Two iconic RV brands, Newell Coach and Airstream, have joined forces. According to a press release, the two companies jointly announced that Miami, Okla.-based Newell is now an authorized dealer of the Airstream Interstate 3500 Class B touring motorcoach for customers in the South-Central U.S.
Newell is also offering the coach to Newell customers who want to use the Airstream as an adjunct to their existing Newell or to downsize to a smaller motorcoach.
“Airstream is excited to join forces with Newell,” said Larry Huttle, chairman of Jackson Center, Ohio-based Airstream. “The two brands both represent unique and successful chapters in the rich history of American recreational vehicles.”
“For some time, our customers have been asking for advice and help buying a Class B RV that they could use as a tow vehicle or as an alternative to their larger Newell motorcoach,” added Newell Coach President, Karl Blade. “There are many brands to choose from, but our customers repeatedly mention Airstream as their preference. Thanks to our new association with Airstream, we can respond directly to those customers’ requests.”
The Airstream Interstate 3500 provides the quality, comfort and performance of a Mercedes-Benz platform in a Class B touring vehicle. It is powered by a 3.0-liter Mercedes-Benz V6 diesel engine and produces 188 hp and 325 pound-foot of torque. Even though it gets 30% better fuel economy than other comparable gasoline engines, it is able to tow 6,900 pounds.
“The Interstate gives Newell owners more flexibility,” said Blade. “For example, a Newell with an Interstate in tow can be driven to a convenient location outside a national or state park. The Interstate can then be driven into the park, providing convenient overnight facilities for a day-or-two stay within the park. In addition, some long-time Newell owners would like to downsize to a coach that is compact but still offers some of the comfort and convenience they’re used to,” Blade continued. “The Airstream is a great choice for our customers. It reflects the luxury, quality and innovation they’ve come to expect in a motorcoach.”
You may have to look harder to see those convoys of motor homes headed for vacation spots this summer. According to a report in USA Today, RVs are getting smaller.
While sales of traditional motorhomes have grown at a respectable 6.2% rate for the first six months of the year, two smaller classes encompassing large van conversions have grown nearly twice as fast, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reports.
“The era of bigger-is-better and more ostentatious” is over, declares RVIA President Richard Coon. Now, “the trend is toned down quite a bit.”
Blame the economy and gas prices, but also retirees who have decided they don’t need rolling McMansions for status in otherwise hard times.
“Fuel prices are driving it, but this is a cultural shift,” says Bob Wheeler, CEO of Airstream Inc., which converts delivery-van-style Mercedes-Benz Sprinters into low-key motorhomes. “There’s a shift away from conspicuous consumption.”
Though these units are priced upwards of $125,000, Wheeler says they typically don’t have the fancy paint and graphics of larger units. “No flashy paint job,” he says. Rather, it’s “understated elegance” — and up to 18 miles a gallon from the modest diesel engine, triple the gas mileage of some big gasoline-powered motor homes.
Even in the bigger vehicle classes, some RVers are downsizing. Fleetwood RV Inc. says many buyers of more traditional motorhomes, who formerly would have opted for 36-footers or bigger, today are downsizing to its 28- to 32-foot Storm line, which starts at about $92,000, says Lenny Razo, eastern regional sales director.
USA Today reported that those RVs are being fitted with more space-maximizing features, such as bunks that drop from the ceiling. Many buyers “are getting older, and they don’t need as much” space, Razo says.
Winnebago Industries Inc., too, has introduced more lower-priced motorhomes and fuel-saving diesels. “In the last couple of years, people are wanting value products, not necessarily all the bells and whistles like in 2004,” says spokeswoman Sheila Davis.
Smaller motorhomes also can be more versatile, such as serving as a base camp for little leaguers at games, as well as a home away from home on vacation, she says.
The following review of the Airstream Interstate 3500 appears in the Wall Street Journal, penned by Dan Neil in his column Rumble Seat.
I have an old friend—and by old, I mean he’s in his 70s—who thrives on aggravation. Seriously, anger endorphins are like Centrum Silver to this guy. He started a business to teach teenagers to be safer drivers, which was obviously very rewarding. The good government and wise stewardship of North Carolina having left him restless, he moved to Florida, where he could perform daily ritual ablutions in deep pools of administrative incompetence. To my fiery friend, whom I have nicknamed Turbo, homeowners-association meeting = cage fighting.
