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Startup Braxton Creek RV Touting a New Mindset

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November 16, 2017 by   2 Comments

Braxton Creek management team including (front row from left): Kent Yoder, secretary/treasurer; David Geiger, chairman; Marvin Metzler, president. Second row: Don Dorton, vice president of sales and marketing and Director Craig Detweiler. (Photo by J. Tyler Klassen)

The formidable team first sat down to the table in January, mapping out the details and formulating the skeleton for the rollout of Braxton Creek RV LLC, a towable builder intent on “filling a void” in the entry-level, stick-and-tin marketplace.

Several factors have contributed to the group’s ability to mitigate the roadblocks that normally delay the painstaking startup process. Foremost is the company’s veteran executive management group that boasts three of the more recognizable names in the industry, including CFO Kent Yoder, former CFO at Jayco Inc.; Vice President of Sales and Marketing Don Dorton, who logged stints at Jayco, Starcraft RV, Coachmen RV, Utilimaster and Holiday Rambler; and President Marvin Metzler, former president and CEO of MITO Corp. Chairman David Geiger, past president of Cana Inc., and Director Craig Detweiler, president of ReGen Inc., round out the lineup.

“Our management team brings a ton of experience, not only in the RV industry, but also in lifelong business experience,” said Dorton, noting that the manufacturer is in full production of a 26-foot bunkhouse trailer at its 50,000-square-foot production facility in Shipshewana, Ind., with plans to develop 12-14 floorplans all badged under the Braxton Creek brand. “That type of diverse background allows us to look at things with a fresh perspective because we’re not all from the same mindset. We have also learned how to do business right and how not to do business. I think it gives Braxton Creek the ability to make a strong impact right out of the chute.”

That background, in turn, allowed Braxton Creek to leap over one of the more daunting hurdles in the rollout of a business plan: cementing key relationships in the retail and supply segments.

“Dealer relationships are key,” offered Dorton. “We have concentrated on building our network from day one, focusing primarily on the mom-and-pop dealers. One of the main reasons we decided to pursue this is that the dealers in that small- to medium-size category were telling us there was a vacuum in the stick-and-tin segment. They were looking at large backlogs and long wait times. Our goal is to allow dealers to make quick turns, maintaining a 4-6 week lead time on product.

“It was interesting because during Open House we showed a couple of units in the parking lot at the plant,” he added. “We were able to get a couple of our dealers that we had already partnered with to come out. They went back and started telling people that we really had something different here. It kind of snowballed and we were able to sign up several more dealers.”

Kurt Walker, plant manager, looks over the production line at the new Braxton Creek plant (Photo by J. Tyler Klassen)

Metzler added, “From working for so many years at MITO, one of the main things I learned was how not to treat suppliers. The mentality for a lot of OEMs is to just focus on price versus overall quality and getting units out the door. That’s not our mindset. We don’t want to be the lowest priced trailer out there. We are looking to establish lasting partnerships with suppliers, and working closely with them to find the right product for our trailers. If we treat them right, they will treat us right.”

As most RV companies can attest to, one of the biggest challenges in a marketplace experiencing historic growth is finding qualified workers.

“We currently have 35 workers and are looking to grow to around 50,” Metzler said. “We are blessed that we have been able to assemble such a talented and dedicated work crew. We conducted over 100 interviews, including eight people for plant manager. We knew what we wanted — we wanted people that take pride in their work.”

Dorton said, “Again, I think it was a matter of word of mouth. The people we hired went out and told other workers that we were committed to respecting our workforce and making sure we provide an environment that promotes employee involvement. I think it hit a note out there.”

Braxton Creek’s timetable initially calls for the company to build up production levels for the 26 BH nonslide bunkhouse model that carries a 4,480-pound dry weight and retails for approximately $18,000.

“It’s made to sleep eight to 10 people,” Dorton said, pointing out the queen size bed along with a 70-inch jack-knife fold-down sofa and two large bunk beds in the rear of the unit. “The interior is designed to be very durable with high-quality leatherette upholstery. We also went with a lighter, bright wood that dresses up the interior. The roof is one-piece aluminum, which eliminates the issues with leaks and tears posed by a rubber roof.

“But the main thing is that it’s a complete package, including a fully equipped kitchen with Dometic appliances. The only option is an upgrade from a 13,500 Btu air conditioner to a 15,000 Btu unit.”

Braxton Creek 26 BH trailers set for delivery (Photo supplied by Braxton Creek)

A 24-foot 24RLS featuring a rear living room and a dinette slide is already in the prototype phase with another floorplan set for year-end. “We weren’t able to lock in a booth for Louisville but we’ll be down there talking to dealers about what we have in the pipeline,” Dorton said, adding that the company is a certified member of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

Other discerning features that will be standard across the line include the use of a Norco Next Generation frame constructed with huck fasteners that “will last forever,” according to Dorton, along with tongue-and-groove plywood flooring, screwed-and-glued cabinetry and 16-inch on-center construction.

“Again, it’s all about quality of construction, which gives our units high-end fit-and-finish,” said Metzler. “We’ve had dealers tell us when some of the competitor’s units arrive, it requires two days of work. When our product arrives, all they have to do is wash it, park it and sell it.”

That objective carries through to service after the sale, as Braxton Creek has several programs in place to take care of the end user, including a two-year warranty. Metzler stated, “We are also offering a two-year Personal Assistance Program that gives customers 24/7 access to a concierge service. If they have a problem, like if their vehicle needs service or where to find the nearest campground, they just call in and can get immediate assistance.”

That program extends Braxton Creek’s use of outsourcing, which applies to a wide range of administrative departments such as accounting, accounts payable, payroll, HR and IT. “We’re running a lean staff from an administration standpoint,” Metzler said. “It’s definitely a cost savings and gives responsibility to people with an area of expertise.

“It’s all about doing things differently and, in our opinion, doing things better. There is a growing demand for quality with consumers, and we think they will recognize that’s what sets us apart.”

For more information visit braxtoncreek.com or call 260-768-7932.

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Comments

2 Responses to “Startup Braxton Creek RV Touting a New Mindset”

  1. Mike Cook on March 14th, 2018 9:37 pm

    My wife and I purchased a Braxton Creek 26BH from Burton campers in Calera, AL in February 2018 and LOVE IT. Burton showed us how everything worked, answered all our questions and set the camper up to fit my truck correctly, and we were on our way. It was a smooth, and enjoyable transaction.
    We pulled the camper home with no problems. Backed it into the driveway with ease, (which had me concerned until it happened so easily).
    Took it camping a couple weeks later and had to use the heater, which worked great, as did everything else we used.
    I was reluctant to purchase a new camper after reading all the negative reviews and horror stories on the internet, but I felt if Burton carried it, it must be of good quality.
    This is a beautiful camper and we are looking forward to many years of memories to make in it.
    Thanks for your quality workmanship.
    Keep up the good work
    Mike and Debbie

  2. William Bledsoe on May 29th, 2018 11:28 am

    My wife and I got a 26 BH in Calera AL and took it straight to an RV park for Memorial Day weekend. We could not be happier. Tons of storage space combined with a really people friendly design make this a winner. A stroke took my ability to balance so space to use when moving around is important to me and there are lots of spots to hold on to which lessens my fall risk. Several campground neighbors wanted to know about our trailer and were surprised at how roomy it was without a slide out. We hadn’t wanted the potential problems that come with a slide out so it was perfect for us. The quality is great and we look forward to years of relaxation and enjoyment from our Braxton Creek. I think we got into a great camper at startup pricing. We’re looking for great things from this company.

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