Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries Inc. announced today (Oct. 11) the introduction of a 31-foot floorplan in its 2012 Winnebago Sightseer Class A motorhome line.
“The 2012 Winnebago Sightseer 30A is simply an amazing floorplan,” said Winnebago Vice President of Sales and Marketing Roger Martin in a press release. “Amazing in that you won’t believe the amount of space and features found in this gas powered Class A coach. The 30A certainly lives much larger than its 31-foot length – seeing is believing in this case.”
The double-slide Sightseer 30A features an innovative, extendible sectional U-shaped dinette that takes seating from two to six in a matter of minutes. Add to that a 42-inch LCD TV that can slide out for optimal viewing when the slideroom is not extended, Corian counter and backsplash, MCD roller shades, and a stylish new interior, and the Sightseer has all the style and function found in larger, more expensive coaches. Additional key features on the interior include swiveling Ultraleather cab seats, fully equipped in-line galley with two pantries, enclosed bathroom and a rear bedroom that offers a roomy wardrobe, chest of drawers and walk-around queen bed.
“The Sightseer also offers fresh new exterior styling, with a new front-end design that makes a great first impression,” Martin continued. “This coach also offers side-hinged compartment doors standard, electric patio awning, and most importantly, Winnebago Industries’ quality construction. This coach is well rounded, with impressive interior and exterior appointments.”
“I was really, really impressed with the layout of the 30A floorplan,” said Mark Eisenhart, marketing director for Tom Johnson Camping Center in Concord, N.C. “It definitely feels a lot bigger than a 30-foot coach. The kitchen layout is huge, and the U-shaped dinette is fantastic. It’s both functional and useable, creating a great sleeping space. In the bedroom, the amount of storage available is phenomenal. How Winnebago packaged all this into 30-feet is amazing.”
The Winnebago Sightseer features three other floorplans for 2012:
• The triple slide 33C that offers a large driver’s side slideroom that expands the entire galley and dinette, and an optional buffet-dining table module with a 42-inch LCD TV.
• The family favorite 35J that features bunk beds and sleeping space for up to seven.
• The double slide 36V that includes Winnebago Industries’ extendible sectional sofa and a mid-coach 42-inch TV.
For more information on the 2012 Winnebago Sightseer, or to find a dealer, visit www.gowinnebago.com.
The investigation into the deaths of three people whose bodies were found inside a charred motor home at the Grand Canyon points to a possible murder-suicide, National Park Service officials said Wednesday (Oct. 5).
Grand Canyon spokeswoman Shannan Marcak did not elaborate, other than to say the bodies appear to be those of an adult and two children and that no one else is involved. Authorities have not released the identities, but a Minnesota school district identified the three as two students and their father.
Jennifer McNeil, a spokeswoman for the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale school district, identified them as Jersey DeHaven, a kindergartener at Skyview School in Oakdale, sixth-grader Jace DeHaven and their father, Anthony DeHaven, who had been vacationing in Arizona. She said a grandmother of the students informed school officials of the deaths Tuesday.
Firefighters responded to a report Monday of smoke in the RV’s cab, but it was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived. Once it was extinguished, investigators were able to enter the RV and found the occupants’ remains.
One autopsy was conducted Wednesday but the results weren’t released. Marcak said she didn’t expect positive identification until later this week.
The RV was in a parking area along the most-traveled road into the Grand Canyon’s popular South Rim near a sign where tourists often pose for pictures. Authorities had reopened the area to the public by Wednesday afternoon after removing what was left of the RV, Marcak said.
Monaco RV LLC, manufacturer of motorized and towable recreational vehicles, is preparing to showcase the breadth of its product offering at Elkhart County’s 4th Annual Open House September 19-22. Monaco RV will showcase its “Next Generation of RVs” at a display a few minutes south of the RV/MH Hall of Fame, at the intersection of C.R. 17 and U.S. 20.
Monaco will display nearly 50 different product offerings from its diverse portfolio of brands covering nearly every segment of the market. On display will be: Monaco brand diesel, gas, Class A and B motorhomes; Holiday Rambler diesel, gas, Class A, B and C motorhomes; Holiday Rambler travel trailers and fifth-wheels; R-Vision travel trailers and fifth-wheels; and Bison horse trailers with living quarters.
