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.
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.
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.
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.
Total 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%.
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.
The former general manager of now-defunct Weekend Warrior Trailers Inc. intends to create a line of private-label travel trailers designed by former Weekend Warrior President Mark Warmoth.
“From a distance, we always had that in mind,” said Larry Broyles, president of Poker Clothing Inc., dba Warrior Lifestyles, Perris, Calif.
Warrior Lifestyles’ new Legend travel trailers will debut Aug. 7-9 at the “Dune Tour” in the Oceana Dunes near Pismo Beach, Calif., an event that should draw tens of thousands of outdoor recreationists to 5 1/2-miles of ocean-front dunes.
“We aren’t doing any RV shows,” Broyles said. “We are going right to the consumers. We are going to give something to a new generation of RVers and campers.”
To advertise the new trailers, Warrior Lifestyles will distribute 60,000 trash bags to people attending the event.
Warrior Lifestyles was founded in September 2008 two months after Warmoth shut down Weekend Warrior’s operation in Perris and returned its inventory of finished trailers and parts and components to its creditors. The company retails accessories and provides parts and service for Weekend Warrior — once a popular West Coast brand — Rage’n and Extreme travel trailers in stores in Perris and Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
Warrior Lifestyles currently stocks about 20 new Weekend Warrior SURVs at the two locations that were acquired from the bank.
“I helped liquidate the company so it was an opportunity to buy stuff during a distress sale,” Broyles said. “Right now, you can buy them back from the bank cheaper than you can build them, unfortunately.”
Warrior Lifestyles also acquired most of Weekend Warrior’s parts inventory and mailing lists. The company employs about 40 people at the two locations, about half of whom perform service on travel trailers.
Weekend Warrior, founded in 1988 and credited with starting the towable sport utility (SURV) trend, at one time employed about 2,000 people in four plants totalling more than 215,000 square feet in Perris.
The new line of trailers will be built in a factory that once housed Weekend Warrior subsidiary Extreme Warrior Manufacturing LLC in Caldwell, Idaho, under the direction of former Extreme President Don Day.
“We are writing a business plan right now,” Day told RVBusiness. “We are going back after that cult-like following that Warrior has. Mark is designing the product for us, but that’s as far as his involvement goes. There isn’t anybody better in the toy hauler market than Mark. He connects with that buyer.”
In addition to towable SURVs, Day said, the company also intends to build conventional travel trailers and fifth-wheels at some point in the future.
With an initial production schedule of five units a week, the first 400 trailers are to be sold at the Warrior Lifestyles stores in Perris and Lake Havasu City.
After that, Warrior Lifestyles dealers will be “factory certified” and need to agree to sell “branded consumables” such as Warrior Lifestyles trailer accessories, clothing and bottled water, much like Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealers who are an extension of the Harley-Davidson brand.
“We are going to start up very slowly and build from there,” Day said. “We’ve been contacting dealers, and we’ve had a lot of interest for obvious reasons — that Warrior name is so strong.”
More than 120 members of the North American Heartland Owners Club began arriving in Goshen, Ind., today (June 10) to celebrate the kick-off to the fourth annual Heartland RVs Owners Rally. The event, held at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds, runs June 11-14.
The program is hosted by Heartland Owners Club, an association launched in November 2008 for members of Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC fifth-wheels and travel trailers.
While members frequently meet in regional activities, the annual owners rally is the largest event on the club calendar.
“Of the 272 registered club members, more than 45% are able to join us for this year’s event,” said Coley Brady, Heartland’s director of sales. “We are very pleased that we are able to attract such a high number of our North American Club member owners.”
This year’s national rally is particularly appealing to club members in that it is being staged near Heartland RV’s Elkhart headquarters. As a consequence, the usual menu of social and educational activities will be augmented with trips to the company’s manufacturing facilities.
“Those at our 2009 event will have the opportunity to participate in special sessions for maintenance and safety tips, factory tours, round-table discussions and new product ‘sneak peeks,'” Brady noted.
In 2010, the fifth annual North American Heartland Owners Rally will be held July 15-18, in Nashville, Tenn. For more information, go to www.heartlandowners.org.
