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Starcraft Launching GPS Trailer at Open House

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August 28, 2017 by   Leave a Comment

Under a new management team with its sights set on bold action, Starcraft RV, the Topeka, Ind.-based division of Jayco Inc., is set to debut an innovative new travel trailer called the “GPS”at the Elkhart RV Open House.

When the design team first started working on what would eventually be called the GPS, they started with the idea that it needed to have more storage, increased tank capacity and improved outdoor living. The group was comprised of Jayco Towables Division Vice President of Sales & Product Development Marc Hauser, Starcraft General Manager Jeff Kloska, Starcraft National Sales Manager Nick Eppert, and Starcraft Director of Engineering Eric Walther.

Toward that end, the GPS features a 100-gallon fresh water tank, a screened-in “back porch,” and a patent-pending, over-the-tongue, walk-in cargo room with 750-pound capacity called the “Sport Locker.” And everything had to fit on a travel trailer that hits the target dry weight of 6,000 pounds or less.

“It’s all about that ‘Camping Pure & Simple’ experience,” Hauser said, invoking Starcraft’s slogan. “Defining that experience has been the key. How do we appeal to this type of buyer that we’re seeing every day in our market. The guy that’s not typically in a campground, but he’s loading a lot of stuff. He’s going camping. He’s taking his family off the grid. He’s going fishing. He’s going to different elevations. How do we get that experience all in one package? Especially in a smaller box, you tend to have very limited storage, very limited livability, and very limited water. We feel the GPS solved it. Our engineering team solved it all in one package. We brought all those ideas into one platform, and this is it.”

Developed in partnership with Lippert Components Inc. (LCI), the lockable “Sport Locker” sits atop a specially engineered tongue and is accessed by LCI’s Solid Step leading through an over-sized full-height door. Inside, there’s plenty of room for all types of gear, be it large or small. The aerodynamic wedge shape of the “Sport Locker” is achieved by seamless-laminated sidewalls angled in to form the wedge, which is capped by a sloped fiberglass roof.

Meanwhile, the back porch, developed in partnership with Carefree of Colorado, features a power awning extending over the rear ramp door that’s set into the familiar horizontal patio position.

The back porch becomes a screen room when sidewalls are installed with an integrated zipper, and when the weather gets rough the sidewalls have roll-down vinyl windows. The back porch is accessed through sliding glass doors from the unit’s rear living area. In addition, an Extreme Package will render the GPS ready for off-road destinations. 

While the first two GPS models are the 24-foot 230 MLD and the even shorter 210 RLD — most specs and MSRPs are to be determined — Hauser said additional GPS configurations featuring the “Sport Locker” and 100-gallon freshwater tank are well in the works.

“The magic to this front-end technology is that we can take this front end and build it on all of our conventional floorplans,” Hauser said, mentioning the “Sport Locker” will soon be seen as a 26-foot bunkhouse model. “It’s just a conventional bunkhouse travel trailer with this front end — and 100 gallons of freshwater and at a price point that’s very standard to what we’re building already in our Launch (line of travel trailers) and everything else.”

Kloska noted that Starcraft is committed to “listening to retail and hitting the meat of the market with our products, but then also leading the industry with some of the new technology. So we’re extremely excited about the GPS project. It’s something that we feel is a step ahead of the competition, and we’re going to continue to develop new products and new innovations.”

Hauser said the “Sport Locker” idea had been ruminating in his head for several years and, with a kindred spirit in Kloska now at Starcraft, found the perfect opportunity to bring it to reality. The two joined forces and enlisted the engineering support from Walther. They ran the idea past Jayco Inc. Chief Operating Officer Matt Thompson, who quickly greenlit the project and encouraged securing patent protection with the aid of parent company Thor Industries Inc.

For his part, Thompson said credit for the GPS goes to Starcraft’s new management personnel, which is “resurrecting it from the dead.”

“With this team that we have assembled here,” he said, motioning to Hauser, Kloska, Eppert and Walther, “and the team that we have supporting them, they have really breathed life into this organization. You walk through our plants now and you go from dejected line workers to everybody is excited to come in on a daily basis. Backlogs are full and then they continue to come out with innovative product.”

 

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