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Freightliner Grows 24/7 Factory-Direct Service

April 21, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Freightliner Custom Chassis logo Already the only chassis manufacturer to offer 24/7 factory-direct support of its motorcoaches, Freightliner  Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) is expanding its service with a powerful resource that customers can fit into their pockets.

Launched in early 2011, FCCC’s 24/7 Direct initiative created a constantly available, easily accessible network with the goal of providing customers the best possible assistance and answers to even the most complex chassis issues, according to a news release.

The new 24/7 Direct service cards are being mailed this month to all purchasers of new motorcoaches built on an FCCC chassis dating back to Jan. 1, 2011. They’re printed with key support contact information and the customer Vehicle Identification Number to serve as a valuable quick reference, and an embedded USB flash drive makes the card a virtual library of chassis data.

By simply flipping the drive out from one end of the card and plugging it into a computer, a customer gains access to a wealth of information including warranties, maintenance schedules, EPA 2010 emission technology featuring selective catalytic reduction (SCR), vendor categories, website links and entire user manuals. Plus, with a gigabyte of memory on board, there’s plenty of room for additional downloads and updates, enabling customers to utilize the USB for personal storage.

“FCCC wanted to develop a resource that would enable our customers to easily access all of the essential information they need about their chassis,” said Dave Hoover, senior manager of customer support at FCCC. “The 24/7 Direct card and USB drive is compact, but it contains volumes of information that will be important to our customers.

“This is just another example of FCCC’s commitment to our customers and furthers our ‘Driven By You’ mission. And with our around-the-clock direct access to FCCC chassis experts, the 24/7 Direct program offers an unparalleled support system, no matter where our customers are on North America’s roads.”

FCCC’s customer assistance phone line (1-800-FTL-HELP) is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by a team of well-qualified customer service advisors who all have hands-on plant experience and boast an average experience level of 16 years. To complement their expertise, on-the-ground support can be found at more than 400 FCCC service locations in North America. More than 90 of those locations are also part of the Freightliner Oasis Network, a group of dealerships across the country dedicated to serving FCCC RV customers.

The Freightliner Oasis Network is specifically tailored to the RV customer. Each service location has specially trained RV service technicians, separate bays for RV service, secure parking for RV customers and additional amenities specifically for RV owners.

FCCC manufactures premium chassis for the motorhome, delivery walk-in van and school bus and shuttle bus markets. FCCC is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, a Daimler company.

Visit the FCCC website at www.freightlinerchassis.com for additional FCCC news and product information.

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Newmar Management Plans New Road Tour

April 5, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

The Newmar Family Road Show team.

The Newmar Corp. team.

Newmar Corp. announced today (April 5) that the four members of their management team that toured the country last year are “hitting the road” again in 2011.

Newmar President Matthew Miller, Chairman and CEO Richard Parks, owner Mahlon Miller and Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Sammut (shown from left in photo), accompanied by their spouses, will travel nearly 5,000 miles starting on May 31 through 14 Eastern states, according to a news release.

Along the way, these four members of the company’s management team will visit 12 dealers and one of Newmar’s largest suppliers, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) in Gaffney, S.C. The trip will also include the executives spending a week attending Newmar’s Kountry Klub International Rally in Essex Junction, Vt., in their motorhomes, where they will RV alongside several hundred owners of Newmar recreational vehicles.

This year’s “Go Newmar” Road Show is being sponsored by FCCC. All four Newmar motorhomes being driven by the traveling team are built exclusively on Freightliner chassis with Comfort Drive Steering. The four Newmar products represented in the fleet are Ventana LE, Ventana, Dutch Star and Mountain Aire brands.

The RV dealers being visited during the tour are:

  • Mt. Comfort RV – Greenfield, Ind.
  • Buddy Gregg Motor Homes – Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Tom Johnson Camping Center – Marion, N.C.
  • Adventure RV – Greer, S.C.
  • Terry Labonte RV – Greensboro, N.C.
  • Dick Gore RV World – Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Independence RV – Winter Garden, Fla.
  • North Trail RV – Dania Beach, Fla.
  • Beckley’s Camping Center – Thurmont, Md.
  • Tom Schaeffer RV – Shoemakersville, Pa.
  • Dave’s RV – Danbury, Conn.
  • Wilkins RV – Bath, N.Y.

More information to follow on the “Go Newmar” Road Show including a travel schedule will be posted at a later date on www.newmarcorp.com and www.facebook.com/gonewmar.

Sendoff of Newmar management team for October 2010 road tour.

Sendoff of Newmar management team for October 2010 road tour.

