The RV industry in central Oregon was one of the hardest hit by the recession. Now, RV makers and dealers are rebounding, KEZI-TV, Eugene, reported.
Guaranty RV in Junction City and Monaco RV Inc. — now operated by Navistar International Corp.– in Coburg, both say they’ve seen a big uptick in sales.
Guaranty RV credits that to consumers’ new buying habits.
Guaranty RV General Manager Shannon Nill says they’ve had a 35% increase in sales so far this year compared to 2009, and they sold six RVs in Brookings this weekend alone.
Nill says higher-end diesel motorcoaches are selling the least.
Buyers are going instead after pre-owned and even some of the new models up to $100,000.
“People right now are looking for a bargain, and they’re setting their sites a little lower on the cost of the motorhome or trailer. Pre-owned has been very popular this year because of that reason,” said Nill.
Guaranty RV does business with Monaco, which was forced into bankruptcy and is now owned by Navistar.
Marketing Director Ryan Lee says motorhomes have seen the biggest increase in sales, because they were hit the hardest with the down economy.
Overall, Monaco’s sales are up 70% compared to this time last year.
Nill says their increased sales have also allowed Monaco to hire more workers.
Forest River Inc. has unofficially taken over the No. 1 position in retail sales of motorized RVs.
The Elkhart, Ind.-based manufacturer quietly took over the top spot from perennial leader Winnebago Industries Inc. based on recent retail sales reports from Statistical Surveys Inc. (SSI).
SSI reports separate retail sales figures for Forest River and its subsidiary, Coachmen RV, which it acquired from Coachmen Industries Inc. late in 2008.
However, when combined, the Forest River sales for April as well as for 2010 year-to-date clearly exceed Winnebago and other leaders, Thor Industries Inc., Fleetwood RV Inc. and Monaco RV Inc. Forest River Inc./Coachmen had a 21.5% market share year-to-date through April to Winnebago’s 19.5%.
However, the change at the top won’t necessarily be recognized by SSI.
“Forest River has requested that these companies remain separate in our reports,” Tom Walworth, SSI president, told RVBUSINESS.com. “This is not unusual in that we have done this in the past for other companies.”
Will SSI consider combining them at some future date as well, or do you prefer to keep them separate?
“This would be up to Forest River; in some cases it would cause problems to the dealer body. If Forest River has a dealer in the area and a Coachmen dealer in the area, they will compete with each other. If you put them under the same parent company, there may be state franchise laws that would not allow this. This would be similar to the auto side of the business that Chevy and Buick having separate Identify.”
Walworth said in the final analysis, it’s “up to the parent company to decide how they would like to treat this. I do not think that Forest River is driven on market share; they would monitor the improvement in market share as a sign of improvement for a brand or a division. In the motorhome industry there are rental contracts that will spike the market share of a manufacturer from time to time; since we do not track rentals, it would be difficult to identify this. You would want to monitor the year-to-date number to see if this will hold in the future months.”
A sprawling RV service center in Wildwood, Fla., built in 2003 near the junction of I-75 and the Florida Turnpike by now-bankrupt Monaco Coach Corp., has become a full-service motorized and towable RV dealership.
Alliance Coach Inc. opened in September under new ownership — 10 days after the 62,000-square-foot service center went on the auction block during Monaco Coach Corp’s. Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
”When Monaco built this, they needed a factory service center on the Eastern Seaboard,” said Cy Whisnant, Alliance Coach general sales manager, who for 15 years was vice president of Tennessee-based Buddy Gregg Motorhomes overseeing that company’s sales operation in Lakeland, Fla., until it closed.
The new owners are Brett Howard and Carolyn Champion, who had operated the facility as Monaco employees, and Holiday Rambler motorhome owner Alan Shapiro, all of whom teamed up to bid on the property.
”With his help, they bought the entire facility and the ground around it and formed an alliance, hence the name,” Whisnant said. ”Over $1 million in parts came with the building.”
The facility sits on 30 acres and has 40 indoor and 26 outdoor service bays along with a 40-site campground.
Alliance Coach initially operated as a service center. But the company in December took on the Monaco McKenzie and R-Vision towable lines from Monaco RV Inc., a new company created when certain Monaco Coach assets were purchased by Chicago-based truck and engine builder Navistar International Inc.
Alliance Coach later obtained the local Holiday Rambler and Monaco motorized franchises, and expects the first shipment of Monaco motorhomes to be delivered by early July. More recently, the dealership added Holiday Rambler towable brands.
Currently, Alliance Coach has $1.8 million in Monaco RV motorized and towable inventory, and in addition to new models, also is selling used RVs, some on consignment.
Alliance’s sales department is open six days a week, while the service center, headed by Michael Hawkins, operates Monday through Friday. Dennis Burke will join the company as F&I manager on Monday.
Currently, Alliance Coach will service any brand of motorhome or towable RV and is certified to provide warranty work on Tiffin motorhomes and Workhorse and Spartan chassis.
As a service center that can do collision repair, Alliance Coach also has its own metal fabrication, woodworking and upholstery shops in addition to two 65-foot paint booths. Alliance Coach employs 35 people, 25 of whom are service technicians.
”It’s incredible what we can do here,” Whisnant said. ”We can do everything here for an RV but build them.”
And good fortune came quickly, he reported.
”Since the day they opened here, it’s just been absolutely packed,” Whisnant said. ”And here it is in the middle of summer, which isn’t the high season in Florida, and the shop is nearly full.”
Since Alliance Coach opened as a Monaco RV dealership in March, business has steadily increased, Whisnant said, with floorplan and retail financing arranged through Bank of America.
”Sales have been picking up and we are seeing people putting more significant amounts of money down to get financing in place and a lot of cash buyers have been coming in who don’t need any financing whatsoever,” Whisnant said. ”Right now, we are exclusively Monaco RV, but we are leaving our options open.”
Alliance Coach plans an open house Friday and Saturday (July 2-3). An updated website — www.alliancecoachonline.com — will be completed by the end of July.