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/.
Key industry supplier Dometic Corp. displayed several new products during this week’s 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., including the new 300 RV toilet and Breathe Easy air purifier.
According to a press release, the lightweight 300 RV toilet utilizes Dometic’s PowerFlush Gravity Discharge, a powerful swirl-jet action that removes waste completely. A three-direction nozzle provides 360-degree cleaning action with minimal water usage. The full-size residential-style seat and china bowl, available in standard or low-profile height, present contemporary styling with a rim design that prevents spills or overflow. An optional hand spray is available. It carries a two-year limited warranty with a 10-year limited warranty on the bowl finish.
Other upgrades include improved directional pressurized rim wash, better foot pedal ergonomics and increased reliability in its water valve and spring cartridge. Installation labor is reduced because there are no shrouds or covers to install, saving money and time.
First introduced as a prototype at last year’s Louisville show, the Breathe Easy has been fully developed into a compact portable unit that purifies up to 800 cubic feet of air.
It combines innovative photocatalytic nano-mesh technology and ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy airborne biological contaminants such as mold spores, bacteria, pollen, viruses, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and chemical fumes. Its process has been proven to reduce volatile organic compounds up to 96% and bacteria and fungi by 99%.
In addition to cleaning the air, the Breathe Easy eliminates unpleasant odors from irritants such as pets, smoke, cooking, cleaners and gasoline. It is UL, California Air Resources Board (CARB), CE, and E-Mark certified and is safe to use around people, pets or plants without ventilation.
The Breathe Easy system’s RV version has the capability to be applied to any existing Dometic RV air conditioner or heat pump system, but being portable, it can be set up in homes, boats, pet areas, trucks – wherever users see a need. Its AC/DC operation and compact size (only about six inches by five inches, and two inches thick) make it extra versatile and able to be used just about anywhere. A worldwide power adapter with plugs and a 12V DC power plug are included. Plus, the UV bulb is easy to replace, and the unit operates quietly with two fan speeds.
When there are just 12 people building trailers in your RV company, ownership is a hands-on activity.
The Goshen (Ind.) News reported that as the large sales staffs of recreational vehicle giants gathered nearby this week to plot their sales strategies for the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) in Louisville, Jason Howard was decked out in blue jeans and a T-shirt and was working hard to rub away the road grime from the front of a new Echo Bandit toyhauler trailer.
“Some of my former colleagues came by and said, ‘gee, we hardly recognized you,” Howard said with a laugh about his work outfit.
Howard and his business partner Mike Scheetz created Echo RV, based in Elkhart, 14 months ago. Since then they have expanded their offerings to three models, the Bandit, the North Bay trailer and the entry-level American Spirit trailer.
This week at the trade show they were seeking out new dealers and working to make sales to their existing dealers, a process that is ongoing year-round but comes to a peak at the end of each year as new RV models are introduced.
“This whole gig cost us $20,000,” Howard said of the outlay needed to display the company’s three products at the show in an effort to expand business.
But cash flows both ways, Howard said in reference to competing with larger companies.
“That’s where it benefits us,” he explained. “As a privately-held company, we don’t have stockholders expecting to get paid on each coach. We can keep our overhead low.”
Howard’s company was competing for dealer dollars against much larger companies at the Louisville Show, including Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC, also of Elkhart.
The Goshen News reported that Joel Richardson of Elkhart had a table full of boxes in front of him at the Heartland display. Normally Richardson sells RVs. Monday (Nov. 28) afternoon he was busy sorting through stacks of “point-of-sale signs.”
“They list the features that make us stand out,” Richards said.
The Heartland display area was outlined with blue flashing L.E.D. strip lights along the carpet of the perimeter. Like many of the larger sales areas, there was a reception counter stacked with plenty of brochures and sales fliers. The company had 39 units on display.
Nearby in Hall 5, Bob Dunn, general manager of Coachmen’s Apex line of lightweight trailers, was showing the company’s line of lightweight towables.
The Apex line has been expanded, literally. The company now offers the trailer in an 8-foot wide unit, 6 inches wider than the 7-1/2 foot units.
Dunn said the lightweight Apex line is meeting the growing consumer trend of downsizing to lighter-weight trailers. He said that trend is being driven by drivers using more “crossover” type vehicles with limited towing capacity.
In addition to the 67 manufacturers, 250 supporting suppliers showed product in Louisville, including John Regan of Middlebury. He owns a fabric mill in North Carolina that supplies material to his former company, Fabric Services in Bristol.
