To watch an accompanying video by WSBT TV, South Bend, Ind., click here.
A good indicator of the turnaround in the RV industry is the RV Open House being held in Indiana’s Elkhart County this week. According to a report by WSBT, South Bend, RV makers large and small are rolling out the red carpet, showing dealers from across the country the latest models.
One local company was able to weather the economic downturn without laying off workers. Open Range RV Co., is based in Shipshewana and is a true mom-and-pop company started by Randy Graber and his wife back in 2007 with six employees.
The company weathered the recession without laying off any workers and now employs about 300 people. Owners credit their success to finding and developing a niche market.
“The industry had a lot of product out there, and I knew that we couldn’t just get in this market and build something like everybody else,” said Graber. “If we were going to get in, we had to have something different and unique.”
Their business philosophy is to build RVs and constantly tweak and improve them – fifth-wheels at first, travel trailers later.
“We did start with the fifth-wheels with a lot of unique ideas that no one else had, and that sets up apart and gave us a product that hit the ground running and was very successful out there, stood out in the crowd, and we have just been doing that since,” said Graber.
The fact the company is a family owned operation that has developed a successful niche market has not gone unnoticed by dealers across the country, many of whom are glad to be doing business with them.
“Randy’s a very innovative guy,” said Missouri RV dealer Glenn Thomas. “He is always doing, changing floor plans, making new ideas. He doesn’t usually copy what other people do. A lot of people copy what he does.”
“This is our third year coming, and Open Range has grown quite a bit, and we are seeing more sales reps and a lot more representation, and it’s kind of nice to see a company do so well,” said RV dealer Tony Staab of Nebraska.
The Open House for dealers started Monday and runs through Thursday (Sept. 20), mostly centered along County Road 6 and at the RV/MH Hall of Fame on County Road 17.