Allied Specialty Vehicle Inc.’s (ASV) rollout at last week’s Louisville Show of two iconic motorhome brands – the Monaco Dynasty and Holiday Rambler Vacationer – represents the next stage in a purposeful, calculated restructuring for the Orlando, Fla.-based company underscored by the recent formation of the Allied Recreation Group (ARG).
The business unit effectively packages ASV’s motorized interests under the ARG umbrella that includes Fleetwood and American Coach – divisions headquartered in Decatur, Ind., that ASV has overseen since 2009 – along with the Monaco, Holiday Rambler and shelved Beaver and Safari brands acquired through ASV’s buyout of Navistar Inc.’s RV assets last May.
John Draheim, CEO of ARG, stressed that the Louisville display units were prototypes and input from the show would be incorporated when production begins next spring for the 2015 model year.
“Right now our plan is to launch the new Dynasty and Vacationer at the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) rally scheduled for late March in Perry, Ga.,” Draheim said. “We will take feedback from Louisville and tweak product if necessary. After that we are planning to roll out new products each quarter, including the Monaco Windsor and Diplomat along with the Holiday Rambler Ambassador and Endeavor. As with the Dynasty and Vacationer, they are well-recognized brands with consumers, and will feature very distinctive looks.”
He added, “We are taking a long-term approach with regard to Monaco and Holiday Rambler. The fact that our Fleetwood and American Coach plants are running strong allows us to stay on a very focused path.”
Draheim said the decision to form ARG was based on a need to address potential perception issues with dealers and consumers.
“We thought there would be confusion among dealers and consumers about having a Monaco or Holiday Rambler motorhome built in a Fleetwood plant, or having service and parts fulfilled by a Fleetwood facility,” he said. “It was important to restructure the different divisions under one unified brand. The Decatur facility, which will handle production of all four lines, will now be an Allied Recreation Group plant as will our service and parts facilities. In addition, the ARG brand ties into our parent company, which was important.”
Also key to the rebranding efforts is ASV’s intent to differentiate the Holiday Rambler and Monaco brands from the Fleetwood badge, eliminating any perception of “cloning” while also leveraging strong consumer awareness.
“The Navistar buyout was a big investment for ASV,” said Draheim. “We didn’t make the acquisition to produce badge-engineered products, which was the route that Navistar took. Monaco and Holiday Rambler are great brands with great reputations – as are Fleetwood and American Coach – and we want to build on those assets. Research showed that the four ARG brands represent 35% of the motorhomes that are on the road today, so we believe there is a lot of pent-up demand for Monaco and Holiday Rambler product.”
To further differentiate product lines, Monaco and Holiday Rambler’s product management and engineering teams are operating out of a dedicated facility in Elkhart, Ind., while sales, marketing and product direction fall under the oversight of President Mike Snell – a veteran manager who has logged over 20 years with Monaco. Draheim, who is currently filling a dual role as president of Fleetwood/American Coach in Decatur, noted that “we will be looking to fill that spot in the near future.”
“Mike has done a tremendous job integrating Monaco and Holiday Rambler,” Draheim said. “He understands the client base, and he also understands Allied’s vision for the brands.”
While ASV formulated the launch of ARG, it has also been diligent in handling the carryover from Navistar’s withdrawal from the RV market – a move Draheim said is vital to reviving trust in the marketplace.
“We made the decision to cover warranty issues and pay back the dealers,” Draheim said. “It’s the same strategy Allied used when Fleetwood was acquired. We just believe that’s the right way to do business, and again, fits into our long-term goals.”
Navistar RV LLC, a subsidiary of Navistar International Corp., launched one of their most aggressive sales promotions in recent years to move Holiday Rambler and Monaco Coach motorhomes in dealer inventory and make room for their new model year units.
“The ‘Big Payback Sales Event’ promotion is great for everyone,” said Mike Snell, vice president sales, in a press release. “The dealers have a factory-sponsored promotion to assist with moving older model years out of their inventory, our customers get substantial rebates on select products just in time to combine with their tax refunds, and our employees are kept busy in our plants making new product to ship to dealers.”
For a limited time, customers taking retail delivery of an eligible new, untitled 2012 or 2013 Monaco Coach or Holiday Rambler motorhome from a participating dealer’s inventory will receive a corresponding rebate from Navistar RV.
To qualify for a rebate of up to $15,000, the customer must purchase and take retail delivery between Feb. 15 and April 15.