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Jeff Kime Named Heartland’s 1st President

May 3, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Heartland RV logoHeartland Recreational Vehicles today (May 3) announced that it has expanded its management team with the appointment of 25-year industry veteran Jeffery Kime to the newly created position of president, effective May 10.

In this capacity  Kime will help oversee Heartland’s operational, sales and marketing activities, reporting to Heartland CEO Brian Brady.

“As Heartland’s founders and senior management team, Tim Hoffman, John Rhymer, Jack Culbertson and I are extremely proud of the exceptional growth Heartland has achieved,” Brady said in a news release.  “The expansion of our management team reflects this growth as well as the significant upside opportunities that remain ahead.

“Heartland has established itself as the fastest-growing company in our industry, counter to the trends that many of our peers have faced. We are differentiated by our innovation, solid dealer relationships and strong market position. We believe Jeff’s industry experience and record of execution will help us capitalize on our strengths to further extend Heartland’s leadership. Heartland’s management style has always been collaborative and collegial. Jeff will be part of this collaborative effort and will work closely with the founding partners to achieve long-term sustainable growth.”

“I am pleased to join the Heartland team at such an exciting time of growth and opportunity for the company,” said Kime. “I look forward to partnering with Tim, John, Jack and Brian as well as the entire management team as we work to drive the company’s continued success.”

Prior to joining Elkhart, Ind.-based Heartland. Kime worked for 19 years at Four Winds International Corp., a subsidiary of Thor Industries Inc., including serving most recently as Four Winds’ president for almost 15 years. Over this period, Kime helped position Four Winds’ Hurricane brand as the market leader in Class A motorhomes and helped establish the company as the No. 2 market share leader in Class C motorhomes.

Heartland markets over 15 brands of fifth-wheel and travel trailer RVs and has captured the No. 3 market share in the fifth-wheel category. Heartland’s towable RVs are sold through an independent network of dealers throughout the United States and Canada. The company has over 1,000 employees.

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Expanding Heartland Has ‘Weathered the Storm’

April 1, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Battered by the recession, there’s more news that Elkhart, Ind., is on the mend, according to the South Bend Tribune.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC, a manufacturer of RVs and travel trailers, said late Monday (March 28) it will expand its operations in Elkhart, creating up to 265 new jobs by 2013.

The announcement came in a press release from the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, which manufactures fifth-wheel, lightweight and extended-stay RVs, will invest more than $2.6 million to purchase and equip a 125,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, according to the release.

Heartland announced in February that it purchased the remaining trademarks of the towable brands of Fleetwood Enterprises, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, which employs 1,050 people in Elkhart County, plans to begin hiring additional manufacturing and supervisory personnel immediately as the new product lines are phased in.

The acquisition of the former Fleetwood brands will allow Heartland to expand into markets in the western United States.

“Our ability to gain ground in a down market has clearly positioned Heartland to make tremendous market share gains and further grow our dealer body in 2010,” Brian Brady, president and CEO of Heartland Recreational Vehicles, said in the release. “This is shaping up to be the best year in our history.”

Founded in 2003 as a manufacturer of high-end fifth wheel recreational vehicles, Heartland RV has expanded into the mid-profile, lightweight and travel trailer markets. In 2006, the company broke ground on its current 110,000 square-foot Elkhart headquarters.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Heartland RV up to $885,000 in performance-based tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans.

The city of Elkhart will provide additional property tax abatement at the request of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County.

The abatement amounts to a five-year property tax phase-in, for real and personal property, said Barkley Garrett, economic development manager for the city of Elkhart.

With the phase-in, they will not pay 100% taxes on real and personal property until year six, Garrett said.

The company has committed the 265 additional jobs by mid-2013.

It is not known if those are part of the 400 additional jobs announced in November. Company officials did not return calls to the Tribune.

“It’s a company that has weathered the storm very well,” said Garrett. “They have not been around very long but considering how long they have been around, they are a significant employer.

