Damon Motor Coach announced today (April 30) the release of its “Lightning in a Bottle” National Spring Cleaning Event. The retail rebate promotion, which offers rebates up to $10,000 for the purchase of any new, unused, unregistered Damon Motor Coach Daybreak, Challenger or Tuscany model purchased through an authorized, participating Damon dealership, is scheduled to run from May 1 through June 30.
“We are very excited about this promotion,” said Matt Thompson, vice president and general manager of the Elkhart, Ind-based division of Thor Industries Inc. “We worked with several key dealers to help design this event. The biggest difference between this and programs of the past is the effort we’ve put into promoting it to the retail customer. We really want to create a market and drive traffic to participating dealer’s lots.”
Participating dealers were provided point-of-purchase materials to promote the program within their dealerships and a full-color mailer has been sent to qualified retail customers. Additionally, the program will be advertised on the Damon website as well as various social medias including Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.
For more information on the “Lightning in a Bottle” program, visit the Damon Motor Coach website at www.damonrv.com. For a list of authorized, participating dealers call Damon Motor Coach at (800) 860-5658.
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) expands its presence in the motorhome industry by entering into a new multiyear exclusivity agreement with Damon Motor Coach and Four Winds International, which are both divisions of Thor Industries Inc., according to a news release.
The agreement is for upcoming model years of all Damon and Four Winds rear-diesel Class A motorhomes including the Astoria, Astoria Pacific Edition, Tuscany and Essence from Damon and the Montecito from Four Winds.
With the new agreement, FCCC’s XC-R raised-rail chassis will be the exclusive chassis offered on the Damon and Four Winds diesel models. The XC-R chassis provides excellent durability and performance, superior maneuverability and a comfortable ride for passengers. Furthermore, the XC-R raised-rail design allows for increased pass-through storage beneath the coach.
“Our new agreement with Thor Industries, the largest manufacturer in the RV industry, enables us to expand our presence within the Class A diesel motorhome market,” said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for FCCC. “This partnership will allow Thor Industries’ customers to experience our reliable, comfortable and durable chassis and access to our first-class customer service.”
“Both Damon and Four Winds have had a long relationship with FCCC, and we value our partnership with them,” said Bill Fenech, president of Damon and Four Winds. “We feel they are the premier rear diesel chassis manufacturer, and we are pleased to renew our agreement to build our rear diesel models exclusively on their chassis.”
For more information about the FCCC XC-R chassis and all FCCC products, visit the company Wewebsite at www.freightlinerchassis.com.
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. manufactures premium chassis for the motorhome, delivery walk-in van and school bus and shuttle bus markets. It is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, a Daimler company.
Attendance at the 2010 Florida RV SuperShow continued to pleasantly surprise exhibitors Thursday with an 18% increase over last year, according to the sponsoring Florida Recreation Vehicle Trade Association (FRVTA)
“And we are having a strong day today,” said FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson, who reported that 12,375 people passed through the gates on Thursday at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. According to FRVTA, 26,059 people attended the show the first two days.
Rain predicted for late Saturday wasn’t expected to put a damper on attendance, Wilson said. “We should have a good day on Sunday, too,” he told RVBUSINESS.com.
Marcus Lemonis, president of the Camping World RV Sales dealership chain, said traffic during the early stage of the pivotal Florida show has been ”unbelievable.”
”We are surprised,” said Lemonis, who reported selling 72 RVs — including 19 Four Winds and Damon motorized units — during the show’s first two days. ”It feels like ’06 and ’07 as far as traffic. We only did 98 (units) last year through five days.”
”We’re not just talking (to customers),” said Bill Fenech, president of Four winds International Corp. and Damon Motor Coach, both of which are divisions of Thor Industries Inc. ”We’re selling motorhomes. In fact, we’re selling a ton of diesels. What’s really nice is that there’s just very upbeat attitudes at the show. Customers are listening. They’re showing up, and they’re buying. It’s not doom and gloom. It’s very encouraging. We anticipate blowing away last year’s numbers.”
Customers are both newbies and seasoned RV enthusiasts with trade-ins, says Fenech, and his staff is seeing more demand for diesels than gas at the moment — in the Damon Tuscany and Four Winds Montecito price range on the diesels, generally in the high $100,000’s to the low $200,000’s. “It’s just exciting to hear the optimism again and the fact that people are getting out there again and buying,” added Fenech.
Lemonis said that national retail lenders Bank of America and Bank of West, which have booth space — along with regional lender BB&T — seem to have eased their lending policies some.
”They seem a little hungrier to do business,” Lemonis said. ”And customers aren’t scared to put cash down.”
Terry Elias, president of Canada-based Class B and C manufacturer Leisure System Travel Vans Ltd., also reported strong sales during the opening days of the show. ”We sold six or seven the first day,” Elias said.
Lemonis said that early shows in Cleveland and Syracuse, N.Y., also were generating good sales.
”I’m not going to tell you that the world is fixed and that everything’s in a good place again,” Lemonis said. ”But the bar got set pretty low last year, so everything feels better right now.
