Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles LLC, located in Wakarusa, Ind., reports that the number of retail registrations they have received this year (January-April) is up 124% over the same time period in 2012.
“Retail sales are strong across all of our six product lines” Greg Dischler, Livin’ Lite’s national sales manager, stated in a news release. “We have more dealers than ever stocking our unique all-aluminum and composite trailers this Spring and the results are showing in the number of retail registrations we are receiving every day.”
As more dealers receive the latest models from Livin’ Lite, Dischler expects the trend to continue.
“Our new rich, cherry interiors are hitting a chord with consumers who already were attracted to our unique, all aluminum and composite, ultra lightweight design,” reports Dischler. “And our new website is producing more retail leads than ever with between 3,000 and 4,000 unique visitors coming to our site every day asking where they can see our wood-free campers in person.”
Livin’ Lite brands include Quicksilver; Camplite trailers and truck campers; VRV and Axxess toy haulers and the official Jeep camper.
For more information, visit their website at www.livinlite.com or call (866) 272-5578.
Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles LLC, manufacturer of all-aluminum Quicksilver automotive campers, CAMPLITE travel trailers and VRV toy haulers, enjoyed record sales at the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.
“Livin’ Lite all-aluminum campers have always been unique, and we have continued to fine-tune them and expand the line,” Rick Barna, national sales manager, reported in a press release.
“Dealers have enjoyed more and more success on the retail level with our products, driving our continued growth and prompting our listing on Inc. magazine’s ‘Top 500 Fastest Growing Companies.’ Coming into Louisville, dealers asked for more mainstream features and a softer interior look in our CAMPLITE trailers, and we delivered,” said Barna.
“Our team back in Wakarusa did a tremendous job to give the dealers what they were asking for,” he added, “and the number of orders we took at the show is a testament to the fact that the CAMPLITE resonated with the dealers. We also introduced our first full-size truck camper with wet bath and full LP, which we also took a number of orders on.”
“It was really just the perfect storm for us as a smaller, independent manufacturer,” said Livin’ Lite President Scott Tuttle. “Unlike past years when we were hidden in a corner, we had a great spot on the main aisle and just about every dealer at the show was exposed to our unique, colorful campers. When they took a closer look, they liked what they saw and — combined with the fact that we offer larger territories in a day when most territories are getting squeezed — the end result was we signed up a number of new dealers.”
Meanwhile, Tuttle said Livin’ Lite didn’t bring a single white unit and, therefore, the Wakarusa, Ind., company’s display “stuck out“ with its orange, yellow and silver trailers.
“In a world of white, steel-and-wood campers, Livin’ Lite offers not only colorful exteriors, but also the lightest weight units on the market via our all-aluminum construction, which will literally last for decades.”
Contact Livin’ Lite (574) 862-2228 or www.LIVINLITE.com
Warm, sunny weather this week is greeting thousands of RV dealer personnel from the U.S. and Canada, all of whom are here to visit with manufacturers, party some and bargain hunt for 2010 and 2011 product as part of a new wave of dealer “open houses.”
The open houses reach a crescendo today and tonight as industry leaders Thor Industries Inc. and Forest River Inc. entertain retailers at their respective open houses. Three of Thor’s four divisions, Thor Motor Coach, Keystone RV Co. Inc. and Breckenridge, are situated in a joint display at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in northeast of Elkhart, while all of Forest River’s divisions, including the company’s resurgent Coachmen RV unit, are showing product at the company’s headquarters on Elkhart’s west side.
Most of the area’s manufacturers seem pleased with the whole open house concept thus far – especially the smaller companies and various niche players — although it will be hard to tell how this year’s combined explosion of open houses plays out next year.
“Yesterday, we had a great turnout,” Ed Kinney, vice president of sales for Carriage Inc., told RVBUSINESS.com. “We were pleasantly surprised, being over here in Millersburg. We had several of our current dealers and dealer prospects here, and our new Cabo (trailer) and all of our existing products went over real well. So, it was a great day for Carriage.”
Speaking for Carriage, Kinney likes this evolving “open house” concept. “It’s a great concept, and we thank (Forest River Inc. President & CEO) Pete Liegl for starting it because I think it’s good for the industry,” said Kinney, whose company’s open house doors remain open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today (Sept. 29) and Thursday.
