Matching distinctive product design with a heightened focus on dealer relations, Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC continues to harness market share in 2013 as two of its key fifth-wheel brands stood as January sales leaders according to data compiled by Statistical Surveys Inc.
Following up on a No. 3 overall ranking for 2012, Heartland’s high-profile Bighorn line for the first time finished as the market leader among all fifth-wheel brands for the month. According to a press release, the company’s Cyclone also posted strong sales, recognized as the top brand in the growing toy hauler segment while holding the No. 5 spot in fifth-wheel retail registrations.
“January’s performance is testament to our team’s ability to combine best-in-class quality with attractive pricing, backed by the strong support from our dealer partners across the U.S.,” said Chris Hermon, president of the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder. “I have charged every area of the company to step up our commitment to working closely with dealers, ensuring that we bring product to market that is firmly in step with consumer trends while representing a true value in the marketplace. We are seeing the results of that partnership with market share gains in some of the most competitive pockets of the industry.”
Bighorn, a consistent sales leader for Heartland, gained serious momentum following the 2012 Elkhart County Open House when two major marketing initiatives were introduced – the rebranding of the line as a fully-laminated, four seasons coach and the launch of the mid-priced Silverado by Bighorn series.
“We made a huge push with Bighorn and Silverado at the show,” said Coley Brady, vice president of sales. “Those moves in product development and increased eye appeal are paying big dividends as we move into spring.”
He added, “Bighorn is targeting the hot-button segments in the marketplace while providing logical, salable step-ups for our dealers. As more Baby Boomers retire, they are looking for the durability, quality and homelike features of an extended stay coach. If cost is a challenge, Silverado meets their needs with upper-end amenities at an aggressive price point.”
Cyclone, which has added five models over the last six months, has seen particular success with these “fresh, innovative floorplans,” according to Brady. Featuring painted front caps, optional washer/dryer and a large shower area in some models, Cyclone represents the shift in the toy hauler market from a no-frills toter for motorcycles and ATVs to one of the industry’s most versatile RVs.
“The Cyclone offers a mix of floorplans that address today’s wide-ranging interests from toy hauler buyers,” Brady said. “Our dealer body has been doing a tremendous job selling the unique features of the Cyclone brand.”
Gateway is Heartland RV’s first new residential fifth-wheel brand in over three years.
Gateway has been designated a “presidential pick,” according to Heartland General Manager Bryan Walczak. “What that means is the Gateway has been hand-designed by the President of Heartland, Chris Hermon,” Walczak stated. “Gateway really takes the price and the eye-appeal to the max,” according to a news release
All the newest prototype and engineering strategies are being used to make Gateway the most refined fifth-wheel on the market.
“As you look forward and you see new market segments emerging you have to be willing to adapt quickly,” says Hermon. “Gateway hits the retail customer with an incredible look and an incredible price. That hasn’t been done for a long time in the High Profile Luxury market.”
Immediately following the fall Open House, Heartland took the first Gateway model to the retail market. Needless to say, customers responded extremely well to the form, features, eye-appeal, and especially the price! “Our dealer was thrilled with the response and the retail sales from the show,”says Walczak.
“What we’re doing is developing a new product for a new market segment, which is that luxury-type taste, but offering it at a lower cost,” he said. “Everything is trimmed out – crown molding, decorative edging throughout – so it’s not just a typical trailer with radius wood.”
The furniture in the Gateway is the prime feature RV dealers will notice, Walczak added. “The furniture is special – it’s leather with top-stitching. The top-stitch fabric is dynamite looking when it’s all put together,” he said. “Also, all the seating areas – whether it’s the couch, the theater seating – recline. With the new airbeds that they have on the market now, you can just put one up and be done with it. The furniture is more functional in the Gateway because everything reclines.”
The Gateway will debut a 32-foot triple slide fifth-wheel that hits an incredible price and look at the Louisville Show. Another three floorplans are planned for production soon including a five-slide bunkhouse.
“We absolutely nailed the Gateway fifth-wheel,” says Coley Brady, vice president of sales. “If you haven’t seen Gateway, you need to get to the Heartland display during the Louisville Show and take a look. We are signing dealers now and you don’t want to miss out.”
Heartland’s Gateway 3200RS will be on display Nov. 27 – 29 at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., Thor booth 1300, located in the south hall.
