Supreme Industries Inc. will sell its shuttle-bus assets to Forest River Inc.
The Goshen (Ind.) News reported that in December Supreme management announced it would sell the shuttle-bus business. Forest River, headquartered in Elkhart, will buy the division for about $7 million, depending on bus sales before the deal is finalized.
Supreme is making the move to focus on its core work truck and specialty vehicle markets. The company customizes vehicles.
Supreme announced in a statement Friday (Feb. 28) a modest gain on the sale is anticipated and the proceeds will be used to fund a series of growth initiatives, capital expenditures and margin expansion projects. The transaction is expected to close within 30 days.
“We are pleased to have reached a mutually beneficial agreement for the sale of our shuttle-bus assets to Forest River,” said Mark D. Weber, Supreme’s president and chief executive officer.
“The bus market has become increasingly competitive and this business has been unable to achieve our profitable growth objectives,” he added. “This divestiture allows us to concentrate our resources on growing our work truck, specialty vehicle and trolley businesses.”
Forest River is a Berkshire Hathaway company and manufactures transit buses, shuttle buses and tour coaches as well as recreational vehicles.
Looking to expand market share in the growing Class A diesel marketplace, Forest River Inc. initiated an across-the-board restructuring of the division over the past year. “We completely rebuilt the management, sales and design teams, but most importantly the product has taken on a new design and direction,” said Jeff Babcock, general manager. The product redesign includes improved floorplans in the Charleston and Berkshire lines along with an all-new 35-foot Legacy SR300 that debuted at last September’s Hershey Show. With an MSRP of $199,000, the entry-level Legacy establishes a new category for Forest River in its diesel offerings, hitting a price point “that is normally reserved for a high-end gas Class A.” The coach boasts a 300-hp Cummins diesel engine built on a 2500MH Allison transmission and a full air-ride/air-brake straight-rail Freightliner chassis. Available in two floorplans, the 340BH is a bunkhouse model featuring a power cockpit bunk-option bed up front, extra sleeping area for two people and a bunkhouse in the rear capable of sleeping nine. The Legacy 340KP replaces the standard bunks with a pantry, stackable washer/dryer prep and additional wardrobe space. Slated for introduction soon is a bath-and-a-half floorplan and another to be announced. Noting that Forest River’s restructuring generated strong initial sales, National Sales Manager Mike Peterson reported that the builder also introduced a $5,000 rebate coupon to incentivize consumers. “It’s basically a thank you to our dealers to help them flush out their older 2014’s since the 2015 models come out at the end of April,” Peterson said, adding the rebate goes directly to the consumer. “It’s available on our website and Facebook page, and in FMCA Magazine.”
Forest River Inc.’s XLR division announced its partnership with Michael Waddell, Travis “T-Bone” Turner and Nick Mundt – members of the Outdoor Channel’s “Bone Collector” team.
According to a press release, the team will travel with an XLR Hyper Lite 29HFS travel trailer toy hauler while filming its top-rated television show and during attendance at “Bone Collector” tour events throughout the country on a regular basis.
The new “Bone Collector” is the No. 1 show on the Outdoor Channel, reaching 908,000 unique households during the month of January with a gross Nielsen rating of 3.07. The “Bone Collector” team is led by Waddell, who is one of the most popular personality in hunting. Besides hosting “Bone Collector,” “Realtree Roadtrips,” and other television shows over the years, Waddell has also been selected as the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) spokesman.
Turner has also appeared on several TV shows and videos, including Realtree’s “Monster Bucks” video series, before joining “Bone Collector.” Mundt rounds out the team with years of experience as a professional guide and field producer. He has proven this season that he is the go-to guy when it comes to collecting big bucks.
“This is the perfect fit between the ‘Bone Collector’ team, and a cross-over RV product designed specifically to appeal to fans who enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle,” said XLR National Sales Manager Brent Stevens.
The 29HFS Hyper Lite was selected to pair with the team’s new Chevy half-ton truck. The lightweight towable model offers two complete bedrooms – one up front and one in the rear for privacy. It also has plenty of space for the team’s quad and outdoor gear. Waddell added the electric bed and 4.0 generator with fuel station options to outfit the 29HFS Hyper Lite for dry camping, while on the “Bone Collector” tour.”
