Karl Blade, president of Newell Coach Corp., took a wait-and-see attitude in late August to an uptick in sales of the $1 million-plus motorcoaches his Miami, Okla., company builds.
”We hope it continues,” Blade said. ”But we are not going to increase production until we see some solid evidence that the market is improving. We endured a market that plateaued on us after we got out of the depths of the Great Recession and we are now back on a regular production schedule.”
That means that Newell is on schedule to build 24 luxury motorcoaches this year, six to eight of which will be customized ”production” models for buyers who don’t want to wait the six months it takes to design and build a personally customized Newell motorhome.
”We’ve done a lot of product upgrades, the most recent was new styling front and back,” Blade said. ”There’s a lot more chrome trim.”
Additionally, Newell recently began installing electronic steering and an active suspension system in its coaches, and earlier this year designed a new centralized control system that can be operated with an iPad.
Newell, a legendary brand in the luxury motorcoach segment, was founded in 1967 by L.K. Newell, who purchased California-based Streamline Trailer Co. and moved it to Oklahoma.
Blade, who bought the company in 1979, said Newell has adapted as the luxury coach market changed over the last decade. ”The use pattern has gravitated toward destination luxury resorts and less toward clubs and rallies that are sponsored by the manufacturers,” Blade said.
Newell has sales locations at the Motorcoach Country Club and Desert Shores Motorcoach Resort, both in Indio, Calif., where Blade spends the winter promoting Newell products.
Newell also has a sales representative in Florida who travels the state displaying Newell Coaches at high-end resorts. ”Florida has a greater geographic dispersion of high-end resorts, while California resorts are centered in Indio,” Newell said.
Newell earlier this year signed an agreement with Tom Johnson Camping Center, Marion, N.C., to act as a Newell agent and provide service for Newell motorcoaches. ”They work with the prospect, but it is a Newell Coach sale directly from the factory,” Blade said.