Heartland Recreational Vehicle’s makeover of its Trail Runner brand last fall successfully rejuvenated the conventional-built travel trailer line, spurring retail sales and creating sustained demand with the company’s dealer body.
“Our dealers were very specific in their needs,” said General Manager Nick Eppert in a press release. “Through telephone and face-to-face conversations, the need for lower dry weights and a more aggressive price point came through loud and clear. Accordingly, we made some monumental changes in the product that really paid off.”
The reengineered, sharply priced Trail Runner now boasts “more models designed for the half-ton truck market than ever before,” according to Eppert, who reported that dealers took note of the changes.
Julie Leach, sales manager for Leach Camper Sales in Council Bluffs, Iowa, a respected dealership that is currently marking its 50th year of operation, noted, “We at Leach Camper Sales have truly enjoyed our relationship with Heartland’s Trail Runner edition. We have had excellent support from our sales rep and the warranty department. They have responded to our needs immediately and without hesitation. That has allowed us to achieve a dramatic increase in our sales area. We have currently experienced a 30% increase from 2011 to 2012 with five more months to go. We look forward to our continued success with Heartland.”
Building on the success of the Trail Runner, Heartland launched the Trail Runner Super Lite Edition (SLE) at the 2011 Louisville Show. “This product brings even lower dry weights and price points to the table,” Eppert said. “At Louisville, we showcased two models in our display, and dealer reaction was outstanding. Based on our dealer’s input we quickly expanded the offering.”
The Trail Runner SLE currently offers seven floorplans, available with non-slideouts, traditional slides and galley sliderooms.
Eppert said that several new introductions for both the Trail Runner and SLE are planned at this year’s Open House, adding, “Even though we are coming in at a more aggressive price point, the Trail Runner brand is still loaded with popular features that RVers are looking for.”
Amenities include Beauflor linoleum, real-wood cabinet doors and drawers, full-extension ball bearing drawer guides, pocket-bored screwed cabinets and radial tires with EZ-Lube hubs.
“I am thrilled with Heartland’s passion to be awesome in travel trailers,” said Eppert. “The future is very bright for the Trail Runner brand and its dealers.”
Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC has bolstered its ElkRidge full-profile fifth-wheel lineup with the addition of the five-slide 36FLPS floorplan, designed to address a new market segment while extending the brand’s “value-driven” strategy that has generated strong sales in 2012.
“The ElkRidge is one of the fastest growing fifth-wheels on the market,” said Bryan Walczak, general manager for the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder, in a news release. “Through the first five months, the brand saw a 12.2% increase in market share and a 16.4% rise in units sold. We expect the 36FLPS to have the same success, hitting a mid-profile price point in a full-profile fifth-wheel.”
Walczak said that the 39-foot “PentaSlide” is full-featured, offering refined interior amenities set off by a front living room with theater-style seating that showcases a 40-inch TV, along with two sliderooms. Other key standard features include wireless remote control, washer/dryer prep, freestanding dinette, king bed, ample storage and multiple entrance doors.
Walczak noted that with base MSRP’s starting at $48,749, the aluminum-framed, laminated “Penta-Slide” retails at “thousands less than the competition’s comparably equipped fifth-wheels.”
“We went into production in July and we just sold our first unit at Bent’s RV outside of New Orleans,” said Walczak. “Brian Bent, the owner, told me that customers love the floorplan, especially when they see that it retails for the same price as other mid-profile coaches. We are looking for the 36FLPS to perform in line with our other ElkRidge models, where dealers are able to see an exceptional return on their investment.”
The 36FLPS will make its consumer debut on the show circuit in September at America’s Largest RV Show in Hershey, Pa. It will also be on display for dealers during Elkhart’s Thor All-Star dealer open house, set to run Sept. 17-21 in the industry’s manufacturing hub.
“Judging by early feedback, we think the 36FLPS will really generate sales with our dealers during the Open House event,” Walczak said.
With the addition of the “PentaSlide,” the ElkRidge now features seven floorplans, ranging in length from 29 to 42 feet, with five additional floorplans in the entry-level, ultra-affordable Elkridge Express line.
Built in a dedicated facility, the ElkRidge features integrated remote control systems, full-profile ceiling slideouts, solid-surface countertops, universal docking center, European-style hidden hinges, true slam baggage doors, roller bearing drawer glides and camp kitchens. Packaged with rich, cherry interiors, ElkRidge also offers an 88-degree turning radius designed to accommodate short-bed pickup trucks.
