RV manufacturers can make beds fold out of walls, TVs swivel and couches collapse into kitchens all with the push of a button.
But, as the Los Angeles Times reported, one thing they can’t do with a button: make people buy.
Salespeople were trying their best Sunday (Oct. 17) at the 58th Annual California RV Show, which runs through next Sunday at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. Salesmen rubbed their hands in the cold as families strolled, sipped beer and stopped to watch the football games on the flat-screen televisions that seem built into every recreational vehicle.
Dealers rolled out deluxe vehicles with tile floors and posh beds, compact campers that can be pulled by small cars and 14-foot-high trailers that can fit motorcycles, small cars and all-terrain vehicles inside, thanks to the magic of hydraulics. But that doesn’t change the fact that the economy is still sluggish and many consumers aren’t yet ready to make big-ticket purchases.
“There’s more browsers than buyers,” said Noel Rooney, a salesman with McMahon’s RV in Irvine, who was standing at the show in front of a shiny RV that costs more than $100,000. “It’s because this is something they want, not something they need.”
The market has been sluggish for three years, he said. His former employer recently went out of business.
RV manufacturers have seen slight gains in 2010. They shipped 21,500 units in August, making it the 13th straight month of increased shipments, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). But even that growth is projected to bring shipments to 239,900 this year, a significant drop from the 2006 peak of 390,000 units.
Peripheral industries are affected too.
Ken Scully sells Porta-Bote, a foldable boat that can be attached to the side of an RV and, if you believe the brochures, has been floated in a lake on Mt. Everest. “It seems a little slow,” he said.
In a giant tent next to Scully, vendors hawked foldable bicycles, a portable satellite gadget and an extendable flagpole that can be adorned with flashing lights.
“I just don’t want to spend any money,” said Darren Pullan, an Acton resident who already has an RV.
Douglas and Laura Shewfelt of Sylmar have a small RV without the fancy push-button gadgetry of some of the vehicles at the show. They call it their entry-level RV and use it for trips with their three children.
“Maybe we’ll upgrade in a few years,” Douglas Shewfelt said.
But there will always be people like Kathy and Warren Taylor, of Orange, who were ogling a $550,000 RV at the show (on sale for $450,000!).
They bought their fourth RV in July and have already traveled in it to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. For $175,000, they got tile floors, a diesel generator and a Sleep Number mattress. But it wasn’t the gadgets that clinched the deal.
“We wanted to get it while we could afford it,” said Warren Taylor, of the couple’s decision to make the purchase before they retired and had less income. Added his wife, “It’s a lifestyle we love.”
The owner of an RV dealership sued by Taylor Lautner over a customized vehicle challenged the “Twilight” star Monday (Aug. 30) to use his muscles instead of his lawyers to resolve the case, the Associated Press reported.
Brent McMahon, who owns McMahon’s RV in Irvine, Calif., offered to compete in a push-up contest to settle the breach of contract lawsuit that Lautner filed Aug. 23 claiming the dealership failed to deliver a $300,000 RV on time for use as a dressing room on the set of the actor’s latest film.
McMahon and his attorney denied wrongdoing and said they will vigorously defend the case in court if Lautner, 18, doesn’t accept the challenge.
Lautner’s attorney Robert Barta said the challenge was indicative of problems with the dealership.
“McMahon RV’s response to our client’s legitimate claim further demonstrates the lack of professionalism that Mr. McMahon, his company and his employees have exhibited from the outset, and that compelled the filing of this lawsuit in the first place,” the statement read.
The push-up contest was a “facetious suggestion,” it said.
The dealership said Lautner’s camp had sought a $40,000 settlement to resolve the case, leading to the unorthodox proposal by McMahon. The 47-year-old businessman said if he won the contest, he would donate the settlement money to Children’s Hospital of Orange County.
Barta’s statement said the matter might be settled if McMahon made a $40,000 donation to a charity of Lautner’s choosing.
Lautner’s lawsuit also claimed the RV needed additional work after it was delivered. Barta’s statement claimed the vehicle wasn’t in a safe, drivable condition when it was handed over.
It was unclear what upgrades Lautner sought. McMahon said the vehicle was given a custom paint job.
Lautner gained fame for his role as Jacob Black in the “Twilight” movie series. He is currently filming “Abduction” and will reprise his role as Black in the two-part “Twilight” finale.
Taylor Lautner is suing an RV dealer for “emotional distress,” contactmusic.com reported
The ‘Twilight’ star planned to buy a customised 2006 Country Coach motorhome for $300,000 to use while filming new movie “Abduction” but has launched legal action over his “annoyance” that the vehicle wasn’t delivered on time.
The actor filed a lawsuit at Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday (Aug. 23) against McMahon’s RV after the dealership failed to have the vehicle delivered by the agreed date of June 21.