”With everybody having fresher inventory and the customer not thinking that everything is falling apart, its seems that things are trending back toward normal.”
Damon Motor Coach has added two more floorplans to its high-end Tuscany model line.
The Elkhart, Ind.-based manufacturer will be displaying a 36-foot quad slide Class A and a 42-foot bath-and-a-half Class A this week at the 47th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
According to a news release, highlights of the Tuscany 3680 quad slide include:
- Four slideout
- 360 horsepower
- U-shaped dinette
- New, stylish front cap
- New hardwoods
- Full-tile back splashes
Highlights of the Tuscany 42RQ bath-and-a-half include:
- New tag axle model
- Bath-and-a-half floorplan
- Wall-to-wall tile throughout
- Comfort-Fit furniture by Villa
- New interior features including decorative hardware, backsplash and lighting
- Residential refrigerator
- New 85-inch interior height
Giant RV, the largest RV dealership on the West Coast (second largest in the country), has become a full line Damon Motor Coach dealer.
“We are excited about the Damon lineup,” said Dick Torres, general manager of Giant RV. “They are a good fit for many reasons.”
Damon, a division of Thor Industries, added Thor Motorized Services (TMS) this past year and the new commitment to back-end support has attracted attention, according to a news release.
“Damon has always been known for a high level of quality, exceptional fit-and-finish, and a full line of Class A motorhomes. Plus their management team and programs like T.M.S. helped make it an easy decision,” Torres added.
Giant RV has three locations in Southern California according to Matt Thompson, Damon’s vice president and general manager. “They are an aggressive organization — they’ve weathered the economic downturn and are in a good position to grow,” Thompson said. “We worked hard to sign them and we’ll work even harder to make sure our products turn.”
Thor Motorized Services (TMS), the service arm of Damon Motor Coach and Four Winds International, this week announced its new “Concierge Connection…Your Personal Service Advocate.”
Concierge Connection offers new retail owners of any Damon or Four Winds motorhome a personal service advocate who is responsible to expedite any service needs, according to a news release. The concierge will contact the retail owner within days of being notified of a retail registration and welcome them to the TMS family.
In addition, the concierge will explain the warranty and answer any questions such as how to obtain service and give answers to general FAQ’s about their motorhome operation. The concierge will emphasize the need for the owner to take their motorhome to the selling dealer for service whenever possible and that the dealer is the main point of contact for service. If there is a need for more technical assistance, the owners will be assigned a Customer Service Specialist who will be qualified to handle all of their concerns and help them increase their comfort level with their motorhome.
The Concierge will contact the retail owner again during the third month of ownership to bolster confidence in the service commitment provided by TMS. The follow up will assure the owner that TMS will assist in connecting the owner to a Customer Service Specialist, acting as a liaison between the owner and dealer.
“This is simply one of many unique steps Thor Motorized Services is taking to lay the foundation for an owner friendly relationship between Damon or Four Winds, the retail owner and the dealer,” said Janae Kurtz, TMS director of customer service. “We strive to exceed expectations in customer service, and by building relationships, we are confident we will build loyalty for our products and services. Our goals at TMS include acting on feedback received from all owners, thinking ‘outside’ the box to solve concerns, and striving for continuous improvement.
“We are excited about the opportunity that the ‘Concierge Connection’ program brings to the customer service experience. This program is going to provide a customer focused service relationship between the retail owner, dealer and manufacturer on a level unparalleled in the RV industry.”
Damon Motor Coach and Four Winds International are subsidiaries of Thor Industries Inc., Jackson Center, Ohio.
Motorized manufacturer Damon Motor Coach, Elkhart, Ind., is offering 21 1/2- and 28 1/2-foot floorplans in the 2010 Avanti Class A motorhome, now being built on the 18,500-pound GVWR Freightliner MCL front-engine diesel chassis. Mated to a 200-hp Cummins ISB engine, the Avanti is estimated to get 13-15 mpg and retails starting at $135,000. ”Unlike a traditional motorhome, the chassis is still five inches lower to the ground to provide a lower center of gravity,” said Matt Thompson, Damon vice president and general manager. Also, Damon has designed new fiberglass front caps on the gas-powered Challenger and diesel-pusher Tuscany motorhomes in addition to offering a 42-foot tag-axle floorplan on the Tuscany diesel pusher for the first time. Damon’s gas or diesel Outlaw SURV also has been redesigned with a passenger side door for easier entry into the garage.
Thor Motorized Services launched a new customer service portal that will transform the way dealers can interact with Damon Motor Coach and Four Winds International Corp. After months of preparation and testing, dealers can start logging into the new “Thor Advantage” portal for a brand new customer service experience, according to a news release.
“The goal was to streamline the parts and warranty process and incorporate a feedback system to communicate with our dealers. We want to offer our dealers the easiest, fastest, most convenient way to interact with Damon and Four Winds, and we believe we have accomplished just that,” said Janae Kurtz.
The new “Thor Advantage” is a web-based customer service system, allowing dealers to conduct all aspects of customer service, warranty and parts transactions with both Damon and Four Winds.