Offering consumers an attractive price point and a variety of functional floorplans, Heartland Recreational Vehicle LLC’s full-profile Bighorn fifth-wheel line continues to build market share, garnering the No. 3 overall brand ranking in the May report from Statistical Surveys Inc.
“Our Bighorn line generated impressive sales during the first five months of 2012,” said Coley Brady, vice president of sales for the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder, noting that Bighorn was the No. 1 selling fifth-wheel through May in the hotbed states of Texas, Florida and Alabama and the top full-profile line in Canada. “It confirms that we are building product that consumers recognize as a discernible value in the high end of the fifth-wheel marketplace with the right combination of residential-style amenities backed by superior fit and finish.”
According to a press release, a key factor driving sales is Heartland’s decision to market the Bighorn as a full-time coach. Eleven models, with base MSRP’s starting at $59,900, feature laminated roof, sidewall and floor construction that reduces noise while providing the structural integrity and thermal insulation required for four-seasons RVing.
“Our use of seamless laminated construction really sets us apart from the competition at the price point that we’re hitting with the Bighorn,” said General Manager Kary Katzenberger. “It meets the demands of a growing full-time demographic, which is mushrooming with the influx of Baby Boomers and people that are using their RV as a mobile office.”
Katzenberger reported that Heartland would be debuting three new configurations in the Bighorn line at this year’s Elkhart County RV Open House set to run Sept. 17-21.
Of equal importance to Bighorn’s early 2012 success was the addition of the Silverado by Bighorn series that was unveiled to dealers during last September’s Open House.
“The Silverado addresses a key segment in the marketplace,” said Katzenberger, noting that base MSRP’s start at $44,900. “It provides the upscale interior amenities of the Bighorn at an aggressive price point while also offering extended stay, three-seasons construction. We are not only selling to seasoned RVers looking to upgrade, but also first-timers that want to enjoy the benefits of a full-profile fifth-wheel.”
Silverado, which includes four couples coaches, also addresses large families with two bunkbed floorplans.
The Bighorn and the Silverado share several key features, including stackable washer/dryer hookups, Heartland’s industry-first 88-degree turning radius and a universal docking center. Lengths for the Bighorn range from 35 to 40 feet while Silverado models run 33 to 40 feet.
Thor Industries Inc. announced today (May 21) the appointment of respected industry veteran Chris Hermon as president of subsidiary Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC, replacing Brian Brady who retired May 1. Hermon will officially step into his new role May 29.
Hermon brings a management history marked by rapid and prolonged success to the Elkhart, Ind.-based towable builder, including a 10-year term overseeing several high-growth brands for Thor affiliate Keystone RV Co. Most recently, Hermon co-founded Forest River Inc.’s Prime Time Manufacturing Inc. division in 2009 while serving as vice president of sales.
“For the last several weeks I spent time with Heartland, talking to people and getting feedback on what was needed,” said Bob Martin, RV group president for Jackson Center, Ohio-based Thor, in a press release. “One of the main things I noted was that Heartland is filled with great talent and needed a strong leader. I interviewed many quality candidates, but in the end I felt that Chris was the right fit for the Heartland team.”
Hermon, who entered the industry with Coachmen Industries Inc. in 1998, said that he viewed the move as a “natural progression” in his career path and was intent on maintaining the company’s reputation for product innovation and market penetration.
“I’ve found that if you are a leader in product development and dealer relationships, exceptional success is the result in this industry,” said Hermon, 42. “It’s apparent that is already in place, as Heartland has a strong track record of bringing great products to market and quickly harnessing market share. My goal is to continue driving product development and strengthening our dealer relationships.”
He added, “Presidential positions in this industry don’t come along very often, particularly with a company of the stature of Heartland. I am definitely looking forward to working with the existing team and steering Heartland to its next chapter of success.”
Heartland management, in turn, sees Hermon’s appointment as a springboard to continuing the growth path engineered under Brady’s guidance. “The entire Heartland team looks forward to working with Chris in our pursuit of intelligently growing our business,” stated Coley Brady, vice president of sales.