Regan is on the board of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), which sponsors the show. He started Fabric Services in 1988 and has been to every show since. A few years ago he sold the company to the employees and moved on to ownership of Abercrombie Textiles.
“We are big fans of what the industry does,” he said.
Robert W. Baird & Co. issued a client newsletter offering observations gleaned from its “RV field trip” at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. The following are highlights from the report.
Notes from RV field trip. We met with key dealers, lenders, suppliers and manufacturers at the RVIA trade show in Louisville. The mood was more cautious than last year, with many veterans accepting a “new normal” awaiting a better economy. Our models are consistent with this outlook, yet investor sentiment has soured. We acknowledge the lack of catalysts, but valuation doesn’t make sense to us, creating an opportunity for patient investors.
• Industry insiders expect flat retail. Industry veterans, including bankers, dealers, suppliers and manufacturers expect flat retail in 2012 – largely consistent with the expectations embedded in our Thor and Winnebago models. The RVIA industry shipment forecast for 2012 calls for wholesale down 2.6% – roughly consistent with this outlook. After a weaker end to 2011 following more optimistic expectations a year ago, industry players are being more conservative looking ahead.
• Dealer inventory is fresh and balanced. Key floorplan lenders, including GE Capital and Bank of America, report that dealer inventory is fresh and balanced. Aged inventory (over 365 days old) is under 10% and dealers are turning inventory 2.25x-2.50x, a stronger pace than is typical. Investors are concerned that a promotional deal to subsidize wholesale finance costs during the winter may backfire, but lenders we met with were very comfortable with inventory levels.
• Credit trends are unchanged. Credit trends eased last year, stimulating early 2011 sales before the recovery soured. Based on our conversations, access to both wholesale and retail credit remains healthy, but largely the same. Dealers are utilizing 64% of available floorplan capacity, down from 67% last year – and FICO credit scores remain very high (795 vs. 790).
• Outlook. Without a macro catalyst, investor sentiment may struggle to recover, but sector valuations already discount a no-recovery scenario. Net, we see value for patient investors, but acknowledge the need for a much better macro outlook to drive shares higher. A stronger consumer confidence report is a good start.
• Many were concerned about how orders would fare at the Louisville show after open houses in Elkhart, Ind. Manufacturers indicated orders have been solid, and that some dealers who ordered at Elkhart have actually reordered at Louisville.
• Discounting persists, but has not worsened.
• Regions with commodity or agricultural exposure are relatively strong.
Retail Credit Conditions
• Appetite for lending is robust, but demand on the consumer’s part to take on debt is low.
• Possible elimination of second mortgage interest tax deductibility would be a headwind.
• Advances are lower than during peak years (110% of invoice from 140%).
• Average FICO scores remain high (795 from 790).
• Approval rates are high (64%) especially considering more stringent requirements.
• Rates are relatively low (about 4% on average).
Wholesale Credit Conditions
• Wholesale credit is widely available, as lenders look to build their portfolios.
• Curtailments are kicking in earlier than during the boom years (6-12 months versus 18 months).
This summary of a Baird research report is not intended as investment advice. To participate in Baird surveys and receive research reports, contact Craig R. Kennison, CFA, at email@example.com.
Cumulative attendance for the first two days of the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show totaled 8,022, down 522 or 6.1% from the 2010 show, according to figures from the host Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
“Overall numbers are down a little bit, but in talking to members it sounds like they are pleased and are having a successful show,” said Kevin Broom, media relations director for RVIA.
Broom noted that this year’s attendance figures extended a trend that has surfaced for the past few years as the number of dealer personnel dropped while the total number of dealerships represented gained. “We’ll have to go back and look at how many people dealers were sending before the economy turned,” Broom said. “But it makes sense that with dealers cutting back, they would send less people to the show.”
In the “buyers” category, which includes dealers, accessory stores, campground owners and warehouse distributors, attendance reached 3,196, down 288 or 8.3% from a year ago. A total of 1,632 dealerships attended during the first two days of the 2011 show, an increase of 28.2% from the three-day total of 1,273 the previous year.
Here’s a breakdown of the two-day, cumulative numbers, followed by the change from 2010 and percentage difference:
• RV dealers, 2,814, (-301), -9.7%.
• Accessory store, 263, (+19), +7.8%.
• Campground owners, 26, (-2), -7.1%.
• Warehouse distributors, 93, (-4), -4.1%.
• Total Buyers, 3,196, (-288), -8.3%.
• Advertising press, 9, (-6), -40%.
• Editorial press, 43, (-10), -18.9%.
• Finance/guest, 109, (-7), -6%.
