The RV industry is optimistic that sales will continue to rise nationally as the economy starts picking up.
In 2009, DeHaan RV Center in Elkhorn stopped carrying motorhomes. Owner Kim DeHaan says people quit asking for them.
“When the economy kind of took a plunge, people were more concerned about keeping their houses and that, than keeping the big toys," she says.
DeHaan says they instead focused on selling trailers that can be pulled by a truck. But now, she says they’re thinking about stocking motorhomes again because the demand is back.
“People are starting to ask for them, where the last few years, they hadn’t even been coming in to inquire," she says.
This is one sign that RV sales are picking up after the industry took a hit with the poor economy and rising gas prices. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association says national shipments from manufacturers to dealers were up 10% this year and they expect it to go up next year.
Horns RV Center President Greg Horn says his sales are slightly up this year in Sheboygan, at a level he calls, “the new norm.” He says sales are nowhere near the levels they were at in 2005, a good time for RV dealers. Horn says RV sales are booming in some parts of the country, especially where there’s oil and natural gas fracking.
“You’re in the Dakotas, Oklahoma, you’re in some of those areas where there just isn’t a place to rent, the RV dealers are doing extremely well," he says. "But for my little world here, 150-200 miles around Sheboygan, Wisconsin, we’re not experiencing that at all.”
Horn says core RV customers will always exist and make up about 6-7% of the population.