The 2013 Elkhart Open House was a “great show” for Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., not only because of the opportunity the northern Indiana trade show afforded the Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary to show off new Kodiak, Infinity and Voltage models, but also because of the chance to communicate with dealers regarding all of the change that has occurred in 2013 for the Goshen, Ind., builder.
“It was absolutely a great show,” Aram Koltookian, executive vice president of Dutchmen, told RVBUSINESS.com. “We were a little bit ahead of last year as far as total sales, and the dealers were real receptive to the change. They understand all the new processes and the construction going on, and a lot of dealers really decided to stick with the Dutchmen brand and our company. And we signed a lot of new dealers.”
In addition to some West Coast consolidation and an aggressive construction project now under way at the Goshen campus, the biggest change for Dutchmen over the past year involves a major organizational shift announced in March through which Matt Zimmerman, president of Thor’s Keystone RV Co., assumed the additional responsibilities of overseeing Dutchmen while Koltookian, formerly general manager at Goshen-based Keystone, moved into his current slot.
All that led to some natural speculation within the industry regarding the independent status of Dutchmen – despite Thor’s assurances in March that the company would remain independent and continue to develop its own unique products with its own sales force, engineering staff, product development team and production facilities.
Now, Koltookian maintains, that speculation is gradually being laid to rest, especially among the dealers who attended the Open House and visited the company’s display outside the RV/MH Hall of Fame.
“Yeah, this was really huge for Dutchmen,” said Koltookian. “You know, some of the Dutchmen dealers don’t know Keystone or me, Aram Koltookian, and they wanted to get to know us. They wanted to know what the game plan was for the company and make sure that we weren’t going to really be part of Keystone. You know, they wanted to make sure that this wasn’t just a move to build on Keystone’s business and they wanted to know whether Dutchmen would remain Dutchmen.
“And I think we proved it to them,” he added. “You know, we showed them a lot of (construction) pictures and a lot of what’s going on on the new campus, the new factories that are going up and they were reassured that Dutchmen remains Dutchmen, Keystone’s still Keystone, and that the two of us are going to continue to slug it out and let the best company win.”
The $10 million-plus construction project involves the consolidation of some smaller facilities into one large new plant, according to Koltookian, as well as revamping roads and retention ponds to improve traffic flow. Also part of the project are new computer systems, fiber optic cables and upgraded operating software, which, Koltookian maintains, says a lot about Thor’s long-term commitment to Dutchmen.
“We’ve already broken ground and are well under way on a new 60,000-square-foot multiuse building, which will bring all of our small part CNC machines, weld shops and aluminum fabrication onto the Dutchmen campus,” said Koltookian. “We’re also upgrading our County Road 38 facility, where we do lightweight lamination and build several lines, and we’ve built new scaffolding there. We’ve repaved around that plant and moved some retention ponds to allow for better traffic flow.
“We’re also moving our sales team this week back into the corporate office where we completely renovated the first floor and added 20 new offices,” he explained. “So, all of our reps have their own space, their own offices where they can do a better job and be more efficient in taking care of their dealers.
“We have multiple projects going on, and the first one, the corporate office, is complete.”
Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., a subsidiary of Thor Industries Inc., will be moving production from Burley, Idaho, and Clackamas, Ore., to its manufacturing campus in Pendleton, Ore. According to a press release, the moves to a dedicated western manufacturing facility are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.
The consolidation by Dutchmen to Pendleton is expected to add 125 jobs to the area; current employees in Burley and Clackamas will be offered the opportunity to relocate.
The Burley and Clackamas plants currently build Dutchmen’s popular Coleman, Aspen Trail, Denali and Dutchmen-brand models. According to Dutchmen executive vice president Aram Koltookian, the relocation will enable Dutchmen to improve production, including benefiting from the extensive RV manufacturing infrastructure located at the Pendleton site.
“This move will help Dutchmen and our dealers to maintain our lead over the competition with products built for the western market,” said Koltookian. “The Pendleton campus offers us newly retooled production lines, room to expand, and the many advantages of on-site vendor relationships. This location will significantly improve our operating efficiencies in order to better serve our West Coast dealers.”
Keystone RV Co. opened the Pendleton campus in 2000, and expanded it in 2009 with the purchase of a former Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. facility. The campus consists of over 400,000 square feet under roof on approximately 45 acres.
RV industry veteran Jay Howe has joined Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. as regional sales manager for the company’s Denali product line, according to a press release.
In his new position, Howe is responsible for working with RV dealers in the central United States to market Denali travel trailers and fifth-wheels, including the recently introduced Trail Edition. He will also explore new opportunities in market areas where the Denali brand is not currently represented.
“We are pleased to have Jay join our team. He has great values, strong character, and is trusted in our industry,” said Troy James, general manager. “We continue to add top candidates to the Denali team to help us maintain the tremendous growth we’ve seen this year.”