Blue Ox President Jay Hesse and Vice President Ellen Kietzmann announced Tuesday (Oct. 1) an alliance with Forest River Inc. to equip select V-Cross and XLR models with SwayPro built-in sway prevention systems as optional equipment.
According to a release, Brent Stevens, national sales manager of the V-Cross and XLR divisions, is premiering the SwayPro system as an optional feature on the new 2014 lineup. Additionally, SwayPro is offered free as part of a special limited promotion on the Vibe brand through March 1, 2014.
“Blue Ox is the best name in sway control. Our customers will appreciate Blue Ox’s intuitive, easy to hookup hitch system that prevents trailer sway before it starts for a smooth towing experience. Each SwayPro system is specifically engineered for the weight of the unit it ships with,” Stevens said.
Blue Ox’s SwayPro hitch offers built-in sway protection that prevents trailer sway before it starts, under heavy loads, high winds and rutted road conditions with the latest in weight distribution technology. SwayPro’s spring bars are made from spring steel and flex to provide optimal weight distribution and improved ground clearance, providing a softer, smoother ride. There are no pins or clips to lose and no adjustments are needed. The tow-ready system comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Forest River Inc. is the top U.S. RV retailer for the first seven months of 2013, based on July retail sales figures released Friday (Sept. 20) by Statistical Surveys Inc., the company reports.
This includes recreational vehicles marketed under the Forest River, Coachmen, Palomino, Shasta, Dynamax and Prime Time brand names, but does not include Class B van campers, a relatively small market niche in terms of total sales.
The Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, meanwhile, announced that it has expanded its lead retailing position in conventional motorhomes.
“In all products combined (motorhomes and towables), Forest River Inc. ranks No. 1 with 34.4% market share, representing 7.4% market share growth year-to-date over the same period last year,” Forest River stated in a Friday press release. “Thor Industries ranked second with 33.9% market share and Jayco Inc. third with 10.8% market share.”
In Class A and C motorhomes, the company added, Forest River ranks No. 1 with a 25.5% market share, Thor second with 24.6% and Winnebago Industries Inc. third with an 18.3% market share. However, Statistical Surveys National RV Sales Manager Scott Stropkai points out, Thor still ranks first in all motorhomes if Class B’s are counted.
In consolidated towables, Elkhart-based Forest River ranks first with a 35.5% market share, while Thor is second with 35.1% and Jayco third with 11.4%.
“While we are certainly pleased to earn the No. 1 position in the RV industry, we are humbled by this accomplishment and remain focused on the continuous improvement of our products and services,” commented Pete Liegl, president and CEO of Forest River. “Our commitment to the satisfaction of our retail owners and to providing the absolute best value in the RV Industry has only strengthened with our success.”
Forest River, in addition to RVs, is a leading manufacturer of pontoon boats, cargo trailers and buses.
For the first time in memory, the industry’s two RV-building volume leaders, Thor Industries Inc. and Forest River Inc., are in a dead heat for retail market share in both towable and motorized RVs, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich.
At least they were at mid-year, with the two Elkhart, Ind.-based manufacturers each occupying exactly 35.4% of the “all towable” market. In fact, they were only nine units apart through June – Thor at 39,803 units vs. Forest River at 39,794. At the same time, Thor’s towable RV unit sales were up 8.8% and its market share was down slightly to 1.7%, while Forest River’s unit sales were up 19.5% and its market share grew 8% for the six-month period.
The picture is much the same on the motorized side of the ledger because Forest River through June was accounting for 25.2% of the retail market based on sales of 3,769 units vs. Thor with a 25% market share on 3,747 retails — a margin of only 22 units.
The rather respectable — yet heated — competition between these two hard-hitting industry leaders, occupying together more than 70% of the U.S. towable marketplace, has been going on for a good while. But the numbers haven’t been quite this close, keeping in mind that, as Stat Surveys President Tom Walworth points out, “you still have to take into account the fact that Forest River’s towable RV product lines include some lower-priced folding camping trailers, a market in which Thor isn’t involved.”
But the real news here is to what extent Forest River is pressing its case in both towable and motorized RVs, even while both companies continue to post impressive growth during the current economic recovery. Thor, for its part, recently posted its first $2 billion quarter, and revenues for Forest River, a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary, were running at least 22% ahead of last year through June, Forest River President and CEO Pete Liegl confirms.
