Recreational Vehicle Industry Association Create Opportunities for U.S. Companies to Expand Overseas

December 15, 2015

NOTE: Application deadlines fast-approaching for MDCP grants and International Buyer Program. 

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Marcus D. Jadotte is ITA’s Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of personally congratulating the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) on its new Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) award at the 2015 National RV Trade Show. MDCP Export Awards provide financial and Commerce Department staff resources to trade associations and other nonprofits for projects that will generate exports. RVIA’s award will help the RV industry produce an estimated $336 million in U.S. exports to China, Japan and South Korea over the next three years. RVIA will match the MDCP award with a $1.3 million investment. During the award period, International Trade Administration (ITA) industry experts and Commercial Service staff will provide RVIA with dedicated trade professionals to help achieve the project’s objectives.

Thor Motor Coach

A/S Marcus Jadotte, Frank Hugelmeyer, President of RVIA, and Director, the Office of Consumer Goods Jim Rice touring a Thor Motor Coach, made in Elkhart, Indiana. Photo credit: Jillian Doody

During the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s first three-year MDCP award period, which ended earlier this year, RV exports to China, Japan and Korea exceeded $143 million. In addition to being a previous MDCP award recipient, RVIA provides trade policy advice to the government through participation on the Consumer Goods Industry Trade Advisory Committee, and is also an ITA strategic partner.

The National RV Trade Show was itself a platform for promoting U.S. exports as an International Buyer Program (IBP) Select event bringing international buyers from Korea, China, France, Peru, and New Zealand for business-to-business matchmaking. Buyer delegations also came from Japan and the Netherlands. One of the biggest successes from the show was an agreement by one Asia-ready U.S. travel trailer producer to partner with a Korean company to assemble and distribute trailers in Korea from kits manufactured in Indiana. Korea has a dynamic, outdoors-oriented culture where activities like camping and hiking are very popular.

Industry exhibitors indicated that the IBP program helped to strengthen commercial relationships and led to a significant number of product sales. “You know, I thought there was a lot of energy and a lot of positive vibe going on – more so than I’ve seen at some previous shows,” said Airxcel President Jeff Rutherford, who greeted a number of potential international customers. “We had a good show,” reported Kip Ellis, vice president of aftermarket sales and marketing for Dometic Americas. “And there continues to be an influx of foreign—Asian in particular—interest in our market. So we see that traffic increasing as well.”

This year’s annual show had nearly 7,500 attendees, including RV dealers, manufacturers and suppliers. Accompanied by Frank Hugelmeyer, RVIA president, and Craig Kirby, vice president of International Business and General Counsel at RVIA, I toured many exhibits, including Jayco, KZ, and Airstream.

U.S. companies are the largest manufacturers of RVs globally, producing more than twice as many RVs each year compared to the rest of the world combined. In fact, the RV industry, a significant sector within the recreational transportation industry, was profiled in ITA’s 2015 Top Markets report.

The application periods for 2017 IBP trade events and MDCP funding and are open now! The IBP is a joint government-industry effort that brings thousands of international buyers to the United States for business-to-business matchmaking with U.S. firms exhibiting at major industry trade shows. Every year, the IBP results in millions of dollars in new business for U.S. companies, and increased international attendance for participating U.S. trade show organizers. The IBP trade event application deadline is January 8, 2016.

MDCP offers awards of up to $300,000 for industry groups to pursue foreign market development projects. Applications are due in late February 2016.

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