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Independence RV Hosts ‘Ask the RV Experts’

January 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

"Ask the Experts, Jan. 27-30

"Ask the Experts, Jan. 27-30

Independence RV, a dealership in Winter Garden, Fla., will host a series of information gathering seminars and one-on-one sessions for first-time and full-time RVers Jan. 27-30.

The free, four-day “Ask The RV Experts” event will feature RV manufacturer representatives for approximately 30 RV-related products and accessories, according to a news release. The RV industry information exchange will be held at Independence RV. The setting will be casual and relaxed with plenty of question and answer sessions to expand RV product and accessory knowledge leading to better purchasing decisions and an enhanced RV lifestyle.

Newmar Corp. will have representatives available from its Nappanee, Ind., headquarters to discuss new product line features and amenities in the 2011 model year for Bay Star, Canyon Star, Ventana, Dutch Star and Mountain Aire motorhomes. Representatives from Newmar’s exclusive chassis manufacturer, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., will be on-site to answer the important questions related to chassis development and manufacturing. Freightliner will address the latest 2010 emissions standards issues and why “Simple, Clean, Reliable (SCR) technology is the preferred method over Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR), and what it means to the RV owner and the vehicle’s horsepower.

The “Ask The RV Experts” seminars are appropriate for the first-time RVer to the full-time RV enthusiast.  “Seminar topics will include Winegard RV antennas and interfacing with DirecTV, tow bar vs. tow dolly – which is the safer and more cost effective? What’s the latest in tow braking technology? Learn about the newest development in RV power steering as Newmar representatives discuss its exclusive Comfort Drive Steering System. The latest in awning material and design technology will be demonstrated showing the simplicity and ease of extension and retraction of these sun shielding devices. The dirty business of holding tank systems and technology will be cleared up with one simple seminar,” the release stated.

“This is RV show season and most fairgrounds are overrun with RV attendees who may not feel they can have the undivided attention of RV industry experts to ask their important questions,” said Chuck Simpson, general manager of Independence RV. “An event like the ‘Ask The RV Experts’ will provide a relaxed and unhurried environment conducive to learning more about the RV lifestyle.”

Free seminars will be held daily beginning at 11 a.m. and concluding at 4 p.m. Representatives for all manufacturers will be on hand for one-on-one question-and-answer interaction. Freightliner Custom Chassis will provide complimentary hot dogs and soft drinks each day of the event.

Independence RV with over 25 years of serving Central Florida’s RVing needs is located at 12705 W. Colonial Drive in Winter Garden.  All 2011 Newmar motorhomes are in-stock and will be on display from 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Monday – Friday, and 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call (407) 877-7878.

The schedule of “Ask The RV Experts” informational seminars follows:

Thursday, Jan. 27

  • Dave Garl,  9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Newmar Product Line Q&A.
  • Jeremy Buckmeier,  9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,  Freightliner Chassis Q & A.
  • Chris Crawford,  11 a.m., Winegard Antenna and RV Satellite TV.
  • Chris Crawford,  3 p.m., Sani-Con Holding Tank Systems.

Friday, Jan. 28

  • Dave Garl,  9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Newmar Product Line Q & A.
  • Jeremy Buckmeier,  9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Freightliner Chassis Q & A.
  • David Jones,  11 a.m., Tow Bars vs. Tow Dolly.
  • Chris Crawford, 1 p.m., Winegard Antenna and RV Satellite TV.
  • Doug Ralston,  3 p.m., Tow Bars/Tow Braking/Tire Minders.

Saturday, Jan. 29

  • Dave Garl,  9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Newmar Product Line Q & A.
  • Jeremy Buckmeier,  9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Freightliner Chassis Q & A.
  • David Jones,  11 a.m., Carefree Pioneer Awning.
  • Chris Crawford,  1 p.m., Sani-Con Holding Tank Systems.
  • Doug Ralston,  3 p.m., Tow Bars/Tow Braking/Tire Minders.

Sunday, Jan. 30

  • Chris Crawford, 11 a.m., Winegard Antenna and RV Satellite TV.
  • Chris Crawford,  3 p.m., Sani-Con Holding Tank Systems.
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FMCA Convention Drew 2,000-Plus Coaches

August 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Monaco RV Vesta

Monaco RV Vesta

Alex and Jan Alexander were in the 17th week of a tour of the West Coast in their 2006 Country Coach when they pulled into the gates of the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond, Ore., for the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) 84th International Convention Aug. 11-14. One of more than 2,000 motorhome families to attend the mid-week event in central Oregon, the young couple from St. James City, Fla., intended to spend the four days soaking up information.

