The RV industry will gather for the 50th anniversary of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) National RV Trade Show on Nov. 27–29 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.
According to a press release, the industry’s premier trade event will feature 61 manufacturers and 215 supplier exhibitors showcasing the latest RV models, innovative new products and RV-related services across more than 712,000 square feet of exhibit space.
More than 8,000 RV industry executives, including RV dealers, warehouse distributors, accessory store owners, campground operators and exhibitor personnel from manufacturer and supplier companies, are expected to attend.
The National RV Trade Show will kick off with RVIA’s popular opening program, Outlook 2013: A Golden Opportunity, taking place from 7:30–9 a.m. in the KEC South Wing Ballroom. This year’s show will also feature a robust seminar schedule designed to help dealer attendees boost sales and increase profitability.
These sessions include:
• “Dealing with Uncertain Market Conditions—Not Knowing What Will Happen Next Puts a Strain on Financial Planning” from Randy Sobel of Sobel & Associates from 12:30–1:30 p.m. on Nov. 27.
• “Measuring and Getting ROI from Social Media” from Dennis Galbraith of DrivingSales.com from 8–9 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28.
• “The Power of 5—The 5 Main Ingredients to a Sale” from Michael Rees of A World of Training from 12:30–1:30 p.m. on Nov. 28.
• “Profit Potential All Around Us—Capitalizing on Business Intelligence for Dealers” with Dennis Galbraith from 3-4 p.m. on Nov. 28.
• “The Wow Factor—Making a Difference for Your Customers” with Michael Rees from 8:00–9:00 a.m. on Nov. 29.
All seminars will take place in South Wing Conference Room C108. The cost for each session is $50 in advance or $60 on-site and includes either breakfast or lunch. For more information, contact Huyen ‘Wen’ Deng in RVIA’s Shows Department at (703) 620-6003, ext. 305 or email@example.com.
The National RV Trade Show also offers attendees the opportunity to learn about various industry resources available to them.
Industry members can visit the Go RVing booth to learn more about how to tie into the highly successful “AWAY” national advertising campaign at the local level in 2013. Information about RV technician certification and training opportunities is available at the RVIA Education booth.
For more information about the 50th National RV Trade Show, including the availability of show space, call RVIA’s Show Department at (703) 620-6003, ext. 365.
The move toward setting new dates for the National RV Trade Show took another step forward during last week’s Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Committee Week in Washington, D.C.
According to a press release, the RVIA board voted to support a National Show Committee motion to reschedule the event for Louisville, Ky., in the late September/early October time frame beginning in 2014.
The board took this action in its June 14 meeting with the understanding that before a decision can be finalized further input is needed from the all-industry ad hoc committee studying the industry event calendar and from the Kentucky Exposition Center about potential facility and hotel availability.
In other RVIA show-related news, the board instructed staff to study the possibility of conducting a five-day retail show in Southern California, beginning in spring 2013 if feasible, but no later than spring 2014. This event would be in addition to RVIA’s California RV Show held in the fall.
In other actions, the RVIA Board:
• Appointed Robert Harbin of Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. to an at-large seat and Curt Yoder of Kropf Industries and Dick Grymonprez of Athens Park Homes to the two newly-added recreational park trailer seats on RVIA’s board.
• Moved that RVIA RV member manufacturers be required to build all units with wood products that are compliant with the CARB Formaldehyde Emission Level Requirements – Phase 2, effective July 1.
• Approved a motion from the Recreational Park Trailer Committee recommending that RVIA formally adopt the 2009 edition of the ANSI A119.5 and also the 2011 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) instead of the 2008 NEC that is currently referenced within ANSI A119.5.
• Approved a motion from the Recreational Park Trailer Committee recommending that the RVIA recreational park trailer seal price be set at $150 to include a $75 association fee as well as a $75 market expansion assessment that will be collected and held for future promotional efforts.
• Approved the following locations for RVIA’s Trouble Shooter Clinics: Orange County, Calif.; Alberta, Canada; Elkhart, Ind.; and Denver, Colo., for fiscal year 2013; and Texas; Pennsylvania; Elkhart; and a location in the Southeast for FY2014. Additionally, an increase in registration fees from $15 to $20 per credit hour were approved for FY2013 with a portion of the increase to be used to offer a 10% discount toward RV technician certification testing fees if testing occurs within 90 days of attendance at a Trouble Shooter Clinic.
• Authorized the addition of wholesale shipment statistics for Canadian provinces to the RVIA monthly marketing report.