In general agreement with Kinney is Gulf Stream Coach Inc. Co-President Dan Shea, whose company had always hosted its own private open house each June at the towable and motorized RV manufacturer’s Nappanee facilities.
“Obviously, a number of manufacturers were looking at this time frame to start bringing in dealers,” said Shea, whose family-held company is considered more of a mainstream manufacturer vs. a niche player. “And in talking to our dealers, “it made sense, particularly last year with the transportation issues (the difficulty in delivering RVs) and the pickup in business so quickly last spring that dealers are planning ahead for next year and are very interested in coming in and looking at new product and making their buying decisions earlier this year.”
”So, we’ve been very happy with the turnout of dealers coming in, and I think it makes sense when a lot of dealers are doing something at the same time. The dealers can come in and see several manufacturers and see the new ideas at one time and a little earlier than the typical December time frame.”
Reflecting a market in which wholesale motorhome shipments have plunged from about 71,000 to 13,000 units in the aftermath of the recession, Gulf Stream’s open house displays are predominantly towable product.
“There’s less players and less dealers and, you know, the banks are sort of frowning on big item purchases,” noted Phil Sarvari, Gulf Stream’s executive vice president. “So, our focus is going to be to ‘major in the majors,’ and there’s certainly more buyers and more shipments of towable products than there are motorhomes. But motorhomes are still a part of our company, and we’re still going to take care of the dealers that we have out there.”
Does this whole open house format threaten the viability of the industry’s National RV Trade Show in any way? Shea doesn’t think so, and Gulf Stream remains a strong supporter of a viable national show in which manufacturers, suppliers and distributors all congregate.
“No,” says Shea, “I still think that there is that camaraderie of all the dealers getting together, the new products of the suppliers, the events of the week in Louisville, you know,” he observed. “I think it will continue to be important to dealers as well. I think it’s important to have the entire industry in one place. I think we get a lot of play out of the press coming to it, and the coverage from the suppliers and all these stakeholders in the industry having one place to go.”
Northward in Wakarusa, Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles’ President Scott Tuttle is working to expand his company’s dealer body through open house contacts.
Tuttle, who specializes in light-weight, all-aluminum trailers, points out that this whole open house concept isn’t altogether new in that it’s been going on for years on more of an ad hoc basis. As has always been the case, he added, even companies who aren’t hosting big events with buffets and bands are expecting dealers to come by.
That said, Tuttle told RVBUSINESS.com that the first two dealers showed up at Livin’ Lite’s driveway at 8 a.m. Monday, one having driven in from Quebec, the other from Kansas. Both were including Livin’ Lite in their tour of area manufacturers.
While his sales staff has been making an effort to contact retailers who were planning to be in town this week – many of whom are in town to do business with manufacturers who “are blowing out yards full of inventory” – Livin’ Lite had several units set up in a display outside his plant.
“You know, this is a shoppers’ bonanza for a lot of RV dealers,” said Tuttle, “where guys (manufacturers) have built up open stock and they’ve filled their yards with it. We don’t do that. We just build what’s sold. So, there’s a lot of dealers in town, seeing what kind of deals they can get.
“But when they go to Louisville, they’re definitely looking at what they’re going to carry next year,” he added. “So, Louisville’s still the benchmark for us. While there will be some dealers picking up product this week, I think Louisville’s still the show for dealers to pick up new product lines.”
Also set up in a low key fashion with a small cluster of display units outside the company’s headquarters north and east of Elkhart in LaGrange County near the Michigan State Line, EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC President Doug Lantz says his firm is a “small player in this whole open house scenario.
“I just appreciate the fact that we’re able to bring dealers into the Elkhart County area,” he said. “I think it’s good for the economy here and for relationships. It’s nice to be able to have dealers stop by and see the facility, meet personnel. So, I welcome it. I think that it’s something that we should continue to focus on. I know that we’ll continue to do it. And we tie it into sales training as well and getting together and strategic planning, so it’s something that we’re going to embrace and continue to work for.”
Lantz, for his part, thinks there could be some impact on Louisville.
“I think it may make some difference in some of the dealers’ purchases. It might, especially from a floorplanning standpoint. I mean most of the dealers placing orders this time of year are going to be receiving product around Louisville… So, there’s probably some floorplan lines that will be impacted at the credit level at Louisville. So, yeah, I think it will have some impact.”
