RV Dealer Preps N.D. RVers for Harsh Weather

October 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Spending a North Dakota winter in an RV might sound like a crazy idea, but hundreds of people camped in the state due to the oil boom are about to do it. There are steps that need to be taken immediately to get ready for the cold, KMOT-TV, Minot, N.D., reported.

Coates RV in Williston is teaming up with the Williston Village RV Resort to present a free seminar to RV owners this weekend. The seminar will cover skirting methods, along with the dangers of mold and carbon monoxide.

“It’s absolutely critical that everybody gets ready if they’re going to stay in one of these RVs for the winter, they have to get them skirted up and do all these precautionary things to survive,” said Coates RV manager Tim “Dutch” Deick.

The most critical step is keeping the heating and water systems under the trailer from freezing. This can be done by “skirting” the bottom of the RV with wood or plastic.

“The reality is, when we do get some sub-zero weather, it will be near impossible to keep a trailer warm. You will not be warm, plain and simple. Worse case scenario, people can and will die and that is absolutely what we want to help prevent,” Deick said.

“There are many people that have never lived through a North Dakota winter, and if you were here last year you didn’t live through a (normal) North Dakota winter, so it is absolutely for educational purposes, we’re not asking anyone to buy anything, we truly just want people to be safe and to survive the winter,” Deick said.

RV owners should already be prepared for winter weather, but at the RV resort, that isn`t the case.

“I’ve driven around town and looked, there are more not ready than there are ready. We were very fortunate last year to have a very mild winter. Its hard to believe that we’ll get two in a row, even though I’m praying for it. I think we need to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best,” Deick said.

The seminar is this Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Williston Village RV Resort. For more information you can visit


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N.D. Dealer Coates RV Donates Trailer to Family

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

A North Dakota family of four who were awakened by a semitrailer driving into their camper about five miles north of Williston earlier this week has a new place to live, thanks to the generosity of a local RV dealer.

Dutch Deick , the manager of Coates RV in Williston, read the story about the Cotten family in Tuesday’s edition of the Williston Herald.

“Valerie, one of the sales people, read it and brought it to my attention,” Deick said, adding Coates RV contacted the family later that day. And by nightfall, the company delivered a camper to the Cotten family — free of charge.

“It’s used, but it’s in really good condition,” said Shauna Cotten.

The 35-year-old mother of two, along with her husband and sons, were sleeping inside the trailer at 2:20 a.m. Monday when they felt the trailer shift about 4 feet. No one was hurt, but the damage left a gaping hole in a corner of the camper, and Cotten’s 9-year-old son was sleeping just inches from where the impact occurred, she said.

The truck sped off without stopping, Cotten said, and as of Wednesday afternoon, it’s still a mystery on who the driver was.

Still, a big load has been lifted, Cotten said, adding their new camper is much better than what they had before.

“We slept like babies,” she said. “Our boys felt so safe last night.”

The family was very appreciative to Coates RV for the gift. “There are still some kind-hearted people out there that really do care,” Cotten said.

Coates RV officials said they were glad to help out. “We’re a family business. We strongly rely on families,” Deick said, adding the company decided to give the Cottens a camper after speaking with the family about their situation. “We felt it was the right thing to do.”

Cotten said she plans to bring a cake over to Coates RV today as a show of thanks.

The Cottens moved to the Williston area from Bismarck for new jobs just a week before the accident. Shauna Cotten works at M&H, and her husband James is a maintenance worker for Village Laundry. They said they gave their old camper to a homeless person living in the Williston area.

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Double-Digit Traffic Gains at Affinity Shows

February 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

RV enthusiasts turned out in high numbers as the crowded show floors resulted in steady sales this past week at the 44th Annual Minneapolis/St. Paul RV, Vacation & Camping Show, as well as the 26th Annual Richmond Camping RV Expo, both sponsored by DISH Network and GEICO Powersports.

Both shows reported strong sales and increased attendance over 2010 with an 18% increase in Minneapolis and a 14% increase in Richmond, according to a news release.

According to Vilma Fraguada, regional manager of the Minneapolis/St. Paul RV, Vacation & Camping Show, “The show is an indication that the RV industry has emerged from its challenges in the past few years. The response from RV dealers and exhibitors alike was overwhelmingly positive.”

Mike Pearo, general sales manager of Hilltop Trailer Sales, commented, “Thursday was a fantastic day for us – the best Thursday we’ve ever had. We increased our sales over last year with a lot of good, quality buyers.”

