In a move designed to bolster its management structure, Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC today (Nov. 9) announced the appointment of three industry veterans as general managers for the company’s portfolio of towable brands.
Offering a combined 46 years of experience in the RV sector, Mike Creech, Sean Ryan and Nick Eppert will head up three divisions for the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder, representing 14 travel trailer and fifth-wheel brands, according to a news release. The announcement follows Heartland’s recent naming of Coley Brady as vice president of sales.
Creech, formerly director of travel trailer sales for Heartland, will be charged with overseeing the builder’s four luxury fifth-wheel lines that include the Landmark, Bighorn, Big Country and Elk Ridge brands along with the North Trail lightweight laminated trailer series. The 39-year-old Osceola, Ind., native boast 12 years in the industry, previously serving as national sales manager for Monaco Coach Corp.’s McKenzie travel trailer division before joining Heartland four years ago.
“I look forward to the challenges and the opportunities with these new brands,” Creech said. “As with all of Heartland’s products, the mission is well-defined – make the product better, adapt to the marketplace, build what the consumer wants and, most importantly, listen to the dealer body.”
Ryan, 38, has logged 17 years in the industry, the past 10 ½ years with Keystone RV Co. as a group general manager. He will be responsible for the direction of a cross-section of brands, including North Country Sundance and Greystone travel trailers and fifth-wheels, ultralight MPG and Edge trailers, Country Ridge destination trailers, and the Cyclone and Road Warrior toy hauler/SUTs.
“It’s a pretty broad mix, but these are the same types of products that I’ve been involved with throughout my career,” Ryan said. “One of the challenges is that many of the products are in the most competitive pockets of the market. Our objective is to distinguish the lines with identifiable, salable features and floorplans, and pricing that offers a great value. That’s what the dealers are looking for, and that’s what Heartland has been doing ever since they entered the marketplace.”
Eppert will spearhead the revival of the iconic Prowler nameplate, which will debut at this month’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. The 40-year-old brings 17 years of industry experience, the last six as product manager for Keystone.
He noted that the new generation of Prowler towables would “return to the full-line approach,” with travel trailers hitting three price points offering both wood-and-aluminum and laminated construction, along with two lines of mid-profile fifth-wheels featuring laminated fiberglass sidewalls.
“Prowler is the most popular towable brand of all times,” Eppert noted. “The anticipation and expectation from dealers and retail customers is high. Our team is utilizing all our resources and energy to create exciting new floorplans, features and overall value at each price point. Unique eye appeal and innovative use of available space will also separate Prowler from current brands on the market.”
He added, “Every dealer attending this year’s Louisville show is invited to come see the new Prowler. They will not be disappointed.”
Charged with extending Heartland Recreational Vehicle LLC’s record of vigorous growth and expansion, Coley Brady was recently named vice president of sales and will oversee development of 13 travel trailer and fifth-wheel brands for the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder.
Brady, 32, joined Heartland seven years ago after graduating with an accounting degree from the University of Notre Dame and serving as a CPA for a major Chicago firm. He worked in sales and as a brand manager for Heartland before being promoted to director of fifth-wheel sales in 2008, according to a news release.
“I started with Heartland six months after the first unit rolled off the line,” said Brady. “It’s been exciting and rewarding to have played a part in the phenomenal market share growth that established Heartland as one of the industry’s leaders. Going forward, however, we will not become complacent. We will continue to be innovative and aggressive with product development and, in turn, continue to build franchise value for our dealer body.”
Brady will direct sales operations for all of Heartland’s brands except the newly introduced Prowler series, which was part of the company’s purchase of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.’s towable brands last February. His promotion comes in the wake of Thor Industries Inc.’s September acquisition of a controlling interest in Heartland from private equity firm Catterton Partners.
The Elkhart native said one of his key objectives was to gain ground in the high-volume travel trailer sector. After entering the marketplace in May of 2007, Heartland has strategically broadened its brand and floorplan selection, owning a 4.2% market share through August, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. Serving as a yardstick, Heartland has built a 13.1% market share among all domestic fifth-wheel builders since entering the industry with its Landmark luxury fiver line.
“The goal is to see market share gains on the travel trailer side similar to what we have accomplished in the fifth-wheel sector,” he said.
Brady emphasized that the core of Heartland’s success stemmed from its commitment to its dealer body, which has grown to include 604 locations nationwide.
“The thing to remember is that your dealer relations are only as strong as your product,” he said. “We have been working hard to make sure our price points are carefully thought out and strategically positioned to deliver an outstanding investment opportunity for our dealers. That’s what earns dealer loyalty.”
Heading into this month’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., Brady said that the builder was on target to cap off its strongest year to date.
“We will not be debuting any new brands at the show, but we will have plenty to talk about with over 30 terrific and exciting new floorplans on display along with some really exciting new features,” Brady said. “Louisville represents the start of another year of growth for Heartland.”
Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC today (June 9) announced plans to aggressively revive the iconic Prowler brand, launching production of the former legendary Fleetwood towable line late this summer in a dedicated production facility.
Heartland acquired the Prowler brand among a portfolio of 15 brands from Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2009. The decision to launch the Prowler series was based on its popularity and incredibly strong brand recognition in the marketplace, according to a news release.
“We view Prowler as arguably the greatest towable name in the history of the recreational vehicle industry,” said Tim Hoffman, vice president of sales for the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder.
“The response from dealers and consumers alike has been overwhelming once people heard that we had acquired the Prowler brand,” added Heartland Director of Sales Coley Brady.
He said Heartland is planning an invitation-only dealer showing for Prowler this summer. “As testament to Prowler’s strength in the market, for 13 years straight Prowler was the No. 1 selling travel trailer and fifth-wheel brand combined (according to Statistical Surveys, Inc.) — a run that has not been repeated.”
Brady said that Heartland will initially offer a wide range of towable products under the Prowler brand. “We have doubled our Louisville show space in anticipation of displaying a series of new product lines bearing former Fleetwood nameplates, Prowler being one,” Brady said.
In line with Heartland’s other towable offerings, the Prowler products will represent “an exceptional and exciting value at retail,” according to Hoffman.
“Prowler will offer RVers unique, set-apart features at some very key price points,” he said. “We have engaged an interior designer specifically for the Prowler launch to ensure that we are developing products that are totally in line with what today’s buyer desires.”
Hoffman added that “Prowler will feature intelligent differentiation from existing Heartland products that are obviously performing exceptionally well in a very competitive market.”
Heartland currently markets more than 15 brands of fifth-wheels and travel trailers and has captured the No. 3 market share in the fifth-wheel category. Heartland’s towable RVs are sold through an independent network of dealers throughout the United States and Canada. The company has more than 1,100 employees.