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Freightliner to Hold RV ‘Camp’ at FMCA Rally

April 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Freightliner Custom Chassis logoFreightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) is expanding its popular Camp Freightliner sessions, where RV owners or those simply interested in learning more about motorhome chassis spend two full days learning the ins and outs of their chassis, to the West Coast this year.

Traditionally, Camp Freightliner has been held at the company’s location in South Carolina, but this Aug. 19-20 FCCC will host a special session on the heels of the major Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) RV rally in Redmond, Ore., according to a news release.

“We’ve had great feedback from people who attend our camp sessions here in South Carolina, and we wanted to give West Coast RV enthusiasts the opportunity to attend as well,” said Jennifer Edwards, marketing and communications manager.

Camp Freightliner is a comprehensive session where current and prospective RV owners can learn about RV chassis, including care and maintenance tips, and ask questions in a fun and casual group setting. Topics covered include air brake and electrical systems, weight distribution, vehicle storage and more. Cost is $100 for one person, $150 for two (pilot and co-pilots). Registration and more information can be found at: http://www.freightliner.com.

FCCC also will have a booth and representatives at the FMCA rally in Redmond Aug. 11 – 14.

Note that Camp Freightliner sessions at the company’s South Carolina location are available now through November. For Camp Freightliner registration, information and specific details, visit: http://bit.ly/c2PNcj.

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Thor’s Class As Going Exclusively Freightliner

March 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Freightliner Custom Chassis logoFreightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) expands its presence in the motorhome industry by entering into a new multiyear exclusivity agreement with Damon Motor Coach and Four Winds International, which are both divisions of Thor Industries Inc., according to a news release.

The agreement is for upcoming model years of all Damon and Four Winds rear-diesel Class A motorhomes including the Astoria, Astoria Pacific Edition, Tuscany and Essence from Damon and the Montecito from Four Winds.

With the new agreement, FCCC’s XC-R raised-rail chassis will be the exclusive chassis offered on the Damon and Four Winds diesel models. The XC-R chassis provides excellent durability and performance, superior maneuverability and a comfortable ride for passengers. Furthermore, the XC-R raised-rail design allows for increased pass-through storage beneath the coach.

“Our new agreement with Thor Industries, the largest manufacturer in the RV industry, enables us to expand our presence within the Class A diesel motorhome market,” said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for FCCC. “This partnership will allow Thor Industries’ customers to experience our reliable, comfortable and durable chassis and access to our first-class customer service.”

“Both Damon and Four Winds have had a long relationship with FCCC, and we value our partnership with them,” said Bill Fenech, president of Damon and Four Winds. “We feel they are the premier rear diesel chassis manufacturer, and we are pleased to renew our agreement to build our rear diesel models exclusively on their chassis.”

For more information about the FCCC XC-R chassis and all FCCC products, visit the company Wewebsite at www.freightlinerchassis.com.

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

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Freightliner Hosts New Camp for Diesel RVers

February 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

library129The adventure of camping has always been an irresistible draw to RV owners. Now, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) is giving enthusiasts a chance to explore their own recreational vehicles at two-day Camp Freightliner sessions this year.

Camp Freightliner is an opportunity for RV owners to spend two intensive, fun-filled days learning some of the ins and outs of what makes their vehicles tick, according to a news release. Campers will hear from Freightliner experts who will lead workshops covering RV ownership from A to Z, including:

  • Understanding and maintaining air brake and electrical systems.
  • Overall tips and guidelines for maximum performance.
  • Suggested maintenance intervals.
  • The importance of weight distribution.
  • Proper vehicle storage.

In addition, pilots and co-pilots have the opportunity to learn firsthand the intricacies of a Freightliner chassis by examining a bare chassis to highlight and review its features and components.

FCCC officials have designed the Camp sessions for any new, existing or hopeful Class A motorhome owner who wants to learn more about diesel-powered RVs and how to care for them.

Nearly 30 individual Camp Freightliner sessions are offered February through November. See http://bit.ly/7MDzKj for specific information.

For a limited time, interested pilots and co-pilots can participate in the February Camp Freightliner classes (Feb. 15-16 or Feb. 18-19) for a discounted rate of just $100 for both attendees, a 33% savings. Regular pricing for Camp sessions are $150 for pilot and co-pilot registration.library130

Camp Freightliner accommodations include full hook-ups, and discounted camping rates are also available at the local Spartanburg KOA campground. Camp Freightliner will host a cookout dinner for participants the first evening of each session.

