Three Indiana RV builders were honored by the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp. (LCED) with Business Excellence awards at the organization’s annual investor’s meeting on March 9. According to a press release, the meeting was held at the Michiana Event Center in Howe.
RV companies recognized included Crossroads RV, Topeka; Cruiser RV LLC, Howe; and Open Range RV Co., Middlebury. Also receiving awards were Trinity Pallet & Logistics and Tri-State Hardwood Company Inc.
The companies were chosen for their contributions to LaGrange County’s economic growth in 2011 as well as for partnering with the LCED to assist them in their business development projects. LaGrange is just east of RV manufacturing hub Elkhart County in Indiana.
“We are honored to be able to work with the companies that were recognized today,” said Keith Gillenwater, LCED president and CEO. “All of the companies honored today are industries in our core areas of focus for LaGrange County’s current and future economic development, and exemplify the quality of companies that we have in LaGrange County.”
“These five companies have a tremendous economic impact on LaGrange County and are very valued employers,” said Mark Leu, LCED chairman. “We developed this award as a way to acknowledge companies who have contributed to our communities continued growth and I cannot think of a more deserving group to recognize.”
Howe, Ind.-based Cruiser RV has received a $15,000 grant from the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation (LCDCE) to aid in growth plans. The company announced a major expansion in September that is expected to create up to 200 jobs by 2014.
Cruiser RV, a lightweight towable builder, will invest more than $850,000 to lease a 140,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in LaGrange, Ind., adding machinery for a new production line and making infrastructure improvements. The new space is located near its existing manufacturing facility in Howe.
“We are thankful for the assistance from the LCEDC and the LaGrange County Investment Fund,” said Jeff Fought, vice president of Cruiser RV. “The building was in need of some clean-up and repairs, and the assistance from the LCIF helped us get those done and allow us to expand into the building.”
The LaGrange County Investment Fund was set up by the LCEDC with assistance from the LaGrange County Commissioner’s and LaGrange County Council in late 2009 as a fund to help give LaGrange County a competitive edge for projects that would create jobs, add to the tax base, and have a large positive economic impact on the community.
“Cruiser RV LLC has been a great partner in LaGrange County, and we’re excited that they have continued to grow in our community,” said Keith Gillenwater, LCEDC executive director. “Being able to retain and grow a local business like Cruiser RV in our community is a great win for all of us.”
With the final numbers in from the recently completed Louisville Show, Cruiser RV LLC reported that the Howe, Ind.-based builder notched record sales.
“We all had high expectations going into the show based on the year Cruiser RV had in 2011,” said Jay Mohamed, vice president of sales and marketing, in a press release. “We were confident our current brands would do well, and they outdid our expectations, as did our new Enterra line.
“Our regional managers worked very hard leading up to the show and the hard work was evident as they were all able to close major markets for all of our lines. We like to say Louisville is a good indicator of what the coming year has in store for us. If so, 2012 will be another record year for Cruiser RV.”
Cruiser RV recently added a second production facility located six miles south of its Howe facility. The expansion added 30% production capacity from previous levels at the Howe plant, which builds the Fun Finder X, Fun Finder XTRA and Shadow Cruiser lightweight towable brands. The new plant is producing the ViewFinder and Enterra line introduced at Louisville.
“The increased production capacity will allow Cruiser RV to keep our lead times down and enable our dealers to maximize their sales on our products,” said Mohamed, noting the company would be participating in the upcoming slate of spring shows.
Continuing to ready for its expansion into a second facility, Howe, Ind.-based Cruiser RV LLC announced the promotion of Warren Patka to director of purchasing.
According to a press release, Patka has been with the company for several years as primary purchasing agent at the Howe plant. In his new role, he will also assume the same duties for the new LaGrange facility.
“Warren has more than earned this kind of promotion,” Fought said. “He is a vital part of our business model, negotiating material purchases that benefit our company and ultimately our end customer.”
Cruiser RV is a manufacturer of lightweight towable travel trailers including the Fun Finder X, Fun Finder XTRA, ViewFinder and Shadow Cruiser brands.
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Cruiser RV LLC, a lightweight travel trailer manufacturer based in Howe, Ind., has announced that it will expand its operations, creating up to 200 new jobs by 2014.
