Staff from Oklahoma-based RV General Store Inc., which handles Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc.’s line of Voltage toy haulers, recently met two stars from the popular A&E TV series, Duck Dynasty, at a Sooners football game. According to a press release, the reality TV show is based on the Robertson family, owners of Duck Commander, a Monroe, La., business that produces duck calls.
When the Oklahoma Sooners faced the University of Louisiana at Monroe on the gridiron, Jep and Jessica Robertson of Duck Dynasty were on hand for the festivities. The RV dealership is the official sponsor of Sooner Village, an on-campus area set aside for RV tailgating and camping at every home football game.
Adjacent to Oklahoma’s football stadium is the Fan Fest area, which hosts live and remote radio broadcasts, games and giveaways. “That’s where we parked our nicest 2014 Voltage toy hauler to be used as a green room for the celebrity guests,” said Darrin Abel, general manager of RV General Store.
The fully equipped fifth-wheel was seen that day by thousands of football fans. It boasted full body paint, a rear porch and numerous luxury options. “Jep and Jessica were brought in to pose for pictures with fans and we got to hang out with them briefly,” Abel said. He also reported that the couple liked the Voltage and were pleased with its comfort. “They were as nice as could be and extremely genuine,” Abel said.
On game weekends, RV General Store provides an RV for use as a check-in station when campers register at Sooner Village. “On site, we display two RVs for sale and market directly to Sooner Village campers,” said Abel, “We partner with the university to make this a first-class experience for RVers. We cook out, tailgate and have special drawings and prizes for the campers.”
About 300 RVs visit the Village for each event.
Goshen. Ind.-based Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. announced recent personnel moves, naming John Cunningham as regional sales manager for its Kodiak ultralite travel trailers and Justin Couts as regional sales manager for Aerolite travel trailers.
According to a press release, Cunningham is responsible for sales, dealer contact and market penetration in the Northeastern U.S. In making the announcement, Ryan Thwaits, Kodiak general manager, noted, “John comes to us with over 14 years of experience in the RV industry and has positive relationships with many RV dealers. We’re especially excited to have him involved in launching our brand new 2014 Kodiak products.”
Cunningham’s industry experience ranges from sales to management with two major RV manufacturers. He noted he is pleased to be part of Kodiak’s team and looks forward to the expansion of its sales and marketing efforts.
“Kodiak’s new exterior designs and interior colors are tremendous,” he said. “Dealers have been asking for something different and this is it.”
A graduate of Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., Cunningham earned a bachelor’s in accounting while playing football on a full athletic scholarship.
He resides in Elkhart and can be contacted at (574) 361-7037 or email@example.com.
Couts will be responsible for working with existing Aerolite dealers and growing the brand with new business on the west coast.
“As an industry leader, it is our obligation to bring in new blood, and Justin Couts is the kind of talent we’re looking for from outside the RV industry,” said Thwaits.
Prior to joining Aerolite, Couts worked for two major manufacturing companies in sales and business development for 10 years, and in sales for six years. He was involved in a variety of services, including transportation, warehousing, machining and container management for numerous products.
“The 2014 Aerolite line is amazing,” Couts noted, “and I can’t wait to get the word out to my dealers.”
A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Couts holds a bachelor’s in business administration. Couts resides in Fort Wayne, Ind., and can be contacted at (260) 443-6842 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sean Doll has joined Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. as regional sales manager for the company’s East Coast territory. According to a press release, Doll is responsible for increasing market penetration and sales of Dutchmen travel trailers on the East Coast, from Maine to Florida. Doll has more than 13 years of RV experience.
In making the announcement, Troy James, Dutchmen general manager, stated: “Sean is a great addition to the Dutchmen sales team. He’s enthusiastic, aggressive, and comes with a well-rounded RV background from the dealership side of the industry, which is so important.”
He added, “Sean is part of our continued, invigorated emphasis on product, dealer communications and customer service, and we’re pleased to have him on board.”
At age 15, Doll started his career at the RV dealership where his father worked in Longmont, Colo. He worked his way up, performing virtually every job available, including the service department, where he carried out customer PDI walk-throughs, and also worked in the parts department. He moved into retail sales at dealerships in Colorado and California from 2007 until present.
Doll’s position at Dutchmen meets a long-time career goal – working at the corporate level. “I’ve wanted to do this for some time,” he said. “I bring a different mindset to this job, which is a special appreciation of the guys who sell retail. I’m excited to be at Dutchmen because it’s such a strong company, and I appreciate the opportunity,” he added.
Doll attended college in Fort Collins, Colo., and will be relocating from San Diego, Calif. to the South Bend, Ind., area. He may be reached on his direct line at (970) 324-1274 or his e-mail at email@example.com.
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.”