Mark Pettersen of Coates RV agreed. “We were very pleased with the results of the show. Given the past few years, we were surprised to see many of our larger, more expensive units being purchased. This is definitely a sign that the RV business and consumer interest has bounced back.”

Jeff Nobbe of Shorewood RV concurred, “The show was great. Traffic was significantly up from last year with our sales increased by over 50%.”

Similar results were seen at the Richmond Camping RV Expo. John Patterson, owner of Southern RV said, “We had a tremendous show. Attendees came ready to buy and we sold double what we did last year. It was definitely exciting and encouraging to see the strong interest in RVing from customers.”

According to Jeff Haughton, regional vice president of the Richmond Camping RV Expo, “We believe we are seeing strong support for the RV lifestyle from the general public. RVing continues to be a superior and affordable vacation option for many families.”

Show Manager Dave Body added, “The attendance was great with a lot more selling than last year. Many dealers reported their sales were doubled.”

The shows are sponsored by Affinity Events, a division of Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), which owns and operates recreation-focused consumer shows throughout North America. AGI also is the parent company of

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Forest River Inc.’s Ice Cabin Debuts at RV Show

December 11, 2009 by · 2 Comments 


Forest River Inc.'s Salem Ice Cabin

Forest River Inc.'s Salem Ice Cabin

The 17th Annual St. Paul Ice Fishing & Winter Sport Show, which took place last weekend at the St. Paul RiverCentre, boasted increased attendance and record sales among local and regional ice anglers ready to get back on the ice with new gear and techniques. The show, sponsored by Camping World, hosted over 160 exhibitors, more than any other year in the show’s 17-year history.

Regional show manager Vilma Fraguada reported a 22% increase in attendance over last year’s show. “The response from both exhibitors and attendees was overwhelming,” said Fraguada. “Show attendees were excited about the upcoming ice fishing season and that really showed. Several exhibitors reported record-breaking sales at the show and many had to make several trips to restock merchandise over the weekend.”

Josh Roundsley of Thorne Bros., a longtime exhibitor with the show, is a perfect example of the show’s success. “This was, hands-down, one of our best shows ever,” said Roundsley. “There were lots of great new products on display and the attendees were excited for another fun season coming up.” Roundsley and the rest of the Thorne Bros. staff is busy preparing to head to Syracuse, N.Y., to exhibit in the 2nd annual Syracuse Ice Fishing Show this weekend, another show produced by Affinity Events.

John Nelson, a sales manager for Thorne Bros., was able to show the public that ice fishing can be a fun and affordable family activity on Sunday morning when he spoke with anchors on KSTP’s channel 5 Sunday Morning newscast live from the show floor. With all the products Nelson discussed, a family new to the sport could get on the ice for under $300.

Coates RV exhibited at the show for the first time, debuting its Forest River Inc. Ice Cabin, a towable RV for ice fishing, in the Minnesota market. Dan Mouch, a sales manager with Coates, reported excellent results. “The show was the perfect place to debut the new Ice Cabins,” he said. “It allowed show visitors to see, touch and compare them to other houses.”

Interior of Forest River's Ice Cabin.

Interior of Forest River's Ice Cabin.

Mouch and the rest of the Coates sales team were able to sell several Ice Cabins at the show and have already received several follow-up customers interested in making a purchase. “We will definitely be back next year,” said Mouch.

Another great draw at this year’s show was the presence of well-known ice fishermen Dave Genz, Jeff Gustafson, Jason Mitchell, Scott Peterson and “Tackle Terry” Tuma. All gave informative, insightful presentations on ice fishing techniques and tips for a record season of fishing to standing-room-only crowds.

The success of the show came at no surprise to those who love to ice fish. Expenditures in the ice fishing equipment category in 2006 jumped 27% from 2001. This increase in spending can be attributed to the avid anglers willing to spend more on the latest equipment as well as a rise in the number of ice fishing product manufacturers. Although the current economic climate has been a challenge for the recreation industry as a whole, ice fishing has remained popular, as it is a low-cost alternative to many other winter recreation activities.

Affinity Events will welcome ice fishing enthusiasts in the Northeast to get ready for the season this coming weekend at the 2nd Annual Syracuse Ice Fishing Show, sponsored by Camping World. Held at the Oncenter Convention Center, the show will feature a variety of local and national ice fishing products and services along with expert advice and entertainment. 