The display will be open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and lunch will be served daily from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monaco RV will also have sales and management personnel available to provide information, offer demonstrations and answer questions.
“We are excited to be able to bring our ‘Next Generation of RVs’ to dealers who will be in the Elkhart area,” said Mike Snell, senior vice president of sales and product development. “We believe our partnership with Navistar, has brought us new technology, new engineering and superior designs that have never been seen in the RV market before. Our 2012 models are the best products we have ever offered.
“We plan to expand on these products and raise the bar even higher in the future. We will continue to focus on innovation, quality and customer service to deliver the finest, most customer appealing products to our dealer partners.”
Thor Motor Coach continues as the No. 1 retailing brand of motorhomes in North America with 22.93% share through June 2011, according to Statistical Surveys Inc.
In a press release, Thor Motor Coach said the results also show the Thor Industries Inc. division as the fastest growing motorhome brand among the top eight major manufacturers with a 27.9% increase over last year. Class C sales captured the No. 1 market position with an impressive market share growth of 31.50% compared to the previous year.
“Packing in features that include camper favorites like Mega-Storage Compartments, single step entrances and molded fiberglass front caps have helped us solidify our dedication to the Class C market. Over the past six months we have introduced several new floorplans that integrate features making the coach even more livable,” said Mike Savage, Thor Motor Coach’s Class C product manager.
The company said that over the last few months retail customers have responded well to the addition of several impressive new features on the Hurricane and Challenger lines, the redesign of the Tuscany, and several new floor plans on the Windsport, Serrano and A.C.E. lines.
“Our continued focus on what retail customers’ desire helps us to bring innovative floorplans with intelligent features to the market. Our after-the-sale support programs like Concierge Connection and Rapid Response Parts along with the stability of a strong and financially sound company are added reasons consumers continue to display their confidence in our products,” stated Dana Simon, vice president of sales.
Fleetwood RV Inc. debuted new models in the company’s Class A diesel pusher lineup along with the entry-level Jamboree Searcher and Tioga Montara C-bodies during the two-year-old company’s Aug. 23-25 National Dealer Meeting at the Grand Wayne Center in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Introductions by Decatur, Ind.-based Fleetwood included:
• Providence: Aimed at the “higher end of the price spectrum,” the 2012 Providence diesel pusher offers several upscale amenities such as polished porcelain floors, molded fiberglass roof and enhanced interior design with wall art and countertop edge detail upgrades. The line is available in four floorplans – three 42-foot models powered by a 450-hp Cummins 8.9L engine and a 40-footer equipped with the 380-hp ISC Cummins engine. The 42P is a tag-axle unit while the 42M offers a triple-slide and full-wall bath. Standard features include full-body paint, Aqua-Hot system (42M only), 2,000-watt pure sine wave inverter w/remote, hardwood cabinet doors/drawers, double roller shades, side-swinging luggage doors, and exterior grill and galley (optional).
• Discovery:The diesel pusher Discovery lineup features six models, including three tag axle units, all powered by a 380-hp Cummins ISC 8.3L engine. All-new floorplans for 2012 include the 42D, a quad-slide layout with a luxurious master suite, and the 42M, a full-wall-slide model with a Sony 40” mid-ship LCD TV. Features include 84-inch ceiling height, full-body paint, porcelain tile floor with decorative inserts,
hardwood cabinet doors/drawers, double roller shades, side-swinging luggage doors and optional exterior grill and galley.
• Jamboree Searcher and Tioga Montara: Both C models are available in three floorplans, including a 22- and 23-footer along with an all-new 25-foot model. All units feature a cab-over bed, spacious dinette and full bath with shower. Other features include hardwood cabinet doors; high-gloss smooth fiberglass exterior; a one-piece molded fiberglass front cap; and a full basement exterior with pass-through storage. Priced to compete in the entry-level market, MSRP’s are $64,190.
Fleetwood RV Inc. President and CEO John Draheim told dealers during the company’s Aug. 23-25 National Dealer Meeting at the Grand Wayne Center in Fort Wayne, Ind., that the Decatur, Ind.-based motorhome builder has been taking a close look at the way it’s perceived by its dealer network and end-consumers.
