The remaining portion of the former Fleetwood RV complex in Paxino, Pa., has been purchased by the parent company of Great Dane Trailers, a well-known manufacturer that has made a number of acquisitions nationwide since celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2000.
The News-Item, Shamokin, reported that CC Industries Inc. (CCI) bought the 73-acre property along Route 487 for $3.85 million, according to a deed filed last week with the Northumberland County Register and Recorder’s Office. It was one of four properties acquired by CCI in a sale authorized Aug. 1 by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s Central California District.
CCI is the parent company of Great Dane, which also operates a plant in Danville. It is the private-equity division of Chicago-based Henry Crown and Co., which is among the nation’s richest private companies.
A spokesman for Great Dane remained mum Thursday on CCI’s intentions in Paxinos.
“At this time no specific plans for the property have been announced,” David P. Grant, marketing director, said in confirming the purchase.
Even so, the purchase suggests the company might at some point be using the facility to make Great Dane products, which included refrigerated trailers, dry-freight trailers, platform trailers and truck bodies. When and if that will happen and how many people might be employed remain unanswered.
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Fleetwood RV Inc. has introduced a new floorplan for its Excursion model, a 33-foot Class A diesel pusher. According to a press release, the new 33D floorplan is the fourth layout available for the model, providing a number of features typically seen in larger diesel coaches.
The 2014 Excursion features several upgrades including new cabinet stain choices, interior décor and exterior design choices that allow owners to “create a motorhome that matches their unique tastes.” Additionally, the coach offers Sony LED TVs and LED ceiling lights while a new blind-spot/pet-window in the passenger area can be opened for ventilation. All Excursion models ride on the Freightliner XCS series chassis with the exclusive PowerBridge chassis system.
Responding to input from Fleetwood owners, the 33D is designed with dedicated sofa and dinette zones, both of which convert to sleeping areas. The floorplan offers generous sleeping accommodations with an optional Hide-A-Loft queen-sized bed over the cab along with increased bedroom space and wardrobe storage thanks to an east/west bed mounted within a slideout.
In the bedroom, customers will find plenty of storage space as a result of a large wardrobe that runs the full width of the rear of the coach. An optional washer/dryer combo unit is easily incorporated into the bedroom area, which also features a convenient window bench seat. Large windows on both sides of the bedroom provide welcome cross ventilation.
The kitchen area in the Excursion 33D features an optional residential refrigerator, abundant storage space with the floor-to-ceiling pantry and wrap-around galley countertop with flip-up extension. A spice rack helps keep ingredients secure while the polished LG solid-surface countertops and glass-tile backsplash enhance the look and functionality of the kitchen area.
Owners of the Excursion 33D will appreciate the most spacious bathroom of any Excursion model thanks to the split bathroom layout with the lavatory on the left and the shower on the right. Essentials are easily stored in the large medicine cabinet.
“With the 33D, we’ve not only created an innovative layout, but also a variety of design choices and options that allow our customers to truly make their Excursion a reflection of their own unique tastes,” said Kyle McCrary, senior vice president of product planning and design for Decatur, Ind.-based Fleetwood. “We continue to develop distinctive floor plans such as the 33D with essential input from our owners.”
The 2014 Excursion 33D will be on display at the Pennsylvania RV & Camping Show, Sept. 11-15 in Hershey, Pa.
Fleetwood RV, Inc. announced today (May 24) one of its existing dealers, Transwest RV, is adding a new, full-service location in the Kansas City market. The dealership’s Frederick, Colorado, location has been selling and servicing Fleetwood and American Coach products since June 2012.
The new Transwest RV facility in Belton, Missouri, just south of Kansas City, will sell and service the full line of Fleetwood products, including Providence, Discovery, Expedition, Excursion, Southwind, Bounder, Terra, Storm, Tioga Ranger and Tioga Montara. In addition, the location will sell and service the American Heritage, American Eagle, American Tradition and American Revolution models. The Belton location will be an authorized American Coach and Fleetwood parts and warranty service facility.
“Our new Belton facility is a natural expansion for Transwest,” commented Dave Bowe, General Manager of the new Transwest RV location. “Fleetwood and American Coach manufacture some of the most innovative products in the industry, and we’re proud to offer them to our customers.”
