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Dutchmen Engineers 32-Foot High Profile Fiver

September 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Measuring just 32 feet from tip to tail, Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc.’s Komfort 2820FRL is the smallest true high profile fifth-wheel on the market, according to a press release.

“The 2820FRL offers all the advantages of a true high profile fifth-wheel in a shorter package allowing easy access to more destinations,” said Rob Groover, general manager. “Our customers have been asking for all of the upscale amenities Komfort offers in a smaller package. We believe we have exceeded our customer’s request.”

Despite the smaller platform, the new Komfort floorplan offers a 6-foot 8 inch crowned ceiling throughout the bedroom along with a king-sized bed and walk-in cedar closet. The bathroom sports a 60-inch by 30-inch Ultra Shower with a glass enclosure.

“At Dutchmen, our passion as well as our marching orders continues to be focused on fresh innovations,” said Groover.

The new model and many other industry firsts will be shown at the Dutchmen “Discover the Difference” Open House Sept. 20‐22 at the RV Hall of Fame. For more information on Dutchmen RV, a Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary, visit www.dutchmen.com or call 574‐537‐0600.

 

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Heartland Introduces Silverado by Bighorn Line

September 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Heartland's Silverado by Bighorn fifth-wheel

Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC has created an aggressive new price point in its high-volume Bighorn luxury fifth-wheel line with the launch of the Silverado by Bighorn series. The builder will be showing three all-new floorplans during next week’s Elkhart County 4th Annual RV Open House as part of Thor Industries Inc.’s expansive display at the RV/MH Hall of Fame.

“Heartland was the largest and most significant acquisition that Thor has made,” said Brian Brady, president and CEO for Elkhart, Ind.-based Heartland. “Our mandate is to continue to aggressively and responsibly grow our business. Consequently, offering Silverado as an extension of Heartland’s incredibly successful Bighorn line of upscale fifth-wheels makes compelling sense for our dealers.”

Kary Katzenberger, general manager, added, “We designed the Silverado by Bighorn to satisfy those consumers that recognize the inherent value in the Bighorn brand, but are looking for a lower price point. With base MSRP’s running from $39,000 to $49,000, the Silverado by Bighorn represents the best value in the full-profile luxury fifth-wheel category and offers our dealers a tremendous investment opportunity.”

For the Open House, Heartland will be displaying models ranging in lengths from 35 to 41 feet with plans to add a 33-footer to the mix. Units offer laminated fiberglass sidewall construction, three or four slideouts, Heartland’s patented 88-degree turning radius and oversized external baggage compartments with slam-style doors.

Silverado by Bighorn interior

The interiors are smartly appointed with several upscale standard features, including solid-surface countertops, royal maple cabinetry with decorative glass inserts overhead, a residential size stainless steel, under-mounted sink and a spacious bathroom with glass shower surround.

“One of the really unique features is the creation of a walk-around bedroom suite area,” said Katzenberger. “We were able to build in a large closet area in the front cap along with under-bed storage and a washer-dryer hook-up for a stackable laundry set.”

Heartland also incorporated a dresser that is narrower and taller than conventional units, allowing for a picture window in the bedroom. Windows are also built into the bedroom slide for cross ventilation.

Heartland said that representatives will be on hand during the Open House to show the new Silverado by Bighorn units along with Heartland’s full line of travel trailers and fifth-wheels. For additional information on the Silverado by Bighorn contact Katzenberger at 574-514-4531.

 

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Dutchmen to Debut Front Kitchen Infinity Fiver

September 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Infinity front kitchen floorplan

Set to debut at Elkhart County’s 4th Annual RV Open House next week, Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. said it is unveiling the industry’s only “front kitchen” fifth-wheel, the 3870FK Infinity.

“At home, most people tend to entertain in the kitchen. Why not in a luxury fifth-wheel?” said Rob Groover, general manager for Infinity and Komfort. “Through advanced engineering and design, we have produced the ultimate front kitchen flooplan that makes all that possible.”

The Infinity 3870FK offers five sliderooms, seating for six, a spacious 12-cubic-foot refrigerator, 6 foot 8 inch crowned ceiling and a 32-inch HD TV.

“We completed the 3870FK Infinity with a lower level great room with an additional 40-inch HD TV, as well as a bedroom that sports a king-sized bed and a spacious bathroom,” Groover said.

Dutchmen will be holding its “Discover the difference” Open House Sept. 20‐22 at the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind. Dutchmen RV is a Thor Industries Inc. company based in Goshen, Ind. For more information  visit www.dutchmen.com or call 574‐537‐0600.

 

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Redwood Fiver Floorplan Meets Full-Timers’ Needs

August 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Living area in Redwood 36FL floorplan

Syracuse, Ind.-based Redwood Residential Vehicles has improved upon one of the industry’s best selling fifth-wheel floorplans with its introduction of the 36FL, according to a press release.