“We recently opened Camp Freightliner to anyone who might be interested in moving from a towable or fifth-wheel to a Class A motorhome, or for people who just want to learn more about owning a motorhome, so we could educate them about chassis maintenance and give them an understanding what goes into owning and operating a Class A RV,” said Dave Hoover, customer support manager at FCCC.

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 AG company.

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Newmar/Freightliner Ink Exclusivity Agreement

February 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) and Newmar Corp. today (Feb. 1) announced that the companies have entered into a multi-year exclusivity agreement.

FCCC will provide Newmar, a Class A motorhome manufacturer, with its XC-R motorhome chassis for three of Newmar’s distinctive RV models, according to a joint news release.

The agreement is for upcoming model years of Newmar’s Ventana, Dutch Star and Mountain Aire motorhomes to be built upon FCCC’s XC-R raised-rail chassis.

“We are very pleased to be working with Newmar, a company known for its exemplary craftsmanship, quality products and exceptional customer support,” said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for FCCC. “We worked closely with the Newmar team to design and develop a chassis to meet the specific needs and expectations of their customers.”

“Newmar entered into the partnership with FCCC because of the reliability of FCCC chassis, excellent overall customer service and support and outstanding product value,” said John Sammut, vice president of sales and marketing for Newmar.

“It became apparent that Newmar could offer RV dealers and customers immediate short-term solutions with an increase in value by working with FCCC,” Sammut said. “We hope this partnership with Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. will enable us to continue to grow our diesel vehicle business and increase our product volume.

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

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Freightliner Offers Discounts On Classes, Parts

January 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) announced yesterday (Jan. 19) limited-duration discounts on both its Camp Freightliner training course and parts, sales and service labor for any motorhome riding on a FCCC chassis.

The Gaffney, S.C.-based chassis manufacturer will waive the $50 co-pilot fee for Camp Freightliner classes scheduled for the month of February, while a 10% discount on parts and service will run through February 26 for sales at its Factory Service Center in Gaffney. For current Freightliner Chassis Owners Club (FCOC) members, this 10% discount is in addition to the 5% discount already received at the Factory Service Center.

Camp Freightliner is a comprehensive two-day training course where motorhome operators are educated about the benefits of and maintenance of their specific FCCC chassis, reviewing such topics such as the air brake and electrical system, maintenance intervals, weight distribution and vehicle storage. In addition, pilots and co-pilots have the opportunity to learn the intricacies of a Freightliner chassis firsthand, examining a
bare chassis to highlight and review its features. The classes eligible for the co-pilot discount are scheduled for Feb. 15-16 and Feb. 18-19.

Held at the company’s Factory Service Center in Gaffney, Camp Freightliner is now open to anyone interested in learning more about motorhoming, not just current FCCC owners.

“We recently opened Camp Freightliner to anyone who might be interested in moving from a towable or fifth-wheel to a Class A motorhome, or for people who just want to learn more about owning a motorhome, so we could educate them about chassis maintenance and give them an understanding what goes into owning and operating a Class A RV,” said Dave Hoover, customer support manager at FCCC.

Customers who visit the FCCC Factory Service Center are also encouraged to visit the manufacturing facility while in Gaffney.  The chassis production center is located just down the road from the Factory Service Center, with tours of the facility given to interested parties in the mornings Monday through Friday.

To register for the discounted February Camp Freightliner classes, visit the FCC website at www.freightlinerchassis.com/mhMain.asp?page=CampFreightliner.

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Freightliner Custom Chassis Names Dealer of Year

December 15, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Freightliner Custom Chassis logoFreightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) announced recently that Baltimore Freightliner-Western Star in Baltimore, Md., received the Oasis Dealer of the Year Award for the second year in a row, after achieving a 99.9% customer-service rating.

The FCCC Oasis Network of dealers is dedicated to providing tailored motorhome service to exceed RV customers’ needs, according to a news release. Each Oasis service location has a dedicated motorhome facility with trained motorhome service technicians, a service area, secure parking for RVs and additional amenities specifically for motorhome owners.

“When Baltimore Freightliner-Western Star won the Oasis award in 2008, our dealership was motivated even more to continue to improve our positive customer service rating by providing top level Freightliner service experience to motorhome owners,” said John Blottenberger, service manager at Baltimore Freightliner-Western Star. “This year, we’ve taken extra steps to become more accessible to our customers. In addition to our effort to ensure customers are receiving service and personalized attention to their problems within a half hour of arrival to our dealership, each customer works with the same mechanic throughout the repair process, being kept abreast of mechanical developments.”

Baltimore Freightliner-Western Star is the first and only East Coast dealer to win this award since its inception in 2003. The award is given each year to the dealer that received the highest customer satisfaction rating as determined by customer surveys, which are completed at the dealership.

