We’ve just returned from a most successful 39th Annual TRVA convention in Austin. It was a grand finale of a very exciting year for me as I have served as TRVA president. When a person takes on an endeavor like this it is a “family” affair and my PPL Motorhomes family has been there for me all year, and I want to thank each and every one of you. Our work is not over yet as I was elected to a second and final term. This is an important year for the RV industry in Texas because our legislature is back in session and I’m sure the RV industry will be on the radar as they attempt to correct the budget deficits. The good side of this year is that we had last year to put many things in place, procedures, ideas and committees so we can hit the road running without all of that preliminary work.
We are all so fortunate to live in Texas. The RV industry in Texas is the strongest in the nation and Houston leads the pack, followed closely by San Antonio and Austin, so PPL Motorhomes is in the right place at the right time. None of us know what the future will bring, None of us know what our economy will do, or what may come of this election year. What we do know is that we have to continue to work on ways to be exactly what RVers nationwide are looking for and expect in a consignment RV dealership and parts service center. We have to be prepared for whatever may come our way and we will be the strongest in the Nation.
The following was published today by RV Pro Magazine and I want to share it with all of you. I’m proud to be the President and General Manager of the greatest RV dealership in the country, PPL Motorhomes.
LeBlanc has had a “a very successful” first term as president, according to Carol Baker, chair of the TRVA Convention and public relations director for Capitol City Insurance. Other Association members, including RV dealers, reflect the sentiments of TRVA Executive Director Clark McEwen, who said LeBlanc “has really been an asset and her enthusiasm is contagious.
“Everyone (at TRVA) is dynamo but she’s the biggest dynamo we have,” he said. “We’ve had a very good year, but a second year with her, oh – 2013 will be one of our best years ever.”
TRVA raised more money than ever before, while expanding its member base by more than 14 percent during LeBlanc’s first year as president, McEwen added.
“Financially it was a good year and cooperation between parks and dealers has never been better,” he said.
LeBlanc joined RV PRO on Sunday (Aug. 12) during this year’s TRVA Convention, which was held Aug. 10-13 in Austin, Texas, to discuss her first year as president of the Association and what lies ahead going into her second term.
RV PRO (RVP): What were TRVA’s greatest accomplishments during your first term as president?
Diana LeBlanc (DL): The growth in membership and the growth in participation from all levels of membership. It’s an exciting time for all of us.
I call it my farming. We’ve been planting seeds out there about the industry, and they’re starting to grow, and that’s what it’s all about. We have to grow the lifestyle.
RVP: What are your top priorities heading into your second term as TRVA president?
DL: We’re going into a legislative year (the Texas legislature meets once every two years). It’s going to be a bit tighter for us because Texas, like all states – while it’s very strong economically – is going in with a deficit. So, they’re going to be looking for ways to get that money wherever they can. We’re going to have to be attentive to everything that’s going on and communicate that to our membership.
We also want to continue to grow the lifestyle, and grow our membership – I have a goal of 500 members by this time next year. (Membership currently totals 431).
Also, I’d like to see more working together across the industry. That’s the dealer, the park, the vendor, the manufacturer. We’re all in here together.
RVP: Are there specific legislative challenges that lie ahead for the Texas RV industry?
DL: You never know what is going to come down the pike during the session. There are issues with taxation on RVs in parks and that’s one of the things we’re going to look at.
I don’t think we’ll have tax increases but we will find little fees. Fees and surcharges can add up to as much as taxes. We just have to be attentive.
RVP: What are the biggest issues facing RV dealers in Texas?
DL: The biggest issue is going to be continuing to stay strong, and stay lean and mean like we had to get in 2008-2009. It’s real easy when things start getting a little better to start loosening up a little. But, you never know if the recovery will continue.
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LeBlanc walks on the front steps of the Texas Capitol with TRVA members on Saturday (Aug. 11) before the Association’s legislative banquent event held in the lieutenant’s governor’s suite.
RVP: What do you think contributed to the rise in membership TRVA experienced during the past year?
DL: The absolute enthusiasm among the businesses in Texas. It’s contagious.
We’re trying to show and present the benefits of being a member. For corporations and large companies, they can’t afford to just instantly join an association and start paying dues immediately – it has to go through the proper channels. We need to show them that joining TRVA is more than just sending dues in once per year. This convention is a good example of that. Everyone here is very happy we do this.
RVP: How do you balance your responsibilities as president and general manager of PPL Motor Homes with your duties as TRVA president?
DL: With an awesome team. Oh my gosh, it is amazing. From the TRVA executive committee – Clark McEwen and Mary Clair Campos (TRVA director of special events) – to my team at PPL, everybody helps so much. It’s like family. And then the greatest thing is to have the support of my husband (Michael LeBlanc).
When you take on a project like this, and it is a project to be an officer of the Association, this family takes on the project too. You sacrifice some time here and some time there for this. You have to make the decision that it’s the right thing to do.
RVP: Why did you decide to go for another term as TRVA president?
DL: Because I’m not finished yet. The term starts in August and it’s two or three months in before you even get your committees all assigned. And then before you know it, the term is up.
Click Image to EnlargeLeBlanc and husband Michael LeBlanc (middle) sit with Carol Baker (far left), chairwoman of the TRVA Convention for the past four years, and the PPL Motor Home team during the President’s Banquet.
We have a lot of ideas and some things we’d like to try and accomplish and we have to move forward. We want to make a stronger presence throughout Texas, whether that’s through benefits that we do to help our state parks, or some type of charity event. We’re going to do whatever we can to show that the RV association is out there.
RVP: What has been your favorite part of this year’s TRVA Convention, the 38th annual?
DL: Having the legislative event at the Capitol. I’m 100 percent Texan and the Capitol, to me, is just one of the most beautiful places.
I have the greatest respect for our Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples, and to have him there was a real surprise for me – it was like having Elvis show up at your deal. He was invited by Clark (McEwen), but I wasn’t sure he was actually going to show up. Clark has been full of little surprises and they’ve all been good ones for me.
RVP: What details can you share about next year’s TRVA Convention?
DL: It’s going to be right back here in Austin at the Sheraton at the Capitol. We do two-year commitments with host hotels because it works out better financially.
Clark and I both have some ideas for next year’s Convention. We need to get started pretty soon because planning takes some time.
RVP: Thanks for the interview. Any parting messages you’d like deliver?
DL: Just a big thank you to the wonderful team here, including my family, who contributed to making this show so great. One of the greatest things about this Association is that we’re there for each other. We can fight like cats and dogs, or brothers and sisters, but when the chips are down and things get tough, we’re here for each other. That’s important.