Venture RV, a new of division KZRV LP, Shipshewana, Ind., has introduced a lightweight laminated fiberglass SportTrek travel trailer intended to compete with entry-level “stick-and-tin” units.
“Venture RV gives KZ as a company the latitude to start fresh with something different than anything else,” said David Boggs, who will lead the new venture as director of marketing and sales. “Venture RV was formed to offer unique products to dealers in key markets on a volume basis.”
The new division, while located at KZRV’s Shipshewana manufacturing complex, will make the SportTrek independent of KZRV’s other operations. “It’s going to have a dedicated plant with separate engineering, sales and purchasing,” Boggs said.
Boggs said that Venture may share some KZRV dealers but that its dealership base also will be separate from KZRV.
The SportTrek, with a starting base MSRP of $21,000, well equipped, initially will be available with six 25- to 34-foot floorplans, all intended for towing behind light pickup trucks, SUVs and crossover vehicles. “The SportTrek is a valued positioned travel trailer that competes in the “Stick-n-Tin” market with the advantage of having a fiberglass exterior,” Boggs said.
Each will have a single slideout with one floorplan — the front-bedroom 340JS bunkhouse layout — designed with a rear wardrobe slide in the bunk area.
Standard features include champagne-colored front, rear and slideout ends, Beauflor linoleum, adjustable pantry, designer padded headboard, Comfort by Design residential-style furniture with “flipside” reversible cushions and AL-KO Auto Adjusting Brakes. Also standard are a heated and enclosed underbelly, EZ Water Management Control Panel, a hidden compartment called the Safe ‘T’ek Box located near the front door to store valuables along with a 110 outlet for charging electronic devices and a lighted triple-step entry door.
A 32-inch LED “smart” flat screen TV that can hookup to the Internet is optional.
Scot Robbins (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jim Weiss (email@example.com) will be sales representatives for the SportTrek.
There’s plenty of activity this week around the rural Shipshewana, Ind., facilities of KZRV LP, where some 70 U.S. and Canadian recreational vehicle dealers gathered for the towable RV builder’s 26th annual open house – this one a special salute to the privately held northern Indiana company’s 40th year in business.
In addition to an introduction to the company’s 2013 product lines, displayed this week all around KZ’s facilities on U.S. 20, the company’s dealer open house featured a Wednesday night (May 30) cruise on Lake Wawasee – Indiana’s largest natural lake – and was scheduled to culminate today with a brunch, dealer awards and banquet at the Essenhaus Country Inn in nearby Middlebury that includes a presentation by guest speaker Nathan Whitaker, co-author of books by sports celebrities Tim Tebow and Tony Dungy.
KZRV LP announced the hiring of Dave Boggs as director of marketing, a newly created position for the Shipshewana, Ind.-based towable builder.
According to a press release, Boggs previously served as director of marketing for CrossRoads/Redwood RV and brings more than 15 years of RV industry experience.
“We are very excited to have Dave join our company as the new director of marketing,” said Andy Baer, vice president of sales and marketing. “He has a wealth of experience and a tremendous amount of energy. His talents are sure to make this newly created director-level position a success.”
“I couldn’t be happier to join a company with the guiding principles of doing the right thing and treating people the way you want to be treated,” said Boggs. “KZ offers its customers great products backed by some of the best warranties in the industry.”
Boggs can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shipshewana, Ind.-based KZRV LP introduced the company’s first tri-level fifth-wheel in its Stone Ridge line during this week’s 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
According to a press release, two floorplans – the 36UL and 36RK models – feature the traditional front-raised bedroom and lower middle section, but add a raised living room or kitchen and dining area in the rear that allows for super-sized basement storage space underneath.
“There’s never been anything like this in a KZ fifth-wheel,” stated Andy Baer, KZ’s vice president of sales and marketing. “With the Stone Ridge, customers can have towable RV basement storage as big as a motorhome’s.”
Baer said because the Stone Ridge market consists mostly of heavy users like snowbirds, that expanded storage will be a crucial selling point to those customers.
“We’re talking about people who use their RVs for at least half of the year,” he said. “These are affluent customers, retirees and couples who need motorhome-sized space for their belongings while still wanting the freedom of a tow vehicle to drive after they set up camp. They couldn’t easily have both before – but they can now.”
In addition to these groundbreaking new floorplans, the Stone Ridge line has been upgraded with several high-end elements that make it new and different while enhancing its residential feel, including more fireplaces, solid wood fascia and trim, and plush fabrics. Also new is the 36RK’s Antique Crème and two-tone Luxe Maple wood finishes and updated outdoor Bistro option – an upscale exterior kitchen complete with refrigerator, ice maker, swing-out LCD television and plenty of counter space.