The Oasis Network is part of the Freightliner service organization, which comprises more than 400 dealers in North America.

In 2006, the number of Oasis Service Centers jumped from 65 to 82. Currently, the number of Oasis Service Centers stands at 89. Many of the original 65 Oasis dealers improved their service experience by hiring and training more dedicated RV technicians, adding customer amenities and escalating the level of customer service throughout their dealerships.

Some of the more common amenities found at dealerships include a dedicated waiting room for motorhome customers, special electrical hookups, certified motorhome technicians – and more.

Blottenberger said he significantly improved his customer satisfaction rating by providing customers the option to stay in their motorhome while it is undergoing repairs.

“Focusing on customer service from a dealership flexibility perspective has significantly improved our customer approval rating,” Blottenberger said. “Recently this year, we have allowed our customers the option of staying within their personal motorhome while it is being worked on. After making this option available to our customers, we immediately saw a positive increase in our approval ratings.”

“Our Oasis dealers realize the payoff of providing the special services that RV owners appreciate,” said Dennis Rostenbach, FCCC service center manager and dealer advisor. “When we think from a solutions perspective and work to find answers to our customers’ problems, we inevitably increase customer satisfaction.”

“FCCC’s quick response time to our dealership and its knowledgeable staff has made all the difference,” Blottetnberger said. “I believe customer service begins from within an organization. And just like our dealership, FCCC will go the extra mile to find answers to customer problems. FCCC cares just as much about the end-user as we do, and that is what customer service is all about.”

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

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Freightliner Rolls Out New Chassis, Brake Systems

December 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Freightliner Custom Chassis logoFreightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) made a number of new product announcements at last week’s 47th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. Following are highlights from multiple announcements:

FCCC MC-L RV Chassis

Freightliner introduced its newest product for the RV market, the FCCC MC-L RV chassis. Designed with a durable frame and updated driver station configuration, the MC-L Class A diesel motorhome chassis boasts greater fuel economy, enables more aerodynamic body designs and offers superior ride quality.

Powered by a Cummins ISB 6.7-liter electronic diesel engine with up to 200 hp and 520 ft. lbs. of torque with an Allison automatic six-speed transmission, the MC-L offers outstanding power and performance. An up to 50-degree wheel cut allows for superior maneuverability, assisting RV owners as they traverse through urban settings and tight spaces.

“Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. developed the MC-L chassis as a solution to Class A customer needs,” said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for FCCC. “Working in conjunction with body builders, we designed and engineered the MC-L chassis to enable the manufacture of more fuel efficient and aerodynamic motorhomes, while offering customers a durable, reliable and maneuverable option.”

Coaches sit lower to the ground with the MC-L’s low-profile frame rail, increasing aerodynamics and ride quality. Also, the quieter front-engine diesel allows for a more comfortable ride for passengers. The MC-L has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 18,000 lbs.

Meets EPA Regulations

The company announced that it successfully designed and is already manufacturing new RV chassis that meet 2010 EPA regulations.

Known for exceptional ride and handling as well as superb performance, the entire FCCC RV chassis lineup meets the needs of all motorhome customers. The new 2010 technology will be incorporated into all FCCC chassis models including the ever-popular FRED (MC), brand-new MC-L, XC-S, XC-L, XC-R, XC-M and Powerliner III.

The 2010-compliant chassis come equipped with the Cummins ISB, ISC or ISL engines. The Cummins ISB is a 6.7-liter engine and provides up to 360 horsepower and 800 ft. lbs. of torque. The ISC offers 8.3 liters, up to 380 horsepower and 1,050 ft. lbs. of torque, while the ISL 8.9-liter engine offers up to 450 horsepower and 1,200 ft. lbs. of torque.

“Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. completed the engineering and design of the new technology well in advance of the Jan. 1, 2010, deadline to better meet the needs of our OEMs and end-users,” said Tony Sippel, RV product manager at FCCC. “We are now manufacturing chassis featuring this new technology, allowing OEMs and customers a full portfolio of FCCC products that meet the updated federal emissions requirements.”

The 2010-compliant XC-R raised-rail chassis displayed in Louisville features all of the benefits customers have come to expect from a FCCC motorhome chassis, including outstanding maneuverability, reliability and performance. The lowered rear section incorporates a flat-floor design throughout the coach, providing for more motorhome body configurations. Boasting a 60-degree wheel cut, the XC-R chassis is a perfect solution for easier travel through urban settings.

 ecoFRED Now Available

FCCC’s ecoFRED, the RV industry’s first hybrid-electric Class A motorhome chassis, is now available for order. Introduced in December 2008 by FCCC as a prototype, ecoFRED provides improved fuel economy while also reducing engine emissions.