The ongoing recession and tight credit will continue to affect RV sales in 2009, according to the latest research of economist Richard Curtin, director of Consumer Surveys at the University of Michigan.
In his Summer issue of Roadsigns, which is prepared for members of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), Curtin said RV shipments are expected to decline to 136,500 units this year. While this estimate is well below his forecast of 186,600 issued last November, it is a slight improvement from his forecast that appeared in the Spring 2009 Issue of Roadsigns, when he estimated total shipments this year would retreat to 130,100 units
Curtin will expand upon his latest forecast as one of the featured speakers at RVIA’s Committee Week, which gets underway today in Washington, D.C.
“They (shipments) reached a lowpoint in the first quarter of 2009, and can be expected to begin posting small seasonally adjusted gains in the balance of 2009 and into 2010,” Curtin stated. First-quarter shipments totaled 30,400, off 63% from the first quarter of 2008.
“The gains will be focused on conventional travel trailers during the next year or so, although all types of RVs will improve,” he said.
Further, he stated, “The recession is expected to end by the close of 2009 due to the favorable impact of the stimulus package and the revival of more normal credit conditions. Unfortunately, the recovery is expected to be abnormally slow. The economic outlook still remains quite uncertain, which has clouded prospects for the RV industry as well.”
“The pace of the recovery in RV sales,” Curtin continued, “will be slowed by the shift in priorities among consumers away from spending and toward debt repayment and the building of savings and reserve funds, including their diminished retirement accounts. Although credit will not be as free-flowing as in the past, RV buyers are excellent credit risks and can be expected to return to the market.”
By segment, Curtin offered these shipments forecasts for 2009:
- Travel trailers, 82,600.
- Fifth-wheels, 29,500.
- Folding camping trailers, 10,900.
- Truck campers, 2,000.
- Class A motorhomes, 5,400.
- Class B motorhomes, 900.
- Class C motohomes, 5,200.
Uncertainty Clouds RV Forecast
Curtin concluded with the observation that his forecast bears some uncertainty. He said, “When the economy finally reaches the bottom of its cycle, the initial phase of the recovery is typically anticipated to be as rapid as the descent into recession. That’s a natural assumption since it mirrors the typical cyclical pattern of the past.
” The current recession, however, is hardly typical as it involved a virtual freeze of credit markets and the deepest and longest decline in production and income during the past half century. The full restoration of normal credit flows will be a painstakingly slow and uneven process.
“Moreover, the impact of the new financial regulations, which are as yet largely undeveloped, will continue to add uncertainty to financial markets and lenders. While RV shipments are forecast to be 136,500 in 2009, the range about this forecast is unusually large, plus or minus 15%, with a comparable range for all various types of RVs covered in this forecast.”
The University of Michigan also prepares a monthly report on Consumer Confidence, which took a big jump in May, according to the report.
May 22, 2009 by Bob Ashley · Comments Off on RVIA Facing Uphill Battle on Mileage Standards
With struggling American automotive manufacturers agreeing to work toward a dramatic increase in fuel economy over the next seven years, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) finds its hands tied in efforts to realistically influence the outcome of any national energ Wind Power, Wind Turbine Blades, Home Wind Turbines-75% Comm. y-related issues.
That, says RVIA President Richard Coon, is why RVIA won’t be taking a more aggressive stand against the national CAFE standards proposed this week by President Obama.
“The RVIA doesn’t have any leverage,” Coon told RVBusiness. “We are still opposed to CAFE increases. We are just as adamant.”
In a press release earlier this week, RVIA urged Congress and the Obama administration to take into consideration the need the RV industry has for heavier tow vehicles.
Although Chrysler LLC is in bankruptcy and General Motors Corp. faces a June 1 deadline to restructure, automakers apparently have accepted standards laid out by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and endorsed on Tuesday by President Obama.
Under the plan endorsed by President Obama that still needs to go through Congress and the regulatory process, cars and light trucks together would need to average 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2016 with car standards rising from the current 27.5 mpg to 39 mpg and light trucks increasing to 30 mpg from 24 mpg.