After his wife died, he tried online dating. Again, in Florida, where there could not possibly be any downside. And then two years ago this lifelong landlubber bought a 42-foot cabin cruiser. At the time of this writing, he’s in the Bahamas, no doubt beating the hell out of a diesel fuel filter with a pipe wrench, happy as a clam.
I have discovered his next source of bliss.
Meet the 2011 Airstream Interstate 3500, a class “B” motor coach built on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van chassis with coachwork by the good folks in Jackson Center, Ohio. At a time when RV sales in the U.S. are about a third off their historic highs, the Airstream Interstate has been a mega-hit for the company, and small wonder. What began life as a humble, windowless turbo-diesel Mercedes-Benz Sprinter delivery van has been transformed into a rocking and rolling ultrasuede shag palace stocked with four captain’s chairs, 19-inch LCD monitors with high-def TV, a motorized bench-seat/lounge, Corian countertops, sink, cooktop, refrigerator, convection microwave, toilet/shower and much more. Click here to read the entire story.
Airstream Inc. will review events of the 2011 model year and take a good look at what’s on tap for 2012 at its annual Airstream Dealer Meeting this weekend and early next week at the Hilton Columbus at Easton in Columbus, Ohio.
“It’s actually two meetings in one,” says Airstream President Bob Wheeler. “We have a preliminary meeting this Sunday (May 22) with our Airstream Dealer Council, and these are our top 12 dealers nationwide. That’s a roundtable meeting where we discuss a lot of business issues and there’s great back and forth and real decision-making, using the input of the group.
“And then Monday is the main dealer meeting, which is our entire dealer body, and that’s a chance for us to talk about things that have happened this past year and things we have planned for the coming year.”
Monday morning starts with presentations from Airstream management, including previews of the Thor division’s new models as well as briefings on what’s new from the Jackson Center, Ohio, company’s parts, service and warranty group.
“We’ll talk Monday morning about our successes in marketing and things we have planned for the future, discuss the results of a pretty intense market survey we’re just wrapping up, and then talk about general business issues that we see that need to be addressed in the coming year,” said Wheeler.
“And then in the afternoon dealers will have a chance to review product and have breakout sessions with several of our invited guests, including RVIA, RVDA, our chassis suppliers, Chevy and Mercedes-Benz, and our finance partners, Ally and GE Capital. And Kayla Horvitz from a market research firm called Publik Detective will present the market survey.”
Among the products Airstream will be highlighting is a new 25-foot rear-bedroom floorplan in its Classic trailer line, which, adds Wheeler, is the result of a lot of dealer input. It includes a Blu Ray DVD player and dimmer-equipped LED lighting. Also on display will be a new “two-seater floorplan” in Airstream’s Class B lineup, consisting of the Interstate on the Mercedes Benz diesel platform and the Chevy-based, gas-fueled Avenue. Airstream, adds Wheeler, expects this to become its dominant floorplan.
Dealer awards will be presented Monday evening, including honors for top overall sales for the 2011 model year, as well as the company’s leading motorized, towable and foreign (outside North America) dealers.
In a special twist at the Monday evening dinner, Airstream will recognize retiring Chairman Larry Huttle, who plans to officially step away this fall. “We’ll be having an acknowledgment of Larry’s contributions,” said Wheeler. “He’s not retiring right away, but this is the last time he will be in front of the collective dealer body.”
The dealer meeting ends Tuesday after a morning plant tour and an afternoon round of golf.
Airstream Inc. today (April 21) announced the appointment of Justin Humphreys to the position of vice president of sales.
Effective May 2, Humphreys will be responsible for all internal and external sales operations, as well and customer service and warranty functions, according to a news release.
Formerly of American Coach, Humphreys has extensive industry experience developing successful RV sales teams in the premium RV segment. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W. Va., with a concentration in Management and a minor in Political Science.
“We’re very excited to have Justin joining us here at Airstream,” said Airstream President and CEO Bob Wheeler. “His experience, dealer relationships and vision for the future will be invaluable as we grow our market presence both domestically and internationally.”
“I am both honored and thrilled to join the Airstream family,” said Humphreys. “The commitment Airstream has consistently shown to its customers and dealers have set the standard in the RV Industry. I look forward to being a part of such a strong brand and great American story.”
Humphreys will report directly to Larry Huttle, chairman, until Huttle retires later this year.