“We’re here for several reasons,” Alex noted after exiting the Tiffin Motor Homes manufacturer’s display. “We wanted to see what’s going on in the industry — but, most importantly from an educational standpoint, to visit the displays and see the latest in engines and electronics … it (Redmond) has a little bit of everything.” And, while the first-time visitors to the convention hadn’t considered upgrading their luxury coach prior to the event, Alex did note that “we may change our minds. Right now, we’re looking at an Allegro bus.”

According to Jerry Yeatts, FMCA event director, the Alexanders’ upbeat attitude personified the 84th convention, which also was highlighted by the public debut of the new Vesta motorhome from Monaco RV LLC and the West Coast introduction of the Insignia from Jayco’s Entegra Coach division.

Newell Coach display

Newell Coach

“We had a little over 2,000 families there, and about 200 coaches on display,” he said. “Compared to the last time we were here, it was probably comparable, numbers-wise — but as far as attitude and enthusiasm, it was amazing. The members were probably in their best mood we’ve seen in quite a while. Seems like sales were up, spirits were up, and overall it was a great convention.”

It also apparently was quite successful for a number of exhibitors. “One OEM said that the higher-end coaches they brought were sold,” Yeatts said. “Another dealer who brought in 11 coaches sold six.”

Shannon Nill, general manager of Guaranty RV, Junction City, Ore., echoed Yeatts’ assessment on the overall atmosphere of the program. “We sold 18 RVs at the Redmond rally, about evenly distributed between new and used,” Nill noted, out of about 75 units the dealership supplied to several displays including Monaco, Newmar Corp. and Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc. “Beyond the sales, however, one huge point was that the mood of the customer was really strong compared to last year’s rally. People were eager to RV. The gatherings of this kind after a slowdown are even more important than normal.”

This year marked the fourth time FMCA has held a convention at the Redmond fairgrounds, but was the first time the association kicked off the event with a Wednesday “preview” day. Gates opened at 5 p.m. on “hump day” for touring outdoor manufacturer displays, followed by access only to indoor exhibits Thursday morning. All displays became accessible at noon and thereafter.

Entegra Insignia by Jayco Inc.

Entegra Insignia by Jayco Inc.

“We really didn’t receive any comments concerning shifting the pattern,” Yeatts said. “The gate on Wednesday was greater than normal, but we don’t know if that’s attributable to starting later in the week, or later in the day.”

The Vesta, introduced to dealers two weeks prior to the Redmond convention, immediately attracted quite a bit of attention from rally attendees due to its unique aerodynamic styling.

“We’ve had a lot of customers come up to us that hadn’t really considered a Class A before just because of the size,” said Ryan Lee, marketing director for the Coburg, Ore., manufacturer. “They take a look at this, with the sleek design, and see that it’s really easy from an ergonomic standpoint to sit up there in the driver’s seat and drive that coach.”

Built on a proprietary 26,000-pound GVWR Monaco Roadmaster chassis and designed in conjunction with wind-tunnel testing, the single-slide 32-foot Vesta (a 35-foot floorplan also is planned) features a sloping front fascia, low center of gravity and tapered rear section. MSRP for the 32-foot coach is $195,000-$200,000.

“It’s pretty striking,” Lee said of the styling. “One of the things that we’re trying to do at Monaco is that, when a coach rolls down the road we want people to know it’s a Monaco; we want people to know it’s a Holiday Rambler (Monaco’s sister division). And this type of styling is going to get us there.”

Winnebago Via

Winnebago Via

Along with the Vesta, Monaco also brought several models with fresh 2011 floorplans to Redmond. “We’re showing our first 2011 Dynasty and Camalot here at the show,” noted Mike Snell, senior vice president of sales and product development for Monaco. “The Dynasty has a 500hp engine, and we’ve changed the paint scheme and have really upgraded the interiors. On the Camelot, we did the same: changed the front facia, the backsplash, put in a ceiling insert in the living room — we really dressed up the inside. We also have our slide-in-a-slide Diplomat here. We had the slide-in-a-slide in the Dynasty, and we added it to the Diplomat, which is a 43-footer.”

The Entegra Insignia, which debuted almost simultaneously at Affinity Group’s The Rally, July 22-25, at Louisville’s Kentucky Exposition Center and Redmond, is the Jayco division’s “entry-level” coach for the high-end Entegra line. Built on a 32,400-pound GVWR Freightliner XCR chassis powered by a 360-hp Cummins ISB diesel engine, the $265,000 MSRP Insignia features heated-and-enclosed holding tanks, frameless flush-mounted slideout rooms, gel goat fiberglass sidewalls and a steel-reinforced front cap and windshield frame plus interiors sporting glazed maple hardwood cabinets and leather hide-a-bed sofas.