Speaking of Howe’s two decades in the RV industry, James added, “Along with his successful past experience, Jay brings us the skills necessary to take Denali to a whole new level. He’s the perfect fit to help lead us in the fresh route Dutchmen Manufacturing is taking.”
Howe noted he is excited about his new position, and called it “the opportunity of a lifetime,” adding, “This is a “tremendously positive and comfortable fit for me, my background, history, and current situation. I’m extremely excited with the direction this company is headed.”
A graduate of Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, Howe holds a bachelor’s in journalism. He resides in Longview, Texas and may be reached on at (903) 235-6507 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott West has joined Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. as a regional sales manager for the company’s Coleman product line.
According to a press release, he will serve dealers in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States, as well as the Eastern provinces of Canada. West will also have responsibility for further expanding the significant market share increase experienced by Coleman’s three travel trailer lines in the past year.
West brings 14 years of RV industry experience to his new position. “Scott has worked in sales, engineering, purchasing, bill of materials and production for various brands and types of RVs,” Troy James, general manager, noted. “His well-rounded knowledge provides a unique understanding of what goes into an RV and why. We’re excited he’s handling the Coleman line.”
Coleman produces Expedition LT, Expedition conventional and Explorer ultralite travel trailers. These products range from a cozy, inexpensive 14-footer to a spacious 33-footer. The 100-year-old Coleman Co. is a world leader in the production of camping gear and outdoor equipment. “Coleman is really going places,” West said. “I couldn’t believe all the expansion projects happening at Dutchmen. They’re planning for the future big time.”
West attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., and joined the RV industry in 1999. He resides in Burr Oak, Mich., and can be contacted at (269) 625-2633 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. has named Lance Lees as regional sales manager for its Dutchmen product line.
According to a press release, Lees will be responsible for new market penetration and increasing Dutchmen travel trailer sales. His territory comprises Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico. Lees joined Dutchmen in April.
“I am looking forward to Lance’s enthusiasm in working with our current Dutchmen accounts and growing our Midwest business,” said Troy James, general manager for the Goshen, Ind.-based Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary. “Lance will be a great team asset, concentrating only on the Dutchmen brand.”
He added, “Lance Lees is a name this industry will hear for years to come, and I am thrilled he’s a member of our Dutchmen team.”
Lees comes to Dutchmen with retail experience in the RV and manufactured housing industries, including serving in virtually every capacity at his parents’ MH dealership.
“I’m excited to be part of the Dutchmen team,” Lees said. “I looks forward to meeting and working with our dealers, and am especially eager to show them the new 2014 Dutchmen lineup. We’ve made significant, positive changes.”
Lees attended Indiana’s Vincennes University and is a native of Syracuse. He may be reached at (574) 975-0639 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Goshen, Ind., Board of Works and Safety members Monday (July 29) approved a request by Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. that paves the way for a large remodeling and improvement project at the company’s existing manufacturing campus in the city.
According to a report by the Goshen News, Matt Schuster, manager of site development services with Jones Petrie Rafinski, said that Dutchmen’s proposed improvements include constructing a new industrial facility, stormwater drainage improvements, additional employee parking and demolition of existing obsolete buildings. Dutchmen is a subsidiary of Thor Industries Inc.
Due to the size of the campus, Schuster said the new proposed building is designed to utilize an existing sewer line within the campus, which is approximately 40 feet from the proposed southeast corner of the new facility. However, based upon the location of the existing off-site utilities, Schuster noted that a public sewer main is not readily available off to serve the new building.
“On the proposed site, what they’re seeking to do is construct to an existing sanitary sewer line,” Schuster said. “What they’re requesting is the board’s permission for approval of the new facility to be considered an accessory structure within the campus to be allowed to connect to the existing sanitary sewer line which is off of Dierdorff Road.”
The board approved the request with the condition that the new facility will be required to either obtain a sanitary sewer easement or connect to a public sewer main should the structure ever be parceled off from the rest of the campus and sold to another entity.
Thor Industries Inc. today (March 19) announced a series of organizational changes at its Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. subsidiary.
Effective immediately, Matt Zimmerman, president of Keystone RV Co., will assume the additional responsibilities of overseeing Dutchmen RV, replacing Cam Boyer. In addition, Aram Koltookian, formerly general manager at Keystone, will become executive vice president of Dutchmen.
According to a new release, the moves are expected to result in improved operating efficiencies, product quality and customer support.
“Matt and Aram have played a major role in Keystone RV’s success over the past 14 years,” said Thor President and COO Bob Martin. “We plan to draw on their ability to lead a well-managed, customer-focused organization as we focus on accelerating Dutchmen’s growth.”
