Mt. Pleasant, Pa.-based Columbia Northwest Inc./Aliner recently acquired the rights to important intellectual property for their new line of Somerset camping trailers formerly produced by FTCA Inc. as the Coleman line.
According to a press release, the acquisition ensures that Somerset trailers will boast the same features, sizes and names as familiar Coleman models. Columbia Northwest said it “remains dedicated to offering its customers the same trusted service and high-quality products they have continually provided for over 30 years.”
Negotiations for intellectual property have been nearly a year in the making. The acquisition pertains to trademarks, copyrighted material, patents and product documentation as well as historic and current engineering documentation. These new materials will allow Columbia Northwest to grow the Somerset product line and expand on its role as an innovative leader within the industry.
“Having the historical data and current documents allows us to replicate past models and develop future models in a way that builds on the familiar heritage of a trusted product,” says Ned Collins, CEO, Columbia Northwest. “This significant acquisition will help to ensure that we are moving in the right direction towards innovation and customer satisfaction.”
The names of the product series and models will reflect that of the historically similar models. For former Coleman enthusiasts, this means that the Utah trailer of 15 years ago is still the same trusted product. In keeping their brand integrity top-of-mind, Columbia Northwest believes that this acquisition will assist them in developing their product lines and series even further.
“We are excited to create the next chapter at Columbia Northwest,” says Allan Reeping, former Coleman sales manager and current Aliner/Somerset director of sales and marketing. “Our loyal customers can be assured that while the brand is evolving, we will never stray from our commitment to providing them with only the highest-quality products and service.”
Columbia Northwest Inc./Aliner announced it will now offer newly designed, optional storage compartments for its Aliner line of campers.
By offering the only dual box-tray compartment, Mt. Pleasant, Pa.-based Aliner is “looking to fill an integral gap in the camper market and set the standard for future development in the industry,” according to a press release.
The new, removable storage box offers increased storage and versatility with 30 cubic feet of additional storage. The 100% waterproof compartment can be removed from its frame, revealing a storage tray for bulky or dirty items. The company said this feature is unique to Aliner, as other competitors offer either a box or tray, but not both on the same camper.
“As a company dedicated to constantly improving and upgrading our products, we are proud to offer the first dual box-tray storage compartment,” says Ned Collins, CEO of Columbia Northwest. “As we became aware of the strong consumer demand for such a product, we decided that we could best utilize our technology to provide a cutting-edge option that is unique to the camper industry.”
The Aliner storage box also features lockable full-length, top access and side access doors with an interior light. Removal and re-installation of the storage compartment takes less than ten minutes.
For more information visit visit www.aliner.com.
A-frame folding camping trailer manufacturer Columbia Northwest Inc./Aliner has begun manufacturing Somerset folding camping trailers that are reminiscent in appearance of the units built until earlier this year by investment firm FTCA Inc. under the Coleman brand name. The new foldout will be on display at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 49th Annual National RV Trade Show Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in Louisville, Ky. ”Our intent is to launch with eight models with 8-foot to 12-foot boxes, all with pretty-well standard features,” said Ned Collins, CEO of the Mount Pleasant, Pa., manufacturer. Collins said four of the floorplans with be ”touring-type” models and four will be included in an aggressively styled off-road series. ”We are going to launch to a combination of former Coleman dealers and the Aliner network,” Collins said. The Somerset made its debut at the recent 43rd Annual Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show in Hershey, Pa. Collins said that Aliner has hired some former FTCA employees who were in production, sales and engineering at FTCA’s Coleman plant in Somerset, Pa. ”In January (FTCA) closed their doors and at the time represented about 30% of the tent-camper market,” Collins said. ”So, we saw an opportunity.” Aliner’s camping trailer sales manager is Allan Reeping, who was FTCA’s national sales manager.
Colin, Mich.-based Palomino RV, a division of Forest River Inc., recently introduced the all-new Traverse series of folding camping trailers and delivered the first unit to Ketelsen Campers of Colorado. “Ketelsen Campers of Colorado is the premier folding trailer dealer in North America and we are very excited to have partnered with Randy, John, Don and their team,” said Gene Cronin, national sales manager for Palomino RV. “Together we have dialed in the Traverse to meet the needs of today’s active families.” The Traverse series will consist of eight feature-laden models and will be displayed in the Palomino RV display at the Forest River Open House, Sept. 20-22. Pictured are (L-R): Don Secord, Ketelsen, sales manager; Gene Cronin, Palomino national sales manager; John Stadtmueller, Ketelsen operations manager; Mark Fioritto, Palomino regional sales manager.