Yet another new unit drawing a crowd was the 2011 model from Newell Coach Corp. Upgrades to the 2011 welded-steel-and-aluminum Newell motorcoaches — the first since the 2006 model year — include upgraded front caps with bright-white “string-of-pearl” LED running lights that outline the outer edges of the headlights, plus rear-body trim and redesigned side moldings. Interiors feature wood windowsill trim bordered with seamed leather, carbon-fiber instrument panels and automated air conditioning and heating.

The upbeat atmosphere at Redmond was, in the view of many dealers staffing the manufacturer exhibits, a reflection of a more optimistic viewpoint already noted at their respective dealerships.

Brian Kehoe, a sales consultant for Sandy, Ore.-based Johnson RV Sales who was manning the Entegra display, noted that the dealership “has experienced four months consecutive of record sales for the company. It’s been fantastic. All the way through, from the B class, C class, Class A gas and diesel units.” The dealership, site of the former Fred’s RV, opened under the Johnson RV Sales umbrella last year and features 12 service bays and three buildings — including an indoor showroom — on seven acres.

At the Tiffin exhibit, Rick Neat, a salesman from RV Corral, Eugene, Ore., one of three dealerships providing coaches for the display, called August “the best month in two years.

“There’s more business out there,” following the shuttering of dealers and OEMs alike during the recession, he said, adding that consumer credit is likewise on an uptick. “On the big money, it’s starting to ease up a bit. A lot of people are going to credit unions now, which are getting a lot more flexible than they were in the past.”

Mike Alverez, with All Seasons RV, Bend, Ore., concurred. “Our banks have loosened up,” he said at the Winnebago Industries Inc. exhibit. “They’ve changed on how they are financing. They are looking at people in a better light, where before it was tough to get financing accomplished. The other thing, too, is that GE, our flooring company, has backed off; they are letting us get product in here, and we’re making the turns we need to make to keep it going.”

Freightliner display

Freightliner display

Along with new coach designs and features, Redmond also was one of the first consumer shows to feature motorhomes fitted with new 2010 EPA emissions-compliant engines, and several exhibitors — including Gaffney, S.C.-based Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. and Spartan Chassis, Charlotte, Mich. — fielded questions from consumers and dealership personnel somewhat confused about the technical merits of the two competing drive systems developed to meet the EPA criteria. Cummins Inc. utilizes an aftermarket treatment system, while Navistar’s new MaxxForce engines employ Advanced EGR technology.

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Oregon’s FMCA Convention Now Underway

August 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The inside of the 2011 Itasca Ellipse motorhome on display this week in Redmond, Ore., looks like a living room.

On one wall, the coach has a sectional sofa and coffee table. A ceramic tile floor with granite inserts extends down the middle, and against the opposite wall sits a fireplace, lounge chair and computer desk.

“Looks like a small condo,” Mark McLaughlin, product trainer for Winnebago Industries Inc., which makes the Itasca line, told The Bulletin, Bend, Ore.

The layout on display at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center used the added space provided by the slideouts, the RV sections that pop out when it’s parked. As outfitted, it costs close to $345,000, said McLaughlin.

The 2011 Ellipse, new models from Monaco RV LLC, Entegra Coach and other manufacturers and motorhomes belonging to members of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) were among the expected 2,000 RVs filling the fairgrounds for the association’s annual convention.

It’s the fourth time the convention, which officially began Wednesday (Aug. 11) , has been held at the fairgrounds since 2001, and it’s expected to draw more than 6,000 people.

In the three years between this year’s show and the last convention in Redmond in 2007, the motorhome industry has traveled through tremendous turmoil, along with nearly every other industry.

From 2006 to 2009, shipments of all recreational vehicles fell about 58%, according to figures from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

In 2009, four manufacturers — Rexhall Industries Inc., Country Coach LLC, Monaco Coach Corp. and Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. — filed for bankruptcy.

Coburg-based Monaco, which owns the Beaver coach line once made in Bend, was acquired by Navistar International Corp. the same year, and is now Monaco RV LLC.

Through June of this year, however, production has been increasing, according to the RV association, and officials from motorcoach manufacturers and dealers expressed guarded optimism Wednesday at the convention.

New models, accessories and components were scheduled to be in the spotlight Wednesday night and today. FMCA members, however, also have many seminars, sightseeing tours and opportunities for socializing throughout the four-day event.

