Wayzata, Minn.-based TCF Inventory Finance Inc. (TCFIF), a subsidiary of TCF National Bank and an indirect subsidiary of TCF Financial Corp., today (Jan. 20) announced plans to further expand its floorplan finance offerings into the recreational vehicle industry within the U.S. and Canada.
According to a press release, since its 2008 founding TCFIF has gained significant market share in the electronics and appliances industry as well as the lawn and garden industry. In the powersports industry, TCFIF is the exclusive floorplan finance provider for Arctic Cat in Canada and, beginning Feb. 1, for Bombardier Recreational Products in both the U.S. and Canada. Although TCFIF is relatively new in the market, TCFIF said its executive leadership team averages over 20 years of inventory finance experience in all of these industries.
Last year, TCFIF entered the RV industry in the U. S. and Canada by becoming the preferred lender for Jayco Inc.’s three RV divisions (Jayco, Starcraft and Entegra Coach). With a strong presence at the recent National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., TCFIF took the opportunity to meet with several RV manufacturers and dealers. TCFIF will continue to initiate discussions with potential customers and secure repurchase agreements from major RV manufacturers.
“We are excited to begin developing more relationships within the RV industry,” said Ross Perrelli, president and CEO of TCFIF. “We are confident that we are the best choice for floorplan financing for RV manufacturers and dealers.”
For more information about TCFIF, visit www.tcfif.com.
Just as Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles LLC moves into an 18,000-square-foot addition to its factory in Wakarusa, Ind., the small northern Indiana RV manufacturer has been identified as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the U.S. in the September issue of Inc. magazine.
Livin’ Lite builds modern-looking lightweight, all-aluminum folding camping trailers, travel trailers, truck campers and utility trailers.
”I think it’s pretty cool for a little company like us in Wakarusa, Ind., to be among the fastest growing companies in the U.S.,” said Livin’ Lite President Scott Tuttle. ”Next year, our growth will be even more.”
Inc. reported that Livin’ Lite’s revenue growth between 2006 and 2009 was 611% — from $418,000 to $3 million — ranking the company 491st in the magazine’s annual survey. Among manufacturers of consumer products and services, Inc. ranked Livin’ Lite the 30th fastest growing company.
Livin’ Lite’s private-label Jeep folding camping trailer, which became available Aug. 1 through Chrysler LLC’s Mopar parts subsidiary, also was featured on the cover in the October issue of Four Wheel magazine for a story on off-road trailers.
The Jeep popup camper, along with Livin’ Lite’s Quicksilver popup, will be built in the new plant expansion where Livin’ Lite will begin production next week.
With the addition of the new square footage, Livin’ Lite will have 53,000 square feet under roof, and plans to increase the number of its employees by 50 over the next year for a total of more than 80.
Publisher’s Note: RVBUSINESS.com touched bases recently on a variety of topics with Forest River Inc. founder and CEO Peter J. “Pete” Liegl. Here’s a verbatim transcript of that on-the-record conversation, which took place in the aftermath of the company’s successful “Pick Your Partners” dealer meeting that drew some 2,000 people from 700 U.S. and Canadian dealerships in late September to the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary’s home complex on the west side of Elkhart, Ind. Parts of this interview appear in the upcoming issue of RV Business, the magazine.
RVBUSINESS.com: Pete, your dealer meeting this year was impressive to say the least, as most in this industry are well aware.
Liegl: It was considerably more than last year, obviously. But we’ve got Coachmen in there and a couple of other things we didn’t have last year.
RVBUSINESS.com: What signal or message are you sending these dealers?
Liegl: It’s not different than any other year. We are trying to give the best product at the best price ratio. Obviously, there’s only a couple of financially strong manufacturers in the RV business, and us being one. Dealers have gotten burned severely with a couple of other manufacturers who filed bankruptcy or went out of business and I think they realize that. The opportunity is phenomenal right now for us. We are going to expand the motorized area drastically. We’ve done OK in the towables and we’ve been into motorized quite a few years now, and we’ve got a pretty good handle on the products that we make in motorized and we just need to make more.
RVBUSINESS.com: Those are ambitious goals, considering that RVIA forecaster Richard Curtin predicts that motorized in 2010 is only going to occupy 7.8% of the market. Why would you expect growth in motorhomes?
Liegl: For several reasons. When you look at two other manufacturers that went bankrupt and might be coming back out, there’s a hell of an opportunity. We are completely convinced that the RV business is here to stay. It might be a little different than we’ve known it in the past. In total there is something like 21 manufacturers who used to manufacture some form of RV who are not with us here in the last 12 months.
But things are good. Things are not bad out there. I think it’s going to continually improve. Obviously, we all know the recession is over. It was over at the end of June. The recovery is going to take a little longer, but dealers are selling. Dealers are getting flooring. Customers are getting financing. The RV industry’s not bad right now.
RVBUSINESS.com: The RV industry generally leads in to – and out of –downturns. At least that’s how the old saying goes. Did it appear to hold true this time around?
Liegl: I believe it is holding true. We are doing more in sales and bottom line in the last three months than we did during a comparable period last year. And last year wasn’t a bad year. That’s also a little misleading because we have Coachmen (Forest River last year purchased the RV segment of Coachmen Industries Inc.) now with us. So, obviously we are not comparing true apples to apples. But even if we did compare apples to apples, which I do, we are doing better than we did last year during the same time period. You could just walk that (Forest River’s dealer) show and not hear anybody and look at them and know that the enthusiasm is running high.