• Approved holding an RVIA Annual Meeting in March 2013 with specific dates and a location in southern Florida to be determined; holding Committee Week 2013 in early June at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.; holding the September 2013 board meeting in western Canada.
The RVIA board meeting was held at the Willard InterContinental Hotel and capped an intensive week of meetings during Committee Week 2012.
The RVI Leadership Prayer Breakfast during the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., was a successful and enlightening event, according to coordinator Carl Pletcher.
“We had a good turnout for the prayer breakfast, and everyone seemed to enjoy our guest speaker quite a bit,” Pletcher said in a press release.
Nathan Whitaker, co-author of motivational books with sports figures such as Tony Dungy and Tim Tebow, gave a talk about his life path and how it led to writing his latest book, The Mentor Leader, with Dungy about servant leadership.
The event began with a welcome from Bob Olson, chairman of Winnebago Industries Inc. and co-chairman of the industry’s Go RVing Coalition, and an invocation by Dutchmen Regional Sales Manager Jeremiah Grubert. After breakfast, Olson thanked the sponsors and introduced Kenneth Floyd, president of Floyd’s RVs in Norman, Okla., for a scripture reading. Atwood Mobile Products President Tim Stephens then gave a prayer before Olson returned for his introduction of Whitaker.
“We all understand the pursuit of profit and results. We’re hoping for plenty of both this week, so we can pay our debts and keep good people employed. And there’s nothing wrong with that,” Olson said. “The question is how we go about it, and at what cost. What do we hold most dear? Happy workers. A positive environment. The good of the team. And ultimately, a life we aren’t ashamed of when we see the one who gave it to us.”
Whitaker spoke of the evolution of events that brought him to Dungy during his time working for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dungy’s atypical approach to leadership that inspired him and eventually brought them to write together.
“One of the most important years of my life was 2001. The Bucs were 9-7 that year, but Tony’s message never changed: Do what’s in your core. He said leaving the game plan is a sign of panic and panic is not in the game plan,” Whitaker explained.
He also described the concept of servant leadership, reminding attendees that everyone is an example to someone nearby. “Leadership just means influence. You’re not always the boss, chairman of the board, president. But whether it’s 20,000 people or one person who’s watching you, the Lord calls us to be faithful,” he stated, adding, “This is not about Tony, or football, or being wealthy and successful; it’s about being spiritually significant.”
Pletcher said the event was a good one and he was glad to come back again after a hiatus in 2009 due to the recession and a lack of sponsor support. “The plain truth is, we can’t make this thing happen without our sponsors. They were so good to us this year and I can’t thank them enough,” he said.
Platinum sponsors for the 2011 prayer breakfast were Andy Baer, KZRV LP; Wilbur Bontrager, Jayco Inc.; Matthew Miller, Newmar Corp.; and James Huebner, Huebner Petersen. Gold sponsors were Jack Enfield, MOR/ryde International; BJ Thompson, BJ Thompson Associates; Kevin Phillips, Thetford and Norcold; Tim Stephens, Atwood Mobile Products; Thor Industries Inc.; and Fabric Services. Silver sponsors were Kenneth Floyd, Floyd’s RVs; Mike Keller, Keller Marine & RV; John Spader, Spader Business Management; and Carl Pletcher. Bronze sponsors were Bill and Sharon Koster; Chad Stoltzfus, Lake City Bank; Gary Shuder, Newmar; Gregg Fore, Dicor Corp.; Winnebago Industries; and RV-Info.net.
To be added to the mailing list for next year’s event, request literature on spiritual counsel or to make a contribution, contact Carl Pletcher at 574-215-7173 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or the RVI Leadership Prayer Breakfast Committee at 56771 Wedgewood S., Elkhart, Ind., 46516.
Elkhart, Ind.-based Echo Manufacturing LLC, a builder of lightweight toy haulers and travel trailers, announced record sales at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
“We knew our products would attract attention but had no idea we would enjoy this kind of success,” said Jason Howard, national sales manager at Echo. “Our all-new North Bay knocked it out of the park.”
Echo will be increasing production to meet the increase in orders and is planning on adding an additional 15 to 25 employees by the end of January.
In addition, Echo also announced the company has been approved for floorplanning with Ally Financial.
“Ally is an aggressive company that is out to capture market share. We are excited with our new partnership and are looking forward to growing together,” said Mike Scheetz, president of Ech0.
For additional information visit www.echorv.com.