The company will invest more than $850,000 to lease a 140,000-square-foot LaGrange manufacturing facility, add machinery for a new production line and make infrastructure improvements. The new space is located near its existing manufacturing facility and headquarters in Howe.
“Cruiser RV continues to find new ways to grow and that is why they are leaders in this industry,” said Gov. Mitch Daniels. “Companies that innovate and expand will find no better home to do so than Indiana. We look forward to the opportunities Cruiser RV is creating for themselves and for Hoosier workers.”
Cruiser RV, which currently has 140 full-time Indiana employees, will begin the hiring process for new manufacturing and administrative positions this month. The company plans on commencing production at the facility by the end of the year.
“We simply were busting at the seams in our current Howe, Ind. facility and faced making a big decision,” said Jeff Fought, president of Cruiser RV. “We’ve been a single plant organization since our inception, but we feel this is the logical next step for us. The LaGrange plant will give us the needed flexibility to expand our current product offering, while reducing our lead time during the peak selling season and improving overall product quality. We’re proud to be expanding in LaGrange County.”
Formed in 2003, Cruiser RV has grown from making five trailers a week to making more than 20 a day. The company currently produces four lightweight brands of towable travel trailers: Fun Finder X, ViewFinder, Shadow Cruiser and Fun Finder XTRA toy haulers.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Cruiser RV LLC up to $1,750,000 in performance-based tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans. The town of LaGrange will consider additional tax abatement and tax increment financing (TIF) bonds at the request of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp.
“We are extremely happy to support Cruiser RV as they continue their growth here in LaGrange County,” said Keith Gillenwater, executive director of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation. “The town of LaGrange wants to support this growing company any way we can and we are thrilled that they chose our town in which to locate their second facility.”
Cruiser RV’s announcement comes on the heels of several recent RV manufacturer jobs announcements in northern Indiana. In August, Monaco RV announced plans today to relocate all motorcoach manufacturing operations from Coburg, Ore., to Wakarusa, creating up to 400 new jobs by 2012. Also, Spartan Motors announced plans in June to relocate its Utilimaster RV manufacturing operations from Michigan to Wakarusa, creating up to 60 new jobs by 2012.
The LaGrange County Economic Development Corp. (LCEDC) in northern Indiana has honored seven LaGrange County companies, including three RV firms, with the inaugural “Business Excellence” award at the LCEDC’s second annual Investor’s Meeting.
The RV companies honored were Cruiser RV LLC, Open Range RV Co. and Starcraft RV Inc., according to a news release.
The companies were chosen for the award to honor them for their contributions to LaGrange County’s economic growth in 2010, as well as for utilizing the services of the development corporation to help them in their growth.
“We are honored to be able to work with the companies that were recognized today,” said Keith Gillenwater, LCEDC executive director. “All of the companies honored today are industries in core areas of focus for LaGrange County’s current and future economic development, and exemplify the quality of companies that we have in LaGrange County.”
“The companies that were honored today have a tremendous economic impact on LaGrange County and are very valued employers,” said Joseph Pierce, president of the corporation’s board of directors. “We developed this new award as a way to acknowledge companies who have contributed to our communities continued growth and I cannot think of a more deserving group to recognize.”
In addition to honoring the local companies, the development corporation also held its second annual Investor’s Meeting. Gillenwater and Pierce both gave reports on the state of the local economy, a recap of the organizations 2010 activities and successes, and a preview of projects and priorities for 2011.
Cruiser RV LLC, Howe, Ind., manufacturer of Fun Finder X, Fun Finder XTRA, Shadow Cruiser and ViewFinder towables, has recently enjoyed exponential growth in the first quarter of 2010, according to a press release.
According to company records, wholesale order input for January through March climbed by approximately 145% year over year, with April numbers only looking to add to the increase.
“Retail activity for the last three months has been especially strong,” said Jay Mohamed, central territory regional sales manager. “Retail turns have been exceptional, leading to many dealers replenishing their inventory at a record pace to keep up with demand.”
With continued production increases, a building addition nearing completion and aggressive product development taking place, Cruiser RV is poised to continue to lead the ultra-lightweight sector of the towable market, according to the release.