Today’s video comes from Jayco Inc. offering a rundown of the Middlebury, Ind.-based builder’s 2012 lines of folding camping trailers.
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 last issue of the quarterly PopUp Times magazine under Publisher Dave Newhouse goes to the printer Thursday (June 18).
Newhouse has sold the niche magazine and the PopUp Times website (popuptimes.com) to Dean Babb, who operates the PopUp Explorer Internet website (popupexplorer.com).
”I love it, but after about 11 years publishing PopUp Times, I just got to the point that I couldn’t do it anymore,” Newhouse told RVBUSINESS.com. ”There’s just so much that you can say about popups. It’s been a labor of love rather than a money maker.”
The magazine, founded in 1998 featuring product reviews, new equipment announcements, camping advice, technical tips and fireside recipes and currently has circulation in the mid- to high-teens, Newhouse said.
”I wanted someone to take the magazine who could give it a new look and pump some life in it,” he said.
For his part, Babb, a freelance designer based in The Dalles, Ore., said he doesn’t plan any major changes to the magazine.
”We are going to keep the focus on popup campers and smaller RVs,” he said. ”The biggest change is that it will have a new look — a new masthead and design.”
Babb also will continue to operate both Internet websites, describing Pop Up Explorer with 16,000 registered members that he founded in 2002 as ”primarily a message forum.”
”This will be my first foray into being an actual publisher,” Babb said.
Newhouse said he will continue to sell ads for PopUp Times, and is exploring the idea of starting a new regional magazine with PopUp Times editor Terry Hanley that would focus on outdoor life in the mid-Atlantic states.
”We’re hoping to have an issue out by the first of the year,” said Newhouse, who published PopUp Times from the Washington, D.C., suburb of Vienna, Va. ”We’ll includes some RVs in it, but it will be more outdoor-oriented.”
He also will continue to publish the annual directory for the Virginia Campground Association.
Although folding camping trailer sales have been in decline, Newhouse added the RV industry’s current malaise wasn’t soley responsible for his departure.
”It might have had a little bit to do with it, but that wasn’t the main reason,” he said. But it apparently played a significant role.
”When I started the magazine in 1998, they were selling 63,000 Popups a year,” Newhouse said, noting that a recent estimate by economist Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan is that the RV industry will retail only 10,900 folding camping trailers this year.
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.
In the nearly six months since it acquired the company, Forest River Inc. has restructured the former Coachmen RV Co. into six internal divisions under the leadership of former Coachmen President Michael R. Terlep.
Forest River in December purchased the Coachmen RV brand along with its manufacturing facilities in Middlebury, Ind., and Centerville, Mich. — creating its own Coachmen RV division — from Coachmen Industries Inc.
“The integration has gone remarkably well,” Terlep said. “It was a great move for Forest River and it was a great move for our brand and our customers.”
Each of five Coachmen RV divisions has a general manager and its own plant in Coachmen’s Middlebury manufacturing campus: Class A, Dave Miller; Class C, Mike Bear; laminated travel trailer, Bob Dumm; conventional travel trailer, John Babcock; and fifth-wheel, Don Medd. Folding camping trailers are being built in Centerville under General Manager Gar Warlick.
“We just ripped the complexity and cost out of our structure,” Terlep said. “Our overhead is running an absolute fraction of the matrix organization we ran before. Basically, we are getting all of the advantages and benefits of being Forest River and all the reductions in complexity and cost with timeliness of our product to the market.
“We are going to be a high-volume producer in the industry.”
Terlep said the Coachmen RV division is in the process of reintroducing the Mirada Class A motorhome as an entry level coach that will be available at the end of June.
He said the company also has just introduced the Freedom Express lightweight laminated travel trailer, shown at left, in lengths of 20 to 29 feet, and in January introduced the wood-and-aluminum Catalina travel trailer brand with an average price of $17,000.
Also, the Chaparral fifth-wheel has been “totally revamped,” according to Terlep, and a new fifth-wheel line is under development. “They are perfectly positioned for the market,” he said.
“We are signing up a lot of new dealers, and in some cases we are doubling plant rates, depending on orders.
“The big thing is that this is an all-new Coachmen RV and with that comes a tremendous amount of confidence and newness. This team is fired up, despite challenging market conditions.”