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Heartland Landmark Fifth-Wheel in Growth Mode

January 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Tom Montague

Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC announced the hiring of industry veteran Tom Montague as general manager for the company’s Landmark luxury fifth-wheel line, effective Jan. 6.

According to a press release, Landmark stands as the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder’s flagship brand, launched when Heartland was formed in the fall of 2003.

“There is not a guy in Elkhart County the last three to four years that has spent more time and energy paying attention to the full-time retail customer,” said Heartland President Chris Hermon. “This is a great hire and we are looking for Heartland to rapidly build sales and own the luxury fifth-wheel market.”

Montague noted, ”One of my first tasks will be to focus 100% on the full-timing market and the end user. As the market continues to evolve, it is ripe for an explosion, and Heartland will be poised to make a serious push for these customers. This is a tremendous opportunity to work with a proven brand and a top-notch team.”

Montague, 43, entered the RV arena in 2003, serving as a territory sales manager for Keystone RV Co.’s Cougar and Montana divisions while working alongside Hermon, named as Heartland president in May of 2012 .

“Chris was my product manager for Cougar,” Montague said. “We have an excellent relationship and a successful track record, which we are going to continue to build on with Landmark.”

For the past four years, Montague has focused solely on the the residential fifth-wheel sector, working for Carriage Inc. before co-founding Redwood RV in August of 2010.

“We took a new approach at Redwood – working closely with dealers and consumers – and were able to grow sales very quickly,” Montague said. “We took our first coach on a 3,400 mile road trip, stopping at dealerships and campgrounds to gain feedback on the product. We plan to do the same with Landmark.”

Hermon added, “Tom’s work and passion in this market has proven that the price point for Landmark is very real in the customers’ eyes. We are expecting big things for our flagship Landmark line.”

Montague, an Indiana native, received his bachelor’s in marketing and advertising from California Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks. In addition to serving the RV market, he held sales positions with IBM, Xerox, and a high-profile medical equipment company.

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Trail Runner Garners First DSI; Expands Lineup

October 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Responding to strong dealer orders during September’s Elkhart County RV Open House, Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC is expanding its popular Trail Runner travel trailer line with the introduction of a tri-colored laminated sidewall option.

The move comes on the heels of Trail Runner’s inclusion among several Heartland brands as recipients of the distinguished Quality Circle Award from the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA). The honor is the first for Trail Runner and recognizes manufacturers who achieve top scores in dealer surveys measuring key policy, product and procedure areas.

“I am extremely thankful to our dealers for their loyalty and product input,” said Nick Eppert, general manager for Elkhart-based Heartland, in a press release. “I am also very proud of the Heartland team. It has been amazing to see how far Trail Runner has come over the past 2 1/2 years.”

That growth was punctuated during the Open House as Trail Runner introduced several new floorplans along with the industry’s first full-body paint look exterior in a traditional aluminum-and-wood entry-level trailer. Eppert reported that the tri-colored laminated wall option would be available at the upcoming Louisville Show.

“Our dealers asked for a more upscale look, inside and out, and we delivered that at Open House,” Eppert said. “The new tri-colored laminated wall option will give our dealers another edge, offering a high-demand step-up option in the highly competitive half-ton market while still maintaining an aggressive price point.”

Heartland President Chris Hermon added, “Heartland’s strategy is to provide our dealer partners with product that stands out in the market, offering strong eye appeal, features that key into consumer trends, and pricing that outstrips our competitors. Nick and his team have accomplished that with the Trail Runner and continue to stay at the forefront of the market with the addition of the tri-colored laminated sidewall option.”

 

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Heartland Expands Entry-Level Prowler Lineup

July 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Heartland's Prowler Lynx

Building off recent success, Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC has extended its Prowler travel trailer line with the introduction of the Prowler Lynx, spurring retail sales and creating increased demand for the company’s dealer body.

“Within the entry-level category, our dealers were requesting a price leader to capture that first-time, price-conscious buyer,” said General Manager Ryan Brady in a press release. “The Prowler Lynx hits an ultra-aggressive price point while still maintaining the strong eye appeal that our dealers have come to expect with Prowler.”

Gary Stroud, vice president of Tom Johnson Camping Center in North Carolina, noted, “We recently took on the Prowler franchise in large part due to the Prowler Lynx product. We were excited to welcome the Prowler brand back to Tom Johnson Camping Center, and after our initial excellent results with the brand, we hope to become the No. 1 Prowler dealer again as we were in the past. The Prowler name signifies value and quality to campers across the country which is also what we stand for at Tom Johnson Camping Center.”

