Grand Design RV Co., the new towable manufacturing company currently being set up at a 67-acre complex near the Indiana Toll Road north of Middlebury, Ind., has created plenty of positive industry buzz recently – a fact that’s perhaps most interesting because the newly founded company has yet to build its first unit.
In fact, as Grand Design’s three co-owners — all former executives of Jackson Center, Ohio-based Thor Industries Inc. — were introducing themselves to a crowd of more than 350 at an introductory meeting last week (Nov. 28) at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 50th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., a prototype of Grand Design’s first Solitude-brand, extended stay fifth-wheel lineup was still in the works at the firm’s 400,000-square-foot plant near the Michigan state line.
And now that Grand Design co-owner Ron Fenech, former president of Thor’s RV Group, is back in northern Indiana after a hectic week at the Louisville Show, he told RVBUSINESS.com that he and his partners, brother Bill Fenech and long-time associate Don Clark, are pretty pleased with the way things are going.
“We were very excited by the reaction to the news that we were coming back into the marketplace, but more importantly the dealer reaction to how we were going to position the company in regard to products that we were going to introduce, and, most significantly, the fact that we were going to pick one dealer per market who would have our full line of Grand Design products and that we would not be building sister or cloned products under the Grand Design name,” says Fenech, who played a key role in building Goshen, Ind.-based Keystone RV Co. into a national player as well as Thor’s largest single division. “All the dealers seem to be reacting very positively to it, and that — more than anything really — is gratifying at this point.”
In fact, Fenech, whose new firm has begun signing up selected dealerships, says the positive reception at Grand Design’s Louisville Show meeting wasn’t any different than what they’ve been receiving elsewhere throughout the country.
“Yeah, part of it I think is that there was some anticipation that we would be coming back into the marketplace,” he added. “We’ve built a lot of relationships over the years. We think that dealers recognize they can trust us and they believe in our track record. So they’re giving us a chance to talk to them seriously about joining forces.
“Part of it I think that is rather appealing is that we’re taking things back to how the business was done 25 or 30 years ago when companies had one dealer in a market. And I think in today’s market with so much Internet shopping, the fact that there’s fewer dealers in the market and credit isn’t flowing as it was back in the early 2000s that we are providing a way for dealers to build margin with the distribution strategy we’ll put in place. And I think that’s what they’re reacting to.”