“They have 1,050 jobs here in Elkhart County, so they are a major player in the city and Elkhart County and also in the RV industry.

“They are a company we certainly want to see stay here and grow here.”

The tax phase-in is expected to get final formal approval at the April 19 city council meeting, Garrett said.

“It’s a good step for Elkhart and Elkhart County,” Garrett added. “We need to take care of our existing companies.”

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Heartland Adding Facilities and Jobs in Elkhart

March 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Heartland logoHeartland Recreational Vehicles LLC announced Monday I(March 29)  that it will expand its operations in Elkhart, Ind., creating up to 265 new jobs by 2013, according to a state government news release.

The company, which manufactures fifth-wheel, lightweight and extended stay RVs, will invest more than $2.6 million to purchase and equip a 125,000-square-foot manufacturing facility formerly used by Damon Corp. Heartland announced in February that it has purchased the remaining trademarks of the towable brands of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009.

“Elkhart’s recreational vehicle industry continues to show resilience in the face of a tough national economy,” said Mitch Roob, Indiana’s secretary of commerce and CEO of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. “Heartland’s investment further proves that Elkhart’s traditional industries will play an equal part with emerging sectors in bringing new opportunities to this region.”

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, which employs more than 900 workers, plans to begin hiring additional manufacturing and supervisory associates immediately as the new product lines are phased in. The acquisition of the former Fleetwood brands will allow Heartland to expand into markets in the Western United States.

“Our ability to gain ground in a down market has clearly positioned Heartland to make tremendous market share gains and further grow our dealer body in 2010,” said Brian Brady, Heartland president and CEO. “Accordingly, we have been proactive to make sure that we are in step with demand, growing our workforce, expanding our Elkhart complex and making sure we continue delivering product at industry-best standards. This is shaping up to be the best year in our history.”

Founded in 2003 as a manufacturer of high-end fifth-wheels, Heartland RV has expanded into the mid-profile, lightweight and travel trailer markets. In 2006, the company broke ground on its current 110,000 square-foot Elkhart headquarters.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Heartland RV up to $885,000 in performance-based tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans. The city of Elkhart will provide additional property tax abatement at the request of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County.

“We’re excited about Heartland RV’s announcement to expand their operations in Elkhart,” said Mayor Dick Moore. “This shows the resiliency of the RV industry. Elkhart has been and will continue to be the RV Capital of the World.”

Heartland is a leading manufacturer of towable recreational vehicles in the U.S. The company markets over 15 brands of superior fifth-wheel and travel trailer RVs and has captured the No. 3 market share in the fifth-wheel category. Heartland’s towable RVs are sold through an independent network of dealers throughout the United States and Canada. The company has over 900 employees. For more information about Heartland, visit www.heartlandrvs.com.

Created by Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2005 to replace the former Department of Commerce, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. is governed by a 12-member board chaired by  Daniels. Mitch Roob serves as the chief executive officer of the IEDC. For more information about IEDC, visit www.iedc.in.gov.

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Heartland Hits 2010 Running, January Sales Soar

March 23, 2010 by · 12 Comments 

Heartland RV logoBuilding on last year’s momentum, Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC turned strong sales numbers in January with a 45% year-over-year gain in market share spurred by a 29.8% increase in unit sales, according to a news release.

According to Statistical Surveys Inc. (SSI), the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder notched pronounced growth in both travel trailer and fifth-wheel sales vs. a 10.6% decline in towable registrations industrywide. Highlighting the January report, three Heartland fifth-wheel brands were ranked in the top 10 in terms of overall market share.

Bryan Brady

Bryan Brady

“January’s sales performance was confirmation that Heartland is primed to make some very significant advances in market penetration this year,” said Brian Brady, president and CEO of privately held Heartland, which launched production in 2004. “Our showing in the fifth-wheel market was exceptional, and we are starting to see the seeds for the same type of growth on the travel trailer side. We view January as a springboard for growth throughout the year.”

