Jayco Touts Efficiencies in Product, Strategy
While paying tribute to a venerable 43-year run in the RV industry, Jayco Inc. also outlined an agile and fluid business plan to meet future challenges as the builder hosted its Annual Homecoming & 2012 New Product Introduction.
“The old way of doing things is no longer the most effective plan. We need to be smarter, more innovative and bolder than ever before,” said Jayco President Derald Bontrager, addressing 455 attendees representing 165 dealerships during the June 20-22 gathering at The Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
He added, “Staying ahead of the competition and delivering the highest quality of products and service that meet the needs of our customers is our highest priority. This requires us to continually evaluate product-development programs and business practices for effectiveness and efficiency.”
Bontrager said that Jayco had redoubled efforts to streamline and redefine efficiencies at its sprawling campus in Middlebury, Ind. — including a continued emphasis on green manufacturing practices — that would affect “every level of the company.” He noted the initiative would extend to Jayco’s manufacturing operations in Twin Falls, Idaho.
“We are focused on efficiency and part of that includes our continued commitment to the success and growth of the Twin Falls facility,” he said. “Our team in Twin Falls is doing an outstanding job in improving both efficiency and effectiveness of the operations. We recognize that Jayco is at the point where we need to expand our offerings out of our western facilities. And that is a front-burner item as we plan for the future.”
Bontrager reported that Jayco had also restored operations at its Starcraft facility in Topeka, Ind., during the past year. “At this time, production of more than 90% of the Starcraft models has been moved back to the Topeka complex,” he said.
But the focus, as always, remains on product. Bontrager said Jayco was diligently tracking the habits of a mercurial consumer base and delivering units that cornered hot buttons in the marketplace — most notably “a shift towards smaller, economical, lighter-weight RVs” led by the company’s eco-friendly Skylark travel trailer.
“The 2012 product lineup you see here this week is a down payment on our new strategy aimed at meeting the demands of the various customer groups and giving you a stellar inventory of appealing products,” he said, adding that the new line included a reduction in floorplans and the addition of product packages offering “value-packed, lighter-weight options.”
Bontrager noted that, coupled with an emphasis on research and development, Jayco also made key organizational changes to “help differentiate our products.”
“The three brands — Jayco, Starcraft and Entegra Coach — now have separate management, sales, product development, engineering, accounting and production teams,” stated Bontrager. “These changes will allow the divisional management teams to get laser-focused on their specific brands, and help us navigate our way through this challenging marketplace.”
Highlights from the new product rollout included:
• The Eagle SL HT, the newest addition to Jayco’s Eagle Super Lite lineup of travel trailers and fifth-wheels. Designed for today’s smaller trucks, the Eagle SL HT is lighter than other fifth-wheels on the market while still boasting more convenient amenities and features in its price level. Standard features for the Eagle SL HT include a new full-body gray fiberglass exterior, suite-style closet slide in bedroom, dual pots-and-pans drawers, 60/40 deep-bowl kitchen sinks and a 26-inch LCD HDTV with 180-degree viewing angle. In addition, the Eagle SL HT features Concord cherry cabinetry, pleated night shades, residential furniture designed and made by Jayco, and ball-bearing drawer guides throughout with a 50-pound capacity and full-drawer extensions.
• A new model was introduced to the popular Jay Flight travel trailer lineup. The Jay Flight Swift SLX offers “all the essentials of a family-focused travel trailer at a price that makes camping in style even more affordable.” Available in three floorplans, the 145RB, 154BH, and 184 BH range from 16 to 20 feet in length. Standard interior amenities include two-burner range with range hood and exhaust fan; Concord cherry-stained hardwood cabinet doors; pleated shades throughout; large safety-glass windows; metal alloy plumbing fittings in kitchen and bath sinks; microwave oven; and a multi-media Sound System with iPod hookup. Standard construction features include 4-inch cambered steel box tube frame, aerodynamic front profile and integrated A-frame.
• For 2012, Jayco “reinvented” its Seneca Class C coach, offering a Freightliner chassis and Cummins ISB 6.7L 340HP engine with 750-watt block heater. Standard chassis equipment includes 6-speed automatic Allison 2500 TRV Series transmission with overdrive; 160-amp alternator; a 10,000-pound hitch with 7-pin plug; Accuride aluminum rims; auxiliary start switch; Cummins exhaust brake; and deluxe, heated, remote-control side-view mirrors. Currently offered in two floorplans, the 36FK and the 37 FS, the Seneca also features Amish-crafted Washington glazed-maple hardwood cabinetry, high-gloss, solid-surface kitchen countertops, a king-sized bed and a well-appointed kitchen.
• The 2012 Greyhawk Class C motorhome is equipped with an adjustable-pitch patio awning and optional power-up/power-down four-point automatic hydraulic leveling system. On the interior a ladder for easy access to the cab sleeping area was added along with a motorized swing arm for the cab-over TV. Other new features include an aluminum rim option, Sirius Satellite radio with six-month paid subscription and a tankless water heater.