Luxury fifth-wheel manufacturer Carriage Inc announced today (July 19) the addition of Bob Scheer to the position of regional sales manager for the northwest region and the western provinces of Canada.
Scheer, who lives in Salem, Ore., brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Carriage team. “We are truly blessed to have him on board with us” stated Ed Kinney, vice president of sales and marketing for the Millersburg, Ind.-based company. “Bob’s experience with fifth wheels and the region he manages will strengthen our relationships with our dealer partners.”
“When Ed called I was so excited to have the chance to work with a quality company like Carriage,” said Scheer. “I appreciate the opportunity to be working with the Carriage team and supporting the dealer network. Carriage is the last of the true manufacturers building quality, and integrity into all that they do from the ground up. I could not be happier.”
Founded in 1968, Carriage manufacturers Cabo, Cameo, Carri-lite, and Royals International products at its complex in Millersburg with distribution through dealers in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia.
Carriage Inc. announced Wednesday (June 1) the appointment of Steve Shively as regional sales manager with responsibilities for the eastern Canada and upper Midwest sales region.
“Steve brings 10 years of sales experience with him to Carriage,” said Ed Kinney, vice president of sales and marketing for the Millersburg, Ind.-based fifth-wheel manufacturer. “His experience in selling motorhomes and towables, along with his unique ability to share his expertise in the day-to-day dealer operations, makes him a tremendous asset to Carriage and our dealer/partners.”
Shively lives in Bremen, Ind., with his wife, Holly, and children Kaelyn, Ashton and Mikayla. He will have an office in the Carriage corporate headquarters at Millersburg.
“As a former sales representative for another top manufacturer in our industry, I am extremely happy to be associated with Carriage and their family,” Shively said. “To represent the Carriage Resort Vehicle lineup is an awesome opportunity, and I look forward to working with everyone, and represent this quality lineup of products.”
Fifth-wheel manufacturer Carriage Inc. announced Wednesday (June 1) additional information about the Millersburg, Ind.-based company’s newly redesigned 2012 Cameo product line.
“The 2012 Cameo is the most advanced fifth-wheel in design and consumer friendliness, featuring comfort, function, innovation, and design, enhancing both interior and exterior storage,” said Ed Kinney, vice president of sales and marketing for Carriage.
According to Kinney, the redesigned Cameo features a number of upgraded amenities — including more than two dozen changes ranging from a new aerodynamic front end cap and exterior graphics to larger windows at the dinette area and a large single window in the rear to replace three previously separate windows.
Inside, new standard equipment includes upgraded designer fabrics and carpet and a choice of four designer decors. All interior lighting has been designer-selected and upgraded, and the furniture package has been enhanced with top-of-the-line Williamsburg furniture and new dinette seating. Other changes include new designer wall boards and accent panels, upgraded door and drawer hardware and, in the new floor plan for the 37RSQ, a one-piece fiberglass 48-inch-by-32-inch resort shower.
For more information visit www.carriageinc.com.
Carriage Resort Vehicles Inc. announced that its print advertisement “All of the R. None of the V.” was awarded a Gold Addy by the Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne, Ind.
Produced by Ferguson Advertising, the ad highlighted a growing trend toward luxury fifth-wheels that are ideal for long-term “resort” stays, according to a news release.
“These days, more and more people who enjoy the RV lifestyle are turning away from costly high-end motorhomes and toward the comfort and convenience of a luxury fifth-wheel,” said Ed Kinney, vice president of sales for Millersburg, Ind.-based Carriage. “This ad was very effective at getting to the point that Carriage Resort Vehicles are all about livability, craftsmanship and year-round comfort — with models to fit a wide range of budgets.”
Kinney noted that other RV manufacturers have responded to this trend by hurrying to get new models into production. “The difference is that Carriage has been the leader in luxury fifth-wheels for more than 40 years, and many of our components are designed and built in-house for superior quality control. Simply put, Carriage Resort Vehicles is the original.”
The Florida RV SuperShow set a new attendance mark with 53,117 people passing the gates of the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa when the show concluded Sunday (Jan. 16) — an increase of 4.7% over 2010.
”There was good attendance and good sales,” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the sponsoring Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA). ”We’ve had good attendance all along (at other SuperShows) but sales at some of the others have lagged a little bit.
