ELKHART, Indiana — The northern Indiana museum dedicated to the history of recreational vehicles and motor homes continues to see improving finances as it bounces back from possible closure two years ago.
The RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart has reduced its debt from $5.5 million to about $2.5 million and its financial health is now "excellent," museum President Darryl Searer said.
"We have exceeded the goals and expectations of all of the creditors of the Hall of Fame," Searer told The Elkhart Truth (http://bit.ly/1kNJhfl ).
Searer, who is a volunteer, credits the turnaround to steps such as cutting the museum's staff from five employees to three and a 40 percent increase in revenue from rentals of its events center in the building near the Indiana Toll Road.
Searer said the hall is keeping its expenses down to about half of its annual revenue, which was $800,000 last year.
The two-story, glass-enclosed museum moved to its current home in 2007, displaying trailers, photos and memorabilia about the industry dating from the 1920s to the present.
Elkhart County, just east of South Bend, has thousands of workers at numerous factories that were responsible for about 83 percent of the country's 2012 RV production, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.
Searer, 71, agreed in March 2012 to lead the museum for two years, but has decided to stay on for two more years with the goal of making it debt-free by 2020.
The museum was able to make its May 2014 loan payment in November, six months ahead of schedule, he said.
"The reason I volunteered for another two years is it will keep virtually the same management at the Hall of Fame that has been able to ensure the success of the Hall of Fame," Searer said. "I think it just gives confidence to people who want to support the Hall of Fame that the money is going to (be) spent to pay off the debt."
Information from: The Elkhart Truth, http://www.elkharttruth.com