Forest River Launching Shasta RV Division

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August 19, 2010 by   3 Comments

Forest River will start its Shasta line in this factory in Middlebury, Ind.

Forest River Inc. will start its Shasta line in this factory in Middlebury, Ind., formerly occupied by Pilgrim International Inc.

Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River Inc. is reviving an iconic nameplate with the launch of the Shasta RV division, a stand-alone business unit headed by industry veteran Brad Whitehead that will initially create around 100 new production jobs, according to a news release.

Whitehead, 46, entered the industry in 1984 with Gulf Stream Coach Inc. and most recently served as director of travel trailer sales for Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC. He indicated that Shasta operations will be housed in two former Pilgrim International Inc. facilities in Middlebury, Ind., offering around 200,000 square feet of manufacturing space with plans to launch production by mid- to late-fall.

“We are in the process of readying the plants, developing product and hiring workers,” Whitehead said, noting that Forest River is projecting the Shasta work force to eventually rise above 300 employees. “Our timetable is to have units ready for display at this year’s Louisville Show.”

Whitehead noted that while the venture taps into Shasta’s strong name recognition with consumers, the new product would be a “significant departure” from the distinctively styled, diminutive trailers. The Shasta brand was developed and marketed by Coachmen Industries Inc., whose RV division was acquired by Forest River in December of 2008 and now operates as a separate division of the Berkshire Hathaway parent company.

“We recognize the instant name recognition associated with Shasta, but we are looking to establish Shasta as a full-line brand with travel trailers, fifth-wheels and Class C motorhomes that target all segments of the market,” Whitehead said, emphasizing that the division will not be part of Coachmen RV. “Shasta has been a part of history in the industry, but our intent is to add a whole new chapter.”

Travel trailers will run the gamut with two stick-and-tin lines complemented by compact 7 1/2 wide units and a series of fully laminated, lightweight trailers. “Lightweights continue to outpace the rest of the market,” Whitehead said. “We will be hitting those key price points with uniquely appointed trailers offering features that reflect the latest industry trends.”

Initially, Shasta will enter the fifth-wheel arena with a line of mid-profile, mid-priced units while its Class C debut will feature a smaller, “budget-conscious” floorplan. “Our focus will be on making a mark with highly targeted, sharply-priced product, then evolving the lines to offer a full spectrum of features and floorplans,” Whitehead said.

He added, “As with all Forest River products, we will build the Shasta name with products that are innovative and feature-rich, and extend the company’s commitment to providing consumers with more for less than the competition.”

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3 Responses to “Forest River Launching Shasta RV Division”

  1. Gil on August 19th, 2010 10:00 am

    I like it. Great product name. Great guy to run the ship. This is going to go over well with consumers and dealers alike. Shasta is back and I bet it will be a winner.

  2. A Friend on August 19th, 2010 12:05 pm

    Congrats to both Brad and Forest River! Great history with this brand, glad to see it revived. Brad is a proven leader with great ideas and drive. Heartland will have a hard time finding his equal.

  3. Beth on August 19th, 2010 7:58 pm

    I’ll be really interested in the budget-minded, smaller Class C. Please – don’t go like some have with fancy and rounded – and losing storage. We need all the nooks and crannies available. That’s what I like about my 22′ 1999 Class C now – but hard to find something to compare to this. Will be watching closely.