Equipped with the Eaton hybrid-electric system, ecoFRED is unlike any other chassis available in the RV market today. Powered by the Cummins ISB 6.7-liter engine with up to 300 hp and an Eaton automated manual transmission, ecoFRED provides increased torque for better acceleration, contributing to a superior performance that has become synonymous with the FCCC brand.

“We are pleased that ecoFRED is ready for production,” said Randall. “ecoFRED offers reduced exhaust emissions, leading toward a cleaner environment, requires less fuel to operate and has an improved brake life, all of which contribute to better overall performance and a reduced operational cost for our customers.”

ecoFRED, so named because of its increased fuel economy and ecological/ environmental benefits, offers significantly less brake wear due to regenerative braking, leading to lower replacement costs. The chassis also boasts of better acceleration and increased towing capacity, operating similar to driving an automatic transmission.

ecoFRED has increased towing capacity with a 27,000-pound GVWR and a 37,000-pound GCWR. This enables travelers to carry more weight in the coach storage compartments or tow a heavier or additional vehicle.  

FCCC engineers also designed ecoFRED to offer a best-in-class 55-degree wheel cut to better travel and navigate through tight spatial constraints. Similar to the popular FRED (Front Engine Diesel) chassis, ecoFRED does not have an engine hump or “dog house” typically found on a gas chassis. The result is a flat floor and more room in the driver cockpit, contributing to driver comfort and easier entry and egress from the seats to the back of the motorhome.

Front Air Disc Brakes Standard

To provide RV owners with enhanced safety and improved ride and handling, FCCC said that all FCCC rear-engine motorhome chassis models will now offer front air disc brakes as a standard feature.

Bendix ADB22X air disc brakes increase the safety of passengers because they improve stopping distance, while also easily coming to a straight, stable stop without steering correction. The air disc brakes also contribute to a passenger car-like feel, a positive for those operating a large motorhome.

“FCCC again takes the industry leadership position by being the first RV chassis manufacturer to offer air disc brakes to our customers as a standard feature on all of our rear-engine chassis,” said Randall. “We sought to enhance rider comfort and brake performance, and the Bendix ADB22X air disc brakes provide both of these benefits.”

The Bendix ADB22X air disc brake, available from Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC, is a lightweight air disc brake package that reduces total wheel-end weight.

The ADB22X system offers long brake life; enables a passenger car-like feel; permits straight, stable stops; significantly reduces stopping distances; and nearly eliminates brake fade.

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Freightliner Sets Chassis Market Share Record

December 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

For the first time in its 14-year history, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) achieved a record high of 58% market share for Class A diesel motorhomes in September, for a year-to-date market share total of 53.9%.

Statistical Surveys Inc., the leading provider of market data solutions for the RV industry, reported that FCCC again increased its share in September to more than 2 1/2 times the market share of its closest competitor, which has 22%. FCCC has remained steady throughout the year, progressively gaining in share since January 2009, when the company posted 50.87% share.

“Despite the RV industry facing considerable challenges during the past 18 months, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. has retained its market leadership position, increasing our share month over month, reaching our new high in September,” said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for FCCC.

“We launched our company tagline, ‘Driven by You,’ in April 2008, and since then, we have consistently delivered on our promise to enhance our customers’ experience,” Randall added. “Our quality products and first-rate customer service bring consumer loyalty to our brand and our company, which is demonstrated through these most recent market share statistics.”

FCCC also introduced two sales programs in October. The “Fueled By Us” fuel card sales event was launched for the retail customer, and “Driving Success” was implemented as a points-based incentive program for dealership sales people and sales managers. The company remains proactive in a down market, not only growing in market share, but investing in the industry and its stakeholders.

“FCCC remains dedicated to providing reliable, durable and powerful products that surpass customer expectations,” Randall said. “We refuse to be complacent, especially in a down market, and we will continue to provide best-in-class customer service and support while pursuing sales opportunities and cultivating customer relationships.”

For more information visit www.freightlinerchassis.com.

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

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Freightliner to Partner on Electric Chassis Project

September 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Freightliner Custom Chassis logoFreightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) and Enova Systems announced today (Sept. 10) that they have jointly executed a letter of intent  to enter into an all-electric commercial chassis development program.

The development program includes close collaboration and will involve the engineering and integration of Enova’s 120kW and 90kW all-electric drive system technologies into target FCCC chassis platforms, including the MT-45 walk-in van chassis, according to a news release. Freightliner’s highest volume MT-45 chassis offers a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) between 14,140 and 19,000 lbs. and maximum payloads of 10,000 lbs. The MT-45 chassis is used by a range of customers including UPS and Federal Express.