Just a few of the functions that can be performed include:
- On-Line warranty registration and authorizations.
- “Real-time” status on warranty claims and parts orders.
- Immediate feedback on claim and parts inquiries.
- VIN specific parts locator with photos and descriptions for easy ordering and fulfillment.
- Single contact point aimed at reducing phone calls and e-mails.
“We are thrilled to have the new system in place. We will continue to lead the market with new technologies like this. Our people and our processes set the Thor motorized divisions apart from the rest of the industry. Four Winds and Damon will utilize the same processes to help ease the complexity of multiple warranty and parts systems that dealers now have to use. We want to be easy to do business with,” said Bill Fenech, president of Damon and Four Winds.
The “Thor Advantage” became fully operational on Monday (Aug. 3). Any Damon or Four Winds dealer needing more information to get started can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Janaé Kurtz at email@example.com.
Motorhome manufacturers Damon Motor Coach and Four Winds International Corp. will operate as separate Thor Industries Inc. subsidiaries even though they will share some support functions and Damon President Bill Fenech will lead the new unofficial Thor Motorhomes division.
”We still need to keep separate products in the marketplace,” said Fenech who will serve as president of both companies. ”Technically, there is no such thing as Thor Motorhomes. There is Damon and there is Four Winds. Both are still very independent companies. All we are (at Thor Motorhomes) is support for those two companies.”
With Fenech, 41, at the helm, Damon will be led by Matt Thompson, who has been appointed vice president and general manager, while Four Winds will be overseen by Dana Simon, who carries the same titles. Previously president of Damon, Fenech added the title of Four Winds president with the recent resignation of Jeff Kime.
”I believe in ‘flat” organizations,” Fenech told RVBusiness. ”I know how to keep stuff separate. I won’t let one company copy off the other just because.”
To avoid duplication within the ”motorhome division,” the two companies will share some corporate functions including general counsel, finance, information technologies, human resources and parts and service, Fenech said.
”Does the (retail) customer care about how we pay our bills or handle our personnel or who our attorney is?’ Fenech said. ‘I don’t think so.”
Sales, product development, engineering, design, purchase and quality assurance will remain separate functions. The Mandalay Luxury Division will continue to operate as Four Winds’ diesel pusher division, according to Fenech, but ”will have to live and die on its own. That doesn’t change a bit.”
”They have similar products and similar markets, but one company sees it one way and one company sees it another way,” Fenech said. ”At the end of the day, there are different cultural circumstances in each company.”
Four Winds, he noted, will continue to manufacture Class C motorhomes, where it has a strong presence in the RV rental market where Damon does not have a presence, after abandoning development last year of the Del Ray minimotorhome.
”If Damon says they need to be in the Class C business and they can be profitable, they will be able to do it,” Fenech said. ”I have to keep the two companies unique becuase at the end of the day, we need a strong Thor.”
Damon Motor Coach, a Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary, has felt the economic crunch over the past year, but is bouncing back.
“We actually increased market share during the past 12 months,” Matt Thompson, vice president of sales, stated in a news release. “In recent weeks there is some very positive news for us and hopefully the industry.”
Damon Motor Coach designs and manufactures a full line of Class A motorhomes. Brands include the Astoria, Tuscany and Essence diesel pushers; the Avanti front diesel puller; and the gas-powered DayBreak, Challenger and Outlaw models.
Damon has announced it is back to five full days of production and now has a backlog of orders.
“This is a rarity in the hard-hit RV Industry, especially Elkhart County,” said Bill Fenech, Damon president.
“Although encouraging, it’s too early to call this a recovery,” Fenech said. The company is cautiously optimistic about the recent improvement in business. He went on to say that he and his staff will be watching production closely, and matching that with demand.
He also announced that Damon has hired back a group of previously laid off workers and intends to hire more. “Exact numbers will be dependent on sustaining current sales trends, however, Damon dealers are becoming more optimistic about future business,” Fenech concluded.
Jim Colton of Colton RV in western New York, one of Damon’s newest dealers, said Damon product is moving fast. “We received our first Daybreak model recently and it sold in two days,” Colton said. Lazy Days SuperCenter in Seffner, Fla., one of the nations largest RV dealers, has also noticed increased Damon sales. “Things are looking up,” the dealership said.
Damon’s all-new Avanti high-mileage Class A diesel has been a star performer. “We had seven retail customers purchase these units in the past two weeks… this is outstanding,” says Ken Jacobson, Sales Manager for Lazy Days.
An Elkhart-based RV dealer is also encouraged by the recent trend. Hank Schrock, owner of Total Value RV, said Damon product is helping his business.
“We’ve sold five Damon Class A motorhomes in the past few weeks… this is a great sign,” said Schrock. In March, Damon shipped nearly 10% of the entire Class A market, according to Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) wholesale shipment reports. On the retail side, Damon’s Astoria model gained 25% market share and the Challenger model came in at just over a 19% gain.
Damon has invested in a new production facility during the downturn. The new production plant has been modernized and streamlined to help make the entire process, from design to finish, more flexible and efficient. The company, because of the full production week, is back to its regular schedule for customer factory tours.