The timing of these new open houses is perfect for other niche players like Open Range RV, located farther to the east in Shipshewana, an Amish-populated tourist village. “I think so,” notes Open Range President Randy Graber. “I think it makes sense to have this (open house) at this time of year, rather than waiting until the middle of the selling season to make all the (new model product) changes.”
As for Louisville, he says it will be interesting to see how it plays out over the next couple of years, especially considering how much early buying does or doesn’t occur during this expanding open house format.
There was a time in the 1970s until the mid-‘80s when the RV industry would gather annually each August in the sweltering heat of northern Indiana for what was then known as the South Bend Show. Dealers would come from near and far to be wined and dined by manufacturers and to see some new model year lineups.
New models would also be shown at subsequent private dealer meetings and then at the annual all-industry Louisville Show.
Now, the North American RV industry is headed back to the future to an extent this week as a host of companies — spurred by a budget-minded atmosphere in the wake of The Great Recession and by the success of Forest River Inc.‘s own big Elkhart dealer meetings over the past two years – beckon dealers to the flatlands of
Elkhart County for a series of “dealer open houses.”
Although it’s a bit later than the South Bend Show, which was held outside the Notre Dame Stadium, these new open houses should benefit the region’s hotels, restaurants, lounges and shuttle bus drivers in much the same way.
Forest River, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary that again sets up shop this week next to its corporate headquarters on the west side of Elkhart, is expecting 2,800 people and reportedly had registered more than 700 dealerships by the beginning of this week. Along with a series of dealer displays that will include everything from conventional RV’s to commercial trailers, boats and mobile latrines, dealers can expect lavish buffets and a bustling Wednesday night cocktail party that should rival the best of those good ‘ole days at South Bend.
“I assume it’s going to be as good as last year,” Forest River President and CEO Pete Liegl told RVBUSINESS.com.
Much the same can be expected across town on the east side of Elkhart at the RV/MH Hall of Fame as three Thor Industries Inc. divisions set up shop for the first time this year on the grounds around the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc.’s museum, library and hall near the Indiana Toll Road. This is the first year that Thor, another market leader, has hosted dealers for a September open house and, in the process, did not manage to station all of its divisions in one place like Forest River did.
So, Thor Motor Coach, Keystone RV Co. Inc. and Breckenridge will be manning displays – Keystone itself is setting up about 200 units on the hall’s periphery – on Wednesday and Thursday. Also on tap at the hall: Seminars sponsored by Freightliner Custom Chassis Inc., GE Capital, Ally Financial and Statistical Surveys Inc. plus a Wednesday night cocktail party – scheduled, perhaps coincidentally, at the exact same time as chief competitor Forest River’s. Tunes are being provided by the popular John Kirkwood band.
Keystone President Bob Martin, who tells RVBUSINESS.com that he’s expecting somewhere between 700 and a thousand dealer personnel to stop by, says Keystone has always brought dealers in during the fall for a look at new product. And while they’re stepping it up this year, his Goshen, Ind.-based firm is still planning an aggressive display with additional new product at RVIA’s 48th Annual National RV Trade Show, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in Louisville.
‘It’s a good opportunity to get in front of your dealers in the fall,” says Martin, whose company will also host vendor booths and meetings with customer service representatives and retail and wholesale financing sources.
Just down the street a few minutes to the west at a temporary rented facility at the corner of Marina Drive and County Road 6, Thor’s Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. division will launch an open house of its own tonight (Sept. 27) with cocktails provided by the Thor division and entertainment supplied by a group called Blammo. Displays, complete with continental breakfast, are open all day Tuesday and Thursday, closing out Thursday at noon.
Also kicking off the festivities tonight down in Nappanee – with a tailgate party, casino night and poker tournament — is Gulf Stream Coach Inc., which will be featuring a favorite of the company’s founder, the late Jim Shea Sr.: Daily lunch consisting of Stanley’s famous steak, shrimp and eggroll. Gulf Stream’s event runs through Thursday
“We believe recent developments in the RV industry will create great opportunities for the independent manufacturers,” says Gulf Stream Co-President Dan Shea. “We developed many new dealer relationships this year and we look forward to showing our new innovative, value-packed models.“
Also opening their doors to dealers this week:
Carriage Inc.: Tuesday through Thursday at the towable manufacturer’s Millersburg, Ind., plant.
