

Thor Industries Inc. President and CEO Bob Martin greets dealers at Open House

It was RVs for as far as the eye could see at the Elkhart County RV/MH Hall of Fame Tuesday (Sept. 22) morning for the kickoff of the 2015 RV Open House Show. As reported by the Goshen News, thousands of RV manufacturers and dealers converging on the Elkhart, Ind., campus to peruse the latest and greatest in the RV industry.

Crowned by a cloudless blue sky and near perfect temperatures, the Hall of Fame and surrounding area took on the feel of a massive RV showroom Tuesday as some of the biggest names in the industry — Thor, Jayco, Forest River, etc. — blanketed the campus with the best their various brands have to offer.

Since its inception, the annual open house has grown from a one-company event started in 2008 by Forest River Inc. into a top regional trade show and the largest business gathering in Elkhart County. More than 4,000 employees of RV dealers and manufacturers from across North America and beyond are expected to attend the three-day event, which runs through Thursday of this week.

“This has become the big show for us. It’s our Super Bowl,” said Jeff Runels, vice president of sales for Keystone RV Co. “With this show we bring all of our products out here, get all of our dealers out here, and for the next three days we’ll be going nonstop.”

According to Runels, the RV Open House has evolved to become one of the most important shows economically for the industry both locally and beyond, providing a perfect platform for networking with dealers and showing off a company’s cutting edge products.

“I think for the industry it’s pretty critical,” Runels said of the show. “I think it gives a lot of different manufacturers in Elkhart County a chance to display what they have to offer. It has become big enough that everybody sets up all their new stuff around this show now, whereas two or three years ago we kind of split it between this and the big show in Louisville. This is now the show where dealers make the decision for what they want to stock for the year.”

That sentiment proved accurate Tuesday, with Runels noting that Keystone alone had brought more than 140 RV units for display at the event — the most the company has ever brought in its six years participating in the annual show. And a lot of that enthusiasm, he said, has to do with the improving economy.

Just down the corridor at the Jayco display, Jayco Corporate Director of Marketing Ashley Lehman was also looking forward to a stellar open house week and the ability to show off the more than 170 units on sight highlighting the company’s Jayco, Starcraft and Entegra Coach brands.

“We’ve had a lot of people come through already this morning, so we’re really excited about that,” Lehman said of the early turnout Tuesday morning. “We’ve got several new floor plans and some new models that we’ve introduced just this morning. For instance, on the Jayco side we’ve got the new, top-of-the-line luxury fifth-wheel Designer. It’s a big name for us. We’ve used it in the past and it’s been very popular, so we brought it back. We’re doing great things with that product and dealers are really excited to get in and see that first thing this morning.”

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