At a time when every sale counts, Host RV of Bend, Ore., announced Tuesday (Nov. 30) its first camper sale for export to China.
“A Chinese official found our campers on the Internet and wound up ordering an 11½-foot Everest model and paid upfront, with a $45,000 cashier’s check,” said Dave Hogue, who founded Host RV in 2001 with partner Mark Storch, according to the Bend Bulletin.
With the company’s first export to China of a triple-slide Everest model camper, Hogue said production for 2010 is expected to hit 50 campers this year.
Employment also grew by three, to a total of 12 during 2010, Hogue said.
“We’re hoping this sale to a Chinese official will open the door to more exports to China,” he said.
Few companies make a triple-slide camper. The Everest model has a slide-out kitchen on one side, a slide-out dinette on the other side, and a slide-out sofa section on the back, Hogue said.
“We’ve been working on the Chinese deal since August,” Hogue said. “It’s been an interesting learning process.”
He said the Chinese buyer doesn’t speak English, so negotiations and sale terms were transacted through the buyer’s cousin, an English-speaking airline stewardess who flies out of San Francisco.
In addition to the $45,000 camper manufactured by Host RV, the Chinese buyer ordered a $65,000 four-wheel-drive, Ford F-450 truck, which Hogue arranged to be purchased through Ted Marshall, who owns Burns Ford and is a friend from Hogue’s days at Bend High School in the 1970s.
“This Chinese official already has a fifth-wheel trailer, but it is too big to maneuver and get around in the country,” Hogue said. “He wanted something that he could drive to the edge of the woods and park on a riverbank. With a camper mounted on a four-wheel-drive truck, he can do that.”
‘A done deal’
Regarding the camper export to China, Hogue said, the buyer’s cousin requested Burns Ford and Host RV supply bank account information so payment could be arranged through a wire transfer from a bank in China.
However, Hogue said he and the Burns Ford dealer hadn’t met the buyer or the translator, so they requested payment via cashier’s checks, instead.
“Last week, the customer’s cousin came to Bend to tour our manufacturing facility and she handed me a cashier’s check, so it is a done deal,” Hogue said.
Since the entire transaction went through the translator, including the payment, Hogue doesn’t know how to spell or pronounce the name of the Chinese official who bought the camper.
With camper production at Host RV down to one unit per week, Hogue said the company has the flexibility to customize each camper to meet the wants and needs of individual customers.
In addition to building campers in 8½-, 9½-, 10½- and 11½-foot models, Host RV builds Class C motorcoaches in various models mounted on four-wheel-drive Ford F-550 dual-axle trucks, he said.
“We’re one of the only companies in the country making four-wheel-drive motorcoaches,” Hogue said, adding that four-wheel-drive motorhomes and campers mounted on four-wheel-drive trucks are popular with people who live or travel in snowy mountainous regions.
Hogue and Storch have decades of experience building RVs, dating back to the days when their parents, Jim Hogue and Frank Storch, owned and operated Beaver camper and motorcoach company, initially in Corvallis, and later in Bend. At one time, Beaver employed more than 400 people before the company was sold and production eventually moved to Eugene under Monaco Coach Corp., Hogue said.
Jim Hogue and Frank Storch still own the buildings in Bend leased by Host RV.
Dave Hogue said as part of the downsizing, Host RV moved production into a 25,000-square-foot building this year that had been leased to a lumberyard that closed after the Bend housing market crashed in 2008.
He’s hoping the camper export to China will lead to more sales so the company can someday move back into the larger building and put more people back to work.
The crew at Host RV is wrapping up work on another Everest model camper sold to a customer in La Pine this week, so work on the Chinese order will begin next week.
Once it’s built, the camper, truck and mounting hardware will be delivered to the Port of Oakland, Calif., where the camper and truck will be packed into separate containers and shipped to China, Hogue said.
With all the publicity about free trade, Hogue said he was surprised to learn the Chinese buyer would have to pay a 100% import tariff, doubling the total cost of the camper.