ELYSBURG — While some airline prices may be on the rise, an RV dealer from Elysburg says the motor home business is a very affordable way to travel.
Susan and Ira Wilkinson picked up their new RV at Farnsworth Camping Center in Elysburg. The couple from Trevorton enjoys four-wheel drive racing, and bought the RV to get them where they want to go.
“We wanted one with slides. This has two slides on it. We need more room because we have more children,” Susan said.
“Everybody’s getting ready to go out for the summer and they’re getting their new units, or get their units serviced and ready for spring,” Gary Farnsworth said.
Gary Farnsworth owns Farnsworth Camping Center on North Market Street in Elysburg. He says his busy season is March through July and says the RV business has seen a large increase in sales over the past two years.
“The way it’s going so far this winter, I feel like we’re going to see another one this year. It has been really good for us,” Farnsworth said.
Farnsworth carries many new RVs for under $20,000. Some customers say they are willing to make that investment because it pays off in the long run.
“It’s cheaper to go out with your RV than it is to rent a hotel room. You have all your personal belongings with you and you can sit there at the camp fire and cook with your friends rather than sit in a hotel room,” Ira said.
Farnsworth calls RVs good investments for people who do not want to spend money to fly, and says recreation vehicles are a safe and comfortable way to travel.
Jessica and Jim Vaglica are giddy with excitement this weekend after their recent purchase of a 21-foot recreational vehicle. where are they going?
The new, $20,000 2013 Palamino Puma Unleashed tow-behind RV provides lots of features designed to accommodate the Wyoming, Mich., couple’s extreme-sports hobbies that include motorcycling and power golf carting — messy pursuits that their 43-year-old 24-footer could not quite accommodate.
“The whole back end of this RV opens up to a big ramp, so we can just ride everything straight out the back,” said 35-year-old Jessica Vaglica, a college student-accounts manager. Her 37-year-old husband is a warehouse manager. “Right where the toys go are two queen-size beds that lift hydraulically to the ceiling to make room for them. And a nice outside feature is a water nozzle so you can spray off your (hobby vehicles), an outdoor shower, and a 15-gallon fueling station.”
And as far as creature comforts are concerned, the new digs have it all over the used RV that the couple is selling. The Puma Unleashed sports a microwave, a freezer and a digital audio system with built-in speakers that can integrate everything from an iPod to Bluetooth.
No wonder recreational-vehicle sales and RV camping are surging in Michigan despite occasional $4-a-gallon gas and intermittently wet weather that might have washed out vacation visions. The solid boom has helped create more business at many of the state’s RV campgrounds as well.
Sales of RVs in Michigan through May this year are up strongly over a pretty good 2012 at the state’s 90 dealerships. Michigan dealers sold 5,142 towable RVs, by far the most popular type, or about 2.3 percent more than a year ago, according to the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds, which represents the dealers. They sold 383 typically more costly “motor homes,” up 36.3 percent over a year earlier.
Nationally, according to the Michigan association, RV dealers sold about 128,000 towables through May, up 11.1 percent over a year ago, and about 16,000 motor homes, up by 30.4 percent.
“There’s been a lot of pent-up demand from people who have discretionary income who decided to make the investment in a motor home,” said Bill Sheffer, director of the Michigan association, based in Okemos. “The economy, in their minds, is fairly stable, and they feel they can make that commitment.”
Dennis Anderson, marketing manager at General RV Center in Wixom, said that so far, “This is the best year in company history. And last year was actually very good as well.”
Not surprisingly because it is an auto-related business, the manifestation of pent-up demand is just one of the characteristics that the RV business shares these days with the car industry. Other reasons for RV sales’ continued recovery from the Great Recession include consumer adjustment to high gas prices, the debut of new technologies without accompanying price increases, and the availability of relatively easy financing — at very affordable rates.
And there’s an additional factor, in Michigan at least: Skyrocketing prices for vacation real estate that make buying an RV — even at prices that range from just $6,000 to up to a half-million dollars — relatively more affordable.
“An RV is a cost-effective cottage,” said Gary Becker, owner of Indigo Bluffs RV Resort, near Empire, on the Leelanau Peninsula. “It’s the step before — or maybe instead of —the dream of buying a little place on the lake.”
Michigan is an important market to the RV industry. Last year, RV registrations in the state ranked third, at 10,316 units, behind only Texas and California, Sheffer said. Another important regional factor is that the manufacture of many RV brands occurs in a belt across northern Indiana, making for a large selection close by for Michiganians.
Nationally, the RV business was hit hard by the Great Recession, a spike in gas prices beginning in 2008, and accompanying economic anxieties that whacked tourism and leisure spending. U.S. sales plummeted from about 370,000 units in 2006 to 165,000 in 2008.
Sales began recovering in 2009 and have continued to build, in Michigan and nationally. The vast majority of RVs sold are towable by pickup trucks and SUVs, with prices starting at several thousand dollars. Motorized units – many of them powered by a Ford-built, 362-horsepower V-10 engine — can range up to several hundred thousand dollars in costs.
One particularly opulent unit on the market is a Cornerstone model powered by a 600-horsepower diesel engine, offering solid-surface countertops and real tile floors in a 45-foot spread with four slideouts that increase the unit’s dimensions when it’s parked. “It’s as beautiful inside as a living room in a mansion,” said Matt Kortman, store manager of Terrytown RV Superstore in Grand Rapids.
Just like new-generation small cars that are packed with far more expensive and appealing new technology than the econoboxes of old, today’s RVs pack in gee-whiz devices from flat-screen TVs to central air conditioning. And over the last several years, manufacturers have figured out how to “light-weight” their vehicles so that the typical mileage for a modern RV remains around the 8-to-12 mpg range.
Becker, owner of the RV campground that used to be called Sleepy Bear, said higher fuel prices have encouraged more RV owners to stick closer to home, in Michigan, rather than traveling to other parts of the country. And that trend has been a big boon to Indigo Bluffs, where business is up about 40 percent this year over last year as visitors flock to the facility’s separate areas for RV-ing families and empty nesters.
“People are buying RVs and kind of setting roots now in a place they really love and anchoring for longer stays than they used to,” Becker said. “Business is great.”
General RV of Wixom may be closing in on a new site for the fast-growing recreational-vehicle dealership, with 33 acres at the old Ford Wixom plant site ranking as one possible location for a new RV dealership.
The company has outgrown its current site and, in particular, wants a bigger lot so a new dealership could offer expanded service to the growing legions of General RV owners. The company already has expanded service facilities at its locations in Brownstown and Birch Run.
“We see a demand for more space to service customers better as RV-ing continues to grow,” said Dennis Anderson, marketing manager for General RV. “With the growth in the business, we’ve got more customers to service than ever before.”
Anderson disputed a report that General RV already planned to finalize a purchase of the old Ford plant site from New York-based Trident Barrow Management. It’s a possible site, he said, but “we’re looking at a couple of other sites, too,” including the company’s own property in South Lyons.
“It’s premature,” Anderson said, to conclude that the new General RV outlet will land on the outlines of the old Ford plant.
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130727/AUTO01/307270019#ixzz2aRLbFUOU