”Everybody that I talked to was well into double-digits on sales and some dealers were into triple digits as far as sales are concerned.”
The show missed by fewer than 18 hours severe weather that swept across the Sunshine State spawning rain, high winds and tornado warnings, which hampered workers Monday (Jan. 17) as they were disassembling show displays.
”Thank heavens, it didn’t happen yesterday,” said Andy Baer, general manager of KZRV LP, Shipshewana, Ind., who reported strong sales during the five-day show.
Billed as among the largest RV shows in the U.S. with more than 450 vendors and 1,065 display coaches registered this year, the Florida RV SuperShow often sets the stage for the late-winter retail season.
”I’ve been coming to the SuperShow since 1994, and I’d have to say this was one of the best I’ve been too,” Baer said. ”And I’m not talking just about sales. It’s so nice to talk to people who are so very positive. It’s like someone flipped a switch. Everybody was very upbeat.”
”There was a lot of buying going on,” said Andy Cripe, a division manager for Keystone RV Co., Elkhart, Ind. ”I’m not going to say it was record-breaking, but it was sustainable. We saw real prudent buyers and even with the more stringent financing terms, a lot of people put cash down and bought.”
”Hopefully, this is a sign of what is going to happen in 2011,” said Matt Thompson, Elkhart-based Thor Motor Coach diesel division vice president, who reported that the company’s new A.C.E Class A motorhome sold particularly well. ”If it is (a sign), it should be a very good year for the RV industry. Thor Motor Coach did very well at the show as a company.”
Ed Kinney, Carriage Inc., Millersburg, Ind., vice president of sales and marketing, termed attendance and sales ”incredible.”
”The high-line fifth-wheel market was really hot,” Kinney said. ”The SuperShow always sets the tone for the year. For Carriage, it’s going to be an unbelievably great year.”
Based on Tampa and initial returns from other early winter shows, meanwhile, 2011 is looking pretty good for Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River Inc.
“Taking into account the first two weeks of shows, Pittsburg was a good show and the Cleveland Show was the best we’ve had in years,” National Sales Manager Jeff Babcock told RVBUSINESS.com. “And the Tampa Show, finishing up this past weekend, ended up better than years past. So, it’s a great start, and we’re looking for a good year.
“We think it’s going to break loose here this year.”
Roger Martin, Winnebago Industries Inc. vice president of sales and marketing, said the Forest City, Iowa-based motorized manufacturer, was ”thrilled with traffic and sales activity” at the show.
”Dealers representing us there reported sales activity nearly three times better than last year, Martin said.
Despite cold temperatures, a record number of people — 12,912 to be exact — walked through the gates Wednesday (Jan. 12) for the opening day of the 26th Annual 2011 Florida RV Supershow at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa Fla.
And early sales matched the crowd, according to several manufacturers who spoke to RVBUSINESS.com this morning.
”We’re doing fantastic,” said Ed Kinney, vice president of sales and marketing for Carriage Inc., Millersburg, Ind., ”We had record sales. If I told you the numbers, you’d call me a liar.”
”It was a slow start today (Thursday) because it was cold,” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the sponsoring Florida RV Trade Association. ”It was in the 30s this morning, but things picked up. People are here now and the sun is out. The only thing that keeps people away is rain, and we don’t have any of that.”
Wilson reported that the final count had 1,065 coaches on display at the show.
In addition to Carriage, other manufacturers also reported brisk sales early on in the show, which runs through Sunday.
”It’s a buying crowd,” said C. David Hoefer, chairman of Earthbound RV LLC, Marion, Ind. ”We had our first sale an hour after the show started on Wednesday.”
”The traffic is not only good in terms of quantity, but it’s quality traffic,” said John Sammut, Newmar Inc. vice president of sales and marketing. ”We had a good day yesterday selling several motorized units — both gas and diesel.”
Opening day, during which senior citizens received a discount, was capped by a FRVTA-sponsored dinner on the fairgrounds attended by about 800 people representing manufactuers and suppliers, who dined on roast beef, shrimp and key lime pie.
Show organizers expect more than 50,000 people to attend the show through Sunday. Last year’s attendance was 50,753.
