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Airstream Opens Dealer Meeting on Sunday

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Airstream Inc. will review events of the 2011 model year and take a good look at what’s on tap for 2012 at its annual Airstream Dealer Meeting this weekend and early next week at the Hilton Columbus at Easton in Columbus, Ohio.

“It’s actually two meetings in one,” says Airstream President Bob Wheeler. “We have a preliminary meeting this Sunday (May 22) with our Airstream Dealer Council, and these are our top 12 dealers nationwide. That’s a roundtable meeting where we discuss a lot of business issues and there’s great back and forth and real decision-making, using the input of the group.

“And then Monday is the main dealer meeting, which is our entire dealer body, and that’s a chance for us to talk about things that have happened this past year and things we have planned for the coming year.”

Monday morning starts with presentations from Airstream management, including previews of the Thor division’s new models as well as briefings on what’s new from the Jackson Center, Ohio, company’s parts, service and warranty group.

“We’ll talk Monday morning about our successes in marketing and things we have planned for the future, discuss the results of a pretty intense market survey we’re just wrapping up, and then talk about general business issues that we see that need to be addressed in the coming year,” said Wheeler.

“And then in the afternoon dealers will have a chance to review product and have breakout sessions with several of our invited guests, including RVIA, RVDA, our chassis suppliers, Chevy and Mercedes-Benz, and our finance partners, Ally and GE Capital. And Kayla Horvitz from a market research firm called Publik Detective will present the market survey.”

Among the products Airstream will be highlighting is a new 25-foot rear-bedroom floorplan in its Classic trailer line, which, adds Wheeler, is the result of a lot of dealer input. It includes a Blu Ray DVD player and dimmer-equipped LED lighting. Also on display will be a new “two-seater floorplan” in Airstream’s Class B lineup, consisting of the Interstate on the Mercedes Benz diesel platform and the Chevy-based, gas-fueled Avenue. Airstream, adds Wheeler, expects this to become its dominant floorplan.

Retiring Chairman Larry Huttle

Retiring Chairman Larry Huttle

Dealer awards will be presented Monday evening, including honors for top overall sales for the 2011 model year, as well as the company’s leading motorized, towable and foreign (outside North America) dealers.

In a special twist at the Monday evening dinner, Airstream will recognize retiring Chairman Larry Huttle, who plans to officially step away this fall. “We’ll be having an acknowledgment of Larry’s contributions,” said Wheeler. “He’s not retiring right away, but this is the last time he will be in front of the collective dealer body.”

The dealer meeting ends Tuesday after a morning plant tour and an afternoon round of golf.

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