• Manufacturer/exhibitor, 1,697, (+93), +5.8%.
• Non-member manufacturers, 47, (+12), +34.3%.
• Supplier exhibitors, 2,167, (-205), -8.6%.
• Non-member suppliers, 371, (-92), -19.9%.
• Non-exhibiting member manufacturers, 10, (0), 0%.
• Non-exhibiting member suppliers, 185, (-7), -3.6%.
• Manufacturers’ agents, 26, (-10), -27.8%.
• U.S./Canadian association guests, 159, (+63), +65.6%.
• Non-U.S./Canadian association representatives/guests, 3, (-65), -95.6%
• Total 8,022, (-522), -6.1%.
• Dealerships, 1,632, (+359), +28.2%.
• Accessory store, campground owner, warehouse distributor, 299, (+99), +49.5%
EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC has added two new twin-axle floorplans to its Element travel trailer series, designed for “larger families and more camping comfort,” according to a news release.
The two new, twin axle 26-foot Element models include the ET26 SRK rear kitchen and the ET26 SRL rear lounge floorplans. EverGreen said the sleeping capacity in both new floorplans increases by one adult. Highlights include:
• ET 26 SRK: The floorplan features a rear kitchen configuration with two lounge seating areas facing each other across the living area. The roadside slideout lounge area has a dining table that converts into a full-sized bed that sleeps two. The lounge curbside converts to sleep one adult. The larger bath features a private enclosure shower with seat, commode and sink. A front bedroom with a 60-inch by 8-inch queen-sized bed is surrounded by headboard and wardrobe storage.
• ET 26 SRL: This rear lounge floor plan has a modified U-shaped lounge/dinette that converts to a full-sized bed. An adjacent chaise next to the entertainment center converts to a single bed to sleep one additional adult. The full kitchen slideout on the roadside is mid-coach. Across from the kitchen, a larger bath features a private enclosure shower with seat, commode and sink
• New Twin Axles: The new 26-foot series Element’s twin 3,500 pound axles increase the GVWR of the camper to 7,000 pounds. EverGreen’s Advanced Fulcrum Tracking (AFT) axle system provides balanced stability and true tracking by placing the axle system further to the rear of the coach. The use of lightweight composites and aluminum forward of the axle help reduce the tongue weight.
• Still Lightweight for Easy Towing: The extension from 25 feet, eight inches to 28 feet, two inches, only increases the tongue weight of the new twin axle series Element by less than 100 pounds. Both floorplans have a dry weight of approximately 4,900 pounds, fully equipped, including options.
American Coach, the luxury coach division of Fleetwood RV Inc., rolled out new innovations and updates to its 2012 American Revolution, American Tradition, American Eagle and American Heritage Class A motorhomes during the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
“We have expanded the reach for American Coach with a shorter floorplan for the Revolution, and additional new features and upgrades for our entire American Coach line-up,” said John Draheim, president and CEO of Decatur, Ind.-based Fleetwood RV, in a press release.
New models include:
• The new 2012 American Heritage 45T bath-and-a-half model boasts an industry-leading 460 square feet of interior living space. The master suite offers a spa shower with hand-laid river rock flooring, dual solid surface sinks and a walk-in wardrobe that doubles as a changing and laundry room. Fleetwood is touting the American Heritage as an iPad controlled coach, featuring a touch-screen tablet that can control lights, fans, audio/video components and the water-pump.
• The updated 2012 American Eagle 45B model is a triple-slide floorplan with 30-inch deep sliderooms for expanded living space. The master bathroom features an elegantly designed vanity with dual solid-surface sinks and increased storage. The American Eagle is available in several wood and décor choices.
• The 2012 American Tradition 42M is equipped with a 42-foot full-wall slideout, state-of-the–art cockpit with dual dash monitor design, handcrafted hardwood cabinetry, name brand appliances and new polished porcelain tile floors with decorative tile inlays.
• The American Revolution 38S model is the shortest motorhome currently available in the American Coach series. The full-wall slide, bath-and-a-half floorplan is spacious with casual entertainment seating for up to 12 people. Features include a pop-up 46′-inch Sony LCD TV that rises out of the deluxe dinette credenza, which offers a user-friendly hide-away laptop station. The interior finishes have also been updated across all décor package options to include new glass and stone tile backsplashes, grooved mirror wall art, wainscot accent molding, bedroom headboard and high-gloss polished porcelain tile floors with glass and stone decorative inserts.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) “Outlook 2012: Up & Away” program that kicked off 49th annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., offered a diverse lineup for the early morning attendees.