The strategic agreement consists of four phases that include the development of at least four vehicles and placement into national fleets. Design, engineering, integration and testing activities will be conducted at the Freightliner Custom Chassis plant in Gaffney, S.C., and the Enova facility in Torrance, Calif.

“The technical, economic, and environmental factors driving increased demand for pure electric commercial vehicles are rapidly converging,” said Robert Harbin, president FCCC’s Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) division. “Our partnership with Enova Systems on this important development program is a clear indication that the market for these vehicles is approaching. We look to Enova to help us achieve our goal of having a profitable, in-plant, EV production program in the near term.”

Mike Staran, president and CEO of Enova Systems, added, “Collaboration with FCCC, an OEM with market leading positions with several ideal commercial vehicle platforms, provides us an immediate opportunity to penetrate markets not previously available. Our combined technologies and vehicle expertise will enable us to offer a wide range of flexible EV solutions that will ultimately allow us to gain market share in key segments.”

The companies have already begun showcasing their capabilities to potential customers and expect positive results from these initial demonstrations. Many national fleet operators currently served by the two companies have clearly stated their desire to deploy all-electric commercial vehicles in the 2010 timeframe.

Enova Systems is a leading worldwide developer and producer of all-electric and hybrid drive train technologies for commercial vans, trucks and buses. Enova’s non invasive systems enable customers to integrate their drive system technology in either new vehicle or retrofit applications.

FCCC manufactures premium chassis for the motorhome, delivery walk-in van and commercial and school bus markets. FCCC is a subsidiary of DTNA, a Daimler company.

Enova Systems Inc., an international company headquartered in Torrance, is the leading developer of electric and hybrid drive systems for buses and medium-duty vehicles. Enova produces four drive configurations (Pure Electric, Series Hybrid with Diesel Generator, Pre and Posts Transmission Parallel Hybrids) for customers including Smith Electric Vehicles and the China FAW Group Corp. Enova’s drive systems have powered thousands of electric and hybrid vehicles since 1980.

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RV Business Announces 2009 Top 50 Dealer Awards

August 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

rvbtop50logo-smallRV Business today (Aug. 31)  has announced selections for the 2nd Annual RV Business Top 50 Dealer Awards, which are based on the nominations of North American RV manufacturers and are to be presented on the evening of Wed., Oct. 7, at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas during the annual RV Dealers International Convention/Expo.

A volunteer panel of industry veterans concluded its review of dealer applications on Aug. 21 at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., keeping a keen eye on dealers’ overall focus on professionalism, association activities, civic involvement, best practices and consumer care.

Above all, RVB Publisher Sherman Goldenberg maintains, the mission of the Top 50 program is to continue to remind individual dealers – and the industry at large – of the intent and specific recommendations of the Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence and, beyond that, to give attendees at the Recreation Vehicle Dealer Association’s (RVDA) Con/Expo a chance to relax and reflect on a year that was trying at best.

“We had an overwhelming response from our manufacturer nominees this year,” said Goldenberg. “The number of applicants received was about 40% more than what we had in 2008. Before judging even started, we considered this year’s program a success, and that was largely due to the many quality dealerships submitting applications. Because there were so many worthy RV dealers who applied, it was a much more difficult selection process this time around, and, unfortunately, we weren’t able to include everyone who applied.”

“The judges did take a very good look at all the application materials dealers sent in, and it was a very close race,” adds BJ Thompson, president of BJ Thompson Associates Inc., whose Mishawaka, Ind.-based agency oversees the application process for RVB. “We encourage all participating dealers, whether they were selected or not, to reapply next year.”

RVB Top 50 dealers are not ranked, although 10 Blue Ribbon retailers are singled out for special recognition. In addition, a Dave Altman Award for lifetime achievement in RV retailing and exceptional corporate citizenship will also be presented to one of the Blue Ribbon dealers at this year’s RVBT50 dinner at which Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee, the former — and possibly future — Republican presidential candidate  will be keynote speaker.

“Given the current national political climate and the ongoing debate between the two political parties — and the ways in which these debates directly impact the recreational vehicle industry  — we consider Mr. Huckabee an excellent and thought-provoking choice for an enjoyable evening in Las Vegas,” said Goldenberg. “And that goes for industry people of all political persuasions.”

