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RV Chef Cooks Up ‘Net Recipes for Travelers

March 18, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Traveling in an RV opens up a whole new world, but it’s not without its compromises — particularly when it comes to meal preparation. George Murphy, who has been RVing for a quarter-century, knows full well the adjustments the need to be made when cooking with fewer accessories and has debuted a new Internet show, RV Chef, intended to show that food on the road does not have to be fast or mediocre.

“We hope to produce one program every week or so that will run from 5 – 8 minutes and each and will show the viewer how to make wonderful food within the confines of their RV. It won’t be complicated but will be a lot of fun,” says Murphy. The show is shot inside his Newmar Corp. Mountain Aire fifth-wheel trailer.

RV Chef will also touch on the RV lifestyle and offer tips and suggestions to better enjoy your RV. It will provide an excellent source of information for the experienced RVer, the first-time buyer and renters of RVs.

As a service to their visitors and customers, RV dealerships will be able to play the RV Chef videos on their websites free by adding the RV Chef Button for their viewers to click through.

“Mainly, it’s all about the food,” says Murphy, who is the show’s producer and chef. “After all, who can resist ‘falling off the bone’ barbeque or fresh Navajo fried bread or shrimp-stuffed mushrooms. Much of the show is about cooking in an RV.”

For more information, go to www.RVChef.com.

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Independence RV Hosts ‘Ask the RV Experts’

January 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

"Ask the Experts, Jan. 27-30

"Ask the Experts, Jan. 27-30

Independence RV, a dealership in Winter Garden, Fla., will host a series of information gathering seminars and one-on-one sessions for first-time and full-time RVers Jan. 27-30.

The free, four-day “Ask The RV Experts” event will feature RV manufacturer representatives for approximately 30 RV-related products and accessories, according to a news release. The RV industry information exchange will be held at Independence RV. The setting will be casual and relaxed with plenty of question and answer sessions to expand RV product and accessory knowledge leading to better purchasing decisions and an enhanced RV lifestyle.

Newmar Corp. will have representatives available from its Nappanee, Ind., headquarters to discuss new product line features and amenities in the 2011 model year for Bay Star, Canyon Star, Ventana, Dutch Star and Mountain Aire motorhomes. Representatives from Newmar’s exclusive chassis manufacturer, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., will be on-site to answer the important questions related to chassis development and manufacturing. Freightliner will address the latest 2010 emissions standards issues and why “Simple, Clean, Reliable (SCR) technology is the preferred method over Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR), and what it means to the RV owner and the vehicle’s horsepower.

The “Ask The RV Experts” seminars are appropriate for the first-time RVer to the full-time RV enthusiast.  “Seminar topics will include Winegard RV antennas and interfacing with DirecTV, tow bar vs. tow dolly – which is the safer and more cost effective? What’s the latest in tow braking technology? Learn about the newest development in RV power steering as Newmar representatives discuss its exclusive Comfort Drive Steering System. The latest in awning material and design technology will be demonstrated showing the simplicity and ease of extension and retraction of these sun shielding devices. The dirty business of holding tank systems and technology will be cleared up with one simple seminar,” the release stated.

“This is RV show season and most fairgrounds are overrun with RV attendees who may not feel they can have the undivided attention of RV industry experts to ask their important questions,” said Chuck Simpson, general manager of Independence RV. “An event like the ‘Ask The RV Experts’ will provide a relaxed and unhurried environment conducive to learning more about the RV lifestyle.”

Free seminars will be held daily beginning at 11 a.m. and concluding at 4 p.m. Representatives for all manufacturers will be on hand for one-on-one question-and-answer interaction. Freightliner Custom Chassis will provide complimentary hot dogs and soft drinks each day of the event.

Independence RV with over 25 years of serving Central Florida’s RVing needs is located at 12705 W. Colonial Drive in Winter Garden.  All 2011 Newmar motorhomes are in-stock and will be on display from 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Monday – Friday, and 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call (407) 877-7878.

The schedule of “Ask The RV Experts” informational seminars follows:

Thursday, Jan. 27

  • Dave Garl,  9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Newmar Product Line Q&A.
  • Jeremy Buckmeier,  9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,  Freightliner Chassis Q & A.
  • Chris Crawford,  11 a.m., Winegard Antenna and RV Satellite TV.
  • Chris Crawford,  3 p.m., Sani-Con Holding Tank Systems.

Friday, Jan. 28

  • Dave Garl,  9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Newmar Product Line Q & A.
  • Jeremy Buckmeier,  9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Freightliner Chassis Q & A.
  • David Jones,  11 a.m., Tow Bars vs. Tow Dolly.
  • Chris Crawford, 1 p.m., Winegard Antenna and RV Satellite TV.
  • Doug Ralston,  3 p.m., Tow Bars/Tow Braking/Tire Minders.

Saturday, Jan. 29

  • Dave Garl,  9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Newmar Product Line Q & A.
  • Jeremy Buckmeier,  9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Freightliner Chassis Q & A.
  • David Jones,  11 a.m., Carefree Pioneer Awning.
  • Chris Crawford,  1 p.m., Sani-Con Holding Tank Systems.
  • Doug Ralston,  3 p.m., Tow Bars/Tow Braking/Tire Minders.

Sunday, Jan. 30

  • Chris Crawford, 11 a.m., Winegard Antenna and RV Satellite TV.
  • Chris Crawford,  3 p.m., Sani-Con Holding Tank Systems.
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Hoosier Newspaper Covers Louisville Product

December 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Editor’s Note: The Goshen (Ind.) News published this summary of products made by Northern Indiana-based RV firms that were shown at the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show.

