Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles recently introduced an all-new line of Coleman “automotive” camping trailers designed to leverage the tenting community’s allegiance to the iconic brand while tapping into a growing demographic base wanting a popup that can be towed by the family vehicle.
“We are targeting the 44 million-plus people that go tent camping,” said Scott Tuttle, president of the Wakarusa, Ind.-based Thor Industries Inc. divison, citing current figures compiled by the America Outdoors Association. “The Coleman automotive tent camper allows them ‘to get off the ground’ when the family goes camping. It’s for those people that have no interest in buying a pickup truck or large SUV. They want an RV they can tow with smaller fuel-efficient cars, like a Prius or even a Smart Car.”
Tuttle emphasized that the Coleman name would spark instant brand awareness with the RV consumer, building a legion of loyal RVers through a longtime licensing agreement between Coleman and now defunct Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. The line was later resurrected by Pennsylvania-based FTCA Inc., which closed up shop in 2010.
“Thor’s Dutchmen division had a contract with Coleman to build travel trailers,” explained Tuttle. “We were able to work out an exclusive licensing agreement with Coleman to build ultra-light automotive camping trailers.”
The line includes four models offered in 6-foot, 8-foot and 10-foot lengths with most retailing for under $10,000. Built entirely of lightweight aluminum and composites, the Coleman camper is designed for longevity. Exteriors are available in a wide selection of colors, allowing the camper to be color-matched to a family’s car or minivan.
“The 8- and 10-footers can sleep six people,” Tuttle told RVBUSINESS.com. “The 6-footer can sleep four and be towed by a trike motorcycle.”
Tuttle reported that Livin’ Lite introduced the Coleman camper around 30 days ago. Currently, the series is sold exclusively in Camping World Inc. locations, which Tuttle said offers another tie-in to the camping community.
“First off, Coleman is the No. 1 brand in tent camping,” he said. “And Camping World stores are a favorite destination for campers, where they can buy all their gear and accessories. It’s a perfect fit.”
Tuttle noted that the Coleman line also represents an extension of the original business plan for Livin’ Lite, which entered the market 11 years ago with its ultra-light Quicksilver automotive camper.
“We proved there was an untapped audience out there with our Quicksilver line,” he said. “It’s a demographic that, quite frankly, was overlooked. The popup segment has been dwindling for a number of years because units kept getting bigger, heavier and more expensive.
“Builders got away from what was considered a bridge product – bringing campers into the RV industry. The Coleman camping trailer is a true entry-level product. There’s definitely a market, now we just have to build our dealer network.”
Wakarusa, Ind.-based Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles reported that its Game Day Trailer will be featured as part of FOX News Channel’s “Ultimate Tailgate Experience.”
According to a press release, Livin’ Lite’s trailer will be showcased during FOX Super Bowl Sunday coverage. The unit is going to be filmed live on location at FOX’s downtown Manhattan studio during its Sunday morning “Fox and Friends” show. One segment will run between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. while the other segment will be between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.
In the first segment, Livin’ Lite National Sales Manager Mike Tribble will be demonstrating the unique features of the Game Day trailer. In the second segment, the trailer will be featured as celebrity chef and author Eric LeVine shares ways to plan the perfect tailgating Super Bowl Party.
Livin’ Lite’s Game Day Trailers are equipped with big screen TVs; two Xbox systems; two bars; a kitchen; two football leatherette sofas; a stainless steel grill; a stainless steel kegorator; and his-and-her bathrooms.
For more information, visit www.LIVINLITE.com
The announcement of the purchase of Wakarusa, Ind.-based Livin’ Lite RV LLC sits well with Town Manager Jeff Troxel, according to a report by the Elkhart Truth.
“I think it’s great, I really do. I talked with Scott (Tuttle, founder of Livin’ Lite). He’s excited about this,” Troxel said Wednesday (Aug. 28), the day after Elkhart-based Thor Industries made the announcement.
