Former CrossRoads RV President Mark Lucas is establishing a new company under the revered 62-year-old Yellowstone RV brand name to build travel trailers and fifth-wheels.
Yellowstone — a name dating back to 1948 — will unveil its first products during the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.
Lucas says the company, an outgrowth of Gulf Stream Coach Inc., is a stand-alone firm with its own staff and manufacturing facilities located on Gulf Stream’s Nappanee, Ind., manufacturing campus.
”I thought this would be an opportunity to try some things and test the waters without upsetting the apple cart of a company like Gulf Stream that has such a long history,” said Lucas, who left CrossRoads in September and went to work for Gulf Stream two weeks later.
Lucas said Yellowstone will have the full backing of Gulf Stream and that he will report directly to Dan Shea, Gulf Stream’s towable president and a co-owner of the family-held business. In that sense, he says, the Yellowstone startup is not unlike the divisional approach employed in recent years by industry market share leaders Thor Industries Inc.and Forest River Inc.
”Yellowstone is a company that really has the ability to be nimble and try some things that other companies aren’t willing to try,” Lucas said. ”We have the purchasing power and the ability to floor with all the major institutions and we have a debt-free company with strong financial backing. Beyond that, we are doing things our way.”
Yellowstone, at least initially, will market the existing Canyon Trail line, which will include Canyon Trail XLT travel trailers and fifth-wheels, Canyon Trail ”Advanced Profile” fifth-wheels, Canyon Trail Aztec Edition fifth-wheels, full-profile RidgeLine fifth-wheels and a yet-to-be named smaller fifth-wheel for towing behind pickups with beds as short as 4 1/2 feet.
”The plan is to take on the Canyon Trail brand from the Gulf Stream family, but everything else will be new brands,” Lucas said.
Lucas, for his part, says he sees an opening in the market for a startup like Yellowstone.
”All these big major brands are starting to look alike,” he told RVBUSINESS.com. “They are being constructed the same way. They are being marketed the same way. They pretty much all have the same look and feel. My goal is to be a viable alternative to the big box stores, not being a niche player or an also-brand. We want to be something different than that.”
Yellowstone sales will be led by National Sales Manager Mike Spencer, while design and manufacturing are being led by Engineer Mark Dunithan and Plant Managers Bill Warrick and Chris Shaeffer.
”Yellowstone has all the right pieces,” Lucas said. ”It has the people in place, it has the financial backing in place and it has the purchasing power in place. It absolutely fits in what’s going on in the modern marketplace right now.”
For more information, call (800) 811-0302 or email: yellowstonervs.com.
Thor Industries Inc. announced today (Aug. 17) the appointment of Don Emahiser as president of CrossRoads RV, Topeka, Ind.
Emahiser was recently named president of Thor’s new luxury fifth-wheel division Redwood RV; Redwood will now become an operating division of CrossRoads.
According to Ron Fenech, Thor RV Group president, “Don has quickly proven to be a great leader and team builder and will help drive CrossRoads to even greater success in the marketplace.”
Emahiser, a 12-year industry veteran, previously served as Carriage Inc. president and CEO prior to joining Redwood. “Utilizing the back office resources of CrossRoads will enable Redwood RV to be in an even better position to offer a super competitive luxury fifth-wheel,” says Emahiser.
Emahiser replaces Mark Lucas, who is stepping down as CrossRoads RV president. “Mark Lucas is a talented and valuable member of the Thor team,” said Fenech. “I am confident that we can find a mutually beneficial position within our company for Mark.”
Northern Indiana and southwest Michigan seem to be climbing out of the recession little by little. Unemployment is down and hiring is up.
And a local RV company is leading the way and turning the tables for a troubled industry, according to WNDU, South Bend, Ind.
In an economy that has delivered quite a blow to the RV industry, it may come as a surprise to hear Crossroads RV in Topeka, Ind. is not laying off workers, but hiring 125 new employees in the upcoming months.
“As long as the person is willing to work, willing to create the best product they can, we’re really open to hiring anybody,” said Mark Lucas, Crossroads president. “The nice thing in this area is hard work ethic, farming community, that’s really what you get.”
Elkhart and LaGrange counties are feeling the brunt of the RV cuts. New technology and innovation is now leading to production of smaller, lighter RV’s which can be hauled by your everyday car – not a massive pickup truck.
“Both expandable units which are 19, 18 foot units with tent ends, and ultra-light units called the Slingshot towed by 6-cylinder mini vans, SUVs, today’s truck,” said Lucas.
More than 43,000 square feet of space will be used when production of the Slingshot and Sunset trailers begins as soon as next month.
According to Lucas, sales have been up over the last few months – making way for new production in preparation for spring of 2010.
“We feel that whatever we do affects the community. So when one company slows down, the community feels it,” said Lucas. “So we really feel hiring 125 from the local community will really be a shot in the arm for all local businesses.”
“We’re expecting several hundred applications and I am sure all of them will be great applications, but we expect to get 125 qualified and skilled workers and we’re really excited about it. (We want) to get some of the best people available,” said Lucas.
More than 300 people are employed by crossroads RV.