Some manufacturers featured new slimmed down, higher-mileage models, while others mentioned the certified green factories where their vehicles are made, and nearly all will be touting emissions-reducing technology that will help diesel-powered motor coaches meet new federal emissions regulations.

Monaco has its newest model, the Vesta, on display. Monaco and Navistar jointly developed the vehicle, which they unveiled July 29. The motorcoach is supposed to get 15 to 18 mpg, according to comments company officials made to RVBusiness magazine.

The Vesta, which will be made in 32- and 35-foot models, comes with cherry wood cabinetry, marblelike countertops and other high-end details usually only found in the larger coaches, said Pat Fraser, of Paul Evert’s RV Country, in Fresno, Calif.

“To get this kind of luxury, you usually have to go to a larger vehicle,” Fraser said.

Entegra’s Anthem 42-foot motorcoach has those details and more. It has 1 1/2 bathrooms, a full-size Whirlpool refrigerator, separate, stackable washer and dryer, a cedar-lined closet and four flat-screen televisions, one of which is on the exterior of the RV.

It’s located under a flip-up panel, part of an entertainment center that includes a stereo, speakers and, of course, the remote.

One of the newest features for many of the motorhomes is mostly hidden.

New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions guidelines call for reduced diesel-engine emissions, and different manufacturers meet them in different ways.

The system Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. has on display at the fairgrounds uses a catalytic-converter-like system that reduces vehicle emissions to only nitrogen and water, according to the company’s literature.

“It’s actually cleaner going out,” said Ken Nisley, of coach-maker Newmar, referring to the emissions, “than the air going in.”

The rally concludes Saturday.

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Winnebago Going Exclusively Freightliner

July 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) has entered into a three-year exclusivity agreement with Winnebago Industries Inc.

Under the exclusivity agreement, FCCC’s XCS straight rail and XCL lowered rail will be offered as standard for the Winnebago Journey and Journey Express, Winnebago Tour, Itasca Meridian, Itasca Meridian V Class and Itasca Ellipse rear diesel-pusher motorhomes, according to a news release.

“We are pleased to have signed this exclusivity agreement with Winnebago Industries, continuing FCCC’s long-standing relationship with them,” said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for FCCC. “This partnership enables FCCC to continue to offer Winnebago and Itasca customers an opportunity to experience performance and customer support only FCCC can provide.”

Bill O’Leary, vice president of product development for Winnebago Industries, said the partnership with FCCC will allow for substantial business growth.

“Our agreement is mutually beneficial,” O’Leary said. “We use FCCC exclusively for our rear diesel pusher chassis based on three key elements: innovative design; reliability; and after sales support. Plus, our agreement with FCCC is an integral part of our growth strategy moving forward.”

For more information about the FCCC XCL and XCS chassis, and all FCCC products, visit the company website at www.freightlinerchassis.com. For more information about Winnebago Industries’ motorhomes, visit the company website at www.winnebagoind.com.

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Freightliner Launches New Company Website

June 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Freightliner Custom Chassis logo Continuing its “Driven by You” promise to customers, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) today (June  22) launched its new company website, www.freightlinerchassis.com.

With enhanced site navigation and advanced functionality, the new FCCC website boasts a “user-friendly” experience, allowing visitors to easily find FCCC products, information and news that are most important to them, according to a news release.

The revamped website features a more cohesive design and functionality. Each market segment – motorhome, walk-in van, commercial bus and school bus – has its own web pages, so that all product and dealer information is housed within the relevant location on the site. Visitors can easily navigate from one market to another without backtracking to the home page by using the navigation bar at the bottom of each page.

Customers also now have the ability to view each FCCC chassis in greater detail as well as its specific features and benefits, and a rotating image feature at the top of each page brings a dynamic visual element to the website. Downloadable product information also is available.

“A company’s website serves as an extension of its business, and in some instances, the introduction of the company to customers,” said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing at Gaffney, S.C.-based FCCC. “That’s why we improved our website to more accurately embody our ‘Driven by You’ philosophy. The enhanced site serves as a resource for customers to quickly access information they need to efficiently conduct or better enjoy their business. The website now has all information about our company – whether it’s about products, dealers, service centers, news or unique programs.”

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, a Daimler company.

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RVBusiness Launches 3rd Top 50 Dealer Awards

June 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

RVBTop50Logo-smallRVBusiness magazine is launching the Third Annual RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards — a quality-focused program that sets the bar for best business practices in the RV industry. A gala reception and dinner at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas will announce the winners Oct. 6 during the annual RV Dealers International Convention/Expo.