“I think it’s a win-win,” Troxel said. Between Forest River’s purchase of the Utilimaster campus, Thor’s purchase of Livin’ Lite and the old Monaco campus, the addition of a downtown gun shop and a downtown refurbishing business, plus growth in two other local businesses, “things are good around here,” Troxel said.
The RV industry continues to see significant growth, and Livin’ Lite fits in with what Thor President and CEO Bob Martin described earlier this month as the company’s growth strategy.
Livin’ Lite focuses on lighter models that can help serve as entry models, a key niche for Thor’s overall recreational vehicle strategy.
“People focus on the baby boomers, but we’re seeing generation X, generation Y coming in, and we build the entry level products that they can afford. We’re focused on the whole spectrum, because we build everything from the entry level trailer to a $300,000 motorhome,” Martin said.
“Once they join the Thor family, we want the experience to be good so they can continue on.”
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Scott Tuttle needed a partner. The founder of Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles LLC had always anticipated expansion, but Tuttle’s business plan didn’t account for the type of “explosive growth” that the Wakarusa, Ind.-based company has experienced since its founding in 2002.
“We were to the point where we had grown so quickly that taking that next step was going to be a challenge,” said Tuttle, also a former co-founder of Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC. “I was going to have to personally finance that next growth stage, so I started thinking about a partner that could help us.”
Tuesday (Aug. 27), Tuttle’s “next step” took shape as Thor Industries Inc. announced the acquisition of Livin’ Lite, adding the company to its stable of towable manufacturers (see previous story by clicking here).
“It’s really a perfect fit,” Tuttle told RVBUSINESS.com. “I considered private equity firms, but that’s just a cash infusion. With Thor, we gain a huge dealer network, plus all their experience, expertise and resources. It made perfect sense. It’s one thing to grow, it’s another to grow right.”
Livin’ Lite also fits into Thor’s growth plan. Offering a product mix featuring a unique aluminum-and-composite construction that Tuttle said “has created a new weight class,” Livin’ Lite fills a gap in Thor’s portfolio.
“Adding such a creative RV maker to Thor’s strong stable of brands will enable us to expand our industry-leading position in new product development into camping trailers and truck campers,” said Thor President and CEO Bob Martin in Tuesday’s press release, adding that Livin’ Lite is expected to generate sales of approximately $24 million for calendar year 2013. “We see many opportunities for expanding Livin’ Lite’s market presence through the Thor dealer network, and the ability to leverage their lightweight aluminum and composite construction technology in other Thor products. This transaction represents a solid example of executing our strategic plan to grow our RV presence through the acquisition of brands and technologies that complement our existing business.”
Also a factor was Thor’s recent acquisition of the former Navistar Inc. facilities in Wakarusa. The vast complex was left vacant when Allied Specialty Vehicles purchased Navistar’s RV assets then moved operations to its campus in Decatur, Ind.
“Livin’ Lite has four buildings in Wakarusa – two that are just four years old – and we’re not going to abandon those facilities,” said Tuttle, noting the company employs around 120 workers. “But we are looking forward to possibly expanding our production into some of Thor’s buildings.”
Particularly with the pending launch of several new product lines. Adding to its lineup of travel trailers, toy haulers, camping trailers and truck campers, Livin’ Lite will be introducing a new fifth-wheel at next month’s Elkhart County RV Open House along with the Bearcat brand of off-road campers.
“We will be bringing to market fifth-wheels that hit three different segments,” Tuttle said. “At Open House we will show fifth-wheels in our Camplite ultralight series and our Quicksilver VRV line, which will be a bigger unit. Then, at Louisville, we’ll debut a ‘micro’ fifth-wheel” – a super light fifth-wheel that nobody else is making.”
Tuttle said the Bearcat would extend its camper lines, offering more rugged, durable construction.
“We have always had off-road packages for our campers,” he said. “But the Bearcat will be built to haul ATVs and motorcycles that people normally tow with a trailer. They’ll have all-terrain tires and come in all shapes and sizes while still hitting an affordable price point.”