Airstream Inc. reported significant order input during the recently completed National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., for both travel trailers and motorhomes.
According to a press release, “these numbers reflect strong continuing growth for the company, which more than doubled its sales at this important event when compared with last year.”
Airstream said that the Louisville sales come on top of an already strong year where Airstream has experienced a doubling of trailer sales, and a 175% increase on vans.
“The spike in orders is directly related to dealer confidence in inventory turns and strong retail interest from customers who are intrigued by new units Airstream is bringing to market,” the release stated.
“The growing interest in Airstream can readily be attributed to the iconic design, premium quality, and the sense of community our brand represents while on the road,” said Bob Wheeler, CEO for the Jackson Center, Ohio-based Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary. “Furthermore, we are seeing now more than ever that people are multi-purposing their Airstreams for both commercial and personal use, and our market share is growing accordingly.”
Airstream introduce several new products in Louisville, including the extended Interstate 3500 EXT Class B motorhome and the 27-foot Eddie Bauer Airstream travel trailer. Most notably, the company unveiled the “Sterling Concept” trailer designed by Christopher C. Deam, offering strong hints about future design direction.
At its core, Airstream’s stylish trailers and touring coaches are designed to give consumers the ability to experience the outdoors to the fullest. For more information, visit www.airstream.com.
Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. reported today (Dec. 9) that dealer traffic and sales exceeded the company’s expectations, according to a press release.
“The dealer traffic was steady and heavy at times throughout the entire three days,” said Cam Boyer, newly installed president of the Goshen, Ind.-based towable builder. “Dealers were excited about our products and everything new we introduced at the show. Orders were very strong across the board. We are ecstatic with the shows results and see this as a continuation of our very successful September open house.”
Dutchmen introduced over 30 new floorplans at the show along with new features on almost all products. Highlights included the New Infinity 3870FK front kitchen, Komfort 3650FFL front lounge, Kodiak 292TQB toy hauler, Voltage “V” Series and the all-new Dutchmen Mini 814RB.
“I was extremely impressed with the dealer response to all of our products,” said Boyer. “We look for 2012 to be a great year for not only our industry but another growing year for Dutchmen as all of our new products get into the marketplace. Our company has tremendous momentum and we are tenacious about raising the bar to the next level.”
Goshen, Ind.-based Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. unveiled its entry-level Dutchmen 814RB travel trailer at last week’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
According to a press release, the new model features sleek styling with a radius front profile, colored front and rear exterior walls, upgraded graphics and a roomy floorplan.
Standard features include a stereo, microwave, antenna, refrigerator, spare tire, front window with rock guard and rear stabilizer jacks. Dutchmen, a Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary, said three more floorplans are planned for the series.
“The acceptance was phenomenal and orders were very strong. We wanted to create a smaller, value-priced trailer that still looked high end with all the equipment standard. We accomplished that,” said Steve Paul, vice president/general manager for the Dutchmen product group.
For more information on Dutchmen RV and its brands visit www.dutchmen.com or call 574-537-0600.
The 2011 National RV Trade Show attracted local and national media, which published positive stories about the RV industry and its continuing recovery from the Great Recession, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported in a news release.
The Associated Press reported that the RV industry was recovering despite “consumers made jittery by stubbornly high unemployment, sagging home values and a volatile stock market.”
“A lot of tough decisions were made by everybody in that room in order to be here today,” Winnebago chairman Bob Olson told AP after RVIA’s Outlook breakfast. “You didn’t find anybody in the RV industry getting a bailout. We did it the old-fashioned way, with some pretty tough decisions.”
AP also reported that RV manufacturers and suppliers now employ about 375,000 people, up approximately 50% since November 2008.
The story was published in newspapers nationwide, including New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, and more than 100 publications around the country.
The RV show also received coverage from three Louisville TV news stations. Crews from the FOX, ABC and CBS affiliates broadcasted stories from the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC). WHAS, the ABC affiliate, did two live segments — one from inside a luxury motorhome, and the other from inside a fifth-wheel — and taped a segment featuring an innovative travel trailer.
In addition, National Public Radio (NPR) interviewed U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar during his tour of the show floor after his remarks at the Outlook breakfast.
Sales managers and executives of Nappanee, Ind.-based Gulf Stream Coach Inc. reported strong traffic and orders for its products at last week’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., according to a press release.