A sector breakdown from the Statistical Surveys report showed:

  • Among all towable builders, Heartland held a solid No. 4 ranking for January. For the month, overall market share increased from 4.7% in 2009 to 6.8% while unit sales rose nearly 30% from 265 to 344.
  • Heartland ranked as the No. 3 fifth-wheel builder for January based on 42.4% growth in market share and a 26.4% jump in unit sales. The company’s Bighorn luxury fifth-wheel was the second best-selling brand with a 6.6% market share – up 19.2% from 2009 – and ended the month 76 units shy of the industry’s sales leader. The lightweight Sundance line earned a No. 4 ranking, boasting a 73.7% improvement in market share and 54.2% gain in unit sales. Heartland’s Cyclone series was the industry’s top-selling toy hauler brand in January, positioned in the No. 6 spot with an 89% jump in market share and 67.6% rise in the number of units sold.
  • After entering the travel trailer market in May 2008 with its North Trail brand, Heartland moved to the No. 7 spot in January among all builders. Market share increased from 2.1% to 3.2%, representing a 51.3% gain from 2009. Unit sales for the month were up 38.9%, led by the North Trail line which grew market share 55.3% from the previous year.
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Heartland Marks Production of 12,000th Bighorn

March 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Shown in the photo are: (L-R) Coley Brady, director of fifth-wheel sales; Dave Jones, director of manufacturing; Scott Tusing, plant manager; and Scott Lytle, director of engineering.

Shown in the photo of the 12,000th Bighorn fifth-wheel built by Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC are: (from left) Coley Brady, director of fifth-wheel sales; Dave Jones, director of manufacturing; Scott Tusing, plant manager; and Scott Lytle, director of engineering.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC recently marked a milestone for its luxury line of Bighorn fifth-wheel travel trailers, rolling the 12,000th unit off the assembly line at its production facility in Elkhart, Ind.

The towable builder recognized the event with a brief ceremony attended by management and 147 production workers – many having worked at the Bighorn plant since the brand’s introduction in December of 2004 at the Louisville Show.

The Bighorn line has grown to be one of the industry’s top-selling fifth-wheels, according to the latest data from Statistical Surveys Inc. The brand finished 2009 as the industry’s No. 3 best-selling fifth-wheel, boasting a 9.8% market share gain in a contracting market.

“Since its launch, the Bighorn has consistently grown both sales and market share,” said Coley Brady, director of fifth-wheel sales. “The reason behind its success is twofold – pricing that offers more for less compared to the competition and Heartland’s ongoing research and development that brings innovative, salable features to market. Our dealer body recognizes the Bighorn’s value, and has done a great job of conveying that message to consumers.”

In response to demand for the Bighorn, Heartland announced last December a ramp-up in production along with several new features designed to stay in step with the marketplace. Upgrades and enhancements include:

  • Standard hydraulic front landing gear, operating 15% faster than typical electric systems.
  • New exterior graphics; a “welcome back” light that activates when the entry door is opened; and a keyless entry system featuring an illuminated keyboard for nighttime access.
  • Spring-loaded, hidden hinges are used throughout the interior while the kitchen is outfitted with 4-inch recessed halogen ceiling lights and a “boutique” pull-out kitchen faucet.
  • The bedroom area offers a standard, proprietary king-sized memory foam pillow-top mattress and pull-out storage drawers that are built into the entry steps. Hand-rubbed, antique-glazed cherry hardwood cabinet doors are optional.

The Bighorn line is offered in 12 floorplans, available with two to five slideouts, and MSRPs starting at $49,900.

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Heartland RV’s Making Mark in Canadian Market

March 11, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Brian Brady

Brian Brady

Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC continued to strengthen its presence in the Canadian towable marketplace last year, reporting solid market share gains in a tight retail environment while partnering with several new dealers in key regions of the country, according to a news release.

