Grand Design RV Co. has gone into production of its new Solitude 320X extended-stay fifth-wheel.
“Our team has worked non-stop since December to create a shorter and more price-conscious extended-stay Solitude fifth-wheel for both our dealers and customers,” Marc Hauser, Solitude general manager, said in a press release. “Our goal was to deliver this new platform without compromising Grand Design’s quality, features and styling. The result of our efforts is a high-end unit that is shorter and lighter but yet generously spacious and full of amenities.”
Features in the Solitude 320X include 101-inch widebody construction, drop frame with spacious pass-through storage, solid-surface countertops, raised panel cabinetry and residential theater seating.
“We specifically targeted the 320X for the under $55,000 retail segment of the market in which the Solitude brand has not yet participated,” Hauser said. “We are confident that our dealers and customers will be as elated as we are with the new Solitude 320X’s unbeatable package and pricing.”
For more information, contact Hauser at (574) 825-8000.
Grand Design RV Co. announced the addition of Nate Goldenberg as general manager for its Momentum luxury toy hauler product line.
Don Clark, Grand Design president and co-owner, stated, “I could not be more pleased about the addition of Nate to the Grand Design team. I have had the privilege of working with Nate for most of his RV career and have watched him develop into one of our industries best product people.”
Clark added that “Nate was very instrumental in developing one of today’s premier toy hauler brands. Because of his product development skills and incredible dealer relationships, Nate will be a natural fit for our company. I am confident that Nate will help lead our luxury toy hauler division to the next level. Nate’s appointment will also help free up Marc Hauser (GM of Solitude) to continue developing our popular Solitude brand.”
“We are ecstatic about the addition of Tony to the Reflection sales team. He is product saavy, has incredible dealer relationships, and is a perfect addition to our sales force,” said Micah Staley, Reflection general manager. “Tony’s territory will include the central portion of the country from Manitoba to Texas including Colorado and New Mexico.”
Lizzi spent several years at Keystone RV Co. as a district sales manager covering the Bullet product line and most recently worked for Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., where he handled the Infinity and Voltage product lines.
Grand Design RV Co. has hired nearly 500 employees in about 15 months.
When you consider the Middlebury, Ind.-based recreational vehicle manufacturer only began producing its first RVs in January 2013 and already has nearly 500 employees, it’s hard to argue with the assessment of its president, Don Clark. “It’s crazy,” he said. “We are not even two years old.”
As reported by the South Bend Tribune, Clark co-owns the company with Ron and Bill Fenech. The three men, longtime leaders in the RV industry, founded it in January 2013.
On Monday (March 24), Clark said the company was adding a third production line soon.
Clark noted Grand Design already has hired 70 employees and has begun adding another 65 because of the success of its Reflection, a mid-profile fifth-wheel.
The Reflection retails for about $50,000 and is 32- to 38-feet long, and is made for people who want to use it for a weekend or a two- to three-week stay, Clark said. Like the company’s original offering, the Solitude, the Reflection features hardwood cabinetry and high-end features found in an upscale home.
“The Reflection was outpacing our capacity,” he said. “It’s smoking hot.”
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Grand Design RV Co. announced that it has hired industry veteran Peter Kinden as Western district sales manager.
“With over 30 years of industry experience Peter brings a wealth of knowledge and deep-seated relationships to our company,” said Don Clark, president and co-owner of the Middlebury, Ind.-based builder.
Micah Staley, general manager of Grand Design’s Reflection division, added, “Peter’s six years of manufacturing as well as his 20-plus years of dealer experience – including running one of the largest western dealerships – allows him to understand the day-to-day challenges that dealers face. Our western dealers will find Peter to be invaluable in doing business with Grand Design RV.”
Kinden noted, “I am truly honored to have been invited to be a part of what I would consider one of the strongest team ever assembled in our industry. I am excited to get out and meet my dealers and help grow our mutual businesses.”
Kinden can be reached at (661) 201-5501 or email@example.com.
A year ago, Middlebury, Ind.-based Grand Design RV Co. was just beginning. But, according to a report by the South Bend Tribune, more than 1,300 fifth-wheels later, it’s clearly a winner.
“We never cease to be amazed at how well our product is being received by both the RV dealers and retail consumers,” said Don Clark, company president, who owns the business along with Bill and Ron Fenech. The success has surpassed the founding trio’s expectations, he added. “It’s incredible.”
The numbers are certainly giving the Elkhart County economy a boost.
Currently more than 250 workers are employed on the 67-acre campus.
Two production lines are running and a third will be added in the next two months. When that line is totally operational, the company should employ more than 360 workers. The first line has already produced 1,000 RVs.
