CalRVDA President and Former RVDA Chairman of the Board Ernie Friesen of All Seasons RV and Redding RV will be among the industry leaders inducted into RV/MH Hall of Fame in 2016. The board of directors of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation (Foundation) announced the Class of Honorees on January 8.
Friesen ended a 20-year career with Nabisco in 1985 and purchased All Seasons RV Center in Yuba City, CA, and later acquired Redding RV Center. He has volunteered countless hours in his local communities as well as serving as the top volunteer leader for the national RVDA and California RVDA. Friesen’s outstanding volunteer efforts helped improve industry education programs and he has been a passionate advocate for RV dealers in industry relations and government affairs. He has been a member of many industry boards including the national RVDA, the RV Assistance Corporation, and the Go RVing Coalition. On the state level, Ernie was a co-founder of CalRVDA. In 1996, the Yuba City Chamber of Commerce named him Small Businessman of the Year. He received RVDA’s highest honor, the James B. Summers Award, in 2007.
Other RV industry leaders in the 2016 class include: Gary Bunzer of Bunzer Consulting is technical expert and educator for both RV owners as well as RV service professionals. Since 1976 he has provided dealers with onsite classes and remains a featured speaker at industry-sponsored educational expos, trade shows, and national and regional consumer RV shows.
Jay C. Hesse (deceased) of Blue Ox became president of Automatic Equipment Mfg. Co. in 1985. Looking to diversify into the RV industry, Automatic acquired Hewitt Tubular Products in 1990, and the RV side of Automatic’s business really started to take-off with the Blue Ox line of towing products. Hesse joined and served several industry associations including the Warehouse Distributors Association (WDA). For his outstanding leadership Jay was presented with the RV Aftermarket Association’s (RVAA) Jim Barker Person of the Year Award, in 1998.
Thomas R. “Tim” McGuire of The Coast Distribution System, Inc., purchased Coast Fabrication, a small metal fabrication job shop in San Jose, CA, in 1964. In 1968 he started manufacturing RV and MH accessory products and put sales teams on the road serving dealers on the west coast. Later, McGuire acquired many other regional distributors until he built a national network with 19 warehouses across the US and Canada, becoming the first national RV distribution company. He served as Coast chairman of the board until 2014, when he sold his stock in the company and retired.
William (Bill) Overhulser of Del Rey Industries started as a line employee at Richardson Homes, but he had a vision to have his own company. In 1957 he founded Lil’ Sport Coach in Elkhart Indiana, and built travel trailers in the family garage and later renamed his company to Del Rey Industries. By 1968 Del Rey was the largest producer of truck campers in the nation. His invention of the camper jack developed through Bock Industries changed the way truck campers were handled then and to this day. Bill was also one of the founding board members of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
The Class of 2016 will be officially inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame at the Annual Induction Dinner on Monday, August 1, in Elkhart.