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Pride Shows in Fleetwood RV Factory Tours

February 3, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Putting on the finishing touches of a Class A motorhome at the Fleetwood RV Inc. plant in Decatur, Ind.

Putting on the finishing touches of a Class A motorhome at the Fleetwood RV Inc. plant in Decatur, Ind.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by Frank Smith and appears in the January issue of  Better RVing. It was distributed by lazydays.com.

Factory tours are a daily ritual at the Fleetwood’s RV/American Coach plant in Decatur, Ind. They begin in a modest waiting room when the baritone rasp of an unseen voice shakes the walls with a mighty, “Good morning, campers!” The voice’s owner pokes his head through a doorway that can hardly fit his enthusiasm. This is Tom Liechty, tour guide, sales representative and treasured attraction at Fleetwood RV and American Coach.

Liechty introduces himself and sets the tone for the day with a story of how he came to find his calling at Fleetwood more than two decades ago. To retell his tale here would be to rob those who will someday make the trip to Decatur of a splendid oratory experience, so instead I’ll hold onto the memory and let one of the great storytellers of the RV industry tell it to you when you visit. It’s worth it.

Act II of the tour — Liechty’s introductory court being Act I — finds us on the production line. The size and scope of the facility takes over. But like an RVer who knows the path through unchartered territory, Liechty leads the way with a smile that makes you feel like you’ve known him for years. He doesn’t know all of the 700 workers in Decatur, but he knows most of them to the point of being able to carry on running jokes that shift with and conform to each new station we visit.

“Lot of these folks have been here a long time,” says Liechty, to which I ask, “How long is a long time?” He’s quick to answer with “some have been here five years,” while catching friendly glances and nods from his family of workers as we move down the production line. “A lot have been here 15, 20 years, even 30.” A look overcomes Liechty as he trails off: part grateful, part nostalgic, all pride. I would later learn that more than 600 of Fleetwood’s workers have been with the company for more than 20 years.

Industrialization and heavy-duty manufacturing take on a new persona when you can see the eyes of the men and women who commit themselves to creating the vessels their customers will choose to achieve their RVing dream. There’s a sense of purpose on display as though each worker is marching to the same rhythm. There isn’t the slightest hint of apprehension as the workers move with the kind of efficient grace Henry Ford dreamed about. Even to my novice eye, it all makes sense. Yet it wasn’t until I learned that the former parent company, Fleetwood Enterprises, was forced to lay off more than 40 percent of the Decatur facility’s labor force at the height of the recession that I understood the meaning of the look in Liechty’s eye.

During the economic downturn, which saw public demand for RVs sink to all-time lows, Fleetwood Enterprises filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2009. In July of that same year, American Industrial Partners (AIP), a private equity firm in New York, purchased the motorhome assets, including the Decatur manufacturing and service facilities, and formed Fleetwood RV Inc. Led by CEO, John Draheim, Fleetwood RV adopted a lean culture, which resulted in a process of continuous improvement aimed to eliminate waste and increase efficient productivity while resulting in a product of superior quality and desirability. The workers on the production line embraced the new practice, implementing almost 1,000 minor changes since May. But they also understood it would take more than efficiency to survive the largest economic recession since the Great Depression.

We realized that we’re not invincible,” says salesperson for American Coach Janeen Gerke. “We realized that everybody has to work harder so that we are that number one manufacturer that customers want to come back to.” Loyalty to their customers is a tenet upon which Fleetwood has stood since its brand was founded in 1950. Almost 60 years later, the fundamental desire to exceed customers’ expectations served as a rallying cry among workers during the company’s most desperate hour. Yet as times worsened and the light at the end of the recession’s tunnel dimmed, Fleetwood looked deeper within itself and found the inspiration that would carry it through the worst of times.

“We stayed together through everything that’s gone on over the last two years just by leaning on each other,” explains National Sales Manager Lenny Razo. “We treat this company as a family. Sometimes you may not get along. Sometimes you have to work hand in hand.” The family at Fleetwood worked hand in hand. They survived tough times and not only saved the company, but revived a small American town.

“Fleetwood and Decatur, Ind., have been connected for quite some time,” explains Razo, “and I think what really makes this town special is the workforce. These people wake up early every morning and have dedicated their lives to this company. Decatur has been energized by what Fleetwood does. Our people are passionate and that’s what has drawn the company to lay its roots and foundation here in Decatur.”

