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Forest River’s Shasta Unveils Retooled Lineup

August 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Shasta Revere interior

Middlebury, Ind.-based Shasta RV, a division of Forest River Inc., announced the introduction of its completely redesigned lineup of products and newly assembled management and sales team.

“We’ve built an enthusiastic and highly qualified team, with long-standing dealer relationships,” said Shasta President Mark Lucas in a press release.

Todd Schmitz, formerly with Heartland RV’s Prowler division, is the product manager for Revere and Oasis while Kevin Combs, Dan Gill and Kris Lash handle sales for all of North America.

The Revere, a conventionally built, wood-and-aluminum trailer line and the current flagship for the company, has a new exterior look, higher-end interior decors, wide-track axles, under-mounted sinks, recessed stoves and rounded interior walls.

“We’ve not only stayed true to the features customers have come to expect, such as 7-foot interior heights and extra-deep slides, but also value added items not normally seen in this conservative price point,” said Schmitz.

In addition to travel trailers, Revere will also offer three fifth-wheel floorplans. “These fifth-wheels are a nice upgrade for customers who want extra amenities, increased storage and longer range towing, but don’t want to stray from this price point,” said Schmitz. Destination trailers are also new for this year, and include wide body construction, 8-foot interior heights, residential kitchens and fiberglass front caps all as standard equipment. Each of the three Revere segments is available with optional fiberglass exterior walls.

Shasta Revere travel trailer

The “aggressively repositioned” Oasis is 8-foot wide and available in five floorplans. “Instead of playing games with packages, discounts and long lists of options, we’ve included everything you need as standard equipment, and eliminated any fluff in the pricing,” said Schmitz. “This is not just an LE or a Limited Edition trailer you can only buy once a year or in limited numbers, but rather has been designed and built from the ground up to be a show-stopper, sure to generate traffic and retail sales year round.”

Lucas added, “Success is great-looking, well-built product at an aggressive price. Other companies only focus on 30 or 40 units being produced each day. We will focus on each individual one and pay attention to the details. Volume will be the reward for our efforts, but not the primary focus.”

All Shasta products will be on display at this year’s America’s Greatest RV Show in Hershey, Pa., and the Elkhart County RV Open House, along with the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo in Las Vegas and the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. For more information call (574) 825-7178.

 

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Elkhart Co. Approves Forest River Abatements

August 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Members of the Elkhart County Council Saturday (Aug. 11) approved two tax phase-in agreements for Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River Inc. that promise to bring as many as 160 new jobs to the area.

According to the Goshen News, a tax phase-in is a partial or temporary exemption of a company from having to pay property taxes with the express purpose of stimulating economic development.

Millersburg Expansion

First to be approved Saturday was a resolution supporting an eight-year tax phase-in agreement involving Forest River’s Millersburg complex. Dave Ogle, director of business retention and expansion for the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County, helped present the proposal for Forest River.

“I always want to reiterate our appreciation of Forest River being one of our premiere employers in the marketplace, employing well in excess of 3,000 Indiana or Elkhart County employees at their facilities, and certainly one of the higher paying facilities in the county,” Ogle said. “So we appreciate the opportunity to compete for their business.”

According to county attorney Craig Buche, the Millersburg expansion promises approximately $2 million in real estate redevelopment coupled with approximately $150,000 in new manufacturing equipment.

In addition, the company has indicated plans to hire approximately 120 new full-time positions. Such hiring is expected to lead to an annual increase in payroll of nearly $5.5 million.

“We recognize the fact that Forest River could build their plants anywhere,” said Elkhart County Council President John Letherman following the phase-in approval. “We’re thankful that you’re choosing to make significant investments in Elkhart County, which further cement Forest River in the community.”

In order to qualify for the tax phase-in agreement, Forest River has agreed to stay in operation at its Millersburg location for no less than 10 years. Should the company fail to meet its obligations under the phase-in agreement, Forest River would be forced to repay the county a prorated portion of the total real estate and personal property taxes saved as a result of the tax phase-in agreement.

Middlebury expansion

The Goshen News reported that also approved Saturday was a resolution supporting a five-year tax phase-in for Forest River’s Middlebury complex that should bring 40 new full-time positions to the area.

