Looking to bolster sales in the growing Pacific Northwest market, Forest River Inc. has named former Weekend Warrior Trailers Inc. executive Gary Denton to head up operations at its 11-year-old Dallas, Ore., facility.
Stepping in as general manager, Denton will oversee product development, marketing and sales for six key travel trailer and fifth-wheel brands – the stick-and-tin Wildwood, Salem and Cherokee Grey Wolf along with the hard-wall, fully laminated Wildcat, Sierra and Sandpiper lines, according to a news release.
Operating out of a 130,000-square-foot production facility and an accompanying lamination plant with a work force of around 200 people, Denton is charged with capturing market share and rejuvenating sales in a territory that encompasses the western seaboard and parts of Canada.
“This is a tremendous opportunity,” said Denton, 52, who joined Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River in July 2008 to spearhead the launch of the Stealth SURV brand. “With the Stealth we were able to ramrod our way to the top of the Statistical Surveys Inc. charts for toy haulers in just two years. Through the efforts of a tremendous team and, most importantly, the support of our dealer network, we’re aiming to have the same type of results in these very high volume, highly competitive sectors of the marketplace.”
Denton, a former eight-time ATV national racing champion, made his mark in the RV industry as vice president of sales and marketing for Perris, Calif.-based Weekend Warrior. The company, founded by Mark Warmoth, is credited with developing the toy hauler marketplace, riding a meteoric 12-year run before falling victim to the economy and ceasing operations in August 2008.
Still in the transition phase, Denton has been commuting from his hometown in Chino, Calif., while mobilizing his sales force in Dallas. “I have been meeting regularly with our 10 salespeople, setting goals and forming strategies,” Denton noted. “Initially, we want to step up relations with dealers so we can create a healthy order backlog and stabilize our production levels. In my first week, we were able to secure 700 orders from our dealer base.”
On the production side, Denton said that improving quality tops the list of objectives while also manufacturing trailers that are built to handle the demanding Pacific Northwest climate. “The prototypes are built in Indiana, but we will be tweaking designs with ‘polar packages’ that address the harsher weather conditions and features that are designed specifically for the rougher terrain,” Denton noted.
Denton said the division is on a brisk timetable, first delivering new product for Forest River’s national dealer meeting at the end of September, then “making some noise” at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., Nov. 29 to Dec.2 with “all the changes for our 2011 product lines.”
“The mission is pretty straight-forward,” he added. “Our success will hinge on enlisting the support of our dealers by offering top-quality product at a great price with sizzling hot interiors.”