Back on the production line, I notice the look in Liechty’s eye as he waves to a small crew putting the finishing touches on a 2011 American Revolution. This time I understand what he’s feeling. The worst was over and better roads lay ahead for Fleetwood RV. His company, his family and his home have come a long way.

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American Coach Shows Key New Innovations

December 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

American Coach product for 2011

American Coach product for 2011

American Coach, the luxury coach division of Fleetwood RV Inc., unveiled key new innovations to its 2011 American Tradition, American Eagle and American Heritage luxury motorhomes during the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

The 2011 American Heritage 45BT can now add to its impressive list of features, which already includes and industry-leading 460 square feet of interior living space, dual sinks in the master bathroom and a revamped rear wardrobe with twice as much hanging space, according to a news release. The 2011 American Heritage also takes visual entertainment to a new whole level with 46-inch Sony TVs in the bedroom and front overhead, as well as the recently added 40-inch Sony mid-ship TV and entertainment center. Every television in American Heritage features LED technology which creates an unparalleled picture quality and provides customers with additional wireless capabilities. In addition, the American Heritage on display in Louisville includes all-new LED lighting in the ceiling package to drastically reduce amp draw and provide lights that will last for year without the need of a new bulb.

The 2011 American Eagle added a fourth model to its offering – a triple-slide, full-wall slide floor plan (45T). Loaded with all the luxurious amenities that are synonymous with the American Eagle line, one of the stand-out features in this new floor plan is the full-sized, walk-in rear wardrobe. This impressive wardrobe features enormous hanging space, a shoe rack, dresser and porcelain tile flooring. Adding even more spaciousness to this new floor plan is the bedroom’s “mega master suite slide” that includes the bed and vanity and creates one of the largest rear bathrooms in the industry.

Not to be outdone, the 2011 American Tradition 45 Y – a 45-foot, quad-slide model with a “gourmet galley” – now features a brand-new L-sofa from Villa in the living room, that helps create a more residential feel and adds more flexibility for seating positions.

“For 20 years, American Coach has been passionate about building motor homes that exceed the expectations of our most discerning customers,” said Justin Humphreys, national sales manager for American Coach. “We are constantly re-evaluating ourselves and looking for the opportunity to improve upon our successes. It is this mindset and our commitment to the customer that has helped us enjoy a 30% increase in market share thru September 2010 and has made American Coach the sixth largest provider of diesel motor homes in the U.S. for the third quarter of this year. This is a trend we look forward to continuing as we debut our latest innovations in Louisville.”

American Coach is celebrating its 20th anniversary, which included the addition of American Revolution to the product line earlier this year.

For more information about American Coach, call (800) 854-1344 or visit www.americancoach.com.

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Newest American Coach Dealer: Southaven RV

September 30, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

American Coach, the luxury coach division of Fleetwood RV Inc., today (Sept. 30) announced that it added Southaven RV, located in Southaven, Miss., to its dealer network.

Southaven RV will be a full-line American Coach dealer carrying American Revolution, American Tradition, American Eagle and American Heritage, and will also be an authorized American Coach service center, according to a news release.

“Southaven RV is one of the mid-South’s premium RV dealers, and we are excited to welcome them to the American Coach family,” said Justin Humphreys, national sales manager for American Coach. “From the showroom floor to the service bays, everyone at Southaven RV is committed to taking care of their customers. This is one of the many reasons why we are proud to have Southaven RV carry the American Coach line, and we look forward to helping them take care of our customers for many years to come.”

“We have a lot of seasoned, high-end customers that have been looking for us to add a luxury brand to our product offering,” said Mark Hixson, owner of Southaven RV. “American Coach offers high-quality, luxury motorhomes backed by a strong warranty. Add in the fact that they are just as passionate about taking care of our customers as we are, and American Coach is the perfect manufacturer to help grow our luxury coach business.”

For more information about American Coach and the entire 2011 product line, call (80) 435-7345 or visit www.americancoach.com.