“We’re excited to see the strong market turnaround and are taking an aggressive approach in our company as a whole,” said Jeff Fought, Cruiser vice president. “We feel that our dealer partner inventories are turning exceptionally well and we should see those numbers only continue to improve as we move into the heart of the selling season.”
The LaGrange County Council today (April 12) through a unanimous vote granted tax abatements for a building expansion at Cruiser RV LLC of Howe, Ind., according to a news release.
The tax abatement was requested by Howe Group LLC representing Cruiser RV LLC and the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp. The abatement is for a period of 10 years and is for a 10,200-square-foot building addition, valued at $220,000. In addition to the real estate improvements, the company has purchased new equipment that the expansion will house, which will allow Cruiser RV LLC to increase production efficiency and create an additional 15 jobs, paying on average $42,000 a year. In addition to the new jobs created, an additional 86 jobs will be retained, bringing their total employment to at least 101 employees.
“We are very excited to receive approval from the LaGrange County Council for our abatement requests on the expansion of our operations,” said Jeff Fought, vice president of Cruiser RV LLC. “We are eager to get this project underway and strengthen our continued partnership with LaGrange County.”
“Cruiser RV LLC has been a great partner in the Howe community and we’re excited that they have continued to grow within LaGrange County” said Keith Gillenwater, executive director of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp. “We look forward to continuing to work with Cruiser RV LLC as they grow.”
The LaGrange County Economic Development Corp., established in 2009, is a 501(c) (3) corporation designed to assist business development needs. The LCEDC partners with local, regional, state, and federal agencies to attract, retain, and develop new businesses and entrepreneurs in LaGrange County and its communities. For more information about the LaGrange County EDC, visit www.lagrangecountyedc.com or call at (260) 499-4994
Cruiser RV LLC produces lightweight towable recreational vehicles. For more information on Cruiser RV LLC, visit www.cruiserrv.com or at (260) 562-3500.
Cruiser RV LLC recently broke ground on a new manufacturing building addition at its Howe, Ind., facility.
The facility will be used to house a new lamination line recently purchased by the company. The state-of-the-art lamination equipment was produced by ITI in Yakima, Wash., and includes a computer-controlled indexing glue applicator and a four-tier vacuum press, according to a news release.
Along with the investment in lamination equipment, Cruiser RV has also recently completed the acquisition of CNC routing equipment, which will also be housed in the new building addition.
“We recognize the importance that lamination plays in a true ultralight RV,” said Jeff Fought, vice president. “While lamination is not something new to our company, this equipment will allow us to implement design and production tactics that we’ve been strategically planning for years. We’re excited about the investment we’re putting forward with the ultimate goal of producing the best RV for our retail customer.”
Cruiser RV LLC is a producer of lightweight travel trailers under the brands Fun Finder X, Fun Finder XTRA, ViewFinder and Shadow Cruiser, and sister company to DRV Luxury Suites, also based in Howe.
Cruiser RV LLC announced the addition of two new regional sales managers to its sales team for 2010.
Nick Franger has been named to represent the Eastern United States region, consisting of states from Florida to New York. Chris Daniels will be the new regional sales manager for the Northeast, which includes northern New England and Eastern Canada.
“We’re excited to have both Nick Franger and Chris Daniels join the Cruiser RV team,” said Jeff Fought, vice president of the Howe, Ind.-based RV manufacturer. “Both Nick and Chris represent the professionalism and intelligence needed to improve and extend our retail partner relationships. We’re looking for 2010 to be a strong year for Cruiser RV, and having individuals like Nick and Chris on your team is truly an asset.”
Cruiser RV builds lightweight travel trailers and toy haulers and manufactures the Fun Finder X, Fun Finder XTRA, Shadow Cruiser and ViewFinder product lines.
Cruiser RV LLC enjoyed a very successful Louisville Show earlier this month, fueled by the introduction of four new floorplans and many new features, according to a company news release.
Spring production is filling quickly due to the overwhelming wholesale response with the retail show season quickly approaching, the company said
The all-new 2-16H Shadow Cruiser debuted weighing just over 2,500 pounds with double expandable tents, offers many high-end standard features, including an electric awning and Aqualon tents. The S-16H represents a new target market for Cruiser RV.