According to Statistical Surveys Inc., the Elkhart, Ind.-based manufacturer boasted a 63.8% increase in market share compared to 2008, moving Heartland to the No. 9 ranking among all U.S. towable builders serving the Canadian marketplace.

Underscoring its capacity to outperform the market, Heartland also posted a gain in year-over-year unit sales – bolstered by demand for its North Trail travel trailer line – and grew overall market share from 2.0% to 3.2%. Industrywide, Canadian sales by U.S. towable manufacturers were down 38.5% and off nearly 20,000 units for the full year.

“Obviously, we are pleased with our 2009 performance in a challenging Canadian market,” said Brian Brady, president and CEO of privately held Heartland, which launched production in 2004. “Early on, we recognized that building our relationship with Canadian retailers and consumers would be a key component in Heartland’s long-term growth plan. We accomplished that last year, adding new partners to our dealer body and boosting sales with products that resonated with Canadian RVers.”

In terms of fifth-wheel sales, Heartland earned the No. 4 ranking among U.S. builders as the company grew overall market share from 6.5% to 7.9% based on a 21% year-over-year increase. Heartland’s Sundance mid-profile line ranked as the No. 5 selling fifth-wheel, posting a dramatic 727% jump in market share and a 206-unit rise in sales from 2008. That was accomplished in a sector that ended the year down 39%.

On the travel trailer side Heartland’s lightweight North Trail series, introduced in May 2008, improved market share by 110% and increased sales by 60 units. Industrywide, travel trailer sales by U.S. builders fell nearly 37% from the previous year.

Brady noted that the Canadian market will remain a priority in 2010 as Heartland is intent on furthering dealer relations and building market share with “new products, features and innovations that cater to the needs of Canadian RVers.”

“There is a huge potential for Heartland in the Canadian retail market,” he said. “Like the U.S., we are seeing a comeback in sales this year, and Heartland is positioned to grab an even larger piece of the pie.”

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Heartland RV LLC Outperforms Industry in ’09

March 10, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Heartland RV logoIn sharp contrast to an industrywide downturn in 2009 towable sales, Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC showed pronounced year-over-year gains punctuated by a 43.3% increase in overall market share growth, according to a news release.

According to Statistical Surveys Inc., the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder posted a 6.1% increase in unit sales, while moving to the No. 4 spot among all towable builders for the year. Conversely, towable sales dropped 25.9% industrywide with the majority of builders incurring a decline in unit sales from 2008.

“In partnership with our dealers, we were able to find opportunities in what most people viewed as a stagnant and unstable marketplace,” said Brian Brady, president and CEO of privately-held Heartland, which launched production in 2004. “Instead of merely treading water, Heartland continued to stay on course with product research and development, and a continuation of our long-term strategy for disciplined, incremental growth.”

A sector breakdown from the Statistical Surveys report showed:

  • For the full year, Heartland ranked as the No. 3 fifth-wheel manufacturer with 11.3% of the overall market share – buoyed by a 19.2% jump from 2008 – while its luxury BigHorn line ranked No. 3 among all brands with 9.8% market share growth. During December, the company increased fifth-wheel market share from 12.3% to 13.2%. Industrywide, year-over-year sales in the sector dropped 29.9% in 2009.
  • After entering the travel trailer sector in May 2008 with its lightweight North Trail Line, Heartland made significant strides last year to move into the upper tier of manufacturers with a 152% gain in market share and a No. 10 ranking. For December, the builder upped travel trailer unit sales by nearly 46% and improved market share from 2.5% to 3.4%. Industrywide, travel trailer sales fell 23.5% for the 12 months.

According to Brady, the company is geared toward making “tremendous impact” in the travel trailer sector in 2010 with the launch of three all-new brands at last year’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., coupled with heightened demand for its North Trail brand.

