FTCA Inc., Somerset, Pa., manufacturer of Coleman folding camping trailers, announced that the winner of the Coleman Evolution series Cobalt trailer is Heather Engler from New Braunfels, Texas.
Engler learned about the Coleman Camping Trailer Giveaway while browsing Coleman Camping Trailers’ website (www.colemantrailers.com) in search of a popup camper for her and her family to enjoy. She entered the contest online and her name was selected by random drawing from more than 55,000 entrants.
Wisconsin Pharmacal, also a Coleman licensee and the exclusive manufacturer and distributor of Coleman repellents, was a co-sponsor of the promotion, according to a release.
“When we launched the Coleman repellents line last year, we actually traveled across the country in a Coleman camping trailer to build awareness and generate excitement about the new products,” said Mike Kermendy, vice president of marketing for Coleman Repellents. “Everyone we met along the way was impressed with the Coleman Evolution series trailer that served as base camp during our journey, and they were thrilled to learn that they could actually register to win a similar camping trailer.”
Contest winner Engler was doubly blessed when she and her husband, Chet, welcomed their first child — Jake Christopher — three days after they they picked up her Coleman trailer from nearby Crestview RV in Selma, Texas.
“We had wanted to purchase a camping trailer for some time, and were thrilled to find out that I won the Cobalt,” said Heather Engler. “We can’t wait to take our son, Jake, on his first camping trip”
With the RV industry starting to pick up a little momentum, some 140 dealers gathered in Middlebury, Ind., this week (June 22-24) for Jayco Inc.’s ”Homecoming” to be followed Thursday and Friday by dealers handling Starcraft towables and Entegra Class A motorhomes.
”Dealer attitudes have been extremely positive,” Jayco President Derald Bontrager told RVBusiness during a break in the action at Jayco’s main complex on Ind. 15. ”The biggest negative we are facing this week is the availability of product. Our lead times have grown with the orders we’ve taken in the last 30 to 45 days, which is a good problem to have.”
Jayco, operating its Jayco, Starcraft and Entegra divisions with a 1,200-person workforce that is about 45% smaller than a year ago, is offering new 2010 Jayco products that include the Precept Class C motorhome, the newly redesigned Baja folding camping trailer and Recon ZX sport utility RV.
New Starcraft products include a redesigned Lexicon fifth-wheel and the redesigned Starcraft 36RT folding camping trailer.
The dealer gathering included factory tours and a ”meet-and-greet” Amish-style awards dinner Monday night at Das Dutchmen Essehnaus restaurant in Middlebury. ”The dealers really enjoy being here in Middlebury,” Jayco Chairman Wilbur Bontrager said.
Jayco’s management, at the same time, is convinced that the RV industry is beginning to slowly emerge from the nation’s deep recession, but still faces wholesale and retail lending challenges.
”Retail lending from national lending sources has eased considerably from where it was,” reported Jim Jacobs, vice president of sales and marketing. ”But I think most dealers have simply found another alternative if that’s what they needed to do. We hear a lot of credit union talk out there, and in fact, some of the credit unions are being very aggressive with their retail lending.”
An uptick in retail traffic is equally evident, Derald Bontrager said. ”Six months ago, they (dealers) couldn’t get anybody to walk though the door hardly,” he said ”Today, some dealers are seeing record days on their lots in terms of the number of customers coming through the door. Pent-up demand is real.”
On the wholesale side of the equation, Jayco continues to take a wait-and-see attitude. ”Our immediate sense is that it’s certainly gotten better, but it’s not back to the atmosphere that it was 18 months ago,” Jacobs said. ”Lenders have eased a little bit and they’ve given us more availability with dealers.
”But I think the flooring companies are going to play a critical role in the fall and winter markets,” he added ”How willing they are to allow dealers to inventory product is going to be a key component of what goes on this fall.”
Despite media reports that have tended to make the RV industry appear ”irrelevant” during the global recession, Wilbur Bontrager contended the RV lifestyle is not going to go away.
”I maintain that as long as people take vacations, our industry will not be irrelevant,” he said. ”The long term outlook is very good. (The industry) may come back at a slower pace than it has in the past. It will gradually recover. I don’t want to put percentages on increases, but we should see increasing strength and recovery over the next two or three years.”