Transwest has a strong history of serving its customers, selling and servicing light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks, specialty vehicles, horse trailers and over-the-road trailers. The company has earned an A+ rating from the Northern Colorado Better Business Bureau based on its superior customer satisfaction ratings.
“We’re excited to partner with an outstanding dealership like Transwest as they grow their business,” said Dave Denarola, Western Region Director of Sales for Fleetwood and American Coach. “Their new location in Belton will help us reach and better serve the market in that area by offering a full-line facility that can sell as well as service Fleetwood and American Coach products.”
In the wake of its announced acquisition of Navistar Inc.’s RV operations, Allied Specialty Vehicles (ASV) has begun assembling the pieces for its emergence as a major player in the motorhome segment.
Faced with a raft of organizational and engineering challenges, ASV has mapped out a strategy that will consolidate the building of four high-profile motorhome brands at its campus in Decatur, Ind., while also realigning its corporate structure.
“We will be manufacturing four very iconic motorhome brands – Fleetwood, Monaco, Holiday Rambler and American Coach – all with strong recognition in the marketplace, a loyal customer base and tremendous dealer networks,” noted John Draheim, president and CEO of Fleetwood RV Inc., a division of Orlando, Fla.-based ASV.
As part of the buyout, ASV purchased all of the equity interests of Navistar RV, including manufacturing operations for Navistar’s R-Vision and Holiday Rambler towable units in Harrisburg, Ore., and Navistar’s Monaco and Holiday Rambler brand motorized RVs in Wakarusa, Ind. ASV, which is owned by private equity firm American Industry Partners, has also entered into a multi-year leasing agreement for Navistar RV’s Elkhart, Ind., plant, a former Roadmaster chassis facility that houses towable operations. The sale does not include Bison Coach, Navistar’s horse trailer manufacturing business.
“Towable operations will not be impacted,” said Draheim. “The Roadmaster chassis is currently being assembled in an out-building in Wakarusa. We haven’t made a decision if we will continue to build chassis.”
Phasing out Operations in Wakarusa
The most imposing challenge will be the phasing out of operations in Wakarusa while preparing for a ramp-up of production in Decatur where ASV operates facilities encompassing 558,500 square feet of manufacturing space. Currently around 412,000 square feet are being utilized for Fleetwood/American Coach production.
“We are going to continue to build units in Wakarusa for the next three or four months, fulfilling all of the commitments already on the books,” Draheim said. “I anticipate that the last unit will run down the line sometime in August. At the same time, we’ll be implementing a parallel project in Decatur to prepare for the move.”
Draheim reported that the relocation will impact around 500 workers at the Wakarusa plant, 400 involved in production work. “The balance are in product development and engineering, and we are hiring people from those groups. Parts and service will not change.”
Draheim said that while production will continue, the work force will be incrementally pared down. Employees, who were meeting with management today, would be considered for openings in Decatur.
“I don’t see us starting production in August or even September,” he said, “so I don’t know if people will be able to wait that long. Our intent is to sell the Wakarusa facility. We have already received interest from a few industry companies where people would be able to find employment.”
He added, “Our top priority is taking care of these people who lost their jobs.”
Launch of a New Era for ASV
Draheim said that initially ASV would essentially be setting up two companies in Decatur.
“We will be forming two separate business units – Monaco/Holiday Rambler and Fleetwood/American Coach,” Draheim said. “Sales, marketing, product development, parts and service will all run independently. Long-term that may change. I can envision how the two companies and four brands will fit under the ASV umbrella.”
Product development, however, remains at the forefront.
“We will be adding additional product development/engineering resources to those inherited in the deal from Navistar, as we view product as an extremely important component for success,” he said. “One of our main goals will be to further differentiate the brands. Monaco was the premier luxury motorhome in the market, but Navistar tried to change the product through its engine strategy. They tried to make Monaco something it’s not.”
Draheim said that the production side would not be immediately impacted, noting that RV sales had been dropping since Navistar Inc. announced last October that RVs represented a “non-core” business.