“We are quickly establishing Heartland as a strong player in the some of the fastest-growing pockets of the travel trailer market,” Brady said. “That said, we will continue to grow and expand our offerings in the fifth-wheel market where in just over five years we have established ourselves as an industry leader.”

Brady also emphasized that Heartland’s 2009 performance positioned the company for deeper market penetration this year, and that strategies were in place to meet increased production and shipping demands.

“Our ability to gain ground in a down market has clearly positioned Heartland to make tremendous market share gains and further grow our dealer body in 2010,” he said. “Accordingly, we have acted in a proactive manner in terms of production strategy to make sure we are in step with demand – bolstering our work force, expanding our complex in Elkhart and making sure we will continue to deliver product at industry-best standards. Despite our rapid and remarkable growth, we are not being short-sighted, and are well-prepared for what is shaping up to be the best year in our history.”

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Atlantic City RV Show Sustains Good Start

March 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Atlantic City RV & Camping Show was busy right from its noon opening last Friday and there were plenty of buyers for its travel trailers, fifth-wheels and motorhomes in Atlantic City Convention Center — buyers from the past, present and future, according to the Press of Atlantic City.

Bill and Elly Sulzmann of Little Egg Harbor Township, N.J., came to the show to see what’s new. They already own two recreational vehicles, one a 25-foot trailer they use for travel. The other is a trailer with two slideouts they keep on a site at their favorite campground, Timber Lake Camping Resort in nearby New Gretna.

That one has double bunk beds in the back, Bill Sulzmann said, to accommodate the frequent visits from the couple’s 12 grandchildren.

Sometime in the future, he said, they’d like to trade both RVs in, get a motorhome and take it out West.

“But right now, there’s no need to get into a big loan,” he said, prompting his wife to add, “Not in this economy.”

Fred and April Watson of Atco are preparing to buy their first camper, a travel trailer that has three things a guy 6-feet-6-inches tall needs: a 7-foot ceiling, and 80-inch long bed and a big bathroom.

With their twin 3-year-olds nearly ready for recreation, the Watsons weighed April’s camping background against Fred’s time on large houseboats. The camping won in part, Fred Watson said, because anything on the water uses lots of extra expensive gasoline.

They liked the Sundance by Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC they saw Friday, but still have more work to do before buying.

Karen O’Conner, of Mantua, was already a buyer, having gotten a good deal on a 33-foot travel trailer last year.

She was at the show mainly to scout new campgrounds to visit this year with her family.

Last year, she, her husband and 2-year-old son went to Big Timber Lake Campground in Cape May Court House and Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort in Mays Landing. They especially liked Shellbay Family Camping Resort in Cape May Court House.

“I’m looking for places that have waterparks. Our son loves the water,” O’Conner said.

Visitors should have loved the prices at the show, deeply discounted since the RV industry is at the bottom of its recession sales decline.

George Teutsch of Atlantic-Cape RV of Galloway Township showed a “loaded” 40-foot fifth-wheel trailer marked down to $59,900 from $84,000.

Among the smallest of the 120 or so vehicles on display is the R-Pod by Forest River Inc., about 18 feet but with a kitchen, refrigerator, furnace and bath. That’s priced at $11,999.

At the other end is the Fleetwood Discovery, a 40-foot-long motorhome the size of a bus that has every luxury, including an outdoor flatscreen TV to supplement the three inside. That’s priced at $194,950.

They drew lots of looks, even though nearly everyone at the show was interested in something in-between for themselves.

The show was sponsored by Affinity Events, a division of Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), which also publishes WWW.RVBUSINESS.com.

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RV Industry Shows Off its Best at Edmonton Show

February 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The RV industry faced difficult times in the last two years as both manufacturers and dealers closed their doors.

But the 30th Annual Edmonton RV Show and Sale added a solid dose of optimism to the industry’s outlook. When the doors to the show opened on Feb. 11, the crowd surged in to look at the latest in RVs and decide what to buy, according to the Edmonton Journal.