Dynamax Corp.: Monday through Thursday at the company’s north side Elkhart plant at the corner of Northland Dr. and County Road 6.
Earthbound RV: Monday through Friday at the Spring Meadow Farm Golf Club east of Elkhart in Middlebury, as well as at the firm’s new main plant 70 miles to the south in Marion, Ind.
Evergreen Recreational Vehicles: Monday through Thursday at the company’s plant in Middlebury.
Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles: Monday through Thursday at the firm’s Wakarusa facility a few miles south of Elkhart off of Indiana 19.
Monaco RV LLC: Tuesday through Thursday at the Navistar division’s Wakarusa plant.
Open Range RV: Tuesday through Thursday at the company’s facilities east of Elkhart in Shipshewana.
Sunnybrook RV: Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the company’s plant in Middlebury.
Meanwhile, adding to the week’s industry activities, Jayco Inc. will have about 250 retail personnel on hand for intensive sales training at its complex in Middlebury, Ind. Jayco’s second Master RV Product Training Session runs Monday through Thursday, with a graduation ceremony Wednesday at the Marriott in South Bend.
Living’ Lite Recreational Vehicles, located in Wakarusa, Ind., has added an all-aluminum, hard-sided truck camper to its Camplite product lineup.
The new Camplite truck camper is specially designed for the smaller, more fuel-efficient trucks such as the S10, Ranger, Canyon, Colorado, Tacoma and Frontier, according to a news release.
Weighing in at 950 pounds, the Camplite truck camper features “aluminum everything,” according to Rick Barna, Livin’ Lite’s vice president of sales. “This unique truck camper is built from the ground up using aluminum, including aluminum flooring, aluminum cabinetry, aluminum walls and roof structure,” said Barna. “Just like our increasingly popular Camplite travel trailers, the Camplite truck campers do not have even a splinter of wood in them. They are perfect for the smaller trucks on the market that until now have had to be satisfied with ‘pop-up’ truck campers. We offer them a full stand up (six feet, four inches) camper with fully laminated, hard-sided walls and roof.”
The Camplite truck camper, like other Livin’ Lite campers, comes in a variety of exterior colors, including silver, bronze and light blue metallics.
“This first model of Camplite truck camper is approximately 10 feet in length with a full queen bed, dinette, kitchen area with optional refrigerator and optional roof A/C. This is a back-to-the-basics truck camper, designed for the masses,” said Barna, “It is a true entry-level camper, very well built and it will stand the test of time with its all aluminum construction.”
The base MSRP is $8,999.
“We are working on a second Camplite truck camper model, designed for full size trucks that features our wet bath and has an LP system available,” stated Barna.
For more information, contact Livin’ Lite at (574) 862-2228 or email email@example.com
The recognition honors the state’s privately held companies that employ up to 150 employees and have between $750,000 and $100 million in annual revenue or working capital.
More than 500 Indiana companies were nominated for the award, according to the IEDC. The chosen businesses in the state include food manufacturers, software developers, financial service firms and makers of medical devices.
The honors are presented by the IEDC, its Small Business Development Center, Purdue University and the Edward Lowe Foundation.
The companies will be recognized Thursday at a dinner and ceremony in Indianapolis.
As reported by the South Bend Tribune Business Weekly, Livin’ Lite manufactures ultra lightweight, automotive campers and aluminum trailers and markets them in North America, Europe and Australia. The company has been in business for six years and has 20 employes, double the number of last year. Sales this year are up 200% from 2008 and on pace to do more than 250% the 2008 level.
In answer to the question, what sparked the formation of the business, owner Scott Tuttle replied, “The need for an affordable, lightweight, family camper that could sleep six and still be towed by small passenger cars. Our campers allow young families to go camping utilizing their current vehicle (they don’t have to purchase a truck or an SUV).”
As for the company’s biggest challenge or opportunity, he replied, “Our biggest opportunity has been the ability to produce such a lightweight, all-aluminum and composite camper, which is affordable and able to be pulled by the smallest automobiles on the market. Our challenge has been educating ‘traditionally minded’ RV dealers that there is a market for such campers. The retail demand is high. Our problem is we don’t have enough dealers yet.”