In connection with this expansion, the company has indicated plans to invest approximately $1.25 million in new manufacturing equipment.

As for the 40 new full-time positions expected, Buche indicated that an annual increase in payroll of nearly $1.8 million can be expected.

As part of its tax phase-in agreement, Forest River has agreed that it will stay in operation for no less than seven years at its Middlebury location or face forfeiture of the agreement.

 

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Forest River Expecting an Open House Replay

August 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Dealers gather at last year's Forest River Open House

Forest River Inc. President Pete Liegl indicates that his company, based on current registrations, is expecting to reach or exceed last year’s dealer count during what has become known as Elkhart County’s 4th Annual RV Open House.

Forest River conceived the whole Open House concept in 2009 as a morale-booster for U.S. and Canadian dealers during the depths of the global recession.

In fact, things are looking pretty good right now for Forest River’s own agenda for the Open House, which is slated for the week of Sept. 17-21. And, generally, when things are looking good for Forest River, they’re looking good in terms of traffic count for the rest of the manufacturers who set up shop that week at their home facilities or in temporary exhibits on Elkhart’s north side to socialize with out-of-town dealers and show them new model year units.

“It’s looking very good, better than last year for the same time period,” Liegl tells RVBUSINESS.com. “When all is said and done, it (attendance) should be about the same as we had last year. I think last year, we pushed 3,000 people through there. And, again, it’s a little misleading because that total might have included competitors and some suppliers.”

Best estimates for the total number of visitors expected in Elkhart and the area towns of Goshen, Bristol, Wakarusa and Nappanee for the Open House, are for about 4,000. But it’s always a rough estimate since the Open House never has had an organized registration or cohesive governing organization.

The biggest days for Open House Week are Sept. 18-19, and Forest River will be following a similar game plan as it did last year, meaning that the world’s No. 2 RV builder — a division of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. — will be serving dealers dinner and libations at its Dynamax facility on County Road 6.

“It’s probably not going to deviate much at all,” Liegl added. “All we are going to do is have a little gate control because we had a couple of entrances where people came in and were in the display before getting their name tags and registering. And so we want to have a little better control to know exactly who’s coming and who didn’t come. I guess, basically, we are going to duplicate last year, maybe make a few minor changes here and there, but insignificant. And we’re going to have the same number of units displayed, probably in the neighborhood of 500, and serve food and sell as many units as we can.”

 

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Goshen OKs Tax Breaks for Kinro, Forest River

July 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Goshen, Ind., City Council approved tax phase-ins for Kinro Inc. and Forest River Inc., two manufacturing companies dealing in the recreational vehicle industry, that will bring at least 220 new jobs combined to the Goshen area by the end of 2014, according to reports from Mark Brinson, director of the Community Development Department.

Forest River’s proposal is tied into a broader request for local and state tax breaks that would assist in expansions at five of its Elkhart County facilities and add 440 jobs by the end of 2015. Company representatives made a presentation to the Elkhart City Council Saturday and a vote will be taken in a second meeting on Aug. 11 after a public hearing.

The Goshen News reported that during the City Council meeting, Dave Ogle from the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County spoke on behalf of the projects, and said these were “significant” moves.

“It’s significant that we have two of our biggest employers in Elkhart County in the room tonight,” Ogle said to the Council. “They have the option and opportunity to locate in any place in the county, and they choose Elkhart County, and specifically Elkhart and Goshen, as their home.”

The Kinro request provides a five-year phase-in for the project, which is a proposed move of production lines currently at 1201 S. Eisenhower Drive to a larger manufacturing facility in Goshen, according to the project overview.

The Forest River request provides a seven-year real property phase-in, with a five-year personal property phase-in for the project, for the construction of two new manufacturing facilities in Goshen.

 

 

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Goshen City Council to Hear Forest River Plan

July 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Forest River Inc.’s plans to hire an additional 440 people by the end of 2015 – which hinges on the approval of various local and state tax breaks – includes expansions at five of the builder’s facilities in Indiana’s Elkhart County.