The 8-foot-wide, double-axle Prowler Lynx currently offers six floorplans. “We want to maintain a tight lineup of proven floorplans that are priced to sell,” Brady said. “The Prowler Lynx is equipped with tons of sellable features in addition to the aggressive price point.”

Standard amenities include front diamond-plate rock guard, triple-step entry, full-extension ball bearing drawer glides, 80-inch interior height, deep slides, radial tires with EZ lube hubs, DSI water heater, and tub/shower surround.

According to Statistical Surveys Inc.’s April results, Heartland’s Prowler line continues to expand with retail sales climbing an impressive 94.7% and market share up 73% year-to-date.

“Heartland is positioning itself to take more travel trailer market share with outstanding products that dealers cannot live without,” said Vice President of Sales Coley Brady. “Heartland has proved it can market and design with three fifth-wheel brands in the top ten according to Statistical Surveys. Travel trailers are extremely important to the entire team at Heartland. Dealers can expect big things from Heartland’s travel trailers in the coming months.”

Prowler will unveil new features and floorplans during the Elkhart County Open House Week in September in Heartland’s display at the RV/MH Hall of Fame.

Heartland RV offers a variety of towable RVs, including travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth-wheels and destination trailers. For more information, visit www.heartlandrvs.com.

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Heartland Connects With Owners at Club Rally

June 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Heartland owners visit the company's Elkhart, Ind., campus

Editor’s Note: An accompanying video on the Heartland Owners Rally can be viewed in the Video No. 1 slot on the RVBUSINESS.com home page or by clicking here

Returning to its roots in Indiana’s Elkhart County, Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC hosted around 250 rigs and more than 500 RVers during the June 18-23 running of the 8th Annual North American Heartland Owners Rally.

“The rapid growth and strength of the club demonstrates the close relationship that we have with our owners,” said Chris Hermon, president of the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder, in a press release. “Since the company’s inception, Heartland made a commitment to listen to its owners, and we continue to benefit from that valuable connection.”

The gathering, held at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds in Goshen, represented the largest contingent to date for the national event, attracting “Heartlanders” representing 35 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. Jim Beletti, director of owners interests for Heartland, explained that the rally was set up on a “home and away” format, bringing members back to Elkhart every other year.

“On the even years we put the rally on the road, and always have a strong draw,’” Beletti said, noting the organization was formed in 2008. “But this year’s event was the biggest and, in my opinion, the best. It served as proof that the club, and Heartland RV, are continuing to grow.”

Beletti reported that the owners club currently boasts 1,200 paid members with state-based chapters in five regions across North America. He also co-founded the Heartland Owners Forum that has grown to around 20,000 members.

To usher in the event, Heartland held a weeklong pre-rally from June 11-17 at the fairgrounds, allowing members to settle in while also giving them access to complimentary service work on their rigs. “We beefed up the agenda this year and the pre-rally was well attended,” Beletti noted.

As in past editions, this year’s rally offered attendees a full range of activities, including nightly entertainment, catered and home-cooked meals, factory tours along with a focus on education. A complement of 23 workshops providing a technical slant were coupled with 20 seminars centered on the RV lifestyle.

“The leisure time activity presentations run concurrently with our technical seminars,” Beletti noted. “Several of our owners were involved, showing the types of crafts and hobbies that people can do when they’re RVing.”

A popular draw for attendees was the Heartland Marketplace, boasting 30-plus product and service vendors. Local dealer Great Lakes RV Center also displayed seven Heartland trailers. “Many of our vendors reported brisk sales and Great Lakes had some new coach sales,” Beletti said.

Capping off the rally, attendees boarded buses on Saturday, June 22, for a tour of the RV/MH Hall of Fame and a trip to Heartland’s manufacturing facilities. “There were several plant tours and then management addressed the owners group,” Beletti said. “It was followed by a lengthy Q&A session that provided some great interaction.”

Beletti stressed that a key staple at every rally is a “charitable component.”

“This year we extended our ‘Babies Wrapped in Love’ project where Heartland owners provided primarily handmade baby items,” Beletti said. “Over 531 items were donated to the Elkhart County Extension of Purdue University. Owners also donated over 1,300 food items to Church Community Services.”

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Heartland RV Names Vander Vliet as Sales Rep

March 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Jeff Vander Vliet

Jeff Vander Vliet has joined Elkhart, Ind.-based Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC as sales representative, handling the manufacturer’s Gateway line of full-profile luxury fifth-wheel trailers.