The 38FL model is another new floorplan, the company’s first-ever front living room fifth-wheel. The living area is accented by a wrought iron railing along its stairway and has a large 4Yahoo! 6-inch LCD television surrounded by a lavish entertainment center with fireplace below. The bedroom has a queen bed or optional king bed with a memory foam mattress and the bathroom has a large closet with washer/dryer capability.
“All of these changes were driven fully by dealer and customer feedback,” said Baer. “It’s that input that tells us precisely what people want and what they’ll buy, and therefore what our dealer partners can sell. And of course that makes everyone happy.”
While the Stone Ridge line is a deluxe fifth-wheel and the new generation boasts even more features and innovations than before, KZ said it also has a more appealing price point than others in its class.
For more information on KZRV products visit http://www.kz-rv.com/.
KZRV LP expects to host 120 people representing 75 to 80 dealers during an open house May 14-16 at its Shipshewana, Ind. factory.
”Our message is ‘Come Home to KZ,”’ said General Manager Andy Baer. ”We’re here for our dealers and we’re here for our customers.”
Baer said that a number of new floorplans will be on display, including the first ultra-lightweight Spree Escape with a slideout. ”It still comes in under 3,000 pounds,” said Baer.
Also sporting new floorplans will be the KZ Inferno toy hauler and ultra-light Coyote travel trailer.
Meanwhile, Emmy-winning CBS news correspondent Don Teague will speak during a Sunday night dinner. Teague gave an inspiring speech to an an audience of 200 at the Prayer Breakfast on Dec. 1 in Louisville, Ky., held during the National RV Trade Show.
The Florida RV SuperShow set a new attendance mark with 53,117 people passing the gates of the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa when the show concluded Sunday (Jan. 16) — an increase of 4.7% over 2010.
”There was good attendance and good sales,” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the sponsoring Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA). ”We’ve had good attendance all along (at other SuperShows) but sales at some of the others have lagged a little bit.
”Everybody that I talked to was well into double-digits on sales and some dealers were into triple digits as far as sales are concerned.”
The show missed by fewer than 18 hours severe weather that swept across the Sunshine State spawning rain, high winds and tornado warnings, which hampered workers Monday (Jan. 17) as they were disassembling show displays.
”Thank heavens, it didn’t happen yesterday,” said Andy Baer, general manager of KZRV LP, Shipshewana, Ind., who reported strong sales during the five-day show.
Billed as among the largest RV shows in the U.S. with more than 450 vendors and 1,065 display coaches registered this year, the Florida RV SuperShow often sets the stage for the late-winter retail season.
”I’ve been coming to the SuperShow since 1994, and I’d have to say this was one of the best I’ve been too,” Baer said. ”And I’m not talking just about sales. It’s so nice to talk to people who are so very positive. It’s like someone flipped a switch. Everybody was very upbeat.”
”There was a lot of buying going on,” said Andy Cripe, a division manager for Keystone RV Co., Elkhart, Ind. ”I’m not going to say it was record-breaking, but it was sustainable. We saw real prudent buyers and even with the more stringent financing terms, a lot of people put cash down and bought.”
”Hopefully, this is a sign of what is going to happen in 2011,” said Matt Thompson, Elkhart-based Thor Motor Coach diesel division vice president, who reported that the company’s new A.C.E Class A motorhome sold particularly well. ”If it is (a sign), it should be a very good year for the RV industry. Thor Motor Coach did very well at the show as a company.”
Ed Kinney, Carriage Inc., Millersburg, Ind., vice president of sales and marketing, termed attendance and sales ”incredible.”
”The high-line fifth-wheel market was really hot,” Kinney said. ”The SuperShow always sets the tone for the year. For Carriage, it’s going to be an unbelievably great year.”
Based on Tampa and initial returns from other early winter shows, meanwhile, 2011 is looking pretty good for Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River Inc.
“Taking into account the first two weeks of shows, Pittsburg was a good show and the Cleveland Show was the best we’ve had in years,” National Sales Manager Jeff Babcock told RVBUSINESS.com. “And the Tampa Show, finishing up this past weekend, ended up better than years past. So, it’s a great start, and we’re looking for a good year.
“We think it’s going to break loose here this year.”
Roger Martin, Winnebago Industries Inc. vice president of sales and marketing, said the Forest City, Iowa-based motorized manufacturer, was ”thrilled with traffic and sales activity” at the show.
”Dealers representing us there reported sales activity nearly three times better than last year, Martin said.
Kings Campers, Wausau, Wis., is KZRV LP’s Top Dealer for the Mid Central Region for 2010.
The award was presented to King’s Campers President Ron Gajewski during a dinner this week at KZ RV’s annual Dealer Open House at KZ’s manufacturing plant and headquarters located in Shipshewana, Ind.