By making innovative changes, Redwood said it has developed a front living room model with unique features that better meet the needs of the full-time consumer.

“The 36FL is uniquely Redwood. We’ve taken one the best and made it better,” explains Tom Montague, general manager for the Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary.

The 36FL kitchen has been expanded by moving the slideout to the off-door side and adding the industry’s largest moveable dinette table capable of accommodating six adults.

The living room is also improved by relocating the entertainment center directly across from the living room chairs for more comfortable TV viewing. The entry way is larger and enhanced with a grand staircase and two hand rails.

Other improvements include an 80-inch sofa, pullout desk, and fireplace. Redwood also offers an optional sliding patio door for customers who stay in one area for extended periods of time.

Redwood focuses exclusively on building full-time residential fifth-wheels with models ranging from 34 to 42 feet. All units include an industry exclusive two-year limited protection and five-year structural warranty.

For more information visit www.redwood-rv.com.

 

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CrossRoads Redesigns Cruiser Towable Line

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Topeka, Ind.-based CrossRoads RV has redefined its Cruiser product line by adding the Sahara fifth-wheel and redesigning its Cruiser fifth-wheels and travel trailers with many new innovative features.

Cruiser Sahara fifth-wheel

Cruiser Sahara fifth-wheel

According to a press release, the new Sahara fifth-wheel boasts new floorplans and a bold exterior that features infused champagne exterior sidewalls and cappuccino-colored aerodynamic front cap.

Nicely appointed with a MSRP around $34,879, these all-aluminum framed units are equipped with many standard features that other RV manufacturers offer only as options. Full exterior body color, flush-floor bedrooms, Intelli-Jacks auto leveling system, 16-inch aluminum wheels, solid-surface counter tops, and slam-latch luggage doors come standard in each model.

The company said that Cruiser fifth-wheels have been re-engineered to create a more “home-like appearance.” In addition, a tandem tow option includes a two-inch receiver built right into the frame, allowing for triple towing.

Travel trailer models range from 31- to 34-feet and weigh 6,000 to 7,500 pounds while fifth-wheel models range from 27- to 31-feet and weigh 6,800 to 7,800 pounds. Cruiser MSRP’s starts at $32,000.

The Cruiser Patriot and Provincial lines are also equipped with a many standard features that are normally offered only as options or not available at all on other brands. Cruiser Patriot and Provincial models include the following features: pillow-top mattress, solid-surface counter tops, high-gloss gel coat exterior, tinted safety glass windows, Equa-Flex suspension, Rota-Flex pin box and electric rear jacks. The Cruiser Patriot and Provincial come in seven floor plans, ranging from 30- to 34-feet and weighing 8,500 to 9,700 pounds. Starting MSRP for the Cruiser Patriot and Provincial is $37,500.

“As CrossRoads RV’s flagship product, Cruiser has always brought unmatched craftsmanship and functionality to their customers. Our ongoing collaboration with dealers and retail customers has brought a whole new sense of style to the entire Cruiser line,” explained National Sales Manager Rudy Boals.

All Cruiser products are covered by CrossRoads RV’s 2 + 5 year warranty that protects against defects in materials and workmanship for two years from delivery date and a five year structural guarantee against floor, walls, and roof defects. Also included is a one-year free membership in Coach-Net that provides 24 hours, seven day a week roadside assistance throughout the United States and Canada.

More information on the Cruiser product line can be obtained online at www.crossroadsrv.com or by calling 888-226-7496.

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MVP RV in Due Diligence Stage of Private Equity Search

September 11, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

 

MVP RV's Envy toy hauler

MVP RV's Envy toy hauler

After months of searching for fresh capital to kick start production, Moreno Valley, Calif.-based MVP RV has located a private equity firm and is in the due diligence process leading up to inking a final agreement.

Partners Brad Williams, Roger Humeston and Pablo Carmona jointly told RVBUSINESS.COM today (Sept. 11)  they are hopeful the pact can be signed soon and production of the company’s travel trailers and fifth-wheels resumed within a month thereafter.

The owners, formerly with Thor California Inc., have $3 million in confirmed dealer orders ready to fill once production resumes. MVP RV halted production in early June when it ran out of money.

The U.S.-based private equity firm’s capital would not only be used to finance new construction but also to pay suppliers and make good on outstanding warranty claims, they said.

Williams would not disclose the name of the equity firm, the amount of its proposed investment or any other terms.

Their statement came on the heels of a related announcement on Thursday in which they said they formed a separate company – MVP-EV – to build electric vehicles for CT&T United, the American subsidiary of CT&T Korea Ltd. Those vehicles, from motorcycles and golf carts to small cars and buses, will be built in one of the buildings on the MVP compound in Moreno Valley.