Steve Jacobs, national sales manager for the Streamlite and Gulf Breeze lightweight trailer brands, cited an all-time first-day sales record for the Louisville event. Jacobs saw particular interest in the new “Champagne Edition” floorplans that feature completely new appointments, a convenient desk with drawers inside and an aerodynamic full front fiberglass cap outside. “As we break new ground in our top-of-the line Champagne Series, the things we learn benefit our XLT and Sport trim levels, too,” Jacobs said.
Randy Baskerville, national sales manager for Gulf Stream’s Ameri-Lite, Conquest and Innsbruck travel trailers, noted, “We really have established a new standard for customer appeal in our Conquest and Innsbruck lines. Dealers had to be reminded they were looking at value-priced, entry-level merchandise.” He said that dealers also discovered an “exciting profit opportunity” in the all-new 259BH floorplan from the high-volume, quick-turn Ameri-Lite brand.
The company said that its Kingsport and TrailMaster travel trailers were also well received during the show. “We accomplished this by focusing on floorplan, eye appeal and price. Dealers left excited to have a conventional trailer with a story to sell,” Ryan said.
Gulf Stream Coach President Dan Shea summed up the success Gulf Stream enjoyed at the show, stating, “The display was a bustling hub of activity as dealers explored the alternatives we offer. Our family-focused independence resounds with a growing number of RV dealers across the U.S. and Canada. We’re helping those dealers build profitable businesses with large protected territories, strong parts and service support, and unique, high-value products.”
Dealers can get complete specifications and floor plan information for the 2012 complete Gulf Stream product lines by contacting Paul Campbell (phone 574-773-7761 x 5178; email email@example.com; or visit www.gulfstreamcoach.com.
Beyond all the sales pitches and brochures, it was obvious to most attendees at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show, Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in Louisville, Ky., which new 2012 recreational vehicle had created the most “buzz” at the show: The Aviator by Forest River Inc., a modern-looking 34-foot travel trailer that should score a lot of style and feature points among today’s younger buyers.
Based on those style points, as well as some clever new high-tech twists integrated into this innovative new towable, RVBusiness’s staff is naming Forest River’s Aviator as “Best of Show” for model year 2012.
As such, the Aviator, along with an array of other products — from Fleetwood’s all-new 33-foot Excursion Class A to Thor Motor Coach’s elegant new 34-foot Palazzo Class A and Jayco’s trendy Seismic fifth-wheel toyhauler — will be featured nationally as one of “RVB’s Top 25 Debuts.”
“We wanted to bring to market a luxury travel trailer that would stand the test of time,” says Kevin McCart, general manager of Forest River’s Surveyor and R-pod product lines as well as the new Aviator division. “There were criteria that we used in development. Not only is it built with composite materials and Celtec cabinetry, we wanted something that would be wood-free. We wanted it to be customer-friendly, and we wanted it to have a distinguishable look that would be unprecedented in the industry.”
Developed by a small team over the past year and a half in a secluded plant at the company’s Goshen, Ind., facilities, the Aviator, designed to resemble an aircraft fuselage, features crowned contoured sidewalls, a one-piece radius fiberglass roof, curved interior ceilings, bonded tinted safety glass windows and a truly wind-cutting, aerodynamic front cap fitted with an integrated “windshield.”
LED-lit interiors include two 32-inch Sony LED HDTV’s – a third is stationed in the outside entertainment center – and are equipped with stainless steel appliances, including 8-cubic-foot Dometic reefers, 1.7-cubic-foot Frigidaire convection microwave ovens and 3-burner Atwood sealed-burner cooktops.
Now here’s where the plot thickens because each unit, retailing in the upper $70,000’s, comes with a Sony tablet computer replacing the remote control devices ordinarily used to operate a unit’s electronics. Aside from controlling the fireplace and TV’s, the tablet provides the RV owner with an interactive guide to how-to videos, tutorials, owners manuals, care and maintenance guides – anything that the customer’s going to need to know about that unit.
“We even programmed in the make and model and serial number of every appliance that’s in that unit – down to the 110 and 12-volt side of the converter – everything is labeled with amp and fuse sizes,” says McCart.
And that same tablet, as part of the Aviator’s “Mobile Onboard Smart Technology (MOST) system, can also stream movies to the unit’s three flat-screen TV’s.
“This is an industry first, and I think this is where it’s heading, or at least I hope it is,” says McCart. “We want to provide the customer with as much information as possible so that they’re not having to rely on the dealer or the manufacturer to answer all their questions to find out how things work. We’ll provide videos on how to light your water heater or how to maintain different things as well as trouble shooting videos.”
