Day 2: Breaking News from Louisville Show
Following are highlights of some of the developments announced at or reported to RVBUSINESS.com during this week’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
Prime Time Mfg. Gets the Word Out
In only its second year of existence, Prime Time Manufacturing won a DSI Award from the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).
That award, presented Monday night, “gave us a lot of credibility,” said Jeff Rank, president of the Forest River Inc. division.
Prime Time is showing its ultralight Tracer and LaCrosse travel trailers and Crusader fifth-wheel. “The Crusader has done well” at the show, Rank said mid-afternoon today (Dec. 1)
“To be fair, what we’re seeing as a new company may not be completely indicative of the show but we’re having a great show. A lot of people are paying attention to us. Dealers are coming to us,” he said.
That said, Rank added, “In general, I get the sense traffic may be down a little bit. Some dealers are buying product but some dealers are being a little bit conservative.”
He thinks that will change soon.
“I think over the next 30 to 45 days they will be aggressively ordering product,” he predicted.
Monaco Unveils Holiday Rambler Trip
Monaco RV unveiled its 2011 Holiday Rambler Trip Class A motorhome Tuesday at the National RV Trade Show and has drawn considerable dealer attention, according to Mike Snell, vice president of sales and product development.
“They’re excited and they’re buying,” he stated. He conceded the dealer attendance and response at the show is “a bit better than I expected.”
The display centers on the theme “All Roads Lead to Monaco.”
The Trip, Moanco’s Vesta –first shown to Monaco dealers in August — and a display of three MaxxForce engines are the focus of the Monaco display in Louisville.
Winnebago Tour and Vista Getting Oohs and Ahs
Winnebago Industries Inc. is featuring its Tour and Vista motorhomes at this year’s show and they’re drawing plenty of “Oohs and Ahs” from dealers, reports Bob Olson, president and CEO.
Both products received some facelifts for 2011, new floorplans and interior changes, he noted. The company also is reintroducing the Era Class B van at the show.
Winnebago also is showing new floorplans up and down its lineup, a reflection of R&D this past year.
In tough times, Olson said, it”s “easy to cut R&D expense, we didn’t do that. We spent the R&D dollars and I think it will pay dividends.”
“I’m pleased with the display; I couldn’t be happier about the product,” he said. “The activity we have speaks volumes to that. There has been a steady stream of people. Better to be busy than sitting here twiddling your thumbs.”
As for the show overall, Olson said he was impressed with the traffic on opening day.
“The bigger issue is, there is an air of optimism at the show this year. Last year, nobody really knew what the future held in store for us. You can’t put your finger on it, but it’s there.”
Olson and other key Winnebago management met with investors, including Craig Kennison of Robert W. Baird & Co., Tuesday night and again today to discuss the company’s prospects. Kennison is a frequent contributor to RVBUSINESS.com and RVBusiness magazine.
Winnebago is one of two major publicly held RV OEMs and as such draws intense scrutiny from Wall Street. Winnebago is just coming off conclusion of its first quarter and will be reporting results in mid-December.
In a related matter, Olson said Winnebago remains in the due diligence period concerning its announced intention to buy SunnyBrook RV, a towable manufacturer based in Indiana. Olson said he hopes to have something to report in 30 days.
Starcraft RV’s AR-ONE Gains Traction
The AR-ONE, a lightweight folding camping trailer from Starcraft RV, is “a huge hit” among RV dealers from the U.S. and as far away as South Korea, reports Jim Jacobs, general manager.
With a dry weight of between 2,250 and 2,500 pounds and a MSRP of around $8,500, “that product is perfect for their (Korean) market.”
Jacobs also reports high dealer interest in Starcraft’s Autumn Ridge and Travel Star lines.
Overall, “We’ve had great traffic. That’s pretty encouraging. People are buying too,” he said.
Chinese Show Interest in CrossRoads Lightweights
Dave Boggs, director of marketing at CrossRoads RV, reports Chinese RV dealers are showing interest in CrossRoads’ lightweight products, the Sunset Trailer and the Slingshot.
The Sunset Trail Reserve package includes what CrossRoads is calling an industry first: a living room fireplace that can turn around and face the bedroom. “The dealers were floored by it,” he said.