In the ViewFinder product line, the V-24SD was popular at the show. Capitalizing on retail-customer input, the V-24SD combines the walk-through bath used in the V-24FK with a layout that features both an upgraded sofa and a spacious dinette. New for ViewFinder is the ClearView entrance door. The door features a full-length crank-out window with shade, and due to the overwhelming positive response, will now be standard in all ViewFinders.
The Fun Finder X showcased the X-215WSK. which features an outdoor kitchen, complete with a refrigerator, LP gas swingout stove, sink, countertop and roomy overhead cabinets. Inside is an L-sofa slideout, a swivel TV cabinet at the base of the walk-around bed and a bathroom that features a 34-inch neo-angle shower with a glass door.
The XT-275 Fun Finder XTRA sport utility travel trailers (SURV) also was well-received. The XT-275 is a half-ton towable toy hauler with a seperate living and garage area. Sporting a sofa slideout, walk-around bed, a separate 9-foot garage and all the features that set the XTRA apart, this will no doubt fuel this product line ahead into the clear leader in lightweight toy haulers, the company predicted.
For more information visit www.cruiserrv.com.
Cruiser RV LLC announced Monday (Dec. 21) the promotion of Jon Stallman to general manager of the company’s ultralight towable division.
Stallman has been with the Howe, Ind., manufacturer of travel trailers and toy haulers since 2005, most recently holding the position of director of engineering and product development, according to a news release.
“We are excited about this change and what it means for our organization,” said Jeff Fought, vice president. “With Jon’s engineering background and excellent understanding of our product and company direction, he will truly be an asset to our overall management team in our quest to remain the undisputed leader in true ultralight RVs.”
DRV LLC (formerly Doubletree) and Cruiser RV LLC today (Nov. 24) announced agreement with Lake City Bank of Warsaw, Ind., on a new, five-year credit facility.
“This new credit facility will help us to continue our profitable growth and continue to capture market share,” Dave Fought, president of Howe, Ind.-based DRV, said in a news release. “We are delighted to be working with Lake City.”
The companies manufacture travel trailers, fifth-wheels and toy haulers.
All questions should be directed to Dan Van Liew, CFO of DRV, at (260) 562-1075.
The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada (RVDA of Canada) has released the results of its 2008 Warranty and Parts Survey.
The trade group had 97 dealers, nationally, respond to the survey, which examined warranty and labor rates, warranty parts and handling as well as rated manufacturers in terms of their overall support, according to the association’s current newsletter.
In the manufacturer ratings, KZ RV LP, Shipshewana, Ind., got the top score, 82.4, out of 100. Jayco Inc., Middlebury, Ind., was second with a rating of 78.8, while Carriage Inc. of Millersburg, Ind., was third with 76.9.
Rounding out the top 10 were Crossroads RV, Topeka, Ind.; Pleasure-Way Industries Ltd., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Monaco Coach Corp., Coburg, Ore.; Cruiser RV LLC, Howe, Ind.; Coachmen Industries Inc., Middlebury, Ind.; Fleetwood Folding Trailers, Somerset, Pa.; and General Coach West, Oliver, British Columbia.
KZ, Pleasure-Way and General Coach West were the only three firms to rank among the top 10 in all four recent survey years (2008, 2006, 2005 and 2003).
Among the other findings:
- The average hourly warranty labor rate varied from $45 to $135 with the national average at $90.16.
- The average retail shop rate was $92.50 per hour with a range between $45 and $130.
- Warranty parts and handling allowances ranged from 0% to 100% with the national average at 17.2%.
- The average parts margin nationally was 37.4%, with a range of 0% to 75%.
- The number of technicians varied from one to 16 with the average of five per shop.
Most manufacturers give a handling allowance or mark-up for warranty parts. The majority of manufacturers gave allowances ranging between 10% and 40%.
Dealers also were asked to rate (with 100 tops) the following categories:
- Ease of completing the claims, 64%.
- Approval of warranty claims, 67%.
- Flat rate time allowances, 56%.
- Parts availability and supply, 64%.
- Overall support, 69%.
- Promptness of payment, 65%.
The recent survey had an overall satisfaction of 64.1%, which is higher than the 2006 survey, which received a satisfaction rating of 63.3%.