Multi-location Southern California dealer Mike Thompson’s RV Super Stores has added Forest River’s FR3 crossover Class A motorhome to its RV product offerings, according to a press release.
“We are excited about this new product because it is just what many current and future RV buyers are looking for,” said Sales Manager Mark Rosenbaum. “The Forest River FR3 has been created to combine the advantages of both Class A and Class C motorhomes.”
The unit features a panoramic front windshield, additional basement storage and multiple slideouts for a spacious interior. Standard amenties include the “Crashpad” bunk bed and vintage cherry cabinetry.
For more information on Mike Thompson’s RV Super Stores, visit www.mikethompson.com.
Multi-location dealer Mike Thompson’s RV Super Stores was ranked as California’s No. 1 dealer in unit sales for 2012, according to figures compiled by the California Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).
Representatives for the association noted that the totals, collected from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, reflected registrations for new RVs. Sales figures from Statistical Surveys Inc. have not yet been tabulated for the full year.
In a press release, Mike Thompson’s RV claimed the top ranking in motorhomes, towables and overall sales for the state.
“Finding out we are once again the customer choice of RV dealers in California is a huge accomplishment for the staff of Mike Thompson’s RV,” said Mark Rosenbaum, general manager for Mike Thompson’s RV. “I often talk about the staff as family. We operate every single day with the same goal and that is to provide the best possible experience for our customers. We are a focused team from our detail department, sales staff, accounting office, management group, service department and trusted manufacturers.”
He added, “A third party survey by Muse Surveys, (Riverside, Calif.) completed in December 2012 shows on average 95% of our customers would purchase from us again or recommend us to a friend.”
For more information visit www.mikethompson.com.
The I405 Orange County Spring RV show hosted by California-based dealer Mike Thompson RV Superstores posted a record number of customers in its opening weekend, according to a press release.
The annual event, which started June 22 and runs through July 1, is marking its 10th year at the company’s Fountain Valley location. In addition to RV sales, the show features seminars to educate consumers about the RV lifestyle, along with factory representatives to provide in-depth knowledge on products.
“School is out, the weather is at its best and the local beaches and mountains are waiting for families to come enjoy their beauty in a new or pre-owned trailer or motorhome,” said Mark Rosenbaum, sales manager for Mike Thompson RV. “This is an exciting year for Mike Thompson RV as it marks the 10-year anniversary of the OC 405 RV Show. Each year the show improves with more to offer the consumer, new improved products, and the largest selection of RV’s ever offered in multiple price points.”
In addition to Fountain Valley, Mike Thompson RV operates California stores in Colton, Sante Fe Springs and Cathedral City. For more information visit http://www.mikethompson.com.
The new 2012 Forester Class C motorhome by Forest River Inc. was showcased this week at the Ultimate OC 405 RV show sponsored by Mike Thompson RV, going on now through May 6.
“Mike Thompson RV is proud to be a representative of Forest River and their product lines,” said Mark Rosenbaum, sales manager for Mike Thompson RV. “We first partnered with Forest River in 2009 with the Georgetown Class A motorhome.”
He added, “This new Class C Forester is one of the best values I have seen in a motorhome. It is the perfect solution for anyone including families. One of the models features the ‘Kid’s Zone’ specifically designed to create special space for the children’s enjoyment.”
Built with Azdel substrate, a lightweight composite that replaces luan, the Forester is formaldehyde-free and moisture resistant. Due to its eco-friendly construction, the line has been certified green by Elkhart, Ind,-based TRA Certification.
Mike Thompson RV Superstores has five Southern California locations. For more information visit http://www.mikethompson.com/.
Multi-location California dealer Mike Thompson’s RV will be hosting the 10th edition of the I-405 Orange County RV Show Jan. 20-29.
According to a press release, in addition to RV sales the show will feature seminars and on-site manufacturer representatives to assist new RVers in learning more about the lifestyle and update current RVers on new technology offered.
“Our customers become part of our family and we want to make sure every customer is comfortable and enjoying their RV,” said Sales Director Mark Rosenbaum. “This is our 10th year anniversary so we want to make it special for our customers at the I-405 RV Show.”