This year, RVBusiness expanded the awards to include recreational park model manufacturers, reflecting how significant their contributions have become in a rapidly changing marketplace. The awards name 10 Blue Ribbon retailers, and one organization receives the Dave Altman Award, the equivalent of RVBusiness’ “Lifetime Achievement Award.”

RV manufacturers nominate the best and most professional dealers for aftermarket parts stores, sales lots, service work, F&I departments and personnel matters in addition to civic and charitable contributions. Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), the parent company of RVBusiness and the nation’s largest provider of outdoor clubs, services, media and events to the North American RV and outdoor enthusiast market, then invites nominated dealers to submit applications. Applications are independently reviewed by a panel of industry experts, none of whom are directly associated with RVBusiness or Affinity.

RVBusiness recognizes the Top 50 award winners in the October edition, on RVBUSINESS.com, and in dealers’ local and regional newspapers. Winners also receive RVBT50 window decals, rights to use the RVBT50 logo in their advertising, plus exposure to millions of active RV enthusiasts in the pages — and on the websites — of Affinity’s RV-focused consumer magazines, including Trailer Life, MotorHome, Highways, Coast to Coast and Camping Life.

Supporting the RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards this year are the following “Leadership Alliance” sponsors: ADP Lightspeed, Bank of the West, Blue Ox, Cummins Onan RV Generators, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., RV America Insurance, RV Trader Online and Protective.

“We felt that the pursuit of professionalism and top-notch consumer care finds an even more receptive ear this year than it did during the dregs of the recession, and the Dealer Awards sets the bar for best business practices,” said RVBusiness magazine Publisher Sherman Goldenberg. “Looking around at the state of the industry, we realize just how much we have to be thankful for. The current upbeat atmosphere within the commercial sector beats the heck out of where we all were at this time last year.”

RVBusiness previously announced special celebrity guest, conservative Republican columnist and bestselling author, Ann Coulter, as the keynote speaker during the award ceremony. Coulter will talk about a variety of hot political topics including the “Tea Party” movement and related conservative themes.

The Con/Expo is sponsored by the U.S. Recreation Vehicle Dealer Association (RVDA) and the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada (RVDA Canada). Tickets for the dinner are $139 ($119 for RVDA members, Con/Expo exhibitors and Top 50 dealer guests), and are available at the convention or at RVBusiness.com.

About the Top 50 RV Dealers Program:

The program’s purpose is to showcase credible role models and establish best business practices benchmarks at the retail level of the RV industry in terms of staff training, performing warranty and service work, managing aftermarket stores, superior consumer care and being good citizens of their respective communities. The dealerships were selected among those nominated as the best by the nation’s RV manufacturers. The program was founded and coordinated by RVBusiness magazine with additional support provided by the Leadership Alliance.

About Affinity:

Affinity, www.affinitygroup.com, is the nation’s largest provider of outdoor clubs, services, media and events that service the safety, security, comfort and convenience needs of the North American recreational vehicle (RV) and outdoor enthusiast market. By providing information, insights, and resources, the company champions the fun, freedom, and adventure of recreation in motion. The company works to enhance its customers’ recreational experiences and build the communities that share and promote their fun and adventurous lifestyles.

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Coulter Headlines Annual RVB Dealer Awards

May 19, 2010 by · 21 Comments 

Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter

On the premise that the pursuit of professionalism and top-notch consumer care may find an even more receptive ear as the recession lifts, RVBusiness magazine is moving ahead with its 3rd Annual RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards — a quality-focused program culminating Oct. 6 at an upbeat reception and dinner at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas during the annual RV Dealers International Convention/Expo.

“While we realize that recognizing 50 U.S. and Canadian recreational vehicle dealerships above all the rest is a tough and highly subjective matter,” says RVBusiness Publisher Sherman Goldenberg, “we feel that the process of nominating, selecting, honoring and promoting those who generally do the best they can throughout North America is in itself a worthy exercise that brings to the forefront the quality themes outlined by the Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence.”

North American RV manufacturers have already completed their nominations for this year’s awards by forwarding the names of their best and most professional dealers with regard to aftermarket parts stores, sales lots, service work, F&I departments and personnel matters in addition to civic and charitable aspects.

“One key change for 2010,” said Goldenberg, “is that RVBusiness is expanding its program to include recreational park model manufacturers, realizing just how significant their contributions have become in a rapidly changing marketplace. Although their businesses haven’t fully recovered from the recession yet, the accommodations sector of the RV park and campground arena has been shifting somewhat to more destination-style cabins and lodges at parks throughout the U.S. and Canada. So, we thought it was time to include them.”