CT&T is making its first push into the American market and eventually plans to employ as many as 2,600 people in the country, operating several factories along with research and management teams to market several models of battery-operated vehicles.

MVP-EV holds the West Coast franchise to build the vehicles, thereby having the potential of employing hundreds of workers in Southern California.

CT&T is not the source of the private equity capital in question, Williams said. “They’re (CT&T) not interested in RVs at all,” he said.

The RV and electric vehicle companies are separate but could well use some of the same suppliers, a prospect that became more likely as RV suppliers have come forward since Thursday’s announcement and offered their services, Humeston noted.

MVP RV has less than 100 suppliers, but the electric vehicle business will have some 400 separate suppliers, based on CT&T estimates.

Williams, MVP RV president and CEO, said he went public with the RV company’s progress in finding private equity in part to allay concerns by some suppliers that, amid Thursday’s announcement, the RV firm may have closed.  

On the contrary, MVP RV has a variety of vehicles in various stages of production on all its lines and continues to garner dealer interest in its products, Williams said.

Chief among them are the Coast, an aerodynamic, lightweight trailer, and the Envy, a fully-loaded a toy hauler. Both products were designed to fill the void left when Weekend Warrior exited the business, Williams said.

Background

In July 2008, MVP RV Acquisition Corp., an affiliation of top executives at Thor California Inc., agreed to purchase Thor California Inc., a subsidiary of Thor Industries Inc.

As MVP RV, the company continued to manufacture the Wave, Summit and Jazz travel trailers and fifth-wheels along with Tahoe and Vortex toy hauler lines, previously produced by Thor California.

They’ve also developed new products such as the Beacon, a microlight trailer, and the Sonoma, an inexpensive, entry-level travel trailer.

The company was actively selling through nearly 100 dealerships in 11 Western states and three Canadian provinces. Williams estimated at the start of the summer that 65% of MVP RV’s products built in the first year have already sold

The company survived the credit crunch that began a year ago and was aggressive in developing new products, such as the Coast and Envy, but when orders began arriving in the spring, the company was out of cash and had to stop production. But it did not fold, Williams stressed. 

“We right-sized and cut and slashed expenses every way you could imagine,” Williams said earlier this summer. “We’ve positioned ourselves so that when we do come up running, our break-even is very low. We’re lean and mean and in position to take advantage.

“We were struggling with profitability through most of last year until this spring. We started to show a profit, which indicated all the changes we had made took hold. Then we got into this cash flow tug of war situation.

“The beauty here is, no bank holding us hostage. We have no long-term debt. Our intent is to get a cash injection and get squared away with our suppliers.

“The time is right for this; we think the worst is behind us. This is the best time to invest in an RV company,” Williams said.

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RVSearch.com Traffic Suggests Economic Upturn

September 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Another sign that the worst days of the recession may be behind us comes from the latest sales figures from RVSearch.com, a pioneer in online RV listings for both new and used RVs.

Total site visits to the site for July were up to 201,404, or 26,000 more than June, according to Genevieve Branco, operating manager for RVSearch.com. That’s a 57% increase over July 2008 totals. Unique visitors and page views were also up from last year, 61% and 24%, respectively.

But the category that catches Branco’s eye the most is “dealer referrals,” and she’s not releasing those impressive proprietary numbers just yet. “The last time we had dealer referrals this high was February 2007,” she said.

“Our traffic is up, but it’s been up for six to eight months,” she reported, adding that the dealer referral data “shows me people are interested in buying RVs.”

“They’ve started clicking that ‘Contact Seller’ button again, which tells me they’re doing more than just browsing,” said Branco. “They’re interested in buying.”

Branco also noted that some dealers who stopped advertising on the site during the recent downturn have come back in recent months. “It’s really a good economic indicator that times are getting better,” she said.

RVSearch has been providing an online RV buying and selling service since 1996 and today lists 30,000 vehicles – some 25,000 of which are at RV dealerships.

What sets RV Search apart from other online listing services, said Branco, is that RVSearch.com listings also appear on Good Sam Club, Trailer Life Directory and RV.net websites. RV Search also is endorsed by MotorHome and Trailer Life Magazine, the RV Buyers Guide and Woodall’s North American Campground Directory.

“On RV Search, your motorhome, travel trailer or fifth-wheel will be seen by a thousands of RVers every day,” Branco maintains. “If you’re looking to buy an RV, you’ve come to the right place.”

“We make it easy for you to connect with the seller by offering a simple, short ‘contact seller’ form for each listing,” she explained. “This no-obligation contract form allows you to inquire about as many RVs as you like with no risk or obligation to buy. Or, if you’re tired of searching for your dream RV, choose Find My RV For Me . Let us put our network of reputable RV dealers to work for you, to find you the perfect RV.”