“I think that Forest River has been narrowing the gap,” said Walworth. “Both Forest River and Thor have aggressively gone after the market and they’ve put out a bunch of new product that has allowed them both to maintain their leadership in the market.”
Behind Forest River and Thor on the motorized side is Winnebago Industries Inc., with an 18.1% share of the market. In third place in tow-type RV retail sales is Middlebury, Ind.-based Jayco Inc., which occupied 11.2% of the market through June.
“Think about that,” said Walworth. “The top two (towable builders) are 70% of the market. Jayco brings it up to 81% of the market and the next five players take it up to 90% of the market. I mean, it’s a very top-heavy industry and more so all the time. The two big players have gained market share in an up market. The only thing to consider is that if the market becomes really hot, that usually opens the doors for the smaller startups to come in.
He added, “You know, through this, we’ll probably introduce one or two new manufacturers here who could someday end up being major ones. That’s usually because the majors and the other competitors can’t meet the dealers’ supply times, opening the door for some of the startups to get involved.”
The first half of 2013 was a very good period for the recreational vehicle industry as a whole, but it was even better for Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River Inc., as the company reported that sales were up 22% in the first half of the year.
According to The Elkhart Truth, that’s one of the scant details made public about its operations when parent company Berkshire Hathaway filed its quarterly financial report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Over the first six months of 2013, Forest River generated a 22% increase in revenues due to increased volume and average sales prices,” the company reported in the filing.
Forest River and Berkshire Hathaway’s building products businesses generated higher earnings in the first half of this year than last year.
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Prime Time Manufacturing, a division of Forest River Inc., recently surpassed a significant company milestone with the shipment of the 10,000th travel trailer produced by its Tracer/LaCrosse manufacturing group.
To mark the occasion, company leaders were on hand to serve lunch and thank over 160 employees for their efforts, according to a press release.
“Division 48 was the very first Prime Time plant we started in 2009. That small group of employees had a commitment to build innovative, high-quality products that customers would love to own,” said Prime Time President Jeff Rank. “Now, that very same commitment to quality has become the foundation with which all of our employees and all of our manufacturing facilities operate. Building 10,000 units is a great accomplishment, but Plant 48’s positive contributions to the culture of Prime Time will always be appreciated.”
The Tracer/LaCrosse division has been a recipient of the prestigious Quality Circle Award from the Recreation Vehicle Dealer Association (RVDA) for three consecutive years. May retail statistics list Prime Time Manufacturing as the No. 7 retailing towable manufacturer in the United States with a year-to-date sales increase of 48%.
Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River Inc. today (July 18) announced position changes at its Sierra and Sandpiper towable divisions.
According to a press release, Frank Crum will be the regional sales rep for Sandpiper in the Southeast covering Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. Crum brings a wealth of retail knowledge to the wholesale side with 31 years of RV retail experience.
He has held numerous positions including sales manager, general manager and regional vice president overseeing multiple dealerships while also serving as chairman of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA).
Crum will be based out of his home office in Winter Haven, Fla.
Other moves include:
• Curtis Gunter has been promoted from sales manager to general manager for the Sierra and Sandpiper divisions. During Gunter’s tenure as sales manager, both lines grew sales nearly 20% over the past two years while the brand offering expanded to offer luxury destination trailers and mid-priced travel trailers and fifth-Wheels. Forest River said that he has been instrumental in getting Sierra and Sandpiper production levels up to where they are at today.
• Ryan Conrad will be shifting territories from the Southeast to the Midwest covering Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota and will be representing the Sierra products. Forest River noted that Conrad has been with Forest River for nine years, building strong relationships with the company’s dealer body and enjoying great success in the Southeast.
Priority One Financial Services Inc. announced a new promotion added to its Forest River Credit Card program that offers 5.90% APR on 60 months equal payments.
According to a press release, the credit card program is available exclusively to Forest River dealers to provide more finance options. Consumers can use the card to purchase products such as new and used utility/cargo trailers, non-motorized RVs, boat engines, parts, accessories, winterization and service repair bills.
Greg Hauenstein, Forest River Credit Card program representative, noted, “This program change will give Forest River dealers a tool that no one else has. This is the only option for customers with an unsecured rate this low in the industry. It is such a huge benefit for Forest River dealers because they have an exclusive program that their competitors can’t beat, and will help close many more sales.”
For additional information go to www.forestrivercard.com.