RVBUSINESS.com: So, back to your earlier comment, you agree with (Federal Reserve Chairman Ben) Bernanke that the recession is over?
Liegl: Yeah. I think he predicted that sometime back. We still have high unemployment here, but it is improving. Interest rates are low. Gas isn’t expensive. Things are good.
RVBUSINESS.com: Flooring is still a challenge.
Liegl: Yes, in some cases it is. But again, dealers are required to do what they should have done in the last five years. We as an industry, we as a country, got sloppy. We gave people financing that shouldn’t have had it. We were lax on collecting the curtailments, paying the interest. Well, 20 years ago, we didn’t have that problem. Every dealer knew you were supposed to pay your curtailments and your interest. With this sub-prime attitude, giving financing to people who shouldn’t have it, primarily in housing, is a problem.
The big problem that we’ve experienced – and are now getting over – is that you’ve got to pay your interest to a financing institution. You’ve got to pay your curtailments, and they (a lot of dealers) weren’t used to that. They (finance companies) are holding their feet to their fire, and if they (dealers) don’t (pay curtailments), they aren’t going to get any more (credit). Now, people have accepted and understand that, and they’re more current with that situation than they were six months ago.
RVBUSINESS.com: Looking back at your dealer meeting, is it possible that you brought more dealers to Elkhart for your two-day get together than you’ll see at early December’s Louisville Show.
Liegl: I guess so. I don’ know what they (RVIA) are forecasting. But we were blessed with the number of dealers that did show up. I was very favorably impressed. And the attitudes were phenomenal.
We’ve got a lot (of dealers) who still didn’t come for various reasons that we expect to see in Louisville, and we are going to maintain our presence there. And our display this year will be as big, if not bigger than last year. I think we are going to see a lot of dealers down there, too. It might not be as many, but the Louisville Show comes and goes very quickly, and you don’t get to see as many dealers as you want and you don’t get to spend the time with them that you want. There might be fewer people coming to Louisville this year, I don’t really know. But I personally think there is going to be a product shortage next year. Some people think I’m crazy if you publish that. But I don’t care. I don’t think there’s going to be a product shortage, I know there is going to be a product shortage.
RVBUSINESS.com: Is this prediction based on growing demand in the market or on the industry’s inability to keep up after a tough year?
Liegl: Primarily on the manufacturers’ ability to beef up and give the market what it needs. It’s my understanding — and I had a list not too long ago — that 21 manufacturers have gone out of business. Obviously, even if the market shrinks, which it has and is going to be smaller next year than it was a few years back, there are not as many people (companies) to build the product. So, we plan on getting our share.
RVBUSINESS.com: What kind of pace are you on dollar-wise in 2009?
Liegl: We are going to do probably in the area of $1.8 billion.
RVBUSINESS.com: How many employees are you now?
Liegl: I think 6,200, nationwide.
RVBUSINESS.com: I know it’s a simplistic view, but a lot of people see the towable side of the industry turning into a what might best be described as a two-horse race between Forest River and Thor over the next few years. Your thoughts on that audacious statement?
Liegl: We are the financially strongest one, obviously. And we will be No. 1. There isn’t going to be any horse race. You just have to look at the recent stats. Our numbers are increasing where our other competitor’s out there are decreasing. We are only a few percentage points different right now when you put together Coachmen, Forest River and Palomino. Last month, I think we had 45% of the camping trailer business, retail. The July numbers are out and we aren’t doing as much as I want, but it’s acceptable.
Workers at Somerset, Pa.-based FTCA Inc., which builds folding camping trailers under the Coleman brand, approved a new four-year contract that provides annual wage increases, restores incentive pay and creates a new pension plan, the United Steelworkers said Wednesday (March 18).
The Tribune-Review reported that USW Local 2632, which represents about 200 workers at the plant, said the contract restores 10 paid holidays, vacation pay, shift differential and incentive pay and gives workers coverage under a previous health insurance program.
The union has been bargaining for a new contract since last fall.
FTCA was formed when Blackstreet Capital Partners LLC, a private equity firm based in Bethesda, Md., bought the former Fleetwood Folding Camper Trailer division from Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. on May 12 for an undisclosed sum. The purchase included the 430,000-square-foot plant in Somerset.
As part of a buyout, FTCA announced in early August that it had reached an agreement with The Coleman Co., Wichita, Kan., for use of the brand name.
Gulf Stream Coach Inc., Nappanee, Ind., has introduced an XL option for its 2010 Wide Open and G-Force fifth-wheel toy hauler series, creating a vapor wall that can be opened to extend the living area into the heated garage. “Most toy hauler consumers want a sealed garage to eliminate the transfer of fumes, but many can’t justify losing 12 feet of living space for the garage area,” said A.J. Jones, Gulf Stream’s national sales manager for its EnduraMax division. “This patent-pending XL option is the first way to really overcome that objection.” The XL’s sealed rear wall, which contains an entertainment center that includes a flat-screen TV on a swivel bracket, opens toward the garage to create more living space after toys have been removed. The heated garage area also contains two queen bunk beds. The $693 XL option is available in five floorplans each in the vacuum bonded fiberglass-and-aluminum Wide Open and G-Force series.