Heartland RV LLC is targeting three key segments of the high-volume travel trailer market with its newly expanded North Country brand, designed to create superior franchise value for dealers and streamline the buying process by offering more standards and fewer options, according to a news release.
Debuting at last month’s 48th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., to strong dealer response, North County now offers three distinctive price points in the heart of the travel trailer sector – the entry-level North Country Trail Runner Edition and already proven North Country series, both traditional wood framed/aluminum sided and loaded with standards, along with the laminated North Country Lakeside Edition. The retooled lineup represents a consolidation of Heartland’s North Country and Trail Runner lines that already outperformed the travel trailer sector with a 107% year-over-year market share increase through September, according to Statistical Surveys Inc.
“Heartland has created tremendous value for our dealer body in a market that has traditionally been solely driven by price,” said Sean Ryan, general manager for the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder. “By packaging set-apart amenities as standard, the new North Country is simply the best equipped travel trailer line in the marketplace and still priced right in line with the competition.”
“The goal was to offer logical step-ups for our dealers within one brand,” added Chris Stender, brand manager. “We also made it easier to order product by building in more standard features. In turn, that creates a quicker turnaround because retailers can sell out of existing inventory opposed to ordering a unit for a minor option not on a stock unit.”
Highlights of the three models include:
- North Country Trail Runner Edition: Offering eight floorplans, some available with a single slideout, the series ranges in lengths of 19 to 30 feet with MSRP’s running from $13,573 to $22,753. Key standard features that distinguish the line in the highly competitive entry-level market include 7-foot interior ceiling height, power awning, skylight, screwed cabinetry and ball bearing drawer guides, CD/DVD stereo systems with exterior speakers, ducted AC, tinted windows, radial tires and a bumper extension/cargo carrier.
- North Country: With eight floorplans in lengths of 26 to 32 feet and one or two sliderooms, the North Country lineup is sharply priced with MSRP’s ranging from $20,433 to $24,073. It shares the lengthy list of standards offered in the Trail Runner Edition while adding amenities like power stabilizer jacks, hide-a-bed with air mattress and 26-inch flat screen TVs.
- North Country Lakeside Edition: Offering the same floorplans as North Country, the optional Lakeside package features aluminum-framed, laminated fiberglass sidewalls and other high-end upgrades.
“I’ve been at this 17 years, and I’ve never been as excited about a new product introduction,” said Ryan. “Heartland made its mark by offering a tremendous value for consumers in terms of price, overall quality and innovative features. The new North Country is an extension of that formula, and it was accomplished in one of the most competitively priced sectors of the market.”
In a move designed to bolster its management structure, Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC today (Nov. 9) announced the appointment of three industry veterans as general managers for the company’s portfolio of towable brands.
Offering a combined 46 years of experience in the RV sector, Mike Creech, Sean Ryan and Nick Eppert will head up three divisions for the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder, representing 14 travel trailer and fifth-wheel brands, according to a news release. The announcement follows Heartland’s recent naming of Coley Brady as vice president of sales.
Creech, formerly director of travel trailer sales for Heartland, will be charged with overseeing the builder’s four luxury fifth-wheel lines that include the Landmark, Bighorn, Big Country and Elk Ridge brands along with the North Trail lightweight laminated trailer series. The 39-year-old Osceola, Ind., native boast 12 years in the industry, previously serving as national sales manager for Monaco Coach Corp.’s McKenzie travel trailer division before joining Heartland four years ago.
“I look forward to the challenges and the opportunities with these new brands,” Creech said. “As with all of Heartland’s products, the mission is well-defined – make the product better, adapt to the marketplace, build what the consumer wants and, most importantly, listen to the dealer body.”
Ryan, 38, has logged 17 years in the industry, the past 10 ½ years with Keystone RV Co. as a group general manager. He will be responsible for the direction of a cross-section of brands, including North Country Sundance and Greystone travel trailers and fifth-wheels, ultralight MPG and Edge trailers, Country Ridge destination trailers, and the Cyclone and Road Warrior toy hauler/SUTs.
“It’s a pretty broad mix, but these are the same types of products that I’ve been involved with throughout my career,” Ryan said. “One of the challenges is that many of the products are in the most competitive pockets of the market. Our objective is to distinguish the lines with identifiable, salable features and floorplans, and pricing that offers a great value. That’s what the dealers are looking for, and that’s what Heartland has been doing ever since they entered the marketplace.”
Eppert will spearhead the revival of the iconic Prowler nameplate, which will debut at this month’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. The 40-year-old brings 17 years of industry experience, the last six as product manager for Keystone.
He noted that the new generation of Prowler towables would “return to the full-line approach,” with travel trailers hitting three price points offering both wood-and-aluminum and laminated construction, along with two lines of mid-profile fifth-wheels featuring laminated fiberglass sidewalls.
“Prowler is the most popular towable brand of all times,” Eppert noted. “The anticipation and expectation from dealers and retail customers is high. Our team is utilizing all our resources and energy to create exciting new floorplans, features and overall value at each price point. Unique eye appeal and innovative use of available space will also separate Prowler from current brands on the market.”
He added, “Every dealer attending this year’s Louisville show is invited to come see the new Prowler. They will not be disappointed.”
Charged with extending Heartland Recreational Vehicle LLC’s record of vigorous growth and expansion, Coley Brady was recently named vice president of sales and will oversee development of 13 travel trailer and fifth-wheel brands for the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder.
Brady, 32, joined Heartland seven years ago after graduating with an accounting degree from the University of Notre Dame and serving as a CPA for a major Chicago firm. He worked in sales and as a brand manager for Heartland before being promoted to director of fifth-wheel sales in 2008, according to a news release.
“I started with Heartland six months after the first unit rolled off the line,” said Brady. “It’s been exciting and rewarding to have played a part in the phenomenal market share growth that established Heartland as one of the industry’s leaders. Going forward, however, we will not become complacent. We will continue to be innovative and aggressive with product development and, in turn, continue to build franchise value for our dealer body.”
Brady will direct sales operations for all of Heartland’s brands except the newly introduced Prowler series, which was part of the company’s purchase of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.’s towable brands last February. His promotion comes in the wake of Thor Industries Inc.’s September acquisition of a controlling interest in Heartland from private equity firm Catterton Partners.
The Elkhart native said one of his key objectives was to gain ground in the high-volume travel trailer sector. After entering the marketplace in May of 2007, Heartland has strategically broadened its brand and floorplan selection, owning a 4.2% market share through August, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. Serving as a yardstick, Heartland has built a 13.1% market share among all domestic fifth-wheel builders since entering the industry with its Landmark luxury fiver line.
“The goal is to see market share gains on the travel trailer side similar to what we have accomplished in the fifth-wheel sector,” he said.
Brady emphasized that the core of Heartland’s success stemmed from its commitment to its dealer body, which has grown to include 604 locations nationwide.
“The thing to remember is that your dealer relations are only as strong as your product,” he said. “We have been working hard to make sure our price points are carefully thought out and strategically positioned to deliver an outstanding investment opportunity for our dealers. That’s what earns dealer loyalty.”
Heading into this month’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., Brady said that the builder was on target to cap off its strongest year to date.
“We will not be debuting any new brands at the show, but we will have plenty to talk about with over 30 terrific and exciting new floorplans on display along with some really exciting new features,” Brady said. “Louisville represents the start of another year of growth for Heartland.”