Beyond that, Tuttle said Livin’ Lite is poised to accommodate the new trend toward lighter-weight trucks and even all-electric vehicles that are in the planning stages.
“Because of new emission regulations, truck manufacturers, and the auto industry in general, are building units with better gas mileage,” he said. “But that means they will have less power, especially an all-electric truck. When that hits the market, we will have a vehicle that will work.”
Thor Industries Inc. today (Aug. 27) announced that it acquired the assets of innovative recreational vehicle maker Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles LLC through a wholly-owned subsidiary. According to a press release, the purchase is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed by Aug. 30.
“We are pleased to welcome Livin’ Lite to the Thor family of RV brands. Adding such a creative RV maker to Thor’s strong stable of brands will enable us to expand our industry-leading position in new product development into camping trailers and truck campers,” said Bob Martin, president and CEO for Elkhart, Ind.-based Thor. “We see many opportunities for expanding Livin’ Lite’s market presence through the Thor dealer network, and the ability to leverage their lightweight aluminum and composite construction technology in other Thor products. This transaction represents a solid example of executing our strategic plan to grow our RV presence through the acquisition of brands and technologies that complement our existing business.”
Founded by former Heartland RV LLC co-founder and executive Scott Tuttle, Wakarusa, Ind.-based Livin’ Lite is known for its advanced lightweight aluminum construction applied to a variety of smaller RVs, including travel trailers, toy haulers, camping trailers and truck campers. Livin’ Lite also markets its products in partnership with a number of leading consumer brands including Jeep. Having recently been named to Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest growing companies for the third consecutive year, Livin’ Lite is expected to generate sales of approximately $24 million for calendar year 2013.
“We are excited to join forces with Thor, the leading company in the RV industry, and we are looking forward to the new growth opportunities we should see as a result,” said Tuttle, president, CEO and founder of Livin’ Lite. “We have worked diligently to grow Livin’ Lite over the past five years and expect to extend that growth as we bring the distribution, operational and financial strengths of Thor to bear on our business. As the newest company to join Thor, we also expect to add to our combined development efforts as we apply our proprietary technology to a broader array of existing product lines and bring our combined market strength to camping trailers and truck campers.”
Thor expects to offer Livin’ Lite’s current 35 models to its current dealer network upon closing of the transaction. The company also expects Livin’ Lite will continue to operate out of its existing Wakarusa facilities with minimal disruption to its current business resulting from the acquisition.
Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from an article in Truck Trend magazine profiling Wakarusa, Ind.-based Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles LLC. To read the entire piece click here.
Livin’ Lite designs and builds affordable, lightweight, towable RVs and truck campers. It offers a complete lineup of towable RVs, sport/utility RVs, VRVs (Versatile Recreational Vehicles), and soft- and solid-wall truck campers. The company’s state-of-the-art truck campers pair nicely with quarter- and half-ton pickups. There are other companies, such as Coleman, Scamp, and Aspen, who also manufacture small towables, but Livin’ Lite is one of the few that specializes in this size towable.The MSRPs for Livin’ Lite units begin under $4000 and go up to $19,000. Dry weights for a camping trailer start at 600 pounds, and the top dry weight on the travel trailer doesn’t exceed 2999 pounds. In most cases, you don’t need a large and powerful tow vehicle.
Livin’ Lite uses no steel in its trailers — only aluminum and composite materials. Even the chassis on the company’s largest travel trailers and VRVs feature welded aluminum structural members. All towable products come equipped with a Dexter independent torsion-bar suspension. An important benefit of using aluminum is that, over time, the chassis remains unaffected by the harsh punishments undeveloped roads can dish out. The interior floor and ceiling panels, structural members in the walls and roof, all exterior surface skin, and interior cabinets are fashioned from aluminum. Composite material is used for countertop and tabletop surfaces and for the windows.