The 4th annual Open House Week in northern Indiana is a go. At least Forest River Inc.’s plans are set, and that usually sets the pace for the rest of the industry around Elkhart County with regard to this emerging fall dealer event.
Forest River first opened its doors to thousands of recession-rattled dealers in 2008 to better communicate with them and to help move product earlier in the season.
The whole thing caught on like wildfire, as more than 20 other Elkhart and LaGrange County, Ind., RV builders started sponsoring simultaneous dealer events at their respective plants as well as at off-site locations for dealers who came in from all over North America.
Forest River President and CEO Pete Liegl says the September open house concept is growing because it’s ”time appropriate.”
”If we are going to sign up a new dealer, he has time to bring the units in (to his dealership),” Liegl said. ”And also, he has the time to understand the procedures and policies that we have here and become familiar with business between his company and ours instead of waiting until Louisville.”
Forest River’s open house date is similar to last year’s — Sept. 20-22 — but its location is all new: across town at its newly acquired Dynamax Corp. facilities on the northeast side of Elkhart. That’s only blocks away from the RV/MH Hall of Fame, which, if things go according to plan, will reportedly play open house host to all of Thor Industries Inc.’s divisions.
“The Dynamax facility has a huge area for parking and a couple of buildings in back that would be very adequate for the dinner, etc.,” said Liegl, whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary purchased Dynamax in January.
Previously, Forest River’s event had been held on the grounds around its headquarters on the west side of Elkhart.
What’s behind the move? Although the weather has been good since the event was established in 2008, says Liegl, that can’t possibly last forever. ”Statistically speaking, one of these years we are going to have some inclement weather,” he added. ”Having it in a field over here (near the company’s headquarters) with a big tent, we’ve been lucky.”
An estimated 3,000 dealer personnel attended Forest River’s busy event last year, where the company wined and dined retail personnel in a huge tent surrounded by an expansive array of the company’s varied products.
That said, Liegl says Forest River will participate as usual in the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.