Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) members came together at the beautiful Marriott Harbor Beach Resort in Ft. Lauderdale, September 7-10. The Hawaiian themed convention featured Leis, loads of flowery shirts and dresses and even a Hawaiian Dance Troupe on Saturday evening.

The convention kicked off Thursday evening with the “Aloha” Reception featuring great food and beverages. A spa package was given away and won by Stephanie Hughes from Ft. Lauderdale RV. The event featured a “Bingo” game where you had to mix and mingle to win the game. “The staff does a great job of coming up with ideas like the bingo mixer game to help people break the ice and meet one another,” said FRVTA Executive Director Dave Kelly. “The friendships that have been made over the years at the convention are in part to the activities we create.” That evening the “Luau Lounge” Hospitality Room was opened so members could unwind and catch up with old friends.

Following a great buffet, the convention opened with the Navy JROTC Color Guard from Ft. Lauderdale High School presenting the colors and leading everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance. Next Pam Giordano  sang an emotional rendition of the National Anthem. FRVTA President Ken Loyd then thanked everyone for participating in the convention and helped recognize all the sponsors.

Next came the “Trial of the Century”. Harold Oehler of Oehler Mediation presented the trial of Lee King vs Mellan Camp RV and its manufacturer, Colossal, claiming alleged defects in his motorhome. The audience served as the jury as the trail unfolded. This mock trail pointed out the best industry practices that could help dealers prevent complaints turning into lawsuits. “I want to thank all the people that made this possible,” said Oehler. “The FRVTA Staff and members that participated made this a fun and informative session.”

After a great break with cinnamon rolls and  beignets, everyone was updated on the national RV scene with RVDA’s Phil Ingrassia, RVIA’s Mike Ochs and RVTI’s Curt Hemmeler. Ingrassia stressed the importance of the states working with the national associations and how he valued the relationship that RVDA has with the FRVTA. Ochs brought everyone up-to-date on the national legislative scene and how RVIA is working to correct the Generalized System of Preference which allows the importing of lauan wood, used in most RVs, duty-free. They are also trying to get the Tariff Exclusion Process reinstated so floorplan interest on trailers could be included at 100%. Hemmeler then reported that the Level 3 training for techs has begun and that the school is offering training in several ways to make it easier for techs to get certified. “We are fortunate that the three organizations send their reps to our convention,” said Kelly, “it shows how important the state of Florida is to the RV Industry and we appreciate them taking time out of their busy schedules to come address our members.”

The afternoon was left open for participating in deep-sea fishing or TopGolf. Many people took advantage of the beautiful beach and pool area to just relax and get ready for the evening’s dinner/party.

That evening the “Shake Your Coconuts” Costume/Dinner party did not disappoint. Flowery shirts and dresses were the norm, and the DJ kept the youngsters on the dance floor all night! After dinner the “casino” opened, and everyone got to play blackjack, craps and roulette to win tickets to win cash prizes. Again the “Luau Lounge” was opened later that evening so members could enjoy a nightcap.

The breakfast buffet Saturday morning helped the blurry eyed convention attendees to re-fuel and get ready for the real meat and potatoes of the convention information. The breakout sessions included topics like Repair Event Cycle Time (Garry Enyart), Social Media (Traeanne Reynolds), Florida Taxes (French Brown), Cyber Security for Business (Adrian Pascual), Consumer Demand Letters (Ejola Cook), Succession Planning (Brad Stanek) and Recapping the Trial of the Century (Harold Oehler). FRVTA also held the election for State Officers for 2023-24. Returning for one more year will be President Ken Loyd, Vice President Nelda Iacono, Secretary Brett Howard, Treasurer Sean Thompson and Chairman of the Board Brian Copley.

Attendees worked up an appetite for lunch and prizes as the “Big Kahuna” Game Show luncheon rounded out a morning full of valuable information. MC Dave “Don Ho” Kelly, hosted games, trivia and contests that pitted members against each other. Gift cards, cash and even a few “Zonks” made for a fun luncheon.

Saturday evening saw the Silent Auction end as attendees bid on a number of great products, hotel stays and gift cards. All proceeds were donated to the FRVTA PAC Fund. Souvenir photos were taken and later sent to everyone to thank them for coming. The doors opened for the “Mahalo” Awards Banquet where the State Officers are presented awards to thank them for their service. The dinner also featured a Hawaiian dance troupe performing a dinner show and then an after-dinner show and dance lessons. FRTVA Show Director Lesa Colvin was saluted in a video presentation thanking her for 36 years of dedicated service to FRVTA. She will be retiring next year but this was her final convention.

FRVTA would like to thank all the presenters, the attendees and the sponsors for their support of the convention. Without your participation this would not be possible. Next year’s conference will be held at the Renaissance Sewa World Resort in Orlando, September 5-8, 2024.