Nominated dealers are invited to submit applications by mid-July to BJ Thompson Associates, a northern Indiana agency that oversees an independent review of those applications by a panel of industry “experts,” none of whom are directly associated with RV Business or its parent company, Affinity Group Inc. (AGI).

Multi-store operations are again limited to one award, regardless of how many outlets they have, and the Top 50 dealers will not be ranked, although ten Blue Ribbon retailers will be named and one individual will be singled out for the Dave Altman Award, the equivalent of RVB’s “Lifetime Achievement Award.”

In addition to the recognition offered at the October dinner during this year’s RV Dealers International Con/Expo, sponsored by the U.S. Recreation Vehicle Dealer Association (RVDA) and the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada (RVDA Canada), those selections ultimately will be announced in the pages of RVBusiness and on RVBUSINESS.com, both of which are owned by Affinity Group Inc.

Again this year, RVBusiness has invited a special celebrity guest to dinner to provide some thought-provoking table talk: Conservative Republican columnist Ann Coulter. An author of seven New York Times bestsellers, including “Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America” (January 2009) and “If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans” (October, 2007), Coulter more than likely will focus in her remarks on the nation’s anticipated, off-year electoral shift to the political right, including the “Tea Party” movement and related conservative themes.

A lawyer and frequent guest on ”Hannity” and ”The O’Reilly Factor” on the Fox News cable channel, Coulter will field audience questions after her remarks. Meanwhile, her appearance, along with that of former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, keynote speaker at RVDA’s Tuesday (Oct. 5) general session, should lend a crowd-inducing national spotlight to this year’s Con/Expo.

RVBTop50Logo-small“We chose Ann Coulter not because we endorse any one political viewpoint, “ said Mike Schneider, AGI president and CEO, “but because we wanted to bring a thought-provoking speaker to the podium in Las Vegas who might give us all – left, center or right – a chance to think and an opportunity again this year to enjoy a dinner with friends and industry peers along with a high-profile national celebrity.”

After the Con/Expo, RVB will promote the Top 50 award winners within the industry and in dealers’ local and regional newspapers. They’ll get RVBT50 window decals, rights to use the RVBT50 logo in their advertising plus exposure to millions of active RV enthusiasts in the pages – and on the websites – of AGI’s RV-related consumer magazines – Trailer Life, MotorHome, Highways, Coast to Coast and Camping Life.“

Supporting the RV Business Top 50 Dealer Awards this year are the following “Leadership Alliance” sponsors:

ADP Lightspeed : With ADP Lightspeed, dealers can steer their businesses with more precision than ever before. The integrated modules in the Salt Lake City, Utah, company’s LightspeedEVO RV dealer management system include comprehensive sales and F&I tools, real-time accounting functions, service tracking, automated parts inventory management and rental unit management. For more information, visit http://www.adplighspeed.com/rv/index.phpwww.adplighspeed.com/rv/index.php.

Bank of the West: Bank of the West, with more than $60 billion in assets and community bank roots dating back more than 135 years, has more than 700 commercial and retail banking locations throughout 19 Western and Midwestern states. Headquartered in San Francisco, Bank of the West originates commercial, small business and consumer loans and leases and provides a range of other individual and commercial deposit, cash management, trust, and investment products. For more information contact a Bank of the West account manager or look on the web at www.bankofthewest.com.

Blue Ox: Blue Ox, a leading manufacturer of towing and hitching products, attributes its success to its dealer partners and the vital interest this Nebraska company takes in their success by providing education, innovative new products and support that’s invested in serving dealers’ needs long after the sale. This approach has been paramount in developing the strong partnerships that have made the company’s dealers “True Blue.” For more information, visit www.blueox.us.

Cummins Onan RV Generators: Cummins Onan RV Generators are built by Cummins Power Generation, Minneapolis, Minn., the global leader in generator design and construction. For nearly 80 years, Onan generators have been providing reliable stationary and portable power for cities, hospitals, shopping centers, military vehicles and fire engines around the world, as well as for the U.S. RV industry. For more information, visit www.cumminsonan.com.

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.: Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) manufactures diesel chassis for walk-in vans, motorhomes, school buses, and commercial buses and enjoys market share leadership in all addressable industries. Established in 1995 in Gaffney, S.C., FCCC chassis provide customers with exceptional performance and reliability. More than 400 dealers in the U.S. and Canada provide sales and service, and FCCC offers 24/7 customer support at 800-FTL-HELP.