Taylor, 18, has claimed breach of contract and fraud and is demanding unspecified damages from the company.
The hunky star recently admitted despite his role as werewolf Jacob Black in the ‘Twilight Saga’ propelling him to stardom, he is still down-to-earth enough to help out with domestic chores around the home.
He said: “I help out with the lawn, garbage, dishes. When I come back, I have extra mowing to do. It’s very important to me. I describe it as I live two different lives. I have this life and do what I love to do, but I also have the same exact life as before and nothing has changed.”
The crowds and exhibits were smaller than last year, but manufacturers reported brisk sales at the California RV Show that ended Sunday (Oct. 24) at the Fairplex in Pomona.
”We saw a definite upswing in retail traffic,” said Bryan Walczak, product manager for Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC’s Elk Ridge and Big Country fifth-wheels. ”The biggest thing that we sensed this year over last is that there were more qualified buyers than people who were coming just to look and see.”
Walczak reported that Heartland’s dealer — McMahon’s RV, Los Angeles — sold a considerable number of the Elkhart, Ind.,-based manufacturer’s fifth-wheels during the show.
Attendance at the 11-day Pomona Show was 19,194, a drop of 9% from 2008. And spacewise, this year’s show booked 404,360 square feet of space compared to 857,904 last year, according to Mary ” Mike” Hutya, vice president of meetings and shows for the sponsoring Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
And 21 dealer were represented at the show. ”I was pleased that the dealers started reporting right away that they were making sales and that they were seeing more qualified buyers,” Hutya said.
”We did well; we were up over last year,” said Mark Rosenbaum, sales director for Mike Thompson’s RV, Santa Fe Springs, which represented Keystone, Itasca, Tiffin, Forest River Georgetown and Fleetwood brands at Pomona.
”We didn’t know what to expect. We had better buyers and we saw much better credit than we saw at Pomona last year. People came in with the intent to buy.”
”It was a tough crowd, but we were able to hold our own,” said David Middleton, Gulf Stream Coach Inc.’s national sales manager for motorized. ”We sold a few. It’s all about price right now.”
The Nappanee, Ind.-based manufacturer’s dealer — RV Peddler, Bakersfield, Calif. — displayed 10 Gulf Stream Conquest Class C and Montaj Class A motorhomes.
Sid Johnson, marketing director for Jayco Inc., Middlbury, Ind., said it was apparent that attendance was down.
Nonetheless, he said, Richardson’s RV Center, Los Angeles, sold more than twice the Jayco units than it did at the 2008 Pomona Show.
”The people who did attend the show were very interested in buying,” Johnson said. ”The interesting thing is that interest was across the board — from motorhomes to folding camping trailers. There didn’t seem to be any product type that was moving faster than any other. It was pretty encouraging.”
After years of popping up a tent for camping trips, Tom Carlson of West Covina, Calif., is ready for an RV.
But as it turns out, the years of “tenting-it” may have been worth the wait for Carlson, who with his son Alexander walked among mobile giants on Tuesday (Aug. 18) next to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
McMahon’s RV — a large RV dealer based in Irvine — is currently holding its second RV show and blow-out sale, an event that runs through Sunday, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
That attracted Carlson and his son.
“Everybody’s looking for a good deal,” said Carlson, as his son browsed the inside of a trailer. “And nowadays, with the way the economy is …”
The way the economy is has created a market for buyers, who by 11 a.m. at the lot adjacent to the Rose Bowl began trickling in for the 10-day sale, which started Aug. 13.
Families looking to take a year off of work and roam the country meandered among 40-plus-foot motorhomes. Others looked for more modest trailers. The dealer was even offering “clunker” deals.
It helped that prices were completely slashed. Many of the 200 or so motorhomes and trailers on the lot were repossessions or liquidated inventory that McMahon’s bought up and put back on the market at greatly reduced prices.
In the midst of recession, well known companies such as Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. and Monaco Coach Corp. filed for bankruptcy had to liquidate, and McMahon’s swooped in to pickup the inventory. All told, RVs from about 17 manufacturers were on the lot.
And salesmen were looking to make some deals.
One RV – a Providence Class A – would have sold for $280,000 last year. But this year it’s going for $130,000, one of the salesmen said. While foot traffic to the event is slow during the week, the weekends have been busy, owner Brent McMahon said.
And he and others say they are seeing signs of life in the RV market, which has been hit hard during what is now a year-and-half-long recession. By December, sales of RVs had decreased more than 50% compared to the year before.
But salesman Dennis Hickman said the market is beginning to reset itself, and customers are beginning to come back, as the market begins to make its way up from the bottom.
One sign is that customers are beginning to buy more expensive motorhomes instead of trailers, salesmen said.
“It’s been tough, just like any industry,” McMahon said. “People are going to put off their dreams for only so long.”
The event continues until Aug. 23.