A full range of products will be on display, including the Shockwave toy hauler by Forest River Inc., which Mike Thompson’s RV recently took on.
“Toy haulers represent the largest growth of 2011 at Mike Thompson’s RV – this segment is up 123% over the previous year,” said Rosenbaum. “Customers want to take their toys with them and still have the comforts of home. Shockwave has outstanding cutting-edge interiors and comes equipped with the amenities that the off-road enthusiast is looking for.”
For more information visit www.mikethompson.com.
MVP RV Inc., a Southern California-based manufacturer, has a visionary strategy that continues to chart a new course in the toy hauler trailer industry, according to a news release.
As reported earlier this week, Riverside, Calif.-based MVP RV has launched its newest product at the Mike Thompson RV Winter Super I-5 Show going on now in Santa Fe Springs through Jan. 9. The new Impact was unveiled on Sunday (Dec. 26) at the start of the 15-day show.
The Impact launches with two models with four more to follow. The 18SS features a front side bed, side bath, and two facing sofas in the rear creating maximum sleeping capacity. The 22SS includes the same features and in addition two rear electric beds. Both are equipped with a generator, microwave, awning, fuel station, and much more.
The Impact will be available at all Mike Thompson’s RV locations beginning in January with a special introductory price for the public posted at the store locations.
MVP RV is a privately held RV manufacturing company which recently moved into its current location. The company paid $18.6 million cash for the 500,000 -square-foot facility sitting on 36 acres. The facility was originally built by now-bankrupt Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. MVP RV’S billionaire business partner Winston Chung is a most known for his invention of the Rare Earth Lithiumion Battery. Chung and the management team at MVP RV believe that now is the best time to move forward in the RV business. MVP RV is a debt-free company.
To learn more about Chung, visit www.thunder-sky.com.
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.”
Editor’s Note: This story appeared in the Riverside, Calif., Press-Enterprise and recounts the history of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. The newspaper prepared a special Fleetwood interactive package consisting of slideshows, archived stories and a video as well as an opportunity for readers to submit their own images. To view that package. go to http://www.pe.com/reports/2009/fleetwood/ <http://www.pe.com/reports/2009/fleetwood/>.
When Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. needed room to expand its Anaheim factory 46 years ago, its founder looked east, where there was ample land and labor.
John Crean, a pioneer in the recreational vehicle industry, didn’t want a fancy headquarters, “so Riverside suited them fine,” his son, Andrew, said. “It was strictly business.”
That business thrived, spending more than two decades on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. businesses.
Fleetwood’s presence in Riverside spawned a West Coast hub for other RV and manufactured housing suppliers and builders.
But a failed expansion starting in the 1990s buried the company in debt that it couldn’t overcome.
Today, a few executives remain to sell off the last vestiges of the RV and housing empire and finalize the company’s bankruptcy by October. Factories scattered around the country have been shuttered or sold. The RV and housing divisions have been split and have new owners in different parts of the country.
Fleetwood Enterprises, the Riverside-based company founded by John Crean and already all but gone, is about to dissolve completely when its bankruptcy becomes final in the next few months.
The company may not have been the first RV manufacturer in Southern California, “but they overshadowed all that came before,” said Allen R. Hesselbart, historian at the RV and Manufactured Housing Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind.
The milestones were many — selling $1 billion worth of RVs in 1989 and $1 billion of manufactured homes in 1994. The company broke into the Fortune 500 in 1973 — 230th at its height — and stayed on the list for nearly three decades.
“They filled the shoes as the largest manufacturer for both industries,” carrying the RV and manufactured housing businesses for at least 25 years into the 1980s, Hesselbart said.
For at least one kid growing up in Riverside, the company was a capitalist inspiration. Jeremy Burkhardt, CEO of Riverside-based Speakercraft, said his company’s success is owed in large part to a business deal with the RV maker.
A Fleetwood executive walked into the Speakercraft retail store in the early 1980s to buy box speakers, and Speakercraft got a contract to install its hidden in-wall speakers inside Fleetwood’s motorhomes.
“That was our first million-dollar customer,” Burkhardt said. “If it wasn’t for Fleetwood wanting to put our in-wall speakers in their motorhome, it wouldn’t have led to the Speakercraft brand.”