After attending Cornell College he entered the RV industry in 1994 working in sales and management, according to a news release. Most recently, Vander Vliet worked with Elkhart-based towable builder Skyline RV, serving as sales manager of lightweight travel trailers and fifth-wheels for the past several years.

In his new position, Vander Vliet will be charged with developing sales and growing dealer relations for Heartland’s Gateway fifth-wheels in Canada and mid-states region, while working out of the company’s headquarters in Elkhart.

“I am confident the years of experience and enthusiasm Jeff brings to our team will complement and build onto the success of the Gateway brand,” said Gateway General Manager Bryan Walczak. “Gateway is the newest, fastest growing, brand of the Heartland Thor division and we are happy to have Jeff on board.”

Vander Vliet noted, “I’m excited to be part of the Heartland Gateway team.  I look forward to bringing the luxury and value of Gateway fifth wheels to strengthen our dealer partnerships. I am proud to be part of this winning team.”

Vander Vliet has lived in Elkhart with his family for the past 19 years.

Heartland RV has enjoyed innovative industry-leading success for many years, and offers a variety of towable RVs, including travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth-wheels and destination trailers. For more information, visit www.heartlandrvs.com.

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Heartland Unveils Resource Site for Dealer Body

January 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Designed to create a more personalized online environment for its dealer body, Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC has rolled out the first phase of its “My Heartland” log-in portal on the company’s website, www.heartlandrvs.com.

The customizable format provides access to a host of professional marketing resources that will help spur sales for Heartland’s products. While initially targeting dealer partners along with media and agency representatives, the long-term goal is to fashion an integrated “online community,” according to Steve Lidy, marketing director for the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder.

“This first module will make it easier for our dealers to do business with Heartland by making marketing support material available online and giving our dealers 24/7 access to the tools they need to best represent Heartland products on their lots, at shows and in the showroom,” said Lidy in a press release. “Long term, however, we are developing new ways to share content and tools. We want ‘My Heartland’ to bridge the gap between a traditional product information website and an interactive social media platform.”

Registration site for My Heartland

Currently, “My Heartland” serves as a resource finder, offering point-and-click accessibility to the company’s portfolio of creative and informational materials. Registration is quick and straightforward, and can be accessed through the “My Heartland” button at the bottom of each website page.

“Dealers, and others, can now easily gain access to high-res product images along with downloadable files for product literature and point-of-purchase materials – banners, posters, and more,” Lidy said. “This will save in-house designers and agencies hours compared with the old process. We’re adding information daily, and in the months ahead will be providing dealers with several more utilities to help them effectively promote and sell Heartland products.”

He added, “We have already seen strong dealer response to ‘My Heartland’ and are urging our dealers to alert their marketing departments about this new service. ‘My Heartland’ represents just one more way Heartland is taking the extra step to build long-standing relationships with our dealers.”

Heartland RV has enjoyed innovative industry-leading success for many years, and offers a variety of towable RVs, including travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth-wheels and destination trailers. For more information, visit www.heartlandrvs.com.

 

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Heartland Offering LCI’s Level Up on Sundance

January 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) announced that Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC has adopted LCI’s Level Up automatic hydraulic leveling system as an option on the builder’s Sundance brand of travel trailers.

According to a press release, Heartland’s Sundance is the first travel trailer to offer a hydraulic four-point automatic leveling system as an option.

“We were looking for some key differentiating features that would set the Sundance trailer apart from other brands, and we felt that automatic hydraulic leveling was one way to do that,” said Heartland Vice President of Sales Coley Brady. “Level Up is becoming a trend as an option more and more on our fifth-wheel RV brands, so we felt that consumers would also like to see automatic leveling as an option on a travel trailer. We introduced the product at the Hershey Show, Dealer Open House and at the RVIA show in Louisville, and the response has been outstanding.”

“At one time, automatic leveling was something found only on high-end units such as expensive luxury fifth-wheel RVs,” said LCI Vice President of Sales Andy Murray. “Today, the RV industry is moving towards offering leveling products as standard or as an option on less expensive fifth-wheel and travel trailer RVs. We’re seeing that OEMs are turning to the Level Up from LCI to help fulfill this demand.”