Airstream Inc. has released its list of “Top Ten” dealerships for 2010-2011 and has named George M. Sutton RV “Number Two” behind East Coast outlet, Colonial Airstream, Lakewood, N.J.
Located in Eugene, Oregon’s third-largest city, Sutton RV has sold nearly 100 new and used Airstream products this past year. Coupled with its sales excellence, George M. Sutton RV is Airstream’s West Coast leader in service, parts, and both warranty and body repairs, according to a news release.
Founded in 1996, Sutton RV is a family-owned business, a tradition in the Sutton family since 1921. Both George’s father and grandfather owned and operated George M. Sutton Ford, Inglewood, Calif., for 37 years. The Sutton family was featured in Life Magazine as an example of American Life in December 1956.
In addition to Airstream’s tribute, George M. Sutton was elected president of the Oregon RV Dealers Association (ORVDA) at their Spring Meeting last week in Salem. An association of dealers, suppliers, lenders and associates who are dedicated to promoting the welfare of the RVing public, ORVDA is also focused on legislative issues that affect their ability to do business.
“For example,” explains Sutton, “the laws that define an RV versus a manufactured home are convoluted. Currently, when an RV is larger than 400 square feet, the law says it’s a manufactured home and can’t be sold as an RV in Oregon. That means toy haulers or large fifth-wheels with multiple slideouts have to be purchased out of state. ORVDA is working to clear up that boondoggle as well as other issues that infringe on our ability to do business.”
While Sutton RV is located in a relatively rural area of the country, their customers are far-flung.
“We routinely sell RV products coast to coast,” Sutton says, “and we’ve shipped to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hawaii and Alaska, among other places. We have even been contacted to ship RVs to Japan, following the earthquake and the shortage of housing.”
Sutton’s daughter, Marcy Sutton, designed their highly successful website, www.suttonrv.com, which serves as the gateway for consumers to contact Sutton RV from all corners of the globe.
Airstream, the iconic aerodynamic trailer that was first manufactured more than 80 years ago, is headquartered in Jackson Center, Ohio. George M. Sutton and wife Martha have been invited to participate in the company’s upcoming May Dealer Council meetings. The Suttons have been instrumental in suggesting product improvements, floor plans and continual consumer feedback, which is vital to Airstream’s success.
For more information, contact George M. Sutton RV at (800) 256-9832.
No longer just popular among college students and retirees, the RV road trip we believe is set for a big comeback with the introduction of the 2011 Eddie Bauer Airstream, the international magazine NileGuide reported.
While more popular with all age groups in countries like Australia, RVing hasn’t quite caught on with younger travelers in America. “However, with this partnership of two legendary brands,”the writer states, “we’re hoping for a resurgence of the great American RV road trip.
This has the making of the perfect marriage, with Airstream, as one of the top RV manufacturers, and Eddie Bauer, as one of the top outdoor apparel and lifestyle brands. As Camping Life reported back in December, this brings together two of the most iconic brands. Looking at photos of the new Eddie Bauer Airstream, they had the young traveler in mind.
Since Eddie Bauer is one of the most recognized outdoor and outerwear brands, it’s only appropriate that the design of this new RV would be geared toward the outdoor traveler. Easily the coolest part of the Airstream is the backdoor hatch, which is rare among RVs. Instead of hauling your surfboards or kayaks on the top of your SUV, you can now much more easily put them in the back of the airstream.
The 25-foot trailer comes equipped with more contemporary decor than you may be used to with Airstream. Included for the queen-sized bed is an Eddie Bauer Goose Down Duvet, pillows, and throw. They’ve also thrown in a couple day packs.
With all of the kids out of the house and intent on downsizing, Rob and Jan Wilson put their past skills to work to take the trip of a lifetime and hatched a plan, Tri Valley Central, Casa Grande, Ariz., reported.
Using his previous marketing skills, Rob came up with a business proposal and a pitch to tour 50 national parks. Within 10 days, the Wilsons had sponsorship and a Mercedes-Benz Airstream Interstate 3500.
Now with many months on the road and a popular website (http://www.SprinterTour.com), the couple don’t want the trip to end.
“I’m ruined for life,” Rob jokes. “I don’t think I can go back to a traditional office environment.”
The two are very happy with the Class B Airstream Interstate. It can make U-turns “very easily and can go places a trailer can’t,” Jan states. The van has about 100 square feet of living space, and as Rob notes, “it is close quarters, but we enjoy being close.”