That has many in the RV industry worried that automakers soon won’t be building trucks with enough horsepower to tow larger travel trailers and fifth-wheels.
Coon said that RVIA will continue to work with a coalition that includes the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), American Recreation Coalition (ARC), National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the SUV Owners of America to limit fuel-mileage increases outlined by Obama.
California’s air board was preparing to set its own standard by limiting tailpipe emissions on vehicles sold in that state, and 16 other states were considering adopting CARB-like standards.
“Not having all the states setting their own standards is a plus,” Coon said. “But when you look at the auto manufacturers, they’ve got big problems at the moment and CAFE just adds to their barrel of misery.”
The 2016 date would move up by four years standards signed by President Bush in 2008 requiring auto manufacturers to meet a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
Pickup and medium-duty trucks used for towing RVs are scheduled to be the target of a separate set of standards to be established by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Drew Industries Inc. has reported a net loss of $36.7 million for the quarter ending March 31.
The results included a non-cash impairment charge of $29.4 million.
Excluding the impairment charge, the net loss for the 2009 first quarter was $7.3 million, compared to net income of $9.1 million in the first quarter of 2008. The White Plains, N.Y.-based supplier to the RV and manufactured housing industries attributes this first quarter 2009 loss to the severe recession and tight credit markets, which resulted in sharp declines in the two industries.
In the first quarter, the company also incurred $4.9 million of extra pre-tax expenses, which reduced after-tax results by $3 million. These extra expenses were due to the unprecedented conditions in the RV and manufactured housing industries, and included increased bad debts, obsolete inventory and tooling and costs related to plant consolidations and staff reductions.
Net sales in the first quarter declined 55% to $71 million, from net sales of $159 million in last year’s first quarter. This decline in net sales resulted primarily from a 61% drop in industrywide wholesale shipments of travel trailers and fifth-wheel RVs, and a 46% decrease in industrywide production of manufactured homes.
“RV and manufactured housing sales are particularly dependant on the availability of credit for dealers and consumers, and credit has remained difficult to obtain throughout the last eight months,” said Fred Zinn, Drew president and CEO. “When loans to dealers and consumers become more readily available, we expect that both the RV and manufactured housing industries will benefit substantially.”
In recent weeks, the RV industry has experienced some seasonal increase in demand, although the company cannot predict whether this increased demand will continue, as it is still very difficult for dealers and consumers to obtain financing. Historically, the RV and manufactured housing industries have been seasonal, with the first and fourth quarters normally the weakest, and second and third quarter results traditionally stronger.
During the first quarter of 2009, the company generated solid cash flow, increasing cash by $6 million, to more than $14 million, and reducing total debt by more than $2 million, to $6 million.
“This was accomplished by reducing inventory by $19 million during the quarter which more than offset the seasonal increase in accounts receivable,” said Zinn. “We expect our strong cash flow to continue over the next several quarters, as we further reduce inventory levels by $15 million to $20 million in addition to the $19 million we reduced in the first quarter.”
The company also continued to reduce expenses through facility consolidations, staff reductions, and synergies between its subsidiaries, Lippert Components and Kinro. These and earlier cost reduction measures benefitted first quarter 2009 results by $2 million compared to the same period in 2008, and are expected to benefit full year 2009 results by nearly $9 million. “Our continuing efforts have enabled us to significantly reduce our breakeven sales level and reduce inventories, while maintaining our traditional high level of customer service,” said Jason Lippert, president and CEO of Lippert Components and Kinro.
“Operating management has done an outstanding job in dealing with the unprecedented weakness in our markets,” said Zinn. “In order to bring our capacity in line with current demand, we have been forced to make significant staff cuts, and I know this has been very difficult for everyone involved.”
“On the bright side, we continue to provide jobs for about 2,000 dedicated employees. And because of our strong balance sheet and cash flow, we have the resources to aggressively pursue opportunities for further market share growth and new products, helping to ensure that our business can thrive and grow rapidly once industry conditions begin to improve.”