Martin underscored the strength of the Dutchmen dealer network and Dutchmen brands, noting, “Voltage, Coleman, Aspen Trail and Denali are highly regarded names that attract strong consumer interest and dealer commitment. We believe that the entire Dutchmen family will grow and prosper as overall quality and back-end support continue to improve.”
“Dutchmen RV has great momentum right now,” commented Zimmerman. “It is our primary focus to keep that going as we strengthen all areas of the business to handle further growth. Dutchmen RV will remain independent and continue to develop and bring to market exciting new Dutchmen-branded products. In addition, Dutchmen will continue to operate with its own sales force, engineering staff, product development team and production facilities. The only changes the Dutchmen dealer should see are improved quality and customer support.”
Jim Izbicki has joined Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. as director of service operations, according to a press release. In the new position, Izbicki will oversee Dutchmen’s parts, service and warranty departments.
“Jim comes from the RV customer service side of the business,” said Kelly Green, vice president of operations. “He brings 26 years of building and maintaining strong customer/dealer relationships throughout North America, and we’re glad to have him on board.”
Izbicki noted, “Priority one is making sure Dutchmen is easy to do business with. We’re evaluating our staffing to guarantee we have the people in place to properly take care of our customers.”
Izbicki is also working on developing Dutchmen’s online parts catalog, as well as improving the timeliness and accuracy of parts orders.
“Everything we do is dedicated to complete customer satisfaction, and to that end, we’re currently working on warranty procedure changes we plan to implement in the next 60 to 90 days,” Izbicki said.
Izbicki began his RV industry career in 1987 and has worked for several RV manufacturers as a parts advisor, tech writer, parts and service manager, and director of parts and service.
Izbicki attended the University of Pittsburgh, is married, and lives with his wife and son in northern Indiana.
Ryan Elliott has joined Aerolite, a division of Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., as product manager. According to a press release, Elliott will manage the growth of Aerolite’s completely redesigned products by “providing input during product design and development and expanding the division’s dealer base through new market penetration.”
“Ryan came from the industry’s fifth-wheel market segment,” General Manager Ryan Thwait said. “He is one of the RV industry’s strongest reps in building and maintaining dealer relationships, and brings 10 years experience in dealer contact and product expertise to the ultralite market.”
Thwait added that Elliott’s experience and input has been instrumental in redesigning Aerolite to include “higher end features at the same price point. This is the only travel trailer in the industry with a standard king bed,” he noted. Another new addition is a redesigned exterior with new gray graphics and a contemporary front cap.
Five new Aerolite floorplans debuted at the RV Open House held in September. “The Aerolite line now goes from 16-foot expandables to 35-foot travel trailers, all with a whole new look inside and out,” Thwait said. Elliott noted that a major part of his new job is planning and design. “We want to make sure our product is right for the retail customer, so we listen to feedback from our owners and dealers. Then, staff from production, purchasing, sales, marketing and management work together as a team to build greater value into the Aerolite brand.”
Elliott began his RV industry career just out of college in Dutchmen’s parts and service department. He then worked in sales for both Monaco Coach Corp. and Heartland RV LLC prior to joining Aerolite. Elliott earned a bachelor’s in sales and marketing from Indiana State University in Terre Haute. He and his wife, Sarah, live in Goshen, Ind., with their son and daughter.
Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. has named Len McDougall as regional sales manager for the company’s Dutchmen travel trailer brand.
According to a press release, McDougall has worked in the Canadian and U.S. RV manufacturing sectors, with responsibilities including national sales manager and territory sales representative, as well as extensive participation in product development. McDougall was also a founding member of the Leisure Lifestyle Marketing Group, which evolved into the Go RVing Canada Committee.
“Len brings 20-plus years of valuable RV sales, marketing and management experience, coupled with genuine enthusiasm,” said Dutchmen General Manager Rob Groover. “With Len’s contributions, Dutchmen is looking forward to continued Canadian growth.”
McDougall has served RV dealers across North America, and refers to himself as a member of the ‘50-10 Club’, for having visited all 50 states and 10 provinces. He is married with two children and will serve all provinces from his Canadian-based office.
Goshen, Ind.-based Dutchmen Mfg. Inc. is breathing new life into the legendary Coleman brand name with the debut this fall of its completely revamped Coleman travel trailer. The initial “ultra-light” version was unveiled in September at the Pennsylvania RV & Camping Association’s (PRVCA) Hershey Show and Elkhart’s 5th Annual RV Open House Week. Dutchmen’s first wave of upgraded 16- to 36-foot, fiberglass-skinned Coleman towables feature new graphics on gray color-infused fiberglass exteriors, fully enclosed insulated underbellies, larger water capacities and enhanced insulation. And they’re more firmly linked to The Coleman Co. Inc. and its storied brand with the standard inclusion in each new unit of two Coleman folding chairs with dedicated storage modules. Coleman coolers, lanterns, indoor-outdoors tables and sleeping bags are also options. “It was just a complete redo of the product,” says Product Manager Troy James, whose staff incorporated residential and marine themes in the interiors of the $9,995-$33,500 retail line. “Coleman in the past used to try and be everything to everybody and, simply put, it was just a Dutchmen with a different sticker on the outside. Well, it’s not that way anymore, not only because of the product changes, but in how we’re approaching it internally at Thor. It’s a complete focused sales team on it now.”