The company is still targeting four lines and a total of 500 employees by 2016, possibly sooner.
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Middlebury, Ind.-based Grand Design RV Co. announced today (Oct. 15) the delivery of its 1,000th fifth-wheel to Camp-Land RV in Burns Harbor, Ind.
The company also reported that in around 30 days it will be opening a third production line that will add 130 jobs.
“We are very pleased to announce that, in less than one year from our company’s beginning, Grand Design’s first production line has produced and shipped over 1,000 luxury, extended-stay fifth-wheels,” Don Clark, president and co-owner of Grand Design RV, said in a press release. “According to Statistical Surveys, Grand Design has already climbed the rankings and has now become the 13th largest producer of fifth-wheels in the entire industry. We credit this accomplishment to our incredible work force and the pride and care they take in building our products, leading product designs and our dealer body comprised of the ‘who’s who’ of the finest dealers in the business.”
“We are thrilled to partner with Camp-Land RV,” continued Clark. “Camp-Land and Grand Design share similar business philosophies such as ‘do what’s right,’ ‘take proper care of your retail customers’ and ‘be personally involved as owners in the day-to-day oversight of your business.’ Being in business for 52 years, it is obvious that Camp-Land has been doing something right for a long, long time.”
Marc Hauser, Grand Design’s general manager of the Solitude and Momentum brands, added, “In celebration of the delivery of our 1,000th unit, Camp-Land RV graciously hosted an open house on Oct. 12. Don Clark, Bill Fenech and Ron Fenech (owners of Grand Design) along with Grand Design Regional Sales Managers Rob Groover and Jeremiah Gruber were there to personally present the keys of the 1,000th fifth-wheel produced by Grand Design to the ownership and management team of Camp-Land.”
Middlebury, Ind.-based Grand Design Recreational RV Co. announced today (Sept. 13) that it will unveil four new models at next week’s Elkhart County RV Open House. According to a press release, Grand Design will show product at its display on Executive Drive in Elkhart, the main artery leading to the RV/MH Hall of Fame.
Don Clark, president and co-owner of Grand Design RV, noted, “The four new floorplans are exciting additions to the Grand Design’s popular Solitude extended stay fifth-wheel, Momentum luxury toy hauler fifth-wheel and Reflection mid-priced product lines. The new floorplans will include the new groundbreaking Reflection 337RLS.”
The reflection 337RLS includes:
• Grand Design’s innovative deep bedroom slide that allows for twice the floor space as conventional fifth-wheels.
• 6-foot-5-inch master bedroom ceiling.
• Industry first-in-class full walk-in wardrobe closet with washer and dryer prep.
• Walk-in residential size shower with all-curved glass front.
• Oversized pass-through lower storage bay.
• Exclusive full-height kitchen pantry.
• Solid-surface countertops.
• Solid select hand-rubbed maple cabinetry.
• Reclining theater seating.
• LED HD TV.
“All of these groundbreaking innovations have been included in a unit that is easily towed with a ¾ 3/4-ton pickup,” said Micah Staley, Grand Design general manager for the Reflection brand.
Clark commented, “Micah Staley joined the Grand Design team in February of this year. Micah’s stellar reputation for innovative design and attention to detail is well known throughout the industry. Micah has totally exceeded our expectations with his creation of the new Reflection brand. Dealers have already communicated their excitement over the new Reflection.”
Clark added, “General Manger Marc Hauser’s rock solid Solitude brand and his new Momentum Luxury Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel are guaranteed to turn heads at the upcoming show. We are anticipating a very exciting open house and look forward to hearing our dealers feedback and comments at the upcoming open house.”
Fledgling towable manufacturer Grand Design RV Co., Middlebury, Ind., will debut its first model — the 38-foot triple-slide Solitude fifth-wheel — at the 28th Annual Florida RV SuperShow next week at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.
An industry preview of some 1,100 units will be Tuesday (Jan. 15) followed by a five-day retail show sponsored by the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA).
The Solitude, retailing in the low- to high-$60,000s, depending on equipment, is a product of a new company launched by former Thor executives Don Clark, and co-owner brothers Ron and Bill Fenech, respectively the former president of Thor Industries Inc., and Thor Motor Coach.
Two Grand Design Solitude fifth-wheels will be on display in Louisville with the company expecting ”to start shipping in earnest in February,” Grand Design President Clark told RVBUSINESS.com.
The high-profile, extended-stay Solitude features high-gloss beige fiberglass sidewalls with a painted brown front cap and is equipped with 7-foot-tall slideouts. ”The floorplan has a very spacious feel,” Clark said.