“We are extremely encouraged by our market share gains in several of our recently-introduced products, in particular, our suspension products, jack stabilizers and RV entry doors,” said Lippert. “The enhancements we have made to our unique entry door give us a great shot at gaining even more RV market share, and give us the opportunity to bring our entry door to other markets. We have several other exciting new products in development, and we will take every prudent step to ensure that we increase our opportunity for growth, while continuing to improve our production efficiencies.”
Drew’s RV Segment also manufactures specialty trailers for hauling boats, personal watercraft, snowmobiles and equipment.
More than 90%of the company’s RV Segment net sales are components for travel trailer and fifth-wheel RVs, with the balance comprised of components for motorhomes and specialty trailers. The RV Segment represented 74% of consolidated net sales in the 2009 first quarter.
Drew’s RV Segment reported net sales of $52 million in the first quarter, a decrease of 58% from net sales of $124 million reported in the comparable period in 2008. Excluding sales price changes and acquisitions, the “organic” decline in RV Segment sales was 65%, due to the sharp decline in industry shipments.
Many of the towable RVs produced by the industry over the last several months have included fewer of the features and options ordinarily provided by the company. Industry-wide wholesale shipments of motorhomes, components for which represent 3% of Drew’s RV segment sales, were down 78% in the first quarter of 2008.
In the first quarter Drew’s RV Segment reported an operating loss of $4.7 million, which included $2.9 million of extra expenses related to plant consolidations, staff reductions, increased bad debts and obsolete inventory and tooling. Excluding these extra expenses, the company’s RV Segment had an operating loss of $1.8 million, a decrease of $16.1 million from the segment operating profit of $14.3 million in the same period last year.
“This $16.1 million adjusted decline in RV Segment operating results was 20% of the ‘organic’ decline in net sales,” said Joe Giordano, Drew’s CFO and treasurer. “This was consistent with what we would typically expect, as increases in labor and material costs as a percent of sales were offset by fixed-cost reductions.”
“Through acquisitions, new product introductions and our position as an increasingly important supplier to leading RV manufacturers, we increased our product content for travel trailers and fifth-wheel RVs to $1,943 per unit for the last 12 months, compared to $1,760 per unit in the prior 12-month period,” said Lippert.
“We are very pleased with these market share gains, as well as the opportunities we see for our new, patent-pending Tow-N-Stow,” said Lippert. “Weather-proof and lockable, Tow-N-Stow converts in minutes from a versatile trailer, which can be towed by fuel-efficient cars rather than trucks or SUVs, to an attractive upright storage shed. We are introducing the Tow-N-Stow this week at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas.”
Meanwhile, Drew reported that net sales in April were down approximately 45% year-over-year. This is an improvement over the 55% net sales decline in the 2009 first quarter, and April 2009 net sales were about 19% higher than March 2009 sales.
“While it’s too soon to know whether this sequential improvement in sales will continue, it is encouraging that our reduced number of facilities are producing more and our employees are working more consistent hours,” said Lippert. “RV dealers have been consistently reducing their inventories over the last nine months. Therefore, once credit becomes more readily available to dealers and consumers, and retail demand improves, we expect that dealers will have to replenish their inventories, which should significantly boost wholesale production.”
RV shipments to retailers were reported at 10,300 units in the February survey of manufacturers compiled by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), an increase of nearly 40% over last month but 63% less than this same month, one year ago.
Shipments of towables totaled 9,600 units, while motorized shipments totaled 700 units. Seasonally adjusted, February’s results represent an annualized total of more than 120,000 units.
While towable RVs improved in February, moving up 45% compared to shipments of these same products one month earlier, motorhome totals were the same. Conventional travel trailers represented 60.3% of this month’s total shipments as compared to 54.1% for all of last year.
In particular, February 2009 shipments, compared with February 2008 shipments were as follows:
- Travel trailer shipments totaled 6,200 units, down 58.1%.
- Fifth-wheel shipments totaled 2,400 units, down 64.7%.
- Folding camping trailer shipments totaled 900 units, down 55.0%.
- Truck camp shipments totaled 100 units, down 80%.
- Class A shipments totaled 300, down 83.3%.
- Class C shipments totaled 400 units, down 73.3%.
- Class B shipments were down 64.6%, with less than 100 units shipped.