The following U.S. and Canadian retailers are the recipients of the 2009 RV Business Top 50 Dealer Awards (in unranked, alphabetical order):

  •      Aberdeen RV Center, Aberdeen, MS
  •      Aloha RV, Albuquerque, NM
  •      Altman’s Winnebago, Carson, CA
  •      American RV, Grand Rapids, MI
  •      Apache Village RV Center, Hazelwood, MO
  •      ArrKann Trailer & RV Centre, Edmonton, AB
  •      Beckley’s Camping Center, Thurmont, MD
  •      Big Country RV, Bend, OR
  •      Bill Plemmons RV World, Rural Hall, NC
  •      Boat N RV Superstores, Rockwood, Tenn.
  •      Can-Am RV Centre, London, ON
  •      Carolina Coach & Camper, Claremont, NC
  •      Coachlight RV, Carthage, MO
  •      Coates Trailer Sales, Columbus, MN
  •      Colonial Airstream, Lakewood, NJ
  •      Crown RV, Conyers, GA
  •      Curtis Trailers, Portland, OR
  •      Dandy RV Superstore, Anniston, AL
  •      Dixie RV Superstore, Newport News, VA
  •      Dodd RV, Yorktown, VA
  •      General RV, Wixom, MI
  •      Giant RV, Montclair, CA
  •      Greeneway Campers, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
  •      Guaranty RV, Junction City, OR
  •      Hilltop Trailer Sales, Fridley, MN
  •      Ketelsen Campers of Colorado, Wheat Ridge, CO
  •      Kings Campers, Wausaw, WI
  •      Lazydays RV Supercenter, Seffner, FL
  •      Little Dealer Little Prices, Phoenix, AZ
  •      Mike Thompson’s RV Super Stores, Santa Fe Springs, CA
  •      Modern Trailer Sales, Anderson, IN
  •      Mount Comfort RV, Greenfield, IN
  •      Parkview RV, Smyrna, DE
  •      PleasureLand RV Centers, St. Cloud, MN
  •      Poulsbo RV, Kent, WA
  •      Quality RV, Draper, UT
  •      Reines RV Center, Manassas, VA
  •      Richardson’s RV, Sun City, CA
  •      Rick’s RV Center, Joliet, IL
  •      Roy Robinson RV, Marysville, WA
  •      RV America Inc., Johnstown, CO
  •      Steinbring Motorcoach, Garfield, MN
  •      Tennessee RV Sales & Service, Knoxville, TN
  •      Terrell Camping Center, Terrell, NC
  •      Thompson Family RV, Davenport, IA
  •      Tom Johnson’s Camping Center, Marion, NC
  •      Topper’s Camping Center, Waller, TX
  •      Trafford’s RV, Center Conway, NH
  •      Veurinks’ RV Center, Grand Rapids, MI
  •      Woody’s RV World, Red Deer, AB

Building on last year’s format, which appears to have worked rather well for those involved, RV Business Top 50 Dealer Award honorees will be promoted in the national press, in dealers’ hometown newspapers and in the pages and websites — of Affinity’s trade and consumer magazines: RV Business, Trailer Life, MotorHome, Highways, Coast to Coast and Camping Life.

Underwriting this year’s program are Platinum co-sponsors ADP Lightspeed, Salt Lake City, UT; Blue Ox, Pender, NE; Coach-Net, Lake Havasu, AZ; Cummins Onan, Minneapolis, MN.; Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Gaffney, SC, RV Trader and RVTraderOnline.com, Norfolk, VA, and Ultra-Fab Products, Elkhart, IN, while Protective Asset Protection Division, Chesterfield, MO, is a Gold sponsor.

Tickets for the $120-a-plate dinner ($99 for RVDA members, Con/Expo exhibitors and Top 50 dealer guests) are available through RVBUSINESS.com’s registration link (http://www.rvbusiness.com/top-50-dealer-awards/2009-registration-form/).

“All in all, we can’t imagine that anyone attending the RVDA Con/Expo wouldn’t want to take the opportunity to mix with Mr. Huckabee and their industry peers at the cocktail party prior to our dinner and to hear Mr. Huckabee speak on the hot topics of the day at the dinner itself, regardless of their political persuasion,” said Goldenberg. “And, of course, we’ll honor our dealers, one by one, at the dinner as well, giving everyone a chance to reflect on the professionalism for which we’re trying to help raise the bar in this industry.”

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Winnebago Offers Optional Front-Engine Diesels

August 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

 

2010 Winnebago Via

2010 Winnebago Via

Winnebago Industries Inc. is offering front-engine diesel chassis from Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. and Workhorse Custom Chassis LLC as options on all of its 2010 gas-powered motorhomes.

”We really haven’t done much with front-engine diesel until this year,” said President Bob Olson. ”Coming off a year when fuel prices were so volatile, the time is right. Now we can give potential customers an option.”