 

 

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Heartland RV is Ready to ‘Take the Next Steps’

November 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Heartland RV division of Thor Industries Inc. will be presented with the Quality Circle Award during the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association’s (RVDA) reception on Nov. 26, just prior to the opening of the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

“Heartland’s goal of working with our dealers has never been greater,” said Heartland President Chris Hermon. “We are installing certain disciplines in our company to move the needle forward in how we communicate and work with our dealers. That hard work is showing up in how our dealers feel about Heartland both in sales and support after the sale.”

“These disciplines affect every major area in our company,” added Coley Brady, vice president of sales. “I have been with Heartland for many years and these exciting changes at our company are going to take Heartland and our dealer partners to record highs. I am excited to be part of Heartland’s bright future.”

Heartland RV was recognized as a Quality Circle Award winner based on overall dealer satisfaction for its Landmark, Bighorn, Big Country, Elkridge, Cyclone, Road Warrior, Torque, North Trail, Wilderness and Prowler brands as measured in the Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI) survey.

“The DSI is a valuable indicator of our dealers’ perspective on the quality of our products and services,” said Hermon. “We wish to thank all our dealer partners for the confidence they have shown in Heartland by honoring us with this award.”

He added, “We are particularly excited about our travel trailer lineup and innovative new products we will display at the Louisville Show. We will continue striving to deliver the most innovative and highest quality products, services and support in the industry for both our dealers and retail customers.”

Heartland RV has enjoyed innovative industry-leading success for many years, and offers a variety of towable RVs, including travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth-wheels and destination trailers. For more information, visit www.heartlandrvs.com.

 

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Heartland Names Craven as GSM for Sundance

November 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Paul Craven

Paul Craven has joined Elkhart, Ind.-based Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC as general sales manager, representing the manufacturer’s Sundance line of mid-profile fifth-wheel trailers.

Craven, a native of Elkhart, graduated from Indiana University where he earned a bachelor’s degree. He then entered the RV industry, working for 18 years in retail RV sales. Most recently, Craven worked with towable builder Redwood RV Co., Syracuse, Ind., serving as product manager for the past two years.

In his new position, Paul will be charged with developing sales and growing dealer relations for Heartland’s Sundance fifth-wheels and travel trailers, while working out of the company’s headquarters in Elkhart. “I am confident the years of retail experience and enthusiasm Paul brings to our sales team will complement the sales team and build onto the success of the Sundance brand and Heartland as well,” said President Chris Hermon.

Craven noted, “I am excited for this opportunity to continue driving the upward curve in market share of the Sundance travel trailer and fifth-wheel franchise. Sundance is a solid, fast moving brand of Heartland Thor division and I am proud to be part of this winning team.”

Heartland RV has enjoyed innovative industry-leading success for many years, and offers a variety of towable RVs, including travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth-wheels and destination trailers. For more information, visit our website at www.heartlandrvs.com.

Sundance fiver lineup

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Heartland RV’s Cyclone Wraps Up Market Share

September 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Heartland RV's Cyclone toy hauler

Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC’s Cyclone brand has cemented its standing as the industry’s top-selling fifth-wheel toy hauler in the fast-growing product segment, representing the market share leader for the past two years.

According to data from Statistical Surveys Inc., Cyclone earned the No. 7 spot for overall fifth-wheel sales through June and was the only toy hauler brand to crack the Top 10. Chris Hermon, president of the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder, attributed Cyclone’s success to consistently developing industry-first features combined with sharp pricing and intelligently designed floorplans.

“The toy hauler segment continues to evolve and caters to one of the industry’s most diverse consumer demographics,” Hermon said in a press release. “Dealers recognize that the Cyclone team is committed to staying ahead of the curve, providing variety, quality and innovation while ensuring value by hitting price points below the competition.”

To keep pace with rising demand, Heartland has continued to increase production capacity for the Cyclone brand. “Over the past two years we have been moving into a massive facility on the Heartland campus, but we have already outgrown it,” said General Manager AJ Jones. “Currently Heartland is actively adding on to our facility to help increase capacity.”

Jones added, “Two things have really driven Cyclone sales – a dedicated team that works hard to ensure we build the best product along with a top-notch dealer base.”

Jones reported that Cyclone will be rolling out several exclusive features along with five new floorplans during next week’s Elkhart County RV Open House.

“We are looking for tremendous dealer response at the Open House,” Jone said. “They will be seeing a lot of new features that nobody else in the industry is offering.”

Heartland will be showing product at the Open House as part of parent Thor Industries Inc.’s massive display area at the RV/MH Hall of Fame. For more information on the Cyclone toy hauler contact Jones at (574) 855-0688 or AJ.Jones@heartlandrvs.com.

 

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