Toward that end, Draheim introduced Fleetwood’s new “marketing partner,” Fort Wayne-based LaBov & Beyond, a niche marketing agency whose clients include automotive, financial service, marine and sports businesses – particularly companies that sell through dealers and distribution networks.
In an effort to “stay connected with what’s going on in the market,” Fleetwood asked LaBov & Beyond to talk to their customers, interview dealers and engage with owners. The agency in the past year interviewed 30 dealers and gathered input from numerous others while sitting down with 100 consumers and surveying 250 others online, and Draheim shared some of the highlights of those interviews.
He said the dealers gave the two-year-old company high marks for product – with some advice on fit and finish – plus kudos for sales and service, organization and its ability to build relationships in the marketplace.
“You told us that we need to help you drive traffic, that it’s a very difficult market and if there’s things that we can do to help you drive traffic that you’ll help us,” said Draheim.
“You also told us in this process two interesting things: One, you’re seeing a lot of first-time buyers and there’s no rhyme or reason to what they buy. They may buy a Class C, a Searcher or Montera. They may come in and buy a (lower priced gas Class A) Storm. They may actually buy a (higher-priced diesel A-body) Revolution. But the point is that there are new buyers coming into the market space, and it’s healthy for our industry.
“You also told us that the percentage of cash buyers has gone way up in the past 18 to 24 months, which is yet another new phenomenon.”
Consumers, he added, are more informed than their predecessors due to the Internet.
“The shopping and buying process that the owners are going through today has changed,” said Draheim. “On average, they’re starting their process three to six months prior to making a purchase. In some cases, it’s much longer. We also found that they tend to keep their coach between 24 and 50 months before they trade. They start their research, their education process, online. They gather their information from websites. They download or request brochures from those websites. Then, they may go to a show or rally.
“We asked them why? Because they feel it (a show or rally) is a more non-threatening environment than a retail dealership. They’re not ready to buy. They’re still researching. They move from the awareness phase of the buying process to the consideration phase, but they’re still not ready for a transaction. And they also told us that the purchase is as much about the relationship as it is the product – just as some of you have told us that our relationship in some cases is more important than the product. The customers feel the same way about you in the buying process.”
Fleetwood, in turn, has been working to integrate some of this input into its corporate and marketing, sales and follow-through strategies.
During the meeting, Fleetwood also honored its top dealers for the year. Awards included:
• Ancira Travel Villa, Alvarado, Texas — Top Dealer for Discovery, Bounder, American Tradition and American Revolution
• Centre Du VR. Victoriaville, Victoriaville, Quebec — Top Dealer for Southwind and Jamboree
• Dixie RV Superstore, Hammond, La. — Top Dealer for Discovery and Tioga
• General RV Center, Wixom, Mich. — Top Dealer for Bounder Classic; Overall Top Motorhome Dealer Multi Location
• Giant RV, Montclair, Calif. — Top Dealer for Southwind and Terra; No. 1 Jamboree Dealer in the Nation; No. 1 Providence Dealer in the Nation
• Harberson RV Pinellas, Clearwater, Fla. — Top Dealer for Southwind
• Holiday World of Houston, Katy, Texas — Top Dealer for Discovery
• Holland Motor Homes, San Diego, Calif. — Top Dealer for Bounder Classic and Jamboree
• La Mesa RV Center, Sanford, Fla. — Top Dealer for Expedition, Jamboree and Storm
• Lazydays RV Center, Seffner, Fla. — Top Dealer for Southwind, Bounder Classic, Storm and Terra; Overall Top Motor Home Dealer Single Location; No. 1 Dealer for Discovery, Bounder, Expedition and Tioga; No. 1 Dealer for American Heritage, American Eagle, American Tradition and American Revolution; Overall Top American Coach Dealer; #1 Dealer for American Heritage, American Eagle, American Tradition and American Revolution.