McCart, by the end of the Louisville Show, was already thinking warmly of this winter’s retail shows. “We already have shows lined up where we need to get this product into,” adds McCart. “So, we’re going to start off the new year with a bang.”
James McFerrin of Cullum and Maxey Camping Center, Nashville, Tenn., won a new 2011 Harley Davidson motorcycle at last week’s National RV Trade Show in a drawing held by RVT.com.
“This was our fourth Harley drawing,” said Shawn Friesen, RVT.com director of sales and marketing. “We want to give back to the industry that has been so good to us.”
With more than 500 dealers in the United States and Canada using RVT.com’s online vehicle listing service, “the company felt obligated to provide the best possible advertising service and a little extra by giving away a Harley every year,” Friesen said.
This year’s giveaway was a 2011 FXS Softail with a retail value of about $18,000.
“The response this year to our dealer services and the Harley draw was excellent,” said Friesen. “We are starting to experience in the RV industry something that has already begun in the mainstream — a massive transfer of ad dollars from traditional media, such as radio, RV and newspapers, to digital advertising media, such as online classifieds, online display/banner ads, and social media like Facebook, Twitter, and blogging.”
Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC reported that sales and new dealer signups were brisk at last week’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
“Sales were extremely good and exceeded our projections,” commented Coley Brady, vice president of sales. “In addition, we were able to sign many new dealers this year – a very positive response going into a show where attendance was such a big unknown. Although dealers are realistic about the current economic conditions, they’re obviously optimistic about their business’s future.”
Brady attributed the company’s positive results to several factors, including the introduction of an ultra-aggressive stick-and-tin price point travel trailer with the Trail Runner franchise, and innovations such as curvilinear ceilings on all Sundance and Greystone fifth-wheel models.
“We were really pleased with this year’s traffic in our display,” said Steve Lidy, Heartland’s marketing director. “Our booth was busy the first two days, and dealers really responded to our new products, including Torque toy haulers with an optional contemporary espresso interior and new lightweight Wilderness featuring a curvilinear ceiling. And talk about high energy … we had standing room only in Bighorn, as dealers crowded around the giant 55-inch TV in the new front living room.”
Brady added, “The Louisville Show usually sets the tone of the industry for the coming year. If that’s the case, Heartland is looking forward to a very good year, indeed.”
Heartland RV, headquartered in Elkhart, Ind., offers a variety of towables, including travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth wheels and destination trailers. For more information, please visit our website at www.heartlandrv.com.
Confirming what many attendees had come to assume, preliminary figures from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) showed that overall registrations at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show were down 6.2% to 8,159 from 8,696 in 2010, including a 9.4% drop in dealer personnel.
Curiously, however, Kevin Broom, RVIA director of media relations, noted that the “key buyers’ categories” posted gains from the previous year.
“Dealer attendance was down,” said Broom, “but the actual number of dealerships represented was up nearly 27% from last year. Another area that is reflective of the number of buyers that were at the show was the Accessory Store, Campground Owner and Warehouse Distributor categories, which were up 43%.”
In the big picture, says Broom, it wasn’t a bad picture – despite the moderate dip in traffic. “In talking with manufacturers,” he said, “there weren’t that many companies that said they were setting records. But a number of OEMs were pleased with the number of units sold. That’s right in line with shipment projections for next year, which are essentially flat, so it’s not surprising to see steady, but not spectacular sales.”
The actual post mortems regarding the Louisville Show, held Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC), will clearly develop over time as people talk among themselves as to how they see things playing out for the three current national show venues – the Open House, the RVDA Con/Expo and the Louisville Show.
Consistent themes at the moment:
• There seems to be a general agreement, based on the current registration numbers, that the last day of the three-day show – Thursday – is a marginal venture.
• Despite the lower attendance, sales for a number of companies were strong and there seems to be a generally positive outlook within the industry – current newspaper headlines notwithstanding – that 2012 might be a decent year, especially for competitive towable RV manufacturers.
• What effect any of this might have at this point on next year’s shows is, given the current debates within the industry, anyone’s guess.
Here’s what some people were telling RVBUSINESS.com as they emerged from the show:
Coley Brady, vice president of sales, Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC, Elkhart, Ind: “The first two days of the show were excellent – strong traffic throughout and our order counts were very good,” said Brady. “The thing that I was impressed with is we saw success across the board, from the entry-level Trail Runner trailer to our luxury Bighorn and Big Country fifth-wheel brands. It was a nice product mix. Combined with the business we did at the Open House, Heartland RV had a very successful fall. I think it bodes well for the coming year, especially since we picked up some new dealers in Louisville. I know that the forecast is for shipments to be down a bit, which means you’re in a war for market share, but we are expecting our numbers to be slightly up in 2012.”