Within a few minutes of the opening, the first deals had been written. Many observers agreed it was the busiest opening to the show that they had seen in years.

Don Humphrey, manager of Roadmaster RV in Leduc, went further, saying it was the busiest opening night he had seen in his 30 years of attending shows.

“Sales are at least double last year,” Humphrey said in an interview, pointing out that there is “pent-up demand.”

“This year, people are eager to buy.”

This year’s RV show was the first held in the recently expanded Edmonton Expo Center and filled all the main floor halls, including the brightly lit new halls that opened late last year. In contrast, the recent Edmonton Motorshow did not use Halls A and B on the main level.

The show presented a variety of new RVs and features to grab the attention of consumers. A feature that attracted the attention of many visitors was the outdoor kitchens on a variety of RVs.

After years of seeing many RVs add more and more comforts of home, some of the trailers at the 2010 show took a back-to-basics approach to bring the outdoor experience back to camping. These more Spartan models are available both in tent and hard-wall travel trailers.

The Quicksilver tent trailers sold by Carefree Coach and RV exemplified the minimalist approach. These trailers are available in lengths ranging from just under nine feet to just over 21 feet. The Quicksilver line also includes tent-style truck campers that fold down for travel.

Quicksilver RVs, built by Livin’ Lite, rely on aluminum construction for strength, light weight and long-term durability.

“When I looked at today’s generation of pop-ups, I saw heavy, expensive units, but nothing that could be towed by a car or station wagon,” said Scott Tuttle, Livin’ Lite founder. “That’s when we decided to build our own tent camper that would be both affordable and able to be towed by most cars and minivans.

“Do our units have all the frills of the expensive units? No,” Tuttle said. “But that’s not what camping is all about. Camping for us is about having a great time in the outdoors.”

Not only can the Quicksilver units be towed by cars and minivans, the company also offers units designed to be pulled by motorcycles.

When Tuttle says Quicksilver units don’t have all the frills, he’s talking about trailers and truck campers that don’t have appliances or a bathroom. Storage cabinets and a sink are available in some units. Carefree also displayed one unit with a hole in the floor for ice-fishing.

Carefree president Elmer Lastiwka said Quicksilver trailers are priced at $4,000 to just over $9,000. “It’s affordable for any family with a small car.”

Because of the light weight of the Quicksilver campers, in some situations they could be towed by a quad, such as heading up a cut line into the wilderness or onto a lake for ice fishing. Using a quad would alleviate the fear of a truck or sport utility vehicle going through the ice.

The Kamparoo Camper, a lightweight, folding tent trailer manufactured in Australia and distributed by Kamparoo Campers in Wetaskiwin, is a similar concept.

Some travel trailers at the show also showed a more basic, affordable approach, including the Wolf Pup in the Cars RV and Marine display and the Takena Curv at the Roadmaster RV exhibit. Both of these trailers have a sloping, curved front to reduce wind resistance and make them easier to tow.

A number of manufacturers offer outdoor kitchens on their trailers this year. Some trailers with two entrance doors now come equipped with a bathroom just inside the rear door to shorten the mud trail when children go in to use the toilet.

Most outdoor kitchens are built into the rear corner of the trailer with a lift-up door that doubles as a canopy.

Outback Country RV sells the North Trail, made by Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC, which offers a fully equipped outdoor kitchen that includes a sink, microwave, refrigerator, television and stove. The refrigerator is electric only — the main refrigerator inside the RV is a gas-electric model.

Tango trailers, sold by Western RV of Leduc, have a different outdoor kitchen design, one that slides out of the rear corner of the unit.

Tango’s Dane Found talked about the reasoning behind building an RV with an outdoor kitchen:

“The idea is that most people want to spend as much time as possible outside,” Found said, explaining that this is the first year that Tango has offered the outdoor kitchen.