The breakfast, held at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC), featured remarks from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and appearances by SPEED Channel personality and NASCAR analyst Rutledge Wood, and country music singer/songwriter Chuck Wicks.
The event was hosted by RVIA Chairman Gregg Fore, and a presentation by Go RVing co-Chairs Bob Olson and Tom Stinnett teaming with RVIA Public Relations Committee Chairman B.J. Thompson and RVIA Vice President of Public Relations and Advertising James Ashurst to recount 2011 accomplishments in the advertising and public relations arenas and provide an overview of new approaches for 2012.
“Even during this time of economic and social upheaval, RVIA public relations has found success because our industry has many strengths,” Thompson told the audience. “We have great products that offer enriching experiences with enduring value and strong consumer appeal.”
Olson said the Go RVing campaign has been a bright spot despite the murky business atmosphere.
“The growth of the RV ownership rate in Go RVing’s target market has been impressive, especially considering the destructive force of the Great Recession,” Olson said. “To stay on track, we’ve kept on message: the RV lifestyle frees you to pursue your passions more easily, more often and more affordably with those who matter most.”
Ashurst announced a new promotional partnership between Go RVing and the Great American Country television network that taps into the strong affinity RVers have for country music.
“Starting in March, Go RVing and GAC will co-sponsor a sweepstakes to win an RV and tickets to the Country Music Association’s famed Music Festival – the ultimate country music fan experience,” Ashurst said. “This will be promoted on air and online with a custom vignette featuring a country music star’s concert tour across the U.S.”
Stinnett told the gathering about Go RVing’s Leads-Plus program that allows industry members to follow up on leads more efficiently and effectively by ranking them by likelihood to purchase.
“Dealers, manufacturers and campground representatives all helped create this program and make it user-friendly,” Stinnett said. “At a time when staff and resources are limited, it’s a big plus for our dealer-tie-in program.”
Fleetwood RV Inc. has “reinvented its Excursion Class A diesel brand,” rolling out an all-new 33-foot floorplan – the shortest of the builder’s diesel pushers – during this week’s 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville Ky.
“The 2013 Excursion gives buyers a choice in an emerging Class A diesel market, without compromising on luxury or function,” said John Draheim, president and CEO of Decatur, Ind.-based Fleetwood RV, in a press release.
Great for entertaining, Excursion features a spacious galley design with polished volcanic series solid-surface countertops, glass-tile backsplash and enough space for an impressive buffet spread. With contemporary interior décor throughout, this RV features a residential-style sectional transformer sofa and dinette within a large 30-inch deep flush-floor slide. The company’s Hide-A-Loft option is also available for RVers wanting more sleeping capacity without sacrificing additional floor plan space.
The main cabin features a drop-down Sony 40-inch LCD Blu-ray ready TV that can be hidden away or prominently displayed. With a touch of a button, the TV lowers out of an overhead cabinet for a perfect viewing angle. The Excursion bedroom features a full-length mirrored wardrobe, an available washer/dryer, a walk-around island queen bed and an optional 32-inch Sony LCD TV.
Excursion debuts with two contemporary interior decors, Manhattan Ebony and Tuscany Toffee, which both feature a trendy reversible bedspread. Solid-wood cabinetry is available in a rich Classic Cognac and or Pearl White. Exterior graphics include: Copper Java, Cocoa Pearl, Gold Starfire and Platinum Frost.
EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC is building its original all-composite Ever-Lite travel trailers in all seven of its popular deep-slide models and two additional floorplans for 2012 – the 27RB and the 29FK – which are showcased at this week’s 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
According to a press release, limiting production of the original Ever-Lite brand makes it the only EverGreen product “built for discriminating buyers looking for an all-composite, more durable, longer lasting, sustainable travel trailer.”
EverGreen said that its exclusive ComposiTek construction makes it 20% lighter than competing brands. The all-composite walls, floor and roof are lighter and stronger than wood products while also resisting rot, mold and mildew. The ComposiTek manufacturing process replaces 50 sheets of lauan plywood in each trailer and thus yields a camper with virtually no harmful VOC off-gassing air — especially noticeable to people with allergies or eye sensitivity to formaldehyde.
Other improvements for all 2012 Ever-Lite models include:
• Redesigned upholstered furniture styling.
• New interior valance designs.
• Skylights and sprayer faucets.
• New planked wood Beauflor laminate flooring.
• Campfire kitchenette (three models).
• Wardrobe slideout (three models).
• Entertainment center.
• New Corian countertops.
• New full front two-tone cap.