“At the volumes we’re running today, we’ll be able to integrate production in Decatur without changing our facilities,” he said. “As volumes increase, we may need to reconfigure.”
ASV’s management structure will also be in a state of flux while operations are merged. Draheim will continue to head up Fleetwood/American Coach while longtime Monaco executive Mike Snell has been named as president of Monaco/Holiday Rambler. Bill Osborne, president of Navistar RV, will not be part the new team.
“Mike will be reporting to ASV COO Jim Meyer, who is also acting COO for Fleetwood,” Draheim said. “We are currently conducting a job search to fill the Fleetwood slot so Jim can concentrate on his corporate responsibilities.”
He added, “In the next 60 to 90 days we will announcing a new management structure. I can foresee a corporate ASV RV umbrella with two business unit presidents and one COO to oversee operations. Right now, we are wading our way through all the changes and are focusing on implementing a plan that makes sense.”
Fleetwood RV Inc. recently released a “Build Your Own” mobile tablet application that allows users to configure a Fleetwood motorhome to their own personal specifications. According to a press release, the app is free and available for download at the Apple App Store and Google Play.
The new Fleetwood RV app lets users choose their preferred Fleetwood model and the floorplan that best fits their lifestyle. The app offers a selection of inviting exterior graphics, interior décor and cabinetry options to choose from. Allowing an even greater level of customization, the app provides additional optional features in categories such as the galley and appliances, living room and furniture, electronics, bedroom and exterior.
“The mobile tablet application provides our customers the ability to explore our full range of amenities and options while they build their own unique motorhome,” commented John Draheim, president and CEO of the Decatur, Ind.-based builder. “The app is an ideal example of how our brands continue to employ innovative marketing techniques that engage our owners and dealers.”
After users have designed their customized motorhome, they can compare the suggested retail price of the vehicle to the price as it’s been configured. They also have the option to e-mail the configured motorhome to themselves or share it with friends.
A “Build Your Own” mobile tablet application is also available for the American Coach brand, Fleetwood’s high-end motorhome line. The American Coach version of the app displays rich product décor and features and actively updates the floor plan as the user makes his or her specific selections.
“These apps provide a significant benefit to dealers and customers, who are now able to explore the endless possibilities, floorplans and options, all from the convenience of a mobile device,” added Draheim.
Plans call for a mid-May debut of Fleetwood RV Inc.’s restyled 2014 Discovery diesel pusher Class A — the first major upgrade of Fleetwood’s popular Discovery since 2007. Updated inside and out, the 36- to 40-foot 2014 Discovery is available in four floorplans – two with full-wall slideouts – on a 32,000-pound GVWR Freightliner XCM modular chassis adapted to Fleetwood’s PowerBridge platform and equipped with a 380-hp Cummins 8.9L diesel engine. MSRPs range from $270,000 to $286,000. The exterior sports oversized headlights with LED accent lighting in addition to a front slideout generator access door and revised colors and graphics. Inside is a more automotive wraparound dash with faux-wood inlays and soft-touch surfaces while new interior decors and wood options have been added. “Discovery has been Fleetwood’s iconic diesel brand for years and is a mainstay of our product lineup, so the design changes for 2014 are evolutionary,” reports Kyle McCrary, senior vice president of product planning and design for Decatur, Ind.-based Fleetwood. “Our process began by placing a new focus on appealing to both husband and wife. For him, we started from scratch with a new dash design to make it more driver-centric with the most modern switchgear and premium materials. For her, we kept the traditional interior styling but updated it with warmer fabrics and wall coverings, and new hardwoods. And to add some drama, we’re using massive 24-inch-by-24-inch polished tile plus an updated galley that includes new LG countertops, glass-tile backsplashes, a spice shelf and additional outlets. These updates will put Discovery at the top of its class for 2014.”
Fleetwood RV Inc. President and CEO John Draheim has been appointed to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce board.
According to a press release, Draheim will serve a three-year term through 2015. The board is made up of 180 business and civic leaders throughout Indiana.
With a focus on developing aspects of the organization’s business advocacy groups, the board members serve on various committees that research topics and define policy positions for adoption. These positions are then used by the chamber’s advocacy team to initiate and evaluate legislation at the Indiana Statehouse and in Congress.