As reported by the South Bend Tribune, the recreational vehicle maker’s expansion plans in Millersburg and Middlebury were presented Saturday (July 14) to the Elkhart County Council. A vote will be taken in a second meeting on Aug. 11 after a public hearing.

A similar presentation regarding two facilities in Goshen will be made to the Goshen City Council today. All told, Forest River’s expansion covers five facilities, including a third site in Goshen for which the company is not seeking any incentives.

“I am glad to see Forest River step up and take this action,” said Dave Ogle, director of business retention and expansion for the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County.

“The market is contracting rapidly to fewer significant players and as a consequence more states want our stuff,” Ogle added, citing Oregon, Michigan, California and Ohio as states seeking RV companies. “I am glad they are giving us a chance to compete for their business here. We do not want that to be diluted in any way. That also impacts the supplier chain integrity as well.”

Forest River is seeking the normal tax phase-in on new properties and improvements to existing facilities, Ogle said, along with phasing in its new investment in equipment for these properties.

“It’s important people understand a tax phase-in does not impact the tax rate of an existing facility,” Ogle said. In other words, Forest River will continue to pay what it has been paying at its facilities.

“The tax abatement impact is just on the new investment that is increasing the assessed value of that property,” Ogle said.

The jobs are good paying jobs, Ogle said. Some are in the $22-per-hour range.

But Ogle said it is his understanding that Forest River is being conservative with those estimates. “In talking with the people at Forest River, it is not uncommon for people to make $25 to $30 an hour,” he said, adding that there are bonuses tied to the amount of work employees complete.

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Forest River Seeking Tax Breaks for Expansion

July 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Goshen, Ind.-based Forest River Inc. is seeking state and local tax breaks the company says will allow it to add 445 new jobs through plant expansions.

The Associated Press reported that Forest River is seeking a pair of tax breaks from Elkhart County to expand its operations in Middlebury and Millersburg. The company is one of the county’s biggest employers.

Company spokesman Mike Stump tells The Elkhart Truth the tax breaks would allow Forest River to remain competitive in the RV industry. The company has asked for tax deductions spanning eight years for its property improvements and equipment.

Stump says the company must gain local support to qualify for state assistance, which could add up to between $6 million and $10 million.

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Priority One Kicking Off 3Q Contest for Dealers

June 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Priority One Financial Services Inc. and its parent company, Forest River Inc., have partnered with TD Retail Card Services (TDRCS) to hold a third-quarter contest for dealers offering the Forest River Credit Card to consumers.

According to a press release, consumers may use the card to purchase a cross section of Forest River products such as utility/cargo trailers, towable RVs, parts, accessories and service repair bills.

The “Hook ‘Em Up” Forest River Credit Card contest rewards dealers that sign up consumers with the card from July 1 through Sept. 30. For every completed Forest River credit card customer application submitted, a dealer will receive one entry into a weekly drawing for a $100 Best Buy gift card. Drawings will also be held on the first business day of August, September and October for monthly prizes and at the end of the contest there will be a grand prize drawing for a 70-inch Sharp TV.

“The contest was developed to increase consumer use of the card, thereby driving more sales into our participating dealers’ hands,” said Greg Hauenstein, Forest River Credit Card program representative.

To enroll in the program contact Hauenstein  at (800) 419-1041 or visit www.forestrivercard.com.

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Liegl Reacts to Shift in Louisville’s Time Frame

June 19, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from an Elkhart Truth article offering a response by local RV officials to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) move toward changing the date of its annual Louisville Show. The time frame proposed is for late September/early October beginning in 2014, which would conflict with the Elkhart Open House that has gained momentum since its inception. Pete Liegl, the president and CEO of Forest River Inc. which founded the event, was especially vocal as seen in the excerpt below. To read the entire story click here.

Pete Liegl, president and CEO of Forest River, kick-started the idea of an open house and as other manufacturers have piled on, it has grown into a major showcase. Some dealers have acknowledged they get what they need at the open houses so they are skipping Louisville.

When the national event is held depends on the dealers, Liegl said. Whether the retailers want December, June or some other time, that is when the trade show should be held.