An Ohio native, Hermon served in the U.S. Air Force from 1988-1992 and the Air Force Reserves until 1995. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana’s Ball State University. He and his wife of 16 years, Shawn, have two sons and reside in Goshen. During his time with Keystone, Hermon was general manager for the company’s Cougar, Hornet and Hideout travel trailer brands, charged with growing sales in the industry’s most hotly contested segment.
“I actually hired Chris at Keystone, so I know his work ethic and the way he manages,” Martin related. “He established himself as one of the company’s top performers. Heartland has tremendous potential and I am confident that Chris will make the company even stronger. He has the insight, commitment and leadership skills to not only push Heartland to higher levels, but also add depth to Thor’s already solid, aggressive management team.”
Heartland RV, headquartered in Elkhart, has enjoyed innovative industry-leading success for many years, and offers a variety of towables, including travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth-wheels and destination trailers. For more information, visit www.heartlandrvs.com. Hermon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (574)266-8726.
Underscoring the structural integrity of its flagship Landmark fifth-wheel line built for full-time RVing, Heartland RV has instituted an inclusive 2+5 year warranty on all 2013 models.
The warranty, providing two years bumper-to-bumper and five years structural coverage on the roof, sidewalls and floor, represents “one of the most comprehensive warranties in the industry,” according to General Manager Kary Katzenberger.
“Full-timers consider their RV as their home,” Katzenberger said in a press release. “One of the biggest selling features is peace of mind – knowing that their RV is not only well constructed but also protected in the long-term. The 2+5 warranty represents a set-apart added value in the luxury fifth-wheel marketplace, both for the consumer and our dealer body.”
The Landmark fifth-wheel represents Heartland’s first entry in the RV market when the Elkhart, Ind.-based company was founded in 2004. Built with an integrated system of laminated fiberglass sidewalls, flooring and roof to increase durability while reducing overall weight, the Landmark is tailored to meet the demands of all-weather conditions and the rigors of full-time use.
“In addition to achieving increased strength and a lighter weight, laminated construction affords superior thermal insulation and noise reduction over wood-framed products,” said Katzenberger.
The Landmark is currently available in four floorplans in lengths of 33 to 41 feet, with two new floorplans coming to market in the next 90 days. In addition to a sturdy foundation, the series also offers a residential environment with attractive decors and high-line amenities.
New features in the 2013 line include a “whisper quiet” dual A/C system, optional 6-point leveling system and a new LCD, touch-screen remote that operates the landing gear, awning and sliderooms. MSRP’s start at $74,900.
“The Landmark already offered one of the best values in the luxury, full-time fifth-wheel market,” said Katzenberger. “The 2+5 warranty reinforces Heartland’s standing as a leader in the category, providing the luxury and durability that full-timers require along with the peace of mind that they have made a sound investment.”
Reflecting the diverse demographic in today’s RV consumer base, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight contender Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone recently purchased his second luxury toy hauler built by Heartland RV.
An avid outdoorsman, Cerrone prefers to travel and live in his RV for fights that are within driving distance from his ranch in Albuquerque, N.M. – shunning the airline ticket and plush hotel room provided by the UFC.
“We made a lot of changes in our new Road Warrior line that appeal to people who love adventure but still enjoy having a comfortable, high-tech living environment when they’re on the road,” said A.J. Jones, general manager for Elkhart, Ind.-based Heartland, in a press release. “Donald said he appreciated the ‘young feel’ in the Road Warrior, and really liked all the options in the on-board garage. It not only accommodates all of his toys, but offers another living area with drop-down, electric bunk beds that convert to seating for a removable table. There is also a 32-inch TV in the garage area.”
Cerrone, a motorcycle and ATV buff, previously owned a 2007 Heartland Cyclone sport utility RV. He purchased the new Road Warrior from Windish RV during a January RV Show in Denver after “looking at every toy hauler on display,” according to Jones. “He already had a good experience with the Cyclone, but thought the Road Warrior had a bit more edge with a new graphics package and black Espresso cabinetry on the interior.”
Available in eight floorplans ranging in lengths from 30 to 43 feet with one to three sliderooms, the new Road Warrior series offers an optional three-seasons wall that fits into the back of the unit. Sliding patio doors allow RVers to load their toys and keep them in a sealed, enclosed area. “This is a brand new feature that has been a huge hit at the shows,” said Jones. “The big thing is that it eliminates having to tear down the patio deck when storing your toys.” Garages are available in 10-, 12- and 14-foot layouts.