• McGeorge Camping Center, Ashland, Va. — Top Dealer for Storm
• Mike Thompson’s RV Superstore, Colton, Calif. — Top Dealer for Tioga
• Mike Thompson’s RV Superstore, Fountain Valley, Calif. — Top Dealer for Tioga
• Neil’s Motor Homes, North Hills, Calif. — Top Dealer for Terra
• Northside RV’s, Lexington, Ky. — Top Dealer for Terra
• RV World, Yuma, Ariz. — Top Dealer for American Eagle and Bounder Classic
• Tom Johnson Camping Center, Concord, N.C.– Top Dealer for Southwind, American Heritage, American Eagle, American Tradition and American Revolution
• Tom Raper RV, Richmond, Ind. – Top Dealer for Discovery and Bounder
• Dixie RV Superstore, Hammond, Louisiana — #1 Terra Dealer in the Nation
• Mike Thompson’s RV Super Store, Santa Fe Springs, Calif. — #1 Storm Dealer in the Nation; #1 Tioga Dealer in the Nation
• Niel’s Motor Homes, North Hills, Calif. — #1 Southwind Dealer in the Nation
• Tom Johnson Camping Center, Marion, N.C. — #1 Jamboree Dealer in the Nation
• Woody’s RV World, Calgary, Alberta — #1 Bounder Classic Dealer in the Nation
• El Monte RV, El Monte, Calif. — Overall Top Rental Dealer
Fleetwood RV Inc., a leading producer of Class A and Class C recreational vehicles, recently unveiled its new website, www.fleetwoodrv.com.
According to a press release, the site has been designed to be the “best on-line resource for both current Fleetwood owners and prospects.”
Fleetwood said it is committed to forward-thinking in the RV industry, including products as well as marketing.
“Our new website is just the beginning of our marketing innovation, which will continue,” said John Draheim, president and CEO of the Decatur, Ind.-based company. “When planning the new website, we looked at best practices in the automotive, boat and RV industries to create a site that will change the way people engage with our products. We want our website to be a destination, not just a stop along the road, and I think this redesign sets that tone clearly.”
Fleetwood’s new website not only has a whole new look and feel, but it also provides clearer product information, larger product images, and a “Build Your Own” feature that allows consumers to build customized flyers that they can save, print or share on social media sites.
You may have to look harder to see those convoys of motor homes headed for vacation spots this summer. According to a report in USA Today, RVs are getting smaller.
While sales of traditional motorhomes have grown at a respectable 6.2% rate for the first six months of the year, two smaller classes encompassing large van conversions have grown nearly twice as fast, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reports.
“The era of bigger-is-better and more ostentatious” is over, declares RVIA President Richard Coon. Now, “the trend is toned down quite a bit.”
Blame the economy and gas prices, but also retirees who have decided they don’t need rolling McMansions for status in otherwise hard times.
“Fuel prices are driving it, but this is a cultural shift,” says Bob Wheeler, CEO of Airstream Inc., which converts delivery-van-style Mercedes-Benz Sprinters into low-key motorhomes. “There’s a shift away from conspicuous consumption.”
Though these units are priced upwards of $125,000, Wheeler says they typically don’t have the fancy paint and graphics of larger units. “No flashy paint job,” he says. Rather, it’s “understated elegance” — and up to 18 miles a gallon from the modest diesel engine, triple the gas mileage of some big gasoline-powered motor homes.
Even in the bigger vehicle classes, some RVers are downsizing. Fleetwood RV Inc. says many buyers of more traditional motorhomes, who formerly would have opted for 36-footers or bigger, today are downsizing to its 28- to 32-foot Storm line, which starts at about $92,000, says Lenny Razo, eastern regional sales director.
USA Today reported that those RVs are being fitted with more space-maximizing features, such as bunks that drop from the ceiling. Many buyers “are getting older, and they don’t need as much” space, Razo says.
Winnebago Industries Inc., too, has introduced more lower-priced motorhomes and fuel-saving diesels. “In the last couple of years, people are wanting value products, not necessarily all the bells and whistles like in 2004,” says spokeswoman Sheila Davis.
Smaller motorhomes also can be more versatile, such as serving as a base camp for little leaguers at games, as well as a home away from home on vacation, she says.
Entegra Coach Inc., a maker of diesel pusher motorhomes, will be displaying product Sept. 20-22 during Elkhart County’s 4th Annual RV Open House.
According to a press release, the Middlebury, Ind.-based company will set up on a lot just off of C.R. 6 on Ada Dr. in Elkhart from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m on all three days.
Entegra Coach, a subsidiary of Jayco Inc., said it will show several of its luxurious motorcoaches from the 2012 product line, including the Aspire and Anthem brands.
