Massillon, Ohio-based Little Guy Worldwide announced today (Jan. 4) that its sales for 2011 were up by more than 40% over 2010.
“Our lightweight teardrop trailers appeal to cost conscious consumers and economy car owners while making camping and RVing more affordable to thrifty consumers,” said COO Chris Braun. “Our teardrop trailers can be pulled by virtually any vehicle with a hitch. You’d be surprised how many Smart Car owners tow our campers behind their tiny little cars.”
Little Guy Worldwide has been selling teardrop campers since 2004, and it has experienced steady growth over the past seven years. But this year’s success came as a bit of a surprise to company owner and CEO Joe Kicos.
“We have always maintained that our teardrop trailers and other lightweight campers counter-trend the economy,” said Kicos, a former airline pilot and stock broker. “And we’re not quite sure what to think about this recent spike in sales. The one thing that we consistently hear from our customers is that they have grown tired of lugging around a large fifth-wheel camper or towing a car behind a motor home, and that they want a more practical way to travel.”
Little Guy plans to leverage its momentum during the first quarter of 2012. “We have a couple of major distribution opportunities that we expect to come to fruition sometime before the close of the first quarter,” reported Baum. “Gaining consumer awareness of lightweight towable camping trailers has always been a challenge, and we plan to address this lack of consumer awareness of the category by expanding our footprint in the conventional RV distribution channel during the coming year.”
Little Guy’s teardrop trailers are regularly featured on the Price is Right and Let’s Make a Deal television game shows and are manufactured by Amish craftsmen in Sugarcreek, Ohio. Little Guy Worldwide offers over a dozen models of teardrop trailers and other lightweight campers ranging in price from around $5,000 to just under $15,000.
Little Guy Worldwide, Massilon, Ohio, has leveraged the web to raise awareness of the teardrop trailer product category, establish new dealers, service existing dealers and engage current and prospective customers.
But, according to a press release, only four years ago the future looked uncertain for Little Guy Worldwide owners Joe and Christine Kicos. In 2007 the couple, then minority owners, arranged the purchase of the company from its majority owner who was looking to exit the business. At the time going to the bank for financing during such uncertainty simply wasn’t an option. “We learned to leverage the web and to get the word out organically,” says company owner and president Joe Kicos. “We didn’t have a lot of options when it came to spending money on marketing.”
The company’s motto “Some Things Just Make Sense” seems to appeal to a growing segment of independent minded and self-reliant consumers. “There really is no ‘selling’ a Little Guy,” says COO Chris Baum. “When you first look at it, it either makes sense, or it doesn’t. The challenge is to get the product in front of prospective customers so that they can make that assessment on their own. What is more sensible than using the Internet to feed the research and decision making appetite of these independent minded consumers?”
Little Guy Worldwide has managed to gain exposure on the “Price is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal” television game shows as well as through organic web searches by consumers searching for lightweight, economical recreational vehicles. The company claims that a teardrop trailer typically has a negligible impact on fuel consumption, which has appealed to consumers who are looking for ways to save money or simply conserve natural resources.
“These consumers are often resistant to over-the-top marketing campaigns. They want to be presented with options and to decide for themselves,” says marketing consultant and SEO expert Matt Williams, who turned the company on to the benefits of leveraging organic search back in 2007.
Little Guy’s website http://www.golittleguy.com now receives in excess of 1,000 unique visits per day from around the world, and it has received as many as 16,000 visits in a single day. According to Williams, “The beauty of organic search is that it’s like an annuity. You make the upfront investment, and it keeps paying out over time.”
The diminutive T@B travel trailer is being reintroduced to the North American market by Little Guy Worldwide, Massillion, Ohio, which sells, markets and distributes Little Guy and Silver Shadow teardrop trailers built on contract by Pleasant Valley Trailer in Sugarcreek, Ohio.
The T@B, last marketed in the U.S. two years ago by Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., is based on a unit first built in 2001 by Germany’s Tabbert Caravan GmbH.
”We were looking for another model you could stand up in,” said Chris Baum, Little Guy Worldwide COO. ”We thought the T@B would be a natural progression while keeping the look of the teardrop.”
Little Guy, founded in 2002, initially is offering the T@B in a single 15-foot dinette floorplan, and will display the unit at the upcoming 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
Currently, Little Guy sells its teardrops in about 60 locations, most of which are car dealerships.
”RV dealers are not our typical dealer because teardrops tend to get lost on their lots,” Baum said. ”Now that we have the T@B, that warrants us going to the Louisville Show for the first time to get more involved in the traditional RV market.”
Little Guy purchased Dutchmen’s remaining T@B components and bought more than 15 used T@Bs and disassembled them to understand the engineering and construction methods. ”We took them apart and then put them back together,” Baum said.
With a dry weight of 1,420 pounds and a width of just over 6 feet, Little Guy Worldwide’s T-16 T@B floorplan can be towed by just about any four-wheel vehicle.
Little Guy has made standard many features including a sight-and-sound-package, sink and stove, convertible refrigerator, screen doors and spare-tire mounts that Dutchmen had offered as options.
Production began in June at Pleasant Valley.
”One of the big selling points is that it’s all Amish-built,” Baum said. ”When you start talking about that people get the idea of the quality that goes into the T@B.”
About 50 T@Bs, with a $15,995 MSRP, have been built and production currently is about five units a week, Baum reported. ”Right now, our biggest issues is managing T@B’s growth,” Baum said. ”In today’s marketplace, there is the need for a truly lightweight travel trailer. Our teardrop business is up 35% this year.”
Baum said building 500 T@B’s next year ”is very realistic.”