On the interior, the Road Warrior offers a spacious, fully-equipped kitchen area while the living room is set off by a wrap-around “Mega Lounger” that includes three recliners for optimal viewing of the 40-inch LCD HD TV. The Road Warrior’s multi-zone entertainment system, featuring DVD, MP3, MP4 and an iPod station, powers four Jensen ceiling speakers in the living area and two in the garage, along with two marine-grade external speakers.
A spacious side aisle bathroom arrangement provides a shower, lavatory, and toilet all in one location while a half-bath sports a full-size pantry area. Other standards include a 3,000-pound rated ultra-light Ramp Door (no cables), Heartland’s patented 88-degree turning radius, welded tubular aluminum construction, fiberglass front cap, enclosed and heated underbelly, and slam baggage doors keyed unique to the Road Warrior. MSRP’s for the Road Warrior series start at $49,999.
Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC is marking the first anniversary of the company’s merger with Thor Industries Inc.
“Any time you go through a major structural change there is going to be some uncertainty,” said Brian Brady, president of Elkhart, Ind.-based Heartland RV. “However, it has become clear that the combination was in the best interest of Heartland employees, dealers and end customers alike.”
In late 2010, Jackson Center, Ohio-based Thor purchased Heartland. Since that time, Brady said the move had proven to be “a true win-win” for both companies.
“We have done exactly what we intended to do – and that was to best position Heartland for continued success,” he said, citing the August report from Statistical Surveys Inc. showing Heartland’s unit volume up 13.5% and market share rising 6.5%. “In a competitive environment, Heartland continues to win. The mission for Heartland remains to provide our dealers the highest possible return on their investment, and that mission will continue to drive this company going forward.”
Brady stressed that a key behind Heartland’s ability to outpace the market was its dedicated work force.
“When I look at the team assembled here at Heartland, I have never been more excited,” he said. “We have the team in place to continue to provide our dealers the best product and investment opportunity in the RV market.”
Heartland builds a diverse offering of quality, innovative fifth-wheels and travel trailers. For more information visit www.heartlandrvs.com.
Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC has created an aggressive new price point in its high-volume Bighorn luxury fifth-wheel line with the launch of the Silverado by Bighorn series. The builder will be showing three all-new floorplans during next week’s Elkhart County 4th Annual RV Open House as part of Thor Industries Inc.’s expansive display at the RV/MH Hall of Fame.
“Heartland was the largest and most significant acquisition that Thor has made,” said Brian Brady, president and CEO for Elkhart, Ind.-based Heartland. “Our mandate is to continue to aggressively and responsibly grow our business. Consequently, offering Silverado as an extension of Heartland’s incredibly successful Bighorn line of upscale fifth-wheels makes compelling sense for our dealers.”
Kary Katzenberger, general manager, added, “We designed the Silverado by Bighorn to satisfy those consumers that recognize the inherent value in the Bighorn brand, but are looking for a lower price point. With base MSRP’s running from $39,000 to $49,000, the Silverado by Bighorn represents the best value in the full-profile luxury fifth-wheel category and offers our dealers a tremendous investment opportunity.”
For the Open House, Heartland will be displaying models ranging in lengths from 35 to 41 feet with plans to add a 33-footer to the mix. Units offer laminated fiberglass sidewall construction, three or four slideouts, Heartland’s patented 88-degree turning radius and oversized external baggage compartments with slam-style doors.
The interiors are smartly appointed with several upscale standard features, including solid-surface countertops, royal maple cabinetry with decorative glass inserts overhead, a residential size stainless steel, under-mounted sink and a spacious bathroom with glass shower surround.
“One of the really unique features is the creation of a walk-around bedroom suite area,” said Katzenberger. “We were able to build in a large closet area in the front cap along with under-bed storage and a washer-dryer hook-up for a stackable laundry set.”
Heartland also incorporated a dresser that is narrower and taller than conventional units, allowing for a picture window in the bedroom. Windows are also built into the bedroom slide for cross ventilation.
Heartland said that representatives will be on hand during the Open House to show the new Silverado by Bighorn units along with Heartland’s full line of travel trailers and fifth-wheels. For additional information on the Silverado by Bighorn contact Katzenberger at 574-514-4531.