Faced with growing demand and limited production capacity, Forest River Inc.’s XLR toy hauler division is set to break ground on a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility with a completion date targeted for November.
“We have been working out of two leased buildings that are around 55,000 square feet total, and we’re maxed out on capacity,” said Brent Stevens, national sales manager. “Sales have really started to pop – our market share was up close to 63% through February from last year – so this was a very necessary move to keep pace with sales.
“Essentially, we will be doubling our production capabilities. With our current backlogs, it will provide some much needed relief.”
The new facility, situated on Forest River’s complex in Goshen, Ind., will produce XLR’s four distinct toy hauler lines: the conventional-built, 102-inch wide body Nitro; laminated lightweight Hyper Light; V-nose designed Viper; and the upscale Thunderbolt. Currently, the XLR brand offers 18 floorplans with MSRP’s ranging from the low $20,000’s up to around $100,000 for the top-end Thunderbolt.
Stevens noted that the lineup reflects the objectives of a “three-phase plan” put into play when he took over XLR operations in November of 2010.
“We wanted to rebrand and better define our product so that it reflects the various segments of the marketplace,” he said. “The goal was to provide dealers with a family of products, giving them a full menu of sub-brands to carry rather than just taking on one line. Right now, we’re the only company offering a full line of toy haulers.”
The process was marked by systematic new product launches over the past 1 1/2 years, starting with the company’s Hyper Lite and Nitro. “We wanted to get our volume products in place,” said Stevens.
Last August, XLR introduced the retooled Thunderbolt, bearing a new name and a new look. “We performed a complete overhaul on our high-end piece,” Stevens noted. He reported that the Viper “transformation” will be rolled out in August.
Stevens acknowledged that the toy hauler market had dropped off after a meteoric rise when the product was first introduced on the West Coast. But he contends that the market has evolved, shedding its niche status and attracting a broader consumer base.
“Toy haulers are trending differently,” Stevens said. “When they were super-hot, it was all about a younger, more aggressive buyer, and California was the home. That buyer is still out there, which we target with our Hyper Lite series, but we’re now focusing more on the 55-plus buyer with more reserved and modern interiors to match their higher end tastes.”