Solitude features include a large amount of pass-through storage with slam-latch doors, hydraulic 6-point leveling system, frameless windows, LED puck lighting throughout, solid-surface countertops, two recliner sofas and a 40-inch HD TV sitting atop a radius fireplace.
Two other floorplans will be available by late February, Clark reported.
Also at the Florida SuperShow for the first time: Germany-based HYMER AG, Europe’s largest RV manufacturer, will display its European-built product as it gauges the North American market. Additionally at the show, Ohio-based startup Advanced RV will display its first Class B motorhome, Ocean One, as will Augusta RV, a new company that opened last year in Bristol, Ind., which will exhibit its Flex-brand travel trailer and fifth-wheel series for the first time.
Grand Design, a 7-week-old RV company, has been well-received by dealers at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
Grand Design was created by Don Clark and Bill and Ron Fenech, RV industry veterans who created Keystone RV Co. and rocketed to the top of the RV industry with that company before selling it to Thor Industries Inc. The three then held leadership positions with Thor, before leaving those behind in the past year, The Goshen (Ind.) News reported.
“I think it’s great,” said Jim “Dandy” Cooley, president of Dandy RV Superstore in Anniston, Ala.
Cooley and a couple hundred other dealers and RV industry people attended a breakfast Wednesday morning sponsored by Grand Design. At the breakfast the three founders outlined their plans for the new company, and Cooley liked what he heard and from whom he heard it.
“The Fenech boys and Clark are the same kind of human beings,” Cooley said. “They are incredibly high-quality people who separate themselves from the crowd. I am going to be their very first dealer.”
What the trio said was that Grand Design will be located in the former Four Seasons Housing industrial complex on C.R. 2 north of Middlebury. There the company is building a prototype extended-stay fifth-wheel. They expect to begin producing and delivering one unit per day in January.
Prior to the breakfast, the Grand Design team, which includes the founders and Marc Houser, general manager, and Jerry McCarthy, vice president of service operations, spent Monday and Tuesday at a small table on the trade show floor meeting and greeting dealers and old friends in the industry. They drew a constant crowd.
“The whole industry is abuzz about what we are doing,” Clark said during a short break from his meet-and-greet duties. “Everyone is rooting for us.”
At the breakfast the founders outlined how their creative business plan used to move Keystone to the top tier of RV companies will be discarded in this new venture. At Keystone they created “competitive cells” within the company, where one trailer line was competing against others in the company. When Thor purchased Keystone, that model was adopted by other Thor companies, according to Clark, and those companies also grew.
“In a blink of an eye we were a very large, huge corporation,” Clark said of Thor.
But the Keystone founders didn’t want to be in a large company and one by one decided to leave.
Now the model for their new company will be to create products for six segments of the RV market, starting with the “Solitude” fifth-wheel. From there, they will add a mid-size travel trailer and fifth-wheel later in 2013 and then maybe a toy hauler late in the year. But each segment will have just one product under the same Grand Design name.
“We are not going to have sisters or clones,” Clark said.
The new fifth-wheel will have a wide, 101-inch body, a 7,000-pound capacity axle, 40-inch slideouts and three 20-pound LP gas bottles that can be changed out for full ones at gas stations.
No Cut-Rate Internet Pricing
The company will also try to address one gripe common among RV dealers — cut-rate pricing on the Internet from a few dealers.
Bill Fenech said the company will enforce minimum pricing standards so Internet pricing wars don’t break out. And some Internet RV dealers won’t be asked to sell the company’s products.
“We are not going to do business with them,” Bill Fenech said, which drew loud applause from the dealers present.
He said dealers do have to have a strong Internet presence because consumers are doing research on the Internet before going to a dealer to shop. But, he said, a line has to be drawn for online discounts.
“We are going to stay away from that class of dealer that is causing problems,” Bill said.
Nationwide Service Policy
The founders also floated an idea about service that causes RV owners to grumble — the lack of a nationwide service policy.
Ron Fenech said they would like to create a nationwide service policy, where a Grand Design owner could get their unit serviced under warranty at any Grand Design dealer nationwide. He said the model would be based on what the automotive industry does, where, for example, a Ford owner can obtain service at any Ford dealer in the country.
“I think we have to get our arms around this,” Ron said.
Asking for a show of support for such a program the response was about 50-50 among the dealers present.
But overall, the dealer response to Grand Design was positive.
“They are very credible guys, which is hard to find these days,” said Frank Roberts, owner of Longview RV in Windsor Locks, Conn. He has been selling RVs since 1959 and seen RV people and companies come and go.
“We are interested in selling. I have not even seen the product and I’m a buyer, Roberts said.