“It’s cozy, but we’re really only in the RV to sleep and eat breakfast and dinner. The rest of the time we’re out in the parks,” Jan adds.
Being in the parks is very important to both of them. “The whole thing about RVing is it’s just a means to an end; it’s just a way to have the adventure. At the end of the day, we really just want to be in the park, which this vehicle allows us to do,” Rob says.
Do they have any advice for long-term RV travel? “Do it! Don’t wait!” Jan admonishes. Rob offers a more comprehensive list:
“Pack light; have a plan; have some flexibility so when opportunities arise, you can take them.” And most importantly, “get a decent camera and learn how to use it before you drive out of your driveway.”
Airstream Inc., the most recognized RV manufacturer in North America, has partnered with Eddie Bauer to produce the Eddie Bauer Airstream travel trailer, the companies announced in a joint press release.
It was unveiled on Nov. 30 at the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
Because of the specific needs of outdoor adventure travel, the Eddie Bauer Airstream includes a unique rear sport hatch that allows for easy loading/unloading of oversized equipment such as bikes and kayaks, which can then be secured in the fold-away dinette/lounge area. The unit is also equipped with premium oversized Michelin tires to provide greater ground clearance and rugged wheel-well cladding to protect against off-road debris. A handheld exterior shower makes for easy cleanup for the traveler, their equipment or pets. Extra clotheslines and racks are intended for hanging wet clothing while durable exterior tie hooks are ideal for securing equipment or making sure Fido stays close by.
The interior features an Eddie Bauer-inspired décor , including maple and soapstone laminates, fossilized leaf pattern roof locker doors, quilted fabrics with contrast piping, as well as extremely durable and stain-resistant Sunbrella upholstery. The 25-foot trailer can sleep four people, and its queen-size bed comes with an Eddie Bauer Goose Down duvet, pillows and throw. And the rear sport hatch, with its roll-down screen, creates the ultimate portal for bringing the outdoors in.
The Eddie Bauer Airstream also comes with a co-branded duffle bag and two daypacks.
“Airstream customers have always been passionate in their pursuit of outdoor adventure, and now we’ve created the ultimate tool to support their needs,” says Airstream President and CEO Bob Wheeler, “And we’ve done so by perfectly melding the inimitable style of two great American brands.”
“Eddie Bauer has been outfitting fishermen, hunters, mountaineers and other outdoor adventurers for 90 years,” said Neil Fiske, president and CEO of Eddie Bauer. “Partnering with Airstream gives us the opportunity to build something special for those who enjoy comfort and style yet want the flexibility to take all of their gear and equipment on their family adventures.”
The partnership between Airstream and Eddie Bauer will be supported by coordinated marketing campaigns by both brands, including its feature on the cover of Eddie Bauer’s 2010 Ultimate Gift Guide and a consumer unveiling at January’s Sundance Film Festival. A line of co-branded merchandise will also launch this spring. The Eddie Bauer Airstream has an MSRP of $73,702 and will be available at dealers nationwide in February.
A veteran team of Airstream executives, whose collective careers span 156 years in the recreational vehicle industry – 113 with Airstream — posed for this photo during the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in Louisville, Ky., as a tribute to Al McInnes (second from the left), who is retiring Jan. 31.
McInnes, director of sales, western region — who has logged 38 years in the industry, 28 with Jackson Center, Ohio-based Airstream — is joined in the photo (from the left) by Tom Parnell, director of sales, central region, Larry Huttle, chairman, and Pate Rawak, senior regional sales director.
“You’ve got four guys who have been together 30 to 40 years as a team, mostly at Airstream and before that (all but Parnell) at Winnebago,” said Huttle, noting that all of them got their starts in the automotive arena. “We’ve been a strong team for all these years and very successful in establishing and maintaining new RV distribution in our industry.”
The retiring McInnes was honored at a Dec. 1 Airstream dealer breakfast in Louisville at which Southern California dealer Steve Banas, president of Southwest Coaches in Irvine, presented him with a plaque for his years of service in the industry. Banas and three other Airstream dealers also gave McInnes a $4,000 garden tractor for use in gardening at his Utah home.
Huttle added that McInnes’s retirement is the beginning of a wave, a changing of the guard of sorts at Airstream, as Parnell and Huttle himself plan to step away in 2011.
(Photo is courtesy of Larry McCay Photography Inc., Granger, Ind.)