Fleetwood earned a reputation as an innovator. Crean designed the first motorhome with storage underneath, now an industry standard. Fleetwood also built a vehicle big enough to stand up to dinosaurs, the digital and animatronic stars in “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” and comfortable enough for Pope John Paul II to use before his Mass at Dodger Stadium in 1987.
Not so Atypical
It was a place where someone could start as an assistant and end up on the company’s board of directors.
It also had the same challenges most businesses encounter — an economy outside its control, decisions about growth, power struggles and lawsuits.
Southern California economist John Husing said Fleetwood’s closure is a “big deal” and another hit at a time when the region’s economy and unemployment rate can’t take much more.
“It couldn’t happen at a worse time,” he said.
Every dollar Fleetwood spent on payroll or contracts or supplies was spent at least one other time by the recipients.
“When you cut off the gold mine, you end up with a ghost town,” he said.
As for Fleetwood’s legacy in Riverside, its current CEO likes to think it was just like any other company that called the city home.
“We were just another significant employer,” said CEO Elden Smith, who started in 1968 as a trainee and eventually led Fleetwood’s RV division before retiring. The board of directors tapped him to return in 2005.
It employed 21,000 people nationwide at one time, with a few thousand workers at the company’s Riverside headquarters and several Inland plants. When it filed for bankruptcy in March, it had 609 Inland workers.
Smith experienced the industry’s wild growth in the 1970s and ’80s, but also the severe challenges from the oil embargoes of that era that almost brought the RV business to a halt.
“It was a real roller coaster ride,” Smith said recently.
A new Fleetwood RV has emerged in Decatur, Ind., after a New York equity firm bought it in a bankruptcy bid. The manufactured housing division was sold to Phoenix-based Cavco Industries. Those companies have a stake in two Riverside factories; whether they will ever use them is unclear.
Now, dealers will get a Fleetwood that’s on solid financial footing again, “which they haven’t had for quite some time,” Smith said.
Mike Thompson’s RV has been one of Fleetwood’s largest dealers, with four Southern California locations, including one in Colton.
Frank DeGelas, the dealerships’ owner, said he’s glad a new Fleetwood emerged, even though it’s based several states away instead of just around the corner.
“If that’s what it requires for them to be successful, that’s a pill I have to swallow,” he said.
DeGelas has two photos hanging in his office — one of his wife and the other a black-and-white picture of John Crean handing him the keys to the very first Bounder that rolled off Fleetwood’s Riverside assembly line.
The Bounder became one of Fleetwood’s most popular RV models.
“I knew it was something special, but it was stone ugly,” DeGelas said of the Bounder.
“Fleetwood was a huge part of our success in our earlier years,” he said. “A lot of what we did was ride their coattails.”
Suppliers moved into the neighborhood to surround the RV maker in its heyday, and with more suppliers, other RV companies arrived to wrestle market-share from the industry’s giant.
“It was Fleetwood and the rest of us,” said Tom Powell, founder of Thor California and now owner of Pacific Coachworks in Riverside.
There had been Fleetwood — “they were the 500-pound ape all over the country,” Powell said — and Thor California, Weekend Warrior, National RV, Forest River Inc.and Cobra.
All of those manufacturers, among others, have since been sold, moved or gone out business.
For the RV makers who remain — Powell included — the cost of supplies has gone up as more vendors have been driven out of business.
When Smith came out of retirement, the company already was steeped in debt amassed in the late 1990s. Executives had spent hundreds of millions buying up shops to sell its manufactured homes directly to the public to fend off competitors.
As soon as he returned, Smith started consolidating factories and selling off the housing retail outlets that proved unprofitable, spending the next few years whittling Fleetwood’s losses.
But the price of fuel was rising, and by the time it stabilized, global financial unrest took hold last year when Wall Street powerhouse Lehman Brothers failed. The ensuing credit crunch and banks’ reluctance to lend made it difficult for consumers to buy RVs, and for dealers to stock their showrooms with new models.
Fleetwood got the cash it needed to survive the winter, but the stock started to free-fall, losing its place on the New York Stock Exchange.
“We were doing all the right things, but we were caught in that once-in-a-lifetime recession,” he said.