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Fleetwood RV Launches ‘American Revolution’

September 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Fleetwood RV's 2011 American Revolution

Fleetwood RV's 2011 American Revolution

American Coach, the luxury coach division of Fleetwood RV Inc., today (Sept. 17) announced the launch of its 2011 American Tradition, American Eagle and American Heritage luxury motorhomes. The company also introduced the newest addition to the American Coach family: American Revolution.

“We are proud to announce the addition of American Revolution to our luxury line-up,” Justin Humphreys, national sales manager for American Coach, stated in a news release. “Its features and amenities align perfectly with what our dealers and customers have to come to expect from the American Coach line of luxury coaches.”

The 2011 American Revolution features three 42-foot floor plans: a full-wall slide model with rear walk-in closet (42T); a full-wall slide model with rear bath (42W); and a quad-slide, side-aisle model with gourmet galley. Standard amenities on American Revolution include Sony Blu-Ray Home Theater System, Villa furniture, powered front privacy blinds, full tile throughout, power generator slide, Aqua Hot heating system, residential refrigerator, and dual in-dash monitors.

“In addition to the introduction of American Revolution, there are a lot of exciting changes on our 2011 American Coach line-up; including the all-new Liberty chassis platform that features 30-percent more pass-through storage space,” said Chris Carter, product development manager for American Coach. “In addition, we have upgraded our interior décor selections and added high-quality Sony televisions, DVD players and sound systems as standard features. All of these changes are a direct result of dealer and customer feedback – an integral part of our product development process.”

The 2011 American Heritage features the industry’s largest floor plan, a 45-foot full-wall slide with 30-inch deep slide boxes (45B). This spacious floor plan provides customers with over 450 square feet of living space, and updated in 2011 to include 40-inch mid-ship TV, dual sinks in the rear bath and twice as much hanging space in the rear wardrobe. American Heritage is a handcrafted, made-to-order luxury coach with a long list of impressive features including exterior graphics that go through the windows for dazzling curb appeal, heated front driver/ passenger seats with built-in massage controls, dual-dash monitors and temperature controls, residential-style shower, powered basement slide trays, Onan 12.5 kw generator, quartz countertops, 46-inch Sony LED front TV and 46-inch Sony LED bedroom TV.

The 2011 American Eagle features three full-wall-slide models with 30-inch deep slide boxes for unmatched living space (42M, 42P, 45B). The 2011 American Eagle is loaded with features including roof mounted awnings, dual dash monitors, Villa® furniture, Mystera solid surface countertops, Sony Blu-Ray DVD, Sony LED TVs, Bose home theater system, optional powered window day/night shades, high-gloss polished porcelain tile throughout and Kohler faucets. In addition, the 2011 American Eagle now features a new Almond Mocha Glaze wood color, as well as redesigned cabinet door and slide-out trim for added luxury.

The 2011 American Tradition features two 42-foot full-wall-slide models (42M 42P), as well as a 45-foot, quad-slide model (45Y) with residential “gourmet galley”; all with 30” deep slide boxes. Feature highlights on the 2011 American Tradition include elegant slide out trim design, new Almond Mocha Glaze wood color, Villa furniture, dual dash monitors, quiet air conditioning system, porcelain tiled floors throughout, Avionics entry door, power driver window, and Sony Blu-Ray Home Theater.

Model year 2011 also marks the 20th anniversary for American Coach.

“Since 1991, American Coach has produced high-quality luxury coaches and provided industry-leading aftermarket service support to our customers in a marketplace that has seen its fair share of ups and downs,” said Humphreys. “Yet I can state proudly that our passion and commitment to our customers has remained unwavering, regardless of the economic climate. In return, our customers have gone out of their way to support us whether it is with loyalty to the American Coach brand or by providing scholarships to the children of our employees. Our customers are the reason for our success over the past 20 years; which is why we have so much to celebrate during this year.”

For more information about American Coach, call (800) 854-1344 or visit www.americancoach.com.

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The No. 1 American Coach Dealer: Lazydays

September 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

American Coach, the luxury coach division of Fleetwood RV Inc., today (Sept. 15) announced that Lazydays in Seffner, Fla,. is the Overall 2010 Model Year American Top Dealer in the nation.

In addition, the dealership is also No. 1 selling dealer of the 2010 American Heritage, American Eagle, American Tradition and American Allegiance brands. Top Dealer awards are given to the American Coach dealers who have sold the most units by brand in a 12-month period, according to a news release.