Komfort’s 2410RK rear kitchen travel trailer by Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. was recognized by Consumer’s Digest magazine as a Best Buy travel trailer in its May/June 2012 issue.
According to a press release, the Best Buy title is awarded to less than 3% of the products competing in any particular category. In the magazine’s “Road to Recovery” article, Komfort was cited as the one product among dozens that “delivers all of the amenities that you’d expect from a premium travel trailer, but with more space for a lower price than other models deliver.”
Rich Dzierwa, editor of Consumer’s Digest, said, “Komfort stood out and rose to the top in what we deemed premium travel trailers.” The Best Buy product recommendation was a combination of product features, performance and price.
“Komfort was the least expensive of the travel trailer products reviewed, based on quality of construction, features, use of space and ease of towing,” Dzierwa stated. Research procedures for product evaluations are “comprehensive and diligent from the start.” He added that the magazine is “designed to serve consumers by helping them spend their money wisely.”
Rob Groover, general manager for Goshen, Ind.-based Dutchmen’s Infinity, Komfort and Dutchmen product lines, noted, “Komfort is a premium travel trailer at a midline price. This is not a cookie-cutter RV. There’s nothing like it on the market, especially in this price category.”
Groover added that Komfort models have a high insulation value, making them ideal for extended camping in most types of weather. Inside, modern interiors feature leather furniture with simple, contemporary lines and fresh decors with premium flooring. A crowned ceiling increases headroom. The exterior is set off by a sleek, aerodynamic front fiberglass cap and contemporary graphics.
Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. announced today (April 23) the appointment of Beau Durkee as West Coast regional sales manager for the company’s Aerolite and Dutchmen brand towable lines.
“Beau comes to Dutchmen with over 15 years of RV retail experience along with eight years of wholesale experience, and will contribute greatly to the success of the Aerolite and Dutchmen brand products,” said Matt Berg, product manager for the Goshen, Ind.-based Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary.
“I’m incredibly excited about joining the sales team at Dutchmen,” said Durkee. “The Aerolite and Dutchmen products look spectacular and the West Coast production facility is a huge advantage for dealers.”
Durkee can be can be reached at Dutchmen by phone at 574-349-5522 and email at bdurkee@Dutchmen.com.
Consumers who purchase a new Dutchmen travel trailer or fifth-wheel this year are getting an extra bonus – a free night of camping at any Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort in the U.S. or Canada.
“We think this is a great way to introduce our customers to the many fun-filled, family Jellystone Parks across North America – we are excited to have the opportunity of introducing the Dutchmen RV brands to the Club Yogi Rewards members as well,” said Bruce Hardy, director of marketing for Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., adding that this year is the first time the Goshen, Ind.-based company has partnered with a campground chain to offer free camping.
According to a press release, the promotion is also the first of its kind for Club Yogi Rewards, the points-based loyalty program for Jellystone Parks, said Lauri Hart, loyalty program manager for Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc., which franchises Jellystone Parks.
Hart said Dutchmen buyers will receive a voucher that they redeem online for 6,000 rewards points. “That’s enough points for one night of free camping in a premium campsite, but Dutchmen buyers can also continue to accumulate points for additional nights of free camping as they continue to camp at Jellystone Parks around the country,” Hart said.
Jellystone Parks have been on the expansion mode in the U.S. and Canada in recent years, adding new parks in Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas and Nova Scotia.
Dutchmen, for its part, has launched several initiatives in recent months to improve its sales and competitiveness in the RV marketplace, including restructuring its sales management team and making internal moves to improve product quality and manufacturing efficiency.
Cam Boyer, president of Goshen, Ind.-based Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., announced today (March 9) that Scott Paston was appointed regional sales manager for the company’s Dutchmen and Aerolite brand product lines.
“Scott comes to Dutchmen with 12 years experience in sales and will contribute greatly to the success of the Dutchmen and Aerolite brand products,” said Boyer. “Scott’s territory includes the central and Southwest states.”
Paston can be contacted at 574‐975‐9976 or spaston@Dutchmen.com.
Dutchmen RV is an operating unit of Thor Industries Inc. produces travel trailers and fifth-wheels under the brands Aerolite, Aspen Trail, Breckenridge, Coleman, Denali, Dutchmen, Infinity, Kodiak, Komfort, Rubicon and Voltage. For more information visit www.dutchmen.com.