For more than 100 employees of Carriage Inc., Christmas came a little early this year.
Well, Santa did, anyway.
“We had a tremendous event at Louisville this year and a great influx of new business,” said Ed Kinney, vice president of sales and national sales manager for the Millersburg, Ind., manufacturer of high-end fifth-wheels. “Carriage is a special place, with special employees, so we thought it would be fun to have Santa visit.”
The inaugural Carriage family Christmas party, held Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 15) at Carriage’s Millersburg headquarters, was also open to children of employees — and more than 150 youngsters participated in a variety of crafts while enjoying treats and hot chocolate.
“It was a great turnout and everyone had a good time,” said Kinney, who donned a familiar red costume for the festivities. By his recollection, Kinney has played Santa for hospitals, groups and private occasions for more than 40 years — including a memorable stretch that saw him visit the renowned Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis each December for 25 seasons — and was especially gratified to bring the role to his own company.
“This was the first time we’ve held a Christmas party here for our employees,” Kinney noted, “but judging by its reception, we’ll make it an annual event.”
While attendance was up a moderate 4.5% at this year’s Louisville Show, North American recreational vehicle manufacturers generally reported an upbeat atmosphere and – in some cases – robust sales at the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show, Nov. 30 – Dec. 2 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) on the south side of Louisville, Ky.
The wares and services of more than 300 manufacturers, suppliers and distributors were displayed across more than 766,000 square feet of show space in the KEC during the industry’s key annual trade-only event, sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Now back in his Millersburg, Ind., office, Ed Kinney, vice president of sales for Carriage Inc., says results of the three-day show were decidedly positive and a good omen for 2011. “It was a record show for Carriage,” said Kinney. “Compared to last year, sales have probably tripled.”
Carriage debuted a revamp of its high-end Royals International at Louisville, along with a new “entry level” Cabo line and a new Cameo model — all of which, Kinney predicts, will translate into increased market share in 2011 for Carriage, which currently produces 25 units a week. “We intend to steadily increase production until we are building 37 units a week by the end of August,” he told RVBUSINESS.com.
On the other hand, some felt that show traffic in the KEC corridors was a little thin at times. “From a numbers standpoint, the Louisville Show maybe didn’t have the impact that some have had in the past,” said Sid Johnson, director of marketing for Jayco Inc., Middlebury, Ind.
“Attendance seemed down from last year,” he added. “It seemed to be slower, but it may have been a function of space. Last year’s show was compressed from past years. This year it was more spread out than normal. Yet, I thought it was a very good show.”
Indeed, Johnson said all three of the company’s divisions, Entegra Coach, Jayco and Starcraft, were “pleasantly surprised” by the number of new dealers they were able to sign. And Johnson, for his part, thought that Louisville 2010 was clearly better than last year and was in the “upper half” and perhaps “upper third” of the national RV shows at which he has worked in his esteemed 36-year industry career.
“The overall and almost overwhelming positive aspect of it was the very refreshing enthusiasm and confidence that was evident from almost every dealer for the coming year,” Johnson added. “We were pleased with the whole thing.”
“The show went well for us,” noted Bob Wheeler, president of Jackson Center, Ohio-based Airstream Inc. “Traffic was down a bit, but purchases per attendee were up. We had a separate meeting for dealers and were able to present them with an overview of our products, our business plan and marketing efforts (for 2011). We received very positive feedback.”
According to Wheeler, the launch at the show of Airstream’s new Eddie Bauer co-branded 25-foot travel trailer generated a lot of positive feedback. “There was lots of excitement and strong initial orders,” said Wheeler. “They really seemed to get the collaboration and added functionality of the unit.”
Clearly one of the show’s busier displays was that of EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC, which unveiled a distinctive new 24-foot, wood-free Element travel trailer and also hosted an appearance by Terry Bradshaw, a former NFL quarterback, current Fox sports analyst and a new minority owner of Evergreen.
“It’s (the Element) different, unique and drew a lot of traffic,” said Doug Lantz, president and CEO of the Middlebury, Ind., towable manufacturer. “Being as it’s one of the lightest weight full-size trailers (at Louisville), it definitely got people’s attention.”
Motorhome specialist Tiffin Motor Homes Inc. had a solid show, according to Bob Tiffin, president of Red Bay, Ala., -based manufacturer.