Dustin Johns, vice president, Travel Lite Inc., New Paris, Ind.: “This was the official launch of our ultra-lightweight ‘idea’ trailer, and we had an amazing show,” Johns said. “Orders far exceeded expectations. We showed three floorplans – there will be two more in the spring – and we were signing dealers throughout the first two days. Our core truck camper lines also did very well. We were showing all-new interiors, and dealers loved the new look. As a result of the show, we will undoubtedly have to increase production on the ‘idea.’ …I couldn’t be happier with the Louisville Show. It was the perfect venue to launch our first travel trailer line.”
Derald Bontrager, president, Jayco Inc., Middlebury, Ind.: “We were very pleased with the amount of activity at the display and the attendance at the show. We’re very encouraged by the positive dealer attitudes for the coming year. We were busy the whole time and did a lot of business at the show. Looking back, Tuesday and Wednesday, start to finish of the show, we were busy and pleased with the flow of dealers through our display. So, again, we were very encouraged. We saw activity in all categories from our popup campers all the way up to our motorhomes.”
Bob Tiffin, president, Tiffin Motorhomes Inc., Red Bay, Ala.: “From our perspective, the show was really good,” Tiffin told RVBUSINESS.com. “We took a lot of orders and all of the dealers were upbeat. They think they’re going to have a real good year, and I was surprised at all of the orders we took. You know, the attendance at the show, as far as I could tell, was off dramatically, but I guess at least 85% of our dealers were there.
“What I think is going on, based on surveys, is that the dealer count nationally is down as much as 50% from what it was back in 2004-06, and I just don’t think that we have the numbers of people that walk through the show anymore. That’s what I can see. You know, we used to have a lot of prospects that would come through and we don’t have those stragglers any more that come through that took up a lot of time and who just came to gaze and look at things. Those folks are not there anymore, and that’s the reason that the show looks a little sparse, I think.
“But I think that the people who have a real keen interest in the show are there. You know, that show could actually be cut down to a two-day show with tear-down the third day. In fact, I don’t know that that’s not what we’re actually doing now. …The show either needs to do that or we need to figure out some way to do more activities to draw more dealerships – maybe have more sales training, maybe have more service training at the show, do something, you know, that would draw more people in.
“Having said that, I think the business is actually on the upswing somewhat. Now I think the Class A motorhomes, the heavy motorhomes that we build, are going to be flat for another year or so. But the towables and the specialty vehicles in the RV business, I think that calendar year 2012 is definitely going to be good for them.”
Mike Snell, vice president of sales, Monaco RV LLC, Wakarusa, Ind.: “The show went really well for Monaco,” said Snell. “It was a lot better show than last year. We sold more product than we did last year – motorized and towable — and our dealers and our prospect dealers were all very excited about our product. We picked up several new dealers. For us, it was a better atmosphere and the dealers seemed to be very happy with the direction we’re going with our product.”
Matt Zimmerman, vice president of sales, Keystone RV Co., Goshen, Ind.: “Keystone was pleasantly surprised by how we did,” noted Zimmerman, who was recently promoted to his current position. “We didn’t know what to expect with the Open House, and obviously we had a huge increase year-over-year in sales at the Open House. …We came out even or a little better over the last Louisville, even though you could tell the traffic was off. Quite honestly, if the two somehow became one (Open House and Louisville), whatever that means, manufacturers would see similar results.”
Jeff Rank, president, Prime Time Manufacturing, Wakarusa, Ind.: “My first impression was that traffic was down a little bit, but the people who were there seemed to be in the mood to buy. Most dealers were optimistic about the spring season, which was extremely encouraging to us.
“We all sort of expected that traffic might be down a little bit because of the Open House, but I was thrilled that dealers were willing to buy. …We had a fantastic show. I couldn’t have been happier. Having said that, there were dealers who did not come to the show who did come to the Open House. The Open House certainly had an effect, but there were lots of dealers who were at both shows.
“There were dealers who told us there was no reason for them to come (to Louisville) because they came to the Open House. What will be interesting is that a lot of dealers who were there said there was not a lot to see that they hadn’t seen at the Open House. It was a realization by some dealers that they didn’t have to come. That’s sort of a red flag concerning who will come to the show next year.”
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.