Developer Sells Out ‘Gauntlet’ For Open House
The “gauntlet” is filled for September’s Elkhart County RV Open House, as Northland Corp. has again secured tenants for the display space along Executive Parkway – the primary feeder leading to Thor Industries Inc.’s expansive exhibit area at the RV/MH Hall of Fame.
This marks the third year that Northland, an Elkhart, Ind.-based development company, has leased sites during the annual event. Vice President Rob Letherman explained that due to high demand for the prime acreage on Executive Parkway, manufacturers have set up long-term arrangements with Northland.
“Everyone is grandfathered in and are guaranteed their location every year as long as no development occurs,” Letherman said. “We lost two companies from last year, Livin’ Lite and Open Range, because of acquisitions.”
Winnebago Towables decided not to show in Elkhart this year, opting to hold an Open House for dealers at its manufacturing facility in Middlebury.
Grand Design RV Co., EverGreen RV LLC, Tiffin Motorhomes Inc. and Augusta RV all return to Executive Parkway. New tenants include Skyline Corp., Gulf Stream Coach Inc. and Jayco’s three manufacturing divisions comprised of the Jayco Motorhome Group, Starcraft Corp. and Highland Ridge RV, formerly Open Range RV Co.
Previously, Jayco and Gulf Stream held Open House events at their campuses in Middlebury and Nappanee, respectively. Ashley Lehman, director of marketing for Jayco, told RVBUSINESS.com that the company wanted to be closer to the action to convenience its dealer partners.
“Jayco, Starcraft, Entegra Coach and Highland Ridge RV made the decision to secure space at the RV/MH Hall of Fame this year to be in a more convenient location for our dealers,” Lehman said. “It will enable us to be even more engaged with and accessible to our dealers who are already in town. We believe our presence on CR 17 will be a benefit to our dealers.”
Letherman reported that a new development for Northland was creating an area at the northwest corner of CR 17 and CR 6 for smaller manufacturers to display product.
“We parceled off that piece to make room for some of the manufacturers that weren’t interested in the large sites on Executive Parkway,” Letherman said. “Each space is 140 feet by 70 feet of frontage on CR 17. We locked in five manufacturers without much problem. The first four went within a week after we made a decision to lease the space just after July 4.”
He added, “If all goes well, we’ll increase that space next year and add five more manufacturers.”
Letherman noted the Open House has turned into a vital industry event, not only for the OEMs but also the Elkhart business community. Initiated by Forest River Inc. in 2009, the Open House attracted legions of dealer representatives to the area in 2013. This year’s edition, officially running Sept. 16-18, promises to be even larger as the event has matured into a mainstay on the RV trade show circuit.
“All along, our goal has been to do what’s best to showcase Elkhart County,” he said. “There has also been tremendous cooperation from county officials, who have recognized the Open House as a huge driver for the businesses in our area.”