“We had a great show, and took a lot of orders,” said Tiffin. “The dealers we had there were all happy with what was going on and they were complaining that we didn’t have hardly enough inventory. You know, they didn’t have enough motorhomes to sell, so they put their money where their mouths were and ordered a lot of units — 240 units altogether.”
That’s pretty decent, most would agree, in an era in which motorhome sales certainly aren’t at their peak. “Well, I can’t speak for the rest of the industry,” said Tiffin. “But we’ve (Tiffin) had a good year so far, and it looks like next year may be even better. So, our plans are to keep running 11 or 12 units a day and keep moving forward.”
Although Tiffin sees a moderate shift to smaller coaches, the company’s best seller at Louisville was a 40-foot Phaeton retailing in the $190,000-$230,000 range.
Bob Olson, chairman, president and CEO of Winnebago Industries Inc., came away with a positive take on the show. “I think it was an improvement over last year,” said Olson, second vice chairman of RVIA and co-chair of the Go RVing Coalition. “Last year, everyone really had a lot of uncertainty as to what the future held in store. I sensed a real feeling of optimism (this year) from dealers, other manufacturers and suppliers. I thought it was a very positive show.
“Having said that, we really don’t gauge success or failure of the show by what we get for orders,” said Olson, whose Forest City, Iowa, company drew a lot of attention with a modernistic redesign of its top-of-the line Winnebago Tour/Itasca Ellipse.
“We don’t go there with the attitude of ‘this is going to be what we have to have in orders to get to the spring market.’ It was a good show. You have to consider the economic times that we’re in. Going forward, we think that we’ll continue to get orders from the dealers that were at the show because it gave them an opportunity to see a lot of our product lineup. And from what we were able to see, they were very excited about it, especially Tuesday (opening day). It was nonstop traffic from the time we opened until we closed.”
Thor’s Goshen, Ind.-based Keystone RV Co. Inc., reports seeing strong traffic all three days of the show and “high dealer enthusiasm.”
“Dealers seemed to be very optimistic about their Keystone business and the industry in general, and very enthusiastic,” said Keystone President Bob Martin. “We could see it in their eyes. Keystone’s focus at this year’s show was to make each of our brands even stronger. So, we did not launch a new product line but chose instead to concentrate on our existing lines.
Traffic, likewise, was “steady” at the expansive Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. display at which dealers were introduced to an array of new models. “Our new products were very well received,” noted Steve Paul, vice president of sales and marketing for the Goshen, Ind.-based Thor division, which debuted an ‘upper-end’ Voltage toy hauler, a redesigned Aerolite Superslide series, an entry-level Aspen Trail towable line and affordable Rubicon toy hauler.
Speaking for both the motorized and towable sides of his company, Pete Liegl, president and CEO of Forest River Inc., based in Elkhart, Ind., had good things to say about the 2010 Louisville Show and the year ahead.
On a scale of “1” to “10,” in fact, he gave it an 8.5, noting that dealer interest was consistent with that of this fall’s Hershey Show and Elkhart County Open House.
“We did very well,” said Liegl. “Obviously, no matter what we do we could do better, but we had a good show. Dealers were enthusiastic about the product we have, and that includes the new Shasta plus Prime Time and our existing Coachmen and Forest River products. Beyond that, I think the whole show was good for everybody, and I think it’s an indication that everybody thinks it’s going to be a good year next year, too.”
“Next year will be better than this year as a generalization,” said Liegl, who expects his company to post about $2.4 billion in 2010 revenues. “If I had to guess, as far as the total number of units sold next year versus this year, I’m anticipating a minimum increase of 5% for the total industry. But I can guarantee you one thing: I’m not going to settle for 5%. All in all, though, I’ve got to say that this year’s been a very acceptable year for everybody in the RV business. And next year I think is going to be more of the same thing – a little better than this year.”
Luxury fifth-wheel manufacturer Carriage Inc. announced today (Nov. 16) the addition of Elliott Bond to the position of regional sales manager for the Midwest/Northeast region.
Bond, an Elkhart, Ind., native and graduate of Indiana University, brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Carriage team, according to a news release. Formerly an account manager for Four Winds International and Monaco RV, Bond has experience and creativity as well as a commitment to excellence.