Nonetheless, there may be more industry fallout due to the economy. ”There could be more of a contraction, not only manufacturers, but suppliers also,” Wilbur Bontrager said.
Given the bankruptcy of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. and the purchase of bankrupt Monaco Coach Corp.’s assets by Warrenville, Ill.-based Navistar International Corp., Jayco’s luxury Entegra motorhome division is well positioned for a recovery, according to Jacobs.
”Frankly, with the two largest Class A manufacturers out there in complete disarray, we actually feel good about our position with that product,” Jacobs said. ”The next six to nine months probably will be a very slow ramp up for us with (Entegra). But long term, we know we can position ourselves as a very viable, very strong player in that market.”
”On the retail side, (dealers) are very concerned about aligning themselves with manufacturers that they believe are going to be here long term,” Derald Bontrager said. ”We talked about it in our opening remarks. We will be here.”
With regard to the Starcraft brand, Jacobs said Jayco wants to make it ”an all-inclusive” brand.
”We want to create a brand that dealers can look at and say, ‘I do not have any holes in this offering and it is something that I can build my entire dealership around.’ We have made huge strides in that arena in the last several months.”
RVs were in the national media spotlight throughout May as a result of Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) public relations and Go RVing advertising, boosting consumer awareness even as consumer confidence was reported to be sharply improving.
Media coverage of RVing resulting from RVIA outreach focused on themes of vacation cost savings, family togetherness, and the industry’s efforts to add eco-friendly features to RVs, according to an RVIA news release.
On Memorial Day, ABC’s “Good Morning America” broadcasted reports from weatherman Sam Champion, who was stationed at a campground on Long Island, N.Y. Champion showed off a folding camping trailer and a fuel-efficient motorhome provided by Jim McAlpin of Grand Am RV on Long Island, while mentioning that RVing is a travel bargain.
Other national media placements include:
- A May 13 Associated Press story that touted an RV vacation as a great deal, and reported that there’s never been a better time to buy an RV.
- USA Today published a feature story about the Wahl family on May 18. The Wahls lived overseas for several years until retiring from the military. Instead of settling down, the Wahls hit the road for an RV tour of the country so that their three children could see America. Readers posted more comments online in response to this article than any other published by USA Today that day.
- “Today Show” travel editor and renowned travel expert Peter Greenberg published a story about green RVs on his high-traffic website.
- On May 21, two stories ran on Bankrate.com about new/green RV products and the impact of the government’s stimulus plan, new excise tax deduction and tax benefits on RV sales.
- On May 22, a front page story in USA Today included information from RVIA’s Campfire Canvass survey of RV owners about RV travel increasing this spring/summer.
- On May 24, HGTV re-aired the “2009 RV Special,” which showcased the latest RV models on display at the Hershey RV Show.
In addition, aggressive outreach to media in advance of Memorial Day resulted in coverage that included electronic and print coverage in local markets around the country, including: Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, Toledo, Ohio, San Diego, Austin, Texas, and Billings, Mont.
Go RVing’s May ad buy on national cable television included spots on some of cable’s highest rated shows, plus a family movie favorite, “Spider-Man.” Programs with Go RVing TV ads ranged from “This Old House” on the DIY Network to “American Chopper,” “Little People Big World” and the infamous “Jon & Kate Plus 8″ on TLC. Fans of “Law and Order” and “Bones” on TNT saw Go RVing ads, as did cooking enthusiasts tuning into Rachael Ray’s popular “30-Minute Meals” on The Food Network. The Weather Channel, History Channel and Travel Channel also ran Go RVing spots on their programming.
Go RVing’s most extensive May television buy was on the National Geographic Channel. Six 30-second commercials and six sponsorship billboards aired May 25 as part of a special “Memorial Day Marathon” buy. Exposure continues the final weekend of May with spots on “NG Presents Weekend,” “Ultimate Factories” and the network’s top-rated “Dog Whisperer.”
“Our strategy is to motivate consumers to release pent-up RV demand by hitting them with our messages as often as possible, through Go RVing ads and national media publicity,” said Gary La Bella, RVIA vice president and chief marketing officer. “With the economy showing signs of improvement and more consumers saying the worst is over, it’s a crucial time for our industry to remain highly visible through aggressive marketing communications.”
According to the monthly consumer confidence survey sponsored by the Conference Board, consumer confidence is now at its highest level in eight months.