In addition to offering the option of preparing food outdoors, the slide-out kitchen also fulfils other roles.

Found said it can serve as a privacy barrier in a campground and a windbreak at the campsite.

The outdoor kitchen has been well received by consumers, he said.

During the show, it wasn’t unusual to hear showgoers comparing the various kitchens as they made their way from exhibit to exhibit.

Although RV manufacturers have failed in recent years, some new companies have been started to fill at least part of the void. Arrkann Trailer and RV Center sells the Tracer Ultra Lite trailer line, manufactured by Prime Time Manufacturing, which started producing trailers in August. Prime Time strives to build trailers with designs that appeal to buyers while ensuring that they’re priced right.

Earthbound RV is another new line Arrkann has added to give customers a lightweight RV that’s easy to tow. Arrkann’s Ken Friedenberg said Earthbound interiors are reminiscent of a luxury car. The sleek exterior is slate grey, in contrast to the usual white RV exterior.

Friedenberg said his dealership was selected by RV usiness magazine as one of the top 50 RV dealers in North America and was the lone Canadian to make the top 10 in that group of 50.

Many RV dealers at the show displayed, in addition to tent trailers and various styles of travel trailers, motorhomes ranging from large bus-style Class As to Class B van conversions and the intermediate-size Class Cs.

In Class A, improved fuel economy such as that offered by the Avanti from Damon is a welcome change for buyers. While many Class As travel less than 10 miles per gallon, the Avanti raises that to better than 14 miles per U.S. gallon or more than 16 miles per Imperial gallon.

Chris Cook of Woody’s RV said the Avanti uses a number of European design features such as a sloped front and reduced height to improve fuel economy. Woody’s recently sold one of these units, which have prices starting around $130,000 US.

Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc., a Kitchener, Ont.-based manufacturer of Class B motorhomes, has added a rear slide to its van conversion based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. This van, in the Grove RV display, drew a steady crowd of interested onlookers.

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Heartland RV Makes Mark in Early Show Circuit

February 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Heartland RV logoConsistent with its outlook for a market turnaround this year, Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC is reporting solid sales and a rebound in consumer interest during the early round of consumer shows, according to a news release.

“It started at the Tampa Show (Florida RV SuperShow) where we saw very steady traffic and more actual buyers than last year,” said Coley Brady, director of fifth-wheel sales for the Elkhart, Ind.-based manufacturer. “Our dealers have been moving our product, and they are reporting that our lines are resonating with consumers. We continue to be very encouraged about Heartland’s prospects in 2010.”

Brady said that shows in San Antonio, Texas,  and Kansas City, Mo., were particularly strong, eclipsing last year’s totals and further padding the company’s order backlog with its dealer body.

“The Tampa Super Show event was really successful,” Brady said. “We were up significantly from last year and our dealers were very enthused with the show results.

“Overall, we are pleased with the early battery of shows. That said, it is still a very competitive environment, which makes it even more important that we stay ahead of the curve with innovative features and design, along with pricing that fits into peoples’ budgets.”

Heartland rolled out five new brands at last year’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., including several new travel trailer offerings to complement its full line of fifth-wheels. Brad Whitehead, director of travel trailer sales, said the new brands were a hit with consumers and the company is anticipating market share growth in the travel trailer sector this year.

“Our new travel trailer models are filling gaps in our lineup with products that target some of the fastest-growing sectors in the marketplace,” Whitehead said. “Judging from the early shows, we are carving out our niche in these very competitive areas of the market.”

Tim Hoffman, vice president of sales, feels that the success in the early shows leaves Heartland well positioned for the upcoming spring selling season and on through the end of the year.

“We have a flexible assembly model so that we will keep step with demand,” said Hoffman. “Our long-term plan has always been to grow in a thoughtful, disciplined manner so that our dealers will always be taken care of. That plan is still very much in place as we move through what will be our best year ever.”

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