“I am extremely happy to have Elliott on board with Carriage,” stated Ed Kinney, vice president of sales for Millersburg, Ind.-based Carriage. “He has exceptional leadership skills, the ability to be a true team player and the urge to grow with Carriage”.
“When I interviewed for this position and visited the Carriage Campus, I felt something I had not felt in a long time. It’s very hard to explain but a few of the words that came to mind are quality, integrity and dedication,” Bond stated. ”It’s nice to be where peoples’ No. 1 commitment is to being the best, not the biggest. I am happy to be a part of this family.”
Tom Montague has a big responsibility and a tiny office in Syracuse, Ind. The two situations seem to be a good fit.
Montague, the national sales manager for the newly formed Redwood RV, only needs a desk, a cell phone, a chair and two wall-sized whiteboards to do his job. Anything more right now would be a waste as he is rarely in his office, The Goshen News reported.
This past week Montague returned from a two-week tour of the country to sell Redwood’s new residential fifth-wheel unit. Much of that time was spent in Florida, where he visited seven of the top 10 RV dealers.
“When they saw the product, they could not believe the look and feel of the product,” Montague said.
Fifteen of the 17 dealers Montague and his crew visited, ordered the new fifth-wheel from Thor Industries Inc.’s newest company.
Creating a new company
Thor is an ever-growing force in the RV industry, but usually expands by acquiring existing companies. But that did not happen for the residential fifth-wheel niche, so Redwood was formed.
Thor made Redwood a division of Crossroads RV in Topeka, Ind., and has attracted experienced talent from across established RV manufacturers. Redwood’s president, Don Emahiser, moved over from leading Carriage Inc. Montague came over from another Thor company, Keystone RV co. Since then they, and other managers of the company, have been assembling a team to build Thor’s first residential fifth-wheel and market it to dealers.
The unit will be made in lengths from 35 feet to 39 feet long and be priced from $65,000 and up. There are three current floorplans. Five floorplans will be available in January. By spring, Montague plans to have eight floorplans in the Redwood stable.
So, why is Thor starting a new fifth-wheel company? To fill a segment of the RV market the company has not entered previously.
“Thor has spent millions of dollars to gain and then retain customers from the ‘stick and tin’ all the way up to the Montana (a Keystone RV fifth-wheel). And they do a phenomenal job of that. One in every four coaches, I think, is a Thor product, maybe even more. At the end of that cycle we let that customer go to buy something like a DRV.”
But with Redwood coming online this fall, Thor loyalists will be able to step up to a residential fifth-wheel about $10,000 more than the top line towable.
With the whine of screwguns and hand drills in the background, Montague walked through a Redwood prototype on the factory floor. He pointed out the unit’s residential furniture. He picked up the mattress in the bedroom to show off the European-style slatted box springs beneath it. And he pointed out that the closet’s clothes rack extends the full width of the trailer.
These finishing touches have been worked out over the past few months. The details are listed on those white boards in his office. On those wall-covering boards are categories for appliances, carpeting, lighting, etc. Options for each are neatly printed in black marker ink.
But there are hundreds of RV models in the marketplace and even more floorplans for each. So how does a sales director decide what to go with in an initial offering? Feelings.
“When you go in, you want it to feel like home. Our goal was, when you walk in we wanted it to be warm,” Montague said.
That’s why the residential furniture was chosen, so the comfort and tactile feel is the same found in a residence. After all, it’s likely someone will sell their home to take to the road long-term in an RV like the Redwood.
The chassis and interior will sit on Lippert Components’ top-of-the-line Falcon Integrated Technology frame system. Redwood RVs will have a two-year bumper to bumper protection plan and a five-year structural warranty.
Montague has a goal for Redwood — it’s to sell 1,100 of the fifth-wheels during the company’s first year. Last week there were 11 units under construction in the 105,000-square-foot plant. Fourteen more are on order and in line for production. If the expected growth occurs, then up to 80 people will be making Redwood fifth-wheels within a year.
About that sales goal for the first year, Montague said, “That would be a phenomenal start.”
The first public showing of Redwood’s products will be made at the National RV Trade Show for dealers in Louisville, Ky. beginning Nov. 30.