The Ford F-53 chassis will continue to be standard on most of Winnebago’s gas Class A lineup. Workhorse’s W-D series and Freightliner’s FRED front-engine diesels will be available on the Winnebago Adventurer/Itasca Suncruiser, while the Workhorse chassis will be optional on the Winnebago Sightseer/Itasca Sunova and Vista/Sunstar.

Winnebago introduced its 2010 lineup in July during the Winnebago Itasca Travelers (WIT) Grand National Rally at the company’s Forest City, Iowa, headquarters.

Taking an aggressive stance toward R&D for 2010, Winnebago introduced its first-ever tag axle on a 2010 42-foot floorplan — plus a bath-and-a-half floorplan — in the Winnebago Tour/Itasca Ellipse diesel pusher (base MSRP: $311,630/317,278) built on the company’s 44,320-pound GVWR Freightliner Maxum chassis. Also part of the company’s 2010 lineup is a ”low profile” Winnebago View Profile Class C motorhome, designed without a cabover sleeping compartment, on the high-mileage Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis.

Winnebago also has launched production of the long-awaited 25-foot Winnebago Via/Itasca Reyo (base MSRP: $135,132/$135,568)), the first Class A motorhome built on the 11,030-pound GVWR Sprinter chassis equipped with a 6-cylinder 154-hp Mercedes Benz diesel engine. A prototype of the Via/Reyo was introduced last at December’s Louisville Show and a second floorplan should be available by December.

The company also debuted two 34- and 39-foot floorplans in the all-new `value-priced” Winnebago Journey Express/Itasca Meridian V Class A diesel pusher motorhome (base MSRP: $205,419/$210,837) on the 27,910-pound GVWR Freightliner XCS straight-rail chassis equipped with a Cummins ISB 340-hp diesel engine.

Despite the current recession and trend toward smaller, more fuel-efficient motorhomes, Olson is convinced that a market remains for larger diesel-pusher units.

”Once we see the economy turn around and we get back to normal and our finance partners start lending money again,” he said, ”you’ll still see people who want coaches that they are used to and have the amenities that they have at home. You can do things with the tag axle that you can’t with smaller chassis.” Olson said.

Olson said that despite reducing the number of floorplans to 68 from 77 across its Class A and C lineup, Winnebago remained aggressive in developing its 2010 offerings.

”It would have been very easy to pull in our horns and not come out with anything new,” Olson told RVBUSINESS.COM. ”But we felt this industry is going to be around for a long, long time. Coming out of a downturn that we’ve never seen before, what better way to come out with something that our customers have never seen before?”

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Huckabee Highlighting RVB Top 50 Dealer Awards

August 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

 

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee

Despite the headwinds of 2009, RVBusiness is turning the corner on the second annual RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards after having gone to manufacturers earlier this year for nominations of their best dealers in terms of consumer care, civic involvement and general professionalism.

A number of applications are in hand and a host of nominated retailers, as has been the case for so many business people this year, are currently scrambling to submit theirs. “I can report at this point that things are going well,” says RVBusiness Publisher Sherman Goldenberg, who is overseeing the second annual RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards program on behalf of the industry’s flagship trade journal. “And we’ll continue to flex with the times and bend that deadline to get as many of those last-minute applications as we can before turning them over later this month for review by our panel of experts.”

The Top 50, like last year, will be not be ranked in any sort of order, says Goldenberg, but will be presented as a group in alphabetical order at a reception and dinner at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 7, during the annual RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, sponsored by the Fairfax, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).  But five of the Top 50 will receive special recognition as Blue Ribbon dealers and one above the rest receives the Dave Altman Award, which goes to an exceptional corporate citizen.

 Appearing as keynote speaker at this year’s dinner is former – and possibly future – Republican presidential candidate and Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee, who will more than likely have a few things to say about the current economic and political landscape.

“All in all, we can’t imagine that anyone attending the RVDA Con/Expo wouldn’t want to take the opportunity to mix with Mr. Huckabee and their industry peers at the cocktail party prior to our dinner and to hear Mr. Huckabee speak on the hot topics of the day at the dinner itself, regardless of their political persuasion,” said Goldenberg. “And, of course, we’ll honor our dealers, one by one, at the dinner as well, giving everyone a chance to reflect on the professionalism for which we’re trying to help raise the bar in this industry.”

The bottom line of the Top 50 program, he maintained, is to continue to remind individual dealers – and the industry at large – of the intent and specific recommendations of the Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence.