“This honor truly reflects all of the hard work King’s Campers staff does on a day to day basis,” said Gajewski. “From the moment the customer arrives until they drive off the lot with their new camper, King’s Campers staff works diligently to be kind, courteous and helpful. The award also reflects KZ’s efforts to find innovative new ways to keep weight down while still maintaining space. The Durango 1500 half-ton-towable series is a perfect example; several of the floor plans have two slide outs, and they’re beautiful inside, but they’re still light weight. KZ’s Sportsmen Classic mini-van-towable travel trailers are another example of great innovation by meeting current customer demands.”
For more information visit www.kingscampers.com.
He added, “I’m also enjoying the fact that I still deal with the original founder of the company, Daryl Zook. We go back a lot of years in this industry. This kind of experience is invaluable when it comes to running a lean ship while not scrimping on quality or customer care.”
King’s Campers has been locally owned and operated since 1990.
Daryl Zook, president of KZRV LP, fielded questions Tuesday afternoon (May 18) from some of the 90 RV dealers attending the KZ Dealer Open House May 16-18 at the towable manufacturer’s headquarters in Shipshewana, Ind.
At the open house, KZ introduced the new, full-profile Durango 2500 fifth-wheel retailing for about $38,000 that is intended for towing behind 3/4-ton pickup trucks.
”We’ve done a complete revamp (of the Durango line) and brought the price down considerably,” Andy Baer, vice president of sales and marketing, told RVBUSINESS.com, adding that dealers at the open house are optimistic about the future.
”We see a market poised for some growth,” Baer said. ”We definitely see an uptick. Our business has been much improved over last year, but we’re also concerned about what’s going on in the business environment. We think growth is going to be pretty consistent. We just don’t want any of us to overshoot the mark. We don’t want to be in the same position we were in a year ago.”
He said KZ dealers have reported 10%-20% sales increases over 2009. ”And inventories are in line,” he added.
In addition to the new Durango 2500, KZ also introduced a hybrid version of the Sportsmen Classic travel trailer, available with either one or two tent-type extensions. KZ also manufactures Escalade, Stone Ridge, Spree, Sportsmen and Coyote towable RVs, plus Inferno SURVs.
As many as 100 KZRV LP dealers are expected to attend a May 16-18 meeting at the towable manufacturer’s Shipshewana, Ind., headquarters at which they will see a lighter updated version of KZ’s top-of-the-line Escalade fifth-wheel.
”We are continuing to refocus our product line,” said Andy Baer, KZ vice president of sales and marketing. ”One thing that we are really trying to focus on is weight as we try to ascertain up front what consumers are going to use to tow our products. Through production methods, we’ve reduced the weight of the Escalade considerably.”
KZ’s product reshuffling includes turning the mid-priced Durango line into fifth-wheel-only lineup and reorienting the KZ Spree as a travel-trailer brand.
The 2011 Escalade initially will be available in two new 37-foot triple-slide floorplans with dry weights of 12,300 pounds — about 1,000 pounds lighter than the 2010 Escalade. One layout will feature a side-aisle bath, the other an L-shaped kitchen with more counter space.
Retail prices start at around $85,000 well-equipped.
KZ will offer two versions of the Durango in 26- to 36-foot lengths — the Durango 1500, towable with half-ton pickups, and the Durango 2500 built on a bi-level drop-frame for more storage designed for three-quarter ton pickups.
”The Durango has been revamped from head-to-toe with new cabinetry, new valances with wrought iron and new graphics,” Baer said.
MSRPs for the Durango range from $28,000 to $35,000.
Ramsey and Cheryl Dersken were the lucky winners out of 97 semi-finalists and won a new 2010 13FK KZ Sportsmen Classic travel trailer during Veurinks’ RV Center’s ”Big Event Open House ” Saturday (April 24). The event was sponsored by WLAV radio, KZRV LP, Shipshewana, Ind., and the Grand Rapids, Mich., RV dealership.
The Derskens’ were overjoyed as they shared with Tim Veurink, president of Veurinks’ RV, how their 20-year-old folding camping trailer had deteriorated to the point were they could not use it any more and now they were camping in a tent.
They also shared with Veurink their passion for camping and that they recently had a streak of camping for at least one day a month for 38 consecutive months.
The Derskens said that they love state parks and one of their favorite things to do is camp at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on New Year’s Day. “Our motto is ‘Go RVing with Us’ so it was great to see the KZ Classic go to someone like Ramsey and Cheryl who really appreciate the RV lifestyle,” Verurink said.
The KZ Classic giveaway drawing lasted over a five-week period with a WLAV radio blitz along and 50 local billboards.
The contest was managed by the Paul Miles Agency of Grand Rapid. The event was also supported with direct mail and an e-blast. Both sales and lot traffic were brisk during this period and there were more than 300 people in attendance the day of the giveaway.
Photos of the event can be viewed at www.veurinksrv.com