“It is no accident that Lazydays has been a top-selling American Coach dealer for the past 20 years,” said Justin Humphreys, national sales manager for American Coach. “Everyone on the Lazydays team goes above and beyond to really understand what their customers want in their luxury motorhomes. They then take that information back to our American Coach team where we all collaborate on the best way to turn those customers’ dreams into a reality. We are honored to have Lazydays as a business partner and congratulate them on their achievements over the past year.”

“We are proud to be the top-selling American Coach dealer. American Coach and Lazydays have always been passionate about taking great care of our customers,” said Dominic Calabro, general sales manager for Lazydays RV. “We look forward to this same great relationship as we continue to meet the needs of our customers well into the future.”

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Dixie RV Takes On American Coach Brand

May 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

American Coach, the luxury motorhome division of Fleetwood RV Inc., today (May 4) announced that it added Dixie RV, located in Hammond, La., to its dealer network. Dixie RV will carry the American Eagle and American Tradition product lines, and will be an authorized American Coach service center.

“Dixie RV is the premiere RV dealer in Louisiana, and has been a leading Fleetwood dealer for over 25 years,” said John Draheim, Fleetwood CEO and president. “With over 36 service bays, Dixie RV’s commitment to customers both before and after the sale makes them a perfect fit for American Coach, and we are proud to welcome them to the American Coach family.”

“American Coach is one of the few high-line motorhome manufacturers that covered warranties, kept their factory service center open and supported club rallies during the recent downturn,” said Greg Lala, owner of Dixie RV Superstore. “This impressed us, and is exactly the type of service and support that our customers deserve.”

“The 2010 American Coach lineup leads the industry with over 400 square feet of living space,” said Justin Humphreys, national sales manager for American Coach and Revolution LE. “The added functionality and livability of our coaches has been a hit with customers. We are confident that our partnership with Dixie RV will only help us capitalize on this success and continue our upward trend of market share gains for 2010.”

All American Coach luxury motorhomes are backed by a limited one-year/15,000-mile coach warranty and three-year/45,000-mile structural warranty, whichever occurs first, and it is fully transferable for the first 12 months.

In addition to American Coach, Dixie RV is a full-line Fleetwood RV dealer offering Tioga Ranger up through Revolution LE.

For more information about American Coach, call (800) 435-7345 or visit www.americancoach.com.

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American Coach Adds RV World to Dealer Body

November 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

RV World Yuma logoAmerican Coach, the luxury motorhome division of Fleetwood RV Inc., today (Nov. 16) announced that it added RV World, located in Yuma, Ariz., to its dealer network. RV World will carry the American Eagle, American Tradition and American Allegiance product lines, and will be an authorized American Coach service center, according to a news release.

“RV World is one of Fleetwood RV’s top dealers, so we are very excited to add them to the American Coach dealer network,” said Justin Humphreys, national sales manager for American Coach and Revolution LE. “Now customers can choose one of the industry’s leading luxury coach brands as they move up in the product lifecycle, which is good for both RV World and American Coach. In addition, RV World has a great sales and service team, so we know our customers will be taken care of from the moment they step into the dealership.”

“We have a lot of seasoned, high-end customers that have been looking for us to add a luxury brand to our product offering,” said Mike Green, general manager and part owner of RV World. “American Coach offers high-quality, luxury motorhomes backed by a strong warranty. Combined with their incredible sales and service teams, we are confident that American Coach is the right partner to help us grow our business in this new segment.”

All American Coach products include a complimentary one-year membership to CoachNet. This invaluable 24/7 service provides customers with emergency roadside service and other RV technical assistance, so they can have peace of mind knowing that help is available anywhere, at anytime.

For more information about American Coach, call (800) 435-7345 or visit
www.americancoach.com.

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Fleetwood’s 1st American Coach VIP Factory Delivery

October 23, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

American Coach, the luxury motor home division of Fleetwood RV Inc., today announced it retailed its first VIP factory delivery – an optional service available to all American Coach customers – since American Industrial Partners Inc. (AIP) acquired the company in July.

VIP factory delivery is unique in that customers take delivery of their new American Coach model where it was built, and to learn how to operate it with a factory representative.