“The 2012 model year offerings are Entegra Coach’s best yet,” said Tadd Jenkins, national sales manager. “We’ve incorporated new technologies and upgraded the interior decors that will appeal to the consumer.”
He added, “We’ve seen significant market share growth this year, positioning Entegra Coach as the fastest growing diesel pusher manufacturer. We believe the open house will keep that momentum going by allowing us to proudly showcase our luxurious, well-designed and well-built 2012 model year products.”
Entegra Coach’s regional sales managers will be on site during the open house hours to talk with dealers and attendees. “The open house will give us a chance to reconnect with current dealers, connect with new ones and show them everything Entegra Coach has to offer for 2012,” said Jenkins.
In addition to the units, Entegra Coach will also provide lunch from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on all days for visitors.
The recreational vehicle industry and the housing market traveled much of the same road during the last decade, according to a report by the Record Searchlight, Redding, Calif.
And when the housing market crashed, the RV industry suffered a similar fate.
“Our industry followed the same money as housing did in that we loaned money to people who we shouldn’t have loaned money to,” said Wayne Barnes, owner of B&B RV Center in Anderson. “What has happened is we have had a lot repos and the market has started to work through a lot of those repos.”
Now the RV business model has changed dramatically: Much like the housing market, bigger no longer is necessarily better.
Gas and diesel motorhomes — many carrying six-figure price tags — dominated dealer inventory five or six years ago. Today, lots are full of fifth-wheels and travel trailers.
“The mix for big dealers used to be 70% of sales would be motorhomes. Now it’s 30% motorhomes and 70% fifth-wheels and travel trailers,” Barnes said.
Not only do the smaller RVs cost a fraction of a new motorhome, but there can be a savings in gas to pull a trailer.
“There was a time that if we saw one tent trailer a month, that was a lot. Now we have two or three tent trailers coming in to be repaired,” said Tom Williams, who has owned Northern Trailer & RV Supply in Redding since 1974.
While the RV industry is still down from its peak in the middle of last decade, sales have started to rebound.
“It has become more of a motorized towable industry,” said Phil Ingrassia, vice president of communications for the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA). “It used to be that between 20% and 25% of RV shipments were motorhomes. Now it’s less than 10%.”
Still, motorhome sales are rebounding. The industry is forecasting a 13% year-over-year jump in motorhome shipments in 2011.
Dealers like B&B in Anderson continue to adapt.
Barnes took over the former Dan Gamel RV location in Anderson after it closed in 2009. The store was one of several Gamel dealerships in California to shut down.
When B&B RV opened in July 2009, it had three employees and did not have a manufacturing line to market. Today, B&B RV has grown to 22 employees and the business is a Jayco dealer.
B&B RV expects to do nearly $7 million in sales in 2011, up from $4.5 million in 2011. Still, B&B will generate about 25% of the total sales Gamel did during his best year in Anderson, said Barnes, who was Gamel’s CFO before opening B&B.
“That still allows us to make a good living and grow and hire some people,” Barnes said.
Last week, Todd and Pamela of Kelly of Redding picked up their new 26-foot Jayco trailer at B&B RV. The couple, who have two children, were actually trading up from a 22-foot trailer.
The Kellys owned two motorhomes — including a 28-footer — before they decided to buy their first travel trailer. Pamela said camping with a trailer is more convenient.
“With a trailer it’s nice to be able to unlock and drive and explore further,” she said.
RV dealers still in business today have used a term heard a lot in retail today to describe their industry – the new normal.
“It’s not necessarily how much you sell, it’s really about how much you keep,” Barnes said.
In other words, Barnes says, current customers and their need for service helps subsidize the sales portion of the business. The dealership has 12 service bays and a full body shop.
“All that business covers the overhead of the dealership,” Barnes said.
Ingrassia said Barnes’ business model is not unique.
“There is more emphasis on service perhaps at some dealers, but it’s hard to paint a broad brush,” Ingrassia said. “Overall the dealers that have survived have tightened up inventory.”
What’s more, dealers are coping with a tighter lending market. When the credit crunch hit in 2008, it was extremely difficult for both dealers and customers – the former to finance inventory, the latter to get a loan to buy a new RV.
“It’s gotten better in the last year and half,” Ingrassia said.