RVBusiness and RVBUSINESS.COM are published by Affinity Group Inc., parent company of RVSearch.com.

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RV Maker Sees Pent-Up Demand in Western U.S./Canada

July 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

After facing an uncertain financial future, Riverside, Calif.-based Pacific Coachworks, a travel trailer manufacturer founded by two former executives of Thor California in July 2006, is returning to full production, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

The company, which builds the Tango and Tango Twist brands of travel trailers and fifth-wheels that can be towed, laid off most of its 150 employees in December. Executives plan to rehire 85 workers immediately. Tom Powell, founder and CEO, said he’s confident the travel trailer market will see a rebound in the fourth quarter, but “we’re still going to remain staffed as though it doesn’t,” he said.

He expects to have his full staff back by spring to work at the company’s 66,000-square-foot factory, he said.

The nearly 60 dealers in the Western United States and Canada that the company still sells its recreation vehicles to have reported a pent-up demand for trailers, he said.

“The feeling now of most people is, ‘OK, I’ve been through the worst recession since the Great Depression and I still have my job, my camper is still old and needs to be replaced,”‘ said Powell, adding that lending for trailer purchases has loosened.

At its height, the company employed 187 workers who were building 10 to 12 trailers a day. Now the company can manage to make a profit by building just four to five trailers a day, he said.

Powell, a 32-year RV industry veteran, said he had hoped to restart production by February or March but, despite having orders, he didn’t have the capital.

His company’s fate may have been much different had he not made a private stock offering that closed on June 30 and gave him the funding necessary to stay open.

Powell wouldn’t say how much was raised.

“There are a lot of people who are optimistic about 2010,” said Jeff Kurowski, director of industrial relations for the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA). But they’re not unrealistic, he said.

Industry forecasts indicate that the next year will see an increase in shipments but won’t exceed the volume of shipments in 2005 and 2006. Financing remains a challenge both for dealers seeking loans to buy new models to sell and for customers who have to put more money down, sometimes 20%, on trailers and motorhomes than they did prior, he said.

Kurowski said dealers are saying they’re running low on inventory and would like to order more if they can get loans.

There were 128,100 conventional travel trailers shipped in 2008 and another 57,000 fifth-wheel trailers, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). The trailers accounted for 78% of the total recreational vehicle market in 2008.

Only 3.7% of all conventional travel trailers and about 4% of fifth-wheel trailers were built in California, according to the group.

Powell said 24 of his competitors have left the industry in the past two years — including Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. in Riverside, which filed for bankruptcy March 10 and sold its trailer division.

“There are dealers scrambling to replace Fleetwood products and Weekend Warrior products and 22 others,” he said.

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RVIA: May Wholesale RV Deliveries Match April’s

June 26, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

rvia-logo2Total RV deliveries to retailers were 13,300 units in May this year, the same total recorded one month earlier but off 46.8% from this same month last year, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported today (June 26).

Motorhome totals were slightly better than the previous month, while towables were slightly less.  On a seasonally adjusted basis, May’s total represented an annual rate of 141,000 units, an increase of 7.5% over last month.

Year-to-date, totals have now reached 57,000 units through May, off 59% compared to this same period last year.  While all vehicle types are lower this year than last, Class A motorhomes continue to experience the largest percentage decline.

By segment the May report had these additional findings:

  • 7,900 travel trailers, off 41.5%.
  • 2,700 fifth-wheels, down 55%.
  • 1,300 folding camping trailers, off 43.5%.
  • 200 truck campers, down 60%.
  • 400 Class A motorhomes, down 66.7%.
  • 700 Class C motorhomes, a 46.2% decline.
  • 100 Class B motorhomes, off 50%.
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Stat Surveys: April Towable Retail Sales Down 39.5%

June 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Retail registrations of towable recreational vehicles totaled 13,901 in April off 39.5% from April 2008, according to Statistical Surveys Inc.

The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based firm, which tracks retail sales for the RV industry, reported these sales figures by category compared with April 2008:

  • 9,006 travel trailers, down 36.9% from 14,283.
  • 3,776 fifth-wheels, off 42.1% from 6,517.
  • 1,018 folding camping trailers, a 49% decline from 1,998.
  • 181 recreational park trailers (park models), off 44,6% from 327.

Year-to-date, towable sales totaled 40,015, off 40.8% from 68,892 through April 2008.

Thor Industries Inc. retained its commanding position in the RV industry with a 29.5% share of the towable market. Jayco Inc. was second with a 14.2% share while Forest River Inc. was a close third with a 13.1% market share. Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC and KZ RV LP rounded out the top five.

By segment, Thor was first in travel trailers, fifth-wheels and park models and FTCA Inc., marketing under the Coleman name, was first in folding camping trailers.

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