From left, John and Pat Goodwin and Christine Bahrke, Fleetwood RV VIP delivery specialist with the Goodwin's new American Coach

From left, John and Pat Goodwin and Christine Bahrke, Fleetwood RV VIP delivery specialist, with the Goodwin's new American Coach

“The American Coach VIP factory delivery is one of the many ways we try to make our customers feel special,” said John Draheim, Fleetwood RV president.  “It creates an opportunity for us to personally connect with our customers, as well as helps us ensure their complete satisfaction before they hit the road.”

“Customers who select our VIP factory delivery option have the unique chance to see where their coaches are made and to meet the people that helped build them,” said Justin Humphreys, national sales director for American Coach and Revolution LE. “Everyone who is involved in the production of our American Coach line of luxury motor homes has a tremendous sense of pride about what they do, and who better to take a customer through their new coach then someone who had a hand in its construction.”

Customers John and Pat Goodwin selected the VIP factory delivery option when they purchased their second American Coach – a 2009 American Tradition 42M, from Tom Johnson Camping Center in Concord, N.C.

“We are extremely pleased with our VIP delivery experience,” said Pat Goodwin. “The American Coach delivery team brought an attention to detail and an incredible knowledge of the product which made our delivery the best we have ever had. We left Decatur feeling confident and excited about our beautiful new coach, and with peace of mind in having American Coach’s legendary service standing behind us. We would highly recommend the American Coach VIP option.”

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Fleetwood’s American Coach Makes First Retail Delivery

August 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Pictured (from left) in the photo at left are Justin Humphreys, national sales manager for American Coach; Gary Stroud, part owner of Tom Johnson Camping Center; Sharon and Kenneth Brown, the new coach owners; Jeff Williams, a salesman at Tom Johnson Camping Center; and Maxie Rowell, general manager of Tom Johnson Camping Center.

Pictured (from left) in the photo at left are Justin Humphreys, national sales manager for American Coach; Gary Stroud, part owner of Tom Johnson Camping Center; Sharon and Kenneth Brown, the new coach owners; Jeff Williams, a salesman at Tom Johnson Camping Center; and Maxie Rowell, general manager of Tom Johnson Camping Center.

American Coach, the luxury motorhome division of Fleetwood RV Inc., Wednesday announced its first retail delivery since American Industrial Partners (AIP) acquired the company in late July.

The owners, Kenneth and Sharon Brown, purchased their new motorhome — a 2009 American Eagle 45E — shortly after the launch of Fleetwood RV Inc. and took final delivery early last week at Tom Johnson Camping Center in Concord, N.C.

“Since 1991, American Coach has been one of the most respected luxury motorhome brands in the industry,” said John Draheim, president of Fleetwood RV Inc. “The success we have had over the years has been no accident because the core philosophy of American Coach is to provide industry-leading customer and dealer service. We would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Brown for their business and warmly welcome them into the American Coach family.”

“American Coach has been a favorite with our customers for almost 20 years,” said Gary Stroud, part owner/ general manager for Tom Johnson Camping Center. “American Coach manufactures beautifully-crafted coaches that include the innovations and amenities our customers could ever want or need. At Tom Johnson’s, our customers come first, a philosophy shared by the entire American Coach team, which is why we know that Kenneth and Sharon will be very happy in their new American Eagle for many years to come.”

“Our American Eagle marks a new beginning of our RV lifestyle,” said Sharon Brown. “We have owned other RVs, but the quality craftsmanship, unparalleled ride and well-thought out details on our American Eagle makes us feel like our beautiful home just got wheels. Everyone at Tom Johnson’s and American Coach has gone above and beyond to help make our experience even better than expected. Thanks so much for our wonderful coach”

Built on Liberty Chassis, American Eagle features opposing 30-inch deep flush-floor slide boxes that create an open residential feel unmatched in the industry and offers innovative full-wall slide technology (certain models). Key amenities include 32-inch LCD HDTV, hardwood cabinetry, full-length bedroom wardrobe, and optional queen bed from Select Comfort.

All American Coach products include a complimentary one-year membership to CoachNet. This invaluable 24/7 service provides customers with emergency roadside service and other RV technical assistance, so they can have peace of mind knowing that help is available anywhere, at anytime.

For more information about American Coach, call (800) 435-7345 or visit www.americancoach.com.

 


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