Affinity Group Inc. is parent company of Affinity Events and RVBUSINESS.COM.

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Forest River Annual Dealer Meeting Draws 700 Retailers

September 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 


Pete Liegl

Pete Liegl

With the addition of a new towable division and an emphasis on a wide variety of towable and motorized product, Forest River Inc. welcomed an estimated 2,000 people representing some 700 RV dealerships Wednesday and Thursday (Sept. 23-24) to its second annual dealer meeting adjacent to company headquarters in Elkhart, Ind.

The second annual ”Pick Your Partner” dealer meeting was the coming out event for Forest River’s new Prime Time Manufacturing towable division and the first opportunity for dealers en masse to see products from the new Coachmen RV division, which Forest River purchased last December from Coachmen Industries Inc.

”We had considerably more people here than last year,” said Forest River founder and CEO Peter J. Liegl.

Fact is, this week’s dealer meeting was twice the size of last year’s and was widely viewed by the rest of the industry as a signal of the company’s aggressive stance for next year and of the RV sector’s ongoing exit from the 2008-2009 recession.

The company displayed about 350 towable and motorized units and Forest River General Manager Jeff Babcock reported brisk sales and optimistic attitudes from dealers across the board. ”We are selling a lot of stuff out there,” Babcock said. ”We think there’s a lot of pent up demand and we are setting the stage to go after it.”

The positive attitude of those attending the show was reflected by Mark Peterson, co-owner of Coates RV in Hugo, Minn. ”With events like this, what you get is a good read as to what is going on,” Peterson asserted. ”What I see is cautious optimism. I’m seeing people who are looking for a turn in the economy.”

Taking a signal from Fed Chairman Ben Bernake, Liegl was more direct. ”Obviously, we all know the recession is over,” Liegl told RVBusiness. ”It was over at the end of June. Recovery is going to take a little longer, but dealers are selling, dealers are getting flooring and customers are getting financing. The RV industry is not bad right now.”

The proof, Liegl said, is Forest River sales over the last three months were better than the same period last year. The company is on target for sales of $1.8 billion, which would put it ahead of last year’s pace. ”That’s a little misleading because we have Coachmen now with us,” said Liegl. ”So, obviously, we are not comparing true apples to apples. But even if we did compare apples to apples, we are doing better than we did last year during the same time period. You can just walk this show and not even hear anybody and look at them and you know the enthusiasm among dealers is high.”

Contrary to the atmosphere of eight months ago, dealers seemed far more interested in getting product quickly, though, rather than unloading it from their lots.

”Right now, our inventory level is down,” said dealer George Goodrick, owner of Adventure Sports RV Center, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. ”Demand is still there, but with manufacturers cutting back so much, you have to find someone who is going to produce stuff in a reasonable amount of time.”

Ron Kinsey, owner of Modern Trailer, a towable dealership in Anderson, Ind., said sales currently are being hampered by a lack of inventory.

”We’ve had two or three months in a row that we’ve been up,” Kinsey said. ”Everything is headed in the right direction. And if we had inventory, it would be better. Right now there’s a shortage of inventory on certain hot models.”

Liegl said that refilling inventories at dealerships throughout the U.S. as the economy recovers is going to be a problem with more than 20 manufacturers having gone out of business.

”I know there is going to be a product shortage,” Liegl said. ”Even if the market shrinks, which it has and is going to be smaller next year than it was a few years back, there are not as many companies to build the product.”

Babcock, meanwhile, said the company intends to push hard in 2010 on motorized brands even as that segment of the industry has struggled over the last year and a half. ”Even if the motorhome market continues to shrink … we are going aggressively after that market. We are going to become a dominant player in motorhomes.”

Liegl said that the changing RV market has given Forest River an opportunity ”for several reasons.”

”When you look at two other manufacturers that went bankrupt, there’s a heck of an opportunity there,” Liegl said. ”We are completely convinced the RV business is here to stay. It might be a little different than we’ve known in the past, but things are not bad out there and I think it’s going to continually improve.”

Besides Forest River’s Prime Time Manufacturing Division that debuted the LaCrosse laminated travel trailer line, the Georgetown motorhome division showed an affordable new gas-powered non-basement Georgetown Class A floorplan retailing in the high $70,000s.

Forest River’s R-Pod division also introduced hybrid floorplans with extending bunk ends for the small, retro-looking travel trailer while Coachmen show redesigned Freelander and Leprechaun Class C’s.

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