However, a change in the Louisville dates does not necessarily mean an end to the open houses. Liegl again noted if the dealers want the Elkhart County event to continue, it will. That is good news for the local economy since the product shows pump money into area hotels, restaurants and other businesses. For the 2011 event, Forest River alone spent an estimated $1 million on hotel rooms, food and liquor for its dealers.

Emphasizing the open house is for the RV retailers, Liegl said he would resist any effort by the RVIA to ban the event altogether.

“They can go to hell,” he said. “If I want to have a product show, I’ll have a product show. The RVIA is not going to tell me what I can and can’t do.”

 

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Prime Time Ships New Avenger to Alpin Haus

May 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Wakarusa, Ind.-based Prime Time Manufacturing, a division of Forest River Inc., has expanded its Avenger product lineup with the introduction of the Champagne Edition Avenger travel trailer. According to a press release, full production began in May and features a champagne-colored high gloss fiberglass exterior. Prime Time officials recently delivered the first model to Alpin Haus RV and Marine in Amsterdam, N.Y. Shown in the photo, Andy Heck (R), president of Alpin Haus, was presented with the 2013 Avenger 23 FBS by Prime Time President Jeff Rank. Rank noted, “Alpin Haus RV and Marine has a long history of award-winning sales and service. They only became a dealer last fall but are quickly becoming one of our largest volume dealers and they’ve enthusiastically embraced Avenger and the new Champagne Edition. It’s an honor to deliver this very special Avenger to Andy and his team.” Alpin Haus has two retail locations selling recreational vehicles in the Albany, N.Y., market. Founded in 1964, Alpin Haus is an outdoor recreation specialist selling boats, snowmobiles, skis, pools and spas. Heck sees great potential with the new product, stating, “Avenger has made a big splash with our sales people and our retail customers. It has great interior eye appeal and lots of easy-to-sell features. Now with the Champagne Edition, we can offer our customers a luxurious exterior look at an entry level price point that gives us a clear advantage in our local market.” Base MSRP of the Avenger Champagne Edition is $15,300. For more information regarding Prime Time Manufacturing and the Avenger Champagne Edition travel trailer, visit www.primetimerv.com or call (574) 862-3001.

 

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Forest River Adds Ally as RV Finance Provider

May 22, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Forest River Inc., a leading RV manufacturer based in Elkhart, Ind., has selected Ally Financial as an additional provider for dealer inventory financing in the U.S. The agreement is effective immediately.

“Ally Financial is a proven financial services provider with nationwide scale for the U.S. RV industry, and we are pleased to develop this relationship for our dealer network,” said Joseph Greenlee, CFO for Forest River.

According to a press release, Ally Financial will participate in Forest River’s interest reimbursement program for RV dealers obtaining wholesale financing from Ally. Eligible dealers can receive an interest rebate from Forest River for units sold to retail customers within 90 days of invoice.

“We’re excited about the rebate program because it essentially speeds up the average turn time for inventory,” said Mark Manzo, vice president of Alliance Sales for Ally Financial. “That’s good for us and good for dealers, enhancing their business model.”

In addition to wholesale financing, Ally also offers RV dealers real estate and commercial loans, inventory insurance, remarketing services for RV trade-ins and consumer financing to support new and used RV sales.

“Forest River is a quality manufacturer that expects a world class financing experience with attractive terms,” said Mark Manzo, vice president of Alliance Sales for Ally Financial. “We have the infrastructure and capabilities to meet those needs, and Ally welcomes the opportunity to grow its RV portfolio while serving Forest River dealers and their customers.”

“Since we entered the RV finance business, our goal has been to provide a full gamut of services to the industry. Our focus ranges from smaller dealerships to the large, national retailers. Currently we have over 1,000 RV dealer relationships.”

Forest River, a Berkshire Hathaway company, currently has manufacturing in six states within the United States with more than 8,000 employees producing numerous brand names. The company sells to independent dealers in the United States and Canada.

“At Ally, we are committed to the RV market,” Manzo said. “Looking at the seasonality and flexibility in the wholesale market, we see this as an opportunity for us to grow our market share and help dealers grow sales.

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