RV America Insurance: RV America, headquartered in Simi Valley, Calif., has provided some of the lowest rates for specialized recreational vehicle insurance for more than two decades, and each of its companies is rated “A, Excellent” or higher by A.M. Best Company. The company works hard to find clients the best rate and coverage for their travel trailer and motorhome insurance needs. For more information, visit www.RVAinsurance.com.

RV Trader Online: Available at RVTraderOnline.com is an extensive selection of classified ads, with more than 60,000 recreational vehicles to choose from and more than 800 dealership listings. More than 640,000 serious buyers visit RVTraderOnline.com — more than any other source – each month, company officials state. RVTraderOnline.com, Norfolk, Va., also offers video advertising, web services, lead management, mobile search and several new tools and lead-generating opportunities. Whether you are looking to buy, sell or research recreational vehicles, RVTraderOnline.com is the No. 1 resource for all RV enthusiasts, manufacturers and dealers.

Protective: Chesterfield, Mo.-based Protective offers XtraRide RV extended protection programs exclusively endorsed by RVDA and designed to meet recreational vehicle dealership needs. Building customer loyalty, increasing repeat business and generating customer referrals are among the added benefits XtraRide brings to its dealership partners. For more information, visit www.protective.com.

For more information, contact BJ Thompson Associates Account Executive Barb Riley by phone at (574) 674-6300 or by email at briley@bjta.com. Goldenberg can be reached at (574) 457-3370 or at goldenberg@kconline.com.

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Freightliner Honored (Again) for Green Work

April 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

An RV chassis builder and leader in sustainability efforts, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) was honored with an Earth Day Award from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), according to a news release. The Earth Day Award is the highest award presented annually by South Carolina DHEC.

Gaffney, S.C.-based FCCC is one of seven Earth Day Award recipients in 2010. DHEC Earth Day Awards recognize individuals, families, communities, businesses and organizations that take action every day to help protect South Carolina’s environment through sustainable practices such as recycling, energy and water conservation and pollution prevention. FCCC received the award during the second annual South Carolina DHEC Earth Day Awards ceremony conducted recently at DHEC headquarters in Columbia, S.C.

In October 2009, FCCC became the first chassis manufacturer and first company within the trucking industry to reach Zero Waste to Landfill status in the United States, achieving its goal three months ahead of schedule.

“Freightliner Custom Chassis’ goal of Zero Waste to Landfill was ambitious from the start,” said DHEC Commissioner Earl Hunter. “But in accomplishing this goal, and doing so ahead of schedule, they have proven that Zero Waste to Landfill is not only a good idea, but something that is attainable. This incredible achievement by FCCC should be seen as a standard for other companies in South Carolina to match. It is further proof that we can all make a difference.”

FCCC’s Zero Waste to Landfill program and comprehensive recycling efforts resulted in elimination of solid waste disposal throughout its entire facility. Joining an elite group of solid waste-free manufacturing facilities in the United States, FCCC went from disposing 250,000 pounds per month of solid waste in January 2007 to disposing zero pounds by October 2009.

The FCCC facility recycles materials such as plastic, paper, aluminum, cardboard, metals, wood and nylon. The company’s commitment to clean air technologies is in line with FCCC’s parent company Daimler AG’s, global initiative called “Shaping Future Transportation.” Launched by Daimler in November 2007 in Stuttgart, Germany, the initiative is focused on reducing category emissions pollutants, carbon dioxide and fuel consumption.

“In addition to FCCC’s company-wide commitment to Zero Waste to Landfill, we have a personal interest in improving our state environment by mentoring local companies and school districts to become more sustainable,” said Bill Harris, environmental health and safety supervisor for FCCC. “We are glad that FCCC is perceived as a leader in sustainability and are honored to be recognized by South Carolina DHEC with an Earth Day Award.”

In March 2010, FCCC became the first company ever to receive the DHEC Special Recognition Award. The DHEC Special Recognition Award is reserved for businesses and individuals making significant, positive contributions to the environment, without seeking additional acknowledgment for its efforts. FCCC was recognized for its Zero Waste to Landfill accomplishments. Also last month, FCCC received the prestigious Environmental Leadership Award from Daimler AG.

In February 2009, FCCC was accepted into the South Carolina Environmental Excellence Program (SCEEP) for its Zero Waste to Landfill efforts. SCEEP is a voluntary initiative designed to recognize and reward South Carolina facilities that have demonstrated environmental performance through pollution prevention, energy and resource conservation, and the use of an environmental management system.

The FCCC plant also was recognized by the EPA’s WasteWise Program in March 2008 for its waste reduction achievement and was accepted as a WasteWise partner. WasteWise engages government, businesses and nonprofit organizations to educate others about the benefits of reducing solid waste.

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