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Lucas Launches New Startup: Yellowstone RV

Mark Lucas inside a Canyon Trail Aztec Edition

Mark Lucas inside a Canyon Trail Aztec Edition

Former CrossRoads RV President Mark Lucas is establishing a new company under the revered 62-year-old Yellowstone RV brand name to build travel trailers and fifth-wheels.

Yellowstone — a name dating back to 1948 — will unveil its first products during the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.

Lucas says the company, an outgrowth of Gulf Stream Coach Inc., is a stand-alone firm with its own staff and manufacturing facilities located on Gulf Stream’s Nappanee, Ind., manufacturing campus.

”I thought this would be an opportunity to try some things and test the waters without upsetting the apple cart of a company like Gulf Stream that has such a long history,” said Lucas, who left CrossRoads in September and went to work for Gulf Stream two weeks later.

Lucas said Yellowstone will have the full backing of Gulf Stream and that he will report directly to Dan Shea, Gulf Stream’s towable president and a co-owner of the family-held business. In that sense, he says, the Yellowstone startup is not unlike the divisional approach employed in recent years by industry market share leaders Thor Industries Inc.and Forest River Inc.

”Yellowstone is a company that really has the ability to be nimble and try some things that other companies aren’t willing to try,” Lucas said. ”We have the purchasing power and the ability to floor with all the major institutions and we have a debt-free company with strong financial backing. Beyond that, we are doing things our way.”

Yellowstone, at least initially, will market the existing Canyon Trail line, which will include Canyon Trail XLT travel trailers and fifth-wheels, Canyon Trail ”Advanced Profile” fifth-wheels, Canyon Trail Aztec Edition fifth-wheels, full-profile RidgeLine fifth-wheels and a yet-to-be named smaller fifth-wheel for towing behind pickups with beds as short as 4 1/2 feet.

Mark Lucas (second from left) inspects a Canyon Trail Aztec Edition with fellow Yellowstone employees Chris Shaffer, Bill Warrick and Mark Dunithan.

Mark Lucas (second from left) inspects a Canyon Trail Aztec Edition with Chris Shaffer, Bill Warrick and Mark Dunithan.

”The plan is to take on the Canyon Trail brand from the Gulf Stream family, but everything else will be new brands,” Lucas said.

Lucas, for his part, says he sees an opening in the market for a startup like Yellowstone.

”All these big major brands are starting to look alike,” he told RVBUSINESS.com. “They are being constructed the same way. They are being marketed the same way. They pretty much all have the same look and feel. My goal is to be a viable alternative to the big box stores, not being a niche player or an also-brand. We want to be something different than that.”

Yellowstone sales will be led by National Sales Manager Mike Spencer, while design and manufacturing are being led by Engineer Mark Dunithan and Plant Managers Bill Warrick and Chris Shaeffer.

”Yellowstone has all the right pieces,” Lucas said. ”It has the people in place, it has the financial backing in place and it has the purchasing power in place. It absolutely fits in what’s going on in the modern marketplace right now.”

For more information, call (800) 811-0302 or email: yellowstonervs.com.

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#1 Comment By Jack Forger On November 2, 2010 @ 10:12 am

So, just to clarify… Yellowstone is a startup company who ISN’T affiliated with Gulf Stream (kind of a shot at Gulf Stream, huh?) other than that it is owned by Gulf Stream, built at Gulf Stream plants, and reports directly to Gulf Stream’s president. Got it.

Also, Yellowstone will have new products, totally seperate from Gulf Stream’s existing products… these products will use existing Gulf Stream brands though like Canyon Trail, etc. Hmmm. Got it.

Also, Yellowstone RV will have a brand new sales, production and engineering team… that all just happened to already work for Gulf Stream. Got it.

So…. isn’t this just a semi-eloborate way to say “We hired a new guy from Crossroads who is going to run one of our existing divisions”?

#2 Comment By Duwain On November 2, 2010 @ 11:34 am

You could be correct, Don.

#3 Comment By Will Cashen On November 2, 2010 @ 1:31 pm

So this is how you launch a new startup? Well If I iknew that I would have done it a long time ago. Oh, by the way; aligning yourself with Gulf Stream was great for my career as well. No one with an original idea last more than 6 months. Vegas odds are 4 months on this “new startup”.

#4 Comment By Harvey Thomas On November 2, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

Yeah, it seems it’s not completely seperate, but it sounds like they are trying some new things. CrossRoads built quality products and treated dealers well when he was in charge so hopefully he will be able to do that at Yellowstone.

It sounds like it’s worth looking at, I’d hate to miss out if it is something special.