Tuesday, January 08, 2008



Bob Ashley
RV Business
Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) will hear from representatives of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about formaldehyde testing in trailers used for emergency housing during its annual meeting March 1-3 at the Orchid Hotel, Big Island, Hawaii.

“The results of the testing are due at about that time,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “We have a commitment from the CDC people to come to the meeting and explain what has been going on.”

Following hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, RV manufacturers and dealers supplied 108,296 travel trailers and emergency living units (ELUs) to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for those families left homeless by the storms. Testing by the CDC, which began last month, was initiated by FEMA under pressure from Congress and after some people living long-term in ELUs – spurred by the Sierra Club – complained of health problems.

The testing was ordered even though there was no federal standard for formaldehyde emissions in RVs, and it's not clear to how the test results would be used. Subsequently, RVIA adopted formaldehyde standards that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development applies to wood products used in manufactured housing, and the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) later followed suit.

“We are continuing to prepare ourselves for dealing with the formaldehyde issue if it gets out of hand,” Coon said.

With the March gathering, RVIA is returning its annual meeting to a wintertime schedule after holding them in the fall since 2004. The 2007 meeting was an abbreviated transitional session in September in Las Vegas. About 200 people are expected to attend the Hawaii confab.

In a March 1 board meeting in Hawaii, RVIA is expected to decide whether to implement an electronic system patterned after one used by the motorcycle industry that would allow dealers, manufacturers and suppliers to send encrypted information among themselves and streamline handling of warranty claims, among other things.

A task force formed by the Go RVing Coalition's Committee on Excellence is presenting the proposal as the most salient byproduct of its recent push for improved industry quality in both products and service.

“Hopefully, we'll get an idea of what the cost will be and how we will deal with them,” Coon said. “Most people see the value of a system like that. The question is that individually, some will be able to do it and others won't.”

The RVIA board also is expected to receive a staff briefing on the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards recently signed by President Bush requiring auto manufacturers to meet a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Pickup and medium-duty trucks used for towing RVs will be the target of a separate set of standards that will be established by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

On March 2, designated “Supplier Appreciation Day,” Lowell Catlett, regent's professor of economics, agriculture and genetic engineering at New Mexico State University, will provide a broad look at the U.S. economy; Jack Uldrich, president of the NanoVeritas Group, will outline RV industry trends; and Morton Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call newspaper and a Fox News regular, will talk to members about what is going on in the nation's capital.

During the general membership meeting March 3, Coon and RVIA Chairman Carl Pfalzgraf will report on the association's activities for the last year, while Gary LaBella, RVIA's chief marketing officer, and B.J. Thompson, chairman of the RVIA Public Relations Committee, will update members on the RVIA public relations program. LaBella also will join Don Walters, co-chairman of the Go RVing Coalition, to report on the coalition's activities.

While distinguished service and special awards will be presented during the general membership meeting, the three-day session will conclude March 3 with the chairman's receptions and dinner.

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