“It’s an honor to be asked to serve on the Indiana Chamber of Commerce board of directors,” said Draheim. “The chamber serves an important role in promoting economic prosperity and job growth in Indiana, something which is incredibly important to the people of our state and to companies like Fleetwood RV.”
Decatur, Ind.-based motorhome builder Fleetwood RV Inc. has partnered with Fort Wayne’s Bishop Luers High School in its participation during CANstruction 2013, in support of the Community Harvest Food Bank (CHFB).
According to a press release, CANstruction pairs local high school students with business sponsors and engineering mentors to design and build structures based on this year’s theme, “Dynamic Duos.” The structures are all built using only cans of food, which are then donated to the CHFB and for distribution throughout the nine counties which it serves.
On exhibit from April 12–21 at Fort Wayne’s Glenbrook Mall, Bishop Luers’ “Bo, Luke and the General Lee” structure represents the iconic television twosome and how they fought for the good in their 1969 Dodge Charger, the General Lee. This design also resonates the efforts of the CHFB in the fight against hunger within the community.
“This is our second year of sponsorship with the CANstruction program and we’re extremely pleased to be able to sponsor Bishop Luers High School in this worthwhile cause,” said Doug Hormann, director of human resources for Fleetwood RV. “Fleetwood RV’s commitment to this program supports our continuing efforts of giving back to the community while providing the ability for Bishop Luers students to showcase their design and do their part in the fight against hunger.”
Decatur, Ind.-based motorhome builder Fleetwood RV Inc. announced that John McKibben will join the company as director of operations.
McKibben’s responsibilities will include management of on-line and off-line production, lean manufacturing processes and operational resource planning. With 17-plus years in production management, he offers wide-ranging experience applying advanced lean manufacturing strategies in plant environments.
Most recently serving as plant manager at Bluffton Motor Works, McKibbon also has prior management experience at Nestle and General Motors Co. As a certified Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) coach, he also trains teams in TPS and TPM tools to improve safety, quality and productivity.
“John’s broad management background and lean manufacturing expertise is a great match for our organization,” stated John Draheim, president & CEO of Fleetwood RV. “He has a proven track record of consistently attaining production schedules, meeting quality expectations, solving process challenges and improving safety, all of which are extremely important to our work here at Fleetwood RV.”
McKibben, a Fort Wayne, Ind., native, replaces Luis Ortiz. A Six Sigma black-belt and lean expert, Ortiz advances to a new consulting role for Fleetwood RV stakeholder, American Industrial Partners (AIP).
“Luis played a critical role in the development of our lean manufacturing journey and we’re incredibly grateful to have had him on our team,” said Draheim. “He has accepted a position with AIP as a lean sensei where he will get to extend his expertise to an expanding portfolio of companies.”
American Coach, the luxury coach division of Decatur, Ind.-based Fleetwood RV Inc., highlighted three new floorplans for the American Heritage, American Eagle and American Tradition models at the 50th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., November 27 – 29.
According to a press release, American Coach also introduced its brand essence statement — “The trusted leader in quality-engineered luxury RVs” — and unveiled a new website that effectively communicates the American Coach message, including industry-leading support, a trusted brand and “a passion to produce the best products and innovation in design and engineering.” The refreshed website, www.americancoach.com, features a design that’s consistent with a luxury brand, larger product images, easy navigation, a “Build Your Own” application and improved owner center portal.
A series of brochures, one for each American Coach model, was also produced that not only highlights the company’s all-new floorplans, but the innovative design options available. Mindy Cox, an interior designer with 18 years in the industry, joined the American Coach team this year and will be a driving force in the company’s renewed focus on distinctive design.
“The American Coach brand is the epitome of luxury when it comes to motorhomes, and we’re focused on continuing to build them with meticulous attention to detail and the highest level of sophisticated design,” said Kyle McCrary, vice president, design, sales and marketing.
In addition, a new American Coach iPad application was introduced at the Louisville show that provides dealers with an effective, mobile sales tool they can use to show customers floor plans, décor options and the “Build Your Own” feature.