Overall, he said CrossRoads’ dealers are responding favorably “to the changes we’ve made in the last 12 weeks.”
The company’s Rushmore, a full profile fifth-wheel trailer is in the front of the company’s display and is getting the most walk-through traffic. “A major dealer in the U.S. told us it’s the nicest product at the show for the price,” he said.
CrossRoads Zinger, its biggest volume producer, “has dealers raving how nice it is for a ‘stick and tin’ product,” he said. It features a raised roof, 6-foot slideout and interiors like a higher-end fifth-wheel, he noted.
KZ Touts Spree Escape, Stone Ridge Fiver
KZ RV’s Andy Baer, vice president of sales and marketing, reported that the company’s lightweight Spree Escape travel trailer and Stone Ridge fifth-wheel are attracting the most dealer attention among the company’s products at this year’s show.
He praised the Outlook Breakfast as “the best I’ve ever been to” and reported that attendees left there and came to the show expressing “a very positive outlook. People feel like we’re definitely past the worst of it (recession).
“I don’t think we’ll have great growth,” he said, referring to the industry as a whole, “but I think we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a good vibe we’re getting.”
Baer also reported that KZ is seeing “more new (dealer) faces this year than ever before. We’re as happy as clams!”
Gulf Stream’s Sky Product Hits Mark
Matt Buckman, national sales manager Gulf Stream Coach Inc.’s Kingsport Division, was beaming over opening day traffic and dealer response at the show.
“The traffic is outstanding, the dealer attitudes seme to be very vibrant, the activity has been great. Traffic through this booth is the best we’ve seen in years,” he said.
“Dealers are buying a myrid of everything, motorized and towables. We have great visibility on our toy hauler; the new fifth-wheel group we put together, Ridgeline, is seeing great traffic.”
He said Gulf Stream is getting “a great response” to its new Sky travel trailer. “We’re tyring to promote a wide body design on a stick and tin and a value laminated sidewall piece. The radious roofline front to back gives the unit a great look. It has a curvaceous feel.”
The Sky is 3 1/2 inches wider than standard units, providing an additional 52 cubic feet of useable space in the largest floorplan.
Carriage’s Cushman Issues Glowing Report
Glenn Cushman, CEO of Carriage Inc., shared impressive numbers with RVBUSINESS.com on his company’s opening day results at the Naitonal RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
“We set a goal and we beat the goal the first day. We normally don’t start writing serious orders until Wednesday,” he said.
Carriage’s hot products are its new Cabo entry-level fifth-wheel and its upper end Royals fifth-wheel.
“We’ve sold two-thirds of the number of Royals we would sell for the year just yesterday,” he said.
“We have been busy since the moment we opened. We had to kick people out of here at 5:30 p.m. This is fun. We’re having a blast.”
Carriage also signed up 10 new dealers in a vast area stretching from Georgia to Western Canada, he said.
Carriage is finding first-time customers who are gravitating to its bunk house Cabo floorplan, he said. Carriage customers historically have been third- and fourth-time purchasers in an older demographic, but the Cabo floorplan and a price-point in the mid-50s makes it attractive, he said.
Snow Greets Show Visitors
Light snow flurries enveloped Louisville, Ky., this morning as Day 2 of the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show got underway. It wasn’t “sticking” as of 10 a.m.
Opening Day Comments at the Show
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) provided the following comments from Tuesday (Nov. 30), opening day of the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.:
“Traffic has been strong and steady. Dealers are upbeat and enthusiastic about the direction of Jayco and business in general. I haven’t heard one complaint.” Sid Johnson, director of marketing, Jayco Inc.
“Overall, the excitement level is very positive. We’re doing very well and we’re expecting an even bigger day tomorrow. There are more dealer principals here than non-principals.” Brian Donat, general manager, Coachmen Apex Division
“We’re getting quality traffic and quality leads. Traffic has been very god.” Scott Degnan, vice president of sales, MVP RV
“So far traffic has been very good. There are definitely more dealers here this year than last year and their attitude is more upbeat.” Keith Donkin, general manager, Northern Lite
“The general mood of the show, with the increase in show space, is terrific and encouraging. It points to the fact that we’re on the road to recovery.” Bob Olson, president and CEO, Winnebago Industries Inc.