 “I don’t think there is ever a bad time to be talking about excellence and customer service and treating people right, especially customers,” said BJ Thompson, president of BJ Thompson Associates, the Mishawaka, Ind., agency that is again working with RVBusiness on the Top 50. “So, whether it’s a good economy or a bad economy, this is a good program and helpful to the industry.”

Underwriting this year’s program are RVB’s “Leadership Alliance” sponsors for 2009, including “Platinum” co-sponsors ADP Lightspeed, Salt Lake City, Utah; Blue Ox, Pender, Neb.; Coach-Net, Lake Havasu, Ariz.; Cummins Onan, Minneapolis, Minn.; Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Gaffney, S.C., RV Trader and RVTraderOnline.com, Norfolk, Va., and Ultra-Fab Products, Elkhart, Ind., while Protective Asset Protection Division, Chesterfield, Mo., is a “Gold” sponsor.

Tickets for the $120-a-plate dinner ($99 for RVDA members and Con/Expo exhibitors) are available through RVBUSINESS.com’s registration link (http://www.rvbusiness.com/top-50-dealer-awards/2009-registration-form/).

Online versions of the applications can be downloaded by linking directly to http://www.rvbusiness.com/top-50-dealer-awards/2009-top-50-dealer-application/

Building on last year’s format, which appears to have worked rather well for those involved, RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Award honorees will be promoted in the national press, in dealers’ hometown newspapers and in the pages – and on the websites — of Affinity’s trade and consumer magazines, RVBusiness, Trailer Life, MotorHome, Highways, Coast to Coast and Camping Life.

However, publicity is only part of the incentive for participating in this bar-raising national promotion, says Thompson.  “In talking with different size dealers last year, whether they be small, medium or large-size dealers,” said Thompson, “we did get some distinctly different responses. The smaller dealers were surprised that they were genuinely in the running to be recognized for their attention to customer satisfaction. They appreciated having the opportunity to be recognized for their hard work and their investment in customer service.

“The medium and larger dealers seemed to have their own unique set of issues in assuring good customer service and excellence in their operations,” added Thompson, who will be joined in hosting the event by Jim Sheldon, a Monaco RV LLC executive and current chairman of Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “Because they were larger, they weren’t able to have that one-on-one experience as principals because of their size. It was a unique challenge to them to drive down their values to the people in their dealer operations who were working with customers, whether it was sales or service or otherwise. It would take a lot of work and investment on their part to have that personalized service on a larger scale. So, to be recognized for actually accomplishing excellence on a larger scale for them was also satisfying.”

Leveling the playing field again this year is the fact that larger multi-store retailers, regardless of how many locations they have, can have only one store recognized in the RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Award program.

“It was satisfying for those of us who were involved in the development of the program to see that most dealers were genuinely appreciative of having the spotlight put on them,” added Thompson, current chairman of RVIA’s Public Relations Committee. “I think it’s always a good thing to put a spotlight on people who are doing things right and doing them well. Recognizing outstanding achievement in customer service and dealer operations not only lifts the dealership, but when they are spotlighted and shown off to the world, it lifts up the entire industry.”

 

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Freightliner Foresees Turnaround in Mid-2010

July 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

freightliner-logo1Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. sees ”signs of life” in its diesel motorhome chassis business, according to Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for the Gaffney, S.C., subsidiary of Daimler AG.

”It’s a tough market right now, as everybody is aware,” Randall said while attending the 82nd Annual Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) Annual International Convention July 20-23 in Bowling Green, Ohio. ”But we have seen signs of life coming from areas that we hadn’t earlier. We have seen orders coming in from manufacturers at a higher pace than they had been. Our production, as a result, is up from where we were earlier this year.”

Still, Randall said Freightliner doesn’t expect to see noticeable growth in its RV chassis business until the 2nd or 3rd quarter of next year.

”That gives us time to work through what still is a tight credit market, and hopefully, consumer confidence starts to build, the economy starts to rebound and truck companies start to see more freight being shipped, which is another strong bellwether for the economy.

”Our return to normal market volumes, whatever that means, will occur with a little more stability into late 2010 or early 2011.”

Freightliner also makes chassis for school buses, commercial buses and walk-in vans. ”While all of those have experienced downturns, it hasn’t been nearly as significant as what we’ve experienced in the RV market,” Randall said. “We are near the bottom now, if not at it.”

Besides investing in development of a new hybrid diesel/electric chassis that debuted last December at the Louisville Show, Freightliner is developing new products that will be introduced later this year and early next year, Randall said. “There’s nothing that I can talk about at this point,” Randall added.

All in all, he said that Freightliner expects to emerge from the recession stronger than it was before. “We view this as an opportunity for growth for us,” Randall said. “Turmoil breeds opportunity.”

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