GE Reports: Airstream CEO on Middle Markets
Editor’s Note: The following article appeared on the “GE Reports” blog offering an interview with Airstream Inc. President and CEO Bob Wheeler discussing the “middle market.” To read the entire article click here.
Few products say ‘American’ more than the otherworldly curves of the silver Airstream trailer. Since the first one left the factory in the 1930s, it’s become part of the country’s design pantheon, along with the Coca Cola bottle, Converse sneakers, and Levi’s denim jeans.
But like most businesses, Airstream, a division of Thor Industries, went through a rough patch during the financial crisis of 2008. “We took a very hard hit,” says Airstream’s CEO Bob Wheeler. “The market shrunk by 60 percent and our situation was pretty typical.”
Airstream RVs, which can cost upwards of $70,000, are usually made to order. “Our business is very much based on dealer confidence,” Wheeler says. When discretionary spending disappeared, things started to looked dire.
But the wheels did not come off. Many Airstream dealers rely on GE Capital for inventory financing and the financial unit stuck by their side. “They are the oxygen to the industry,” Wheeler says. “They were an invaluable resource when the recession struck. They stayed while others left the business.”
To read the entire article click here.