New and improved were the two popular words at the recent Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) trade show in Louisville, Ky.

Elkhart County companies involved in making recreational vehicles used the show to promote their products to dealers. Here are a few of the new offerings that were at the show.

Newmar Corp.

Newmar Corp. of Nappanee unveiled its Ventana LE.

The Ventana LE will retail for $30,000 less than the company’s Ventana motorhome.

“Yet, we haven’t sacrificed eye appeal or popular features to hit this price point. When customers see the Ventana LE for the first time, the value will be obvious. We anticipate market share growth for our dealers and Newmar with this exciting product introduction,” said Pat Terveer, director of sales.

The Ventana LE features an aluminum-framed sidewall and roof construction on 16-inch centers. The motorhome is powered by a Cummins ISB 340 horsepower engine on a Freightliner chassis. The motorhome comes in 36-foot and 38-foot lengths.

Dometic Group

Dometic presented 17 new products at the show, including:

  • QuietZone Ducted AC that the company says increases airflow by 26% while decreasing noise and vibration.
  • AlumaRoom, a snap-in-place patio room that features flexible windows and water funnels.
  • Breathe Easy Air Purification that the company says can reduce volatile organic compounds by 57% and formaldehyde levels by 41% within a six-hour period.
  • 9500E Power Lateral Arm Awning, a rafterless, remote-controlled awning with a wind sensor and pitch adjustment and other features.
  • The LW3000 Plus portable digital inverter/gasoline generator. The company stated the unit can run for up to 10 hours.
  • The SlideTopper cover that automatically rolls out to cover a slideout.

In addition, the company has added the Better Homes & Gardens mattress collection from Serta to its product lineup.

Starcraft RV

Starcraft of Topeka introduced the AR-ONE travel trailer and the Travel Star Expandable Sport 187TB lightweight travel trailer.

The company said the AR-ONE is an entry-level trailer with three floorplans in 14-, 15- and 16-foot lengths.

The trailers are designed to be towed by most minivans and SUVs and crossover vehicles.

The Travel Star has three tented bunks, laminated roof and sidewalls, microwave oven and large kitchen window.

Another introduction was the 12RT Camping Trailer. It features a sofa, porta-potti and has a 5-by-8 foot cargo deck.

Jayco Inc.

Jayco Inc. of Middlebury introduced 8- and 10-foot Jay Series Sport camping trailers. The trailers come in two floorplans and feature E-Z Lube axles, reversible dinette cushions, an ice box and 10-gallon freshwater system.

Jayco also introduced the Skylark travel trailer with the 21FB floorplan. Upgrades include a fiberglass skin and roof, new graphics, black extrusion and baggage doors and aluminum split rims.

The Eagle 330RLTX travel trailer has been added to the Eagle lineup. The trailer features dual hide-a-beds in opposing slideouts, a side aisle leading to a bedroom and a large bathroom in the front of the unit.

Shasta

Shasta, based in Middlebury, redesigned all its products that were shown at the RV show.

Shasta’s Revere travel trailer family features a one-piece seamless, fully walkable rubber roof and aluminum exterior skin. The trailers are built on structural steel I-beam frames that include an integrated A-frame.

The Revere trailers have seven-foot interior ceilings and a 5/8-inch tongue-and-groove plywood floor.

The Revere also comes in the LE line, which has a lower price.

Shasta’s new ultra-light lineup carries the Freeport name. The trailer has welded aluminum framing with R-9 insulation and a vapor barrier and heated/enclosed underbelly.

The Class C lineup is labeled Cynara.

The Class C’s feature fiberglass roofs and 2-inch laminated, vacuum-bonded sidewalls with aluminum frames.

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Newmar Unveils 2012 Ventana LE at RV Show

December 1, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

2012 Ventana

2012 Ventana LE

Newmar Corp. has unveiled the all new 2012 Ventana LE at this week’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

“The Ventana LE will allow Newmar dealers to compete very favorably at a retail price approximately $30,000 less than the Ventana”, stated Pat Terveer, director of sales and product planning for Newmar Corp. “Yet, we haven’t sacrificed eye appeal or popular features to hit this price point. When customers see the Ventana LE for the first time, the value will be obvious. We anticipate market share growth for our dealers and Newmar with this exciting product introduction.”

The Ventana LE shares the same industry leading construction features as its sister brands, highlighted by aluminum framed sidewall and roof construction on 16-inch centers. Featuring a Cummins ISB 340 horsepower engine on a Freightliner chassis, the Ventana LE is available in three floorplans; a 36-foot quad slide, a 38-foot triple slide, bath and a half floorplan and a 38-foot quad slide bunkhouse model. Key features include Corian kitchen countertop, Flexsteel furniture with Ultralux leather, laminate tile floors, full body paint with Masterpiece graphic clear coat finish, power step well cover and popular options such as, residential refrigerators, halogen lights and MCD day/night shades.

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Teague Addresses 200 at Prayer Breakfast

December 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Don Teague

Don Teague

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Leadership prayer breakfast guest speaker Don Teague shared a story with attendees about listening to God and how it affects people’s lives. Teague, an Emmy award-winning CBS News correspondent, spoke to an audience of about 200 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel this morning (Dec. 1) during the 48th Annual RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

According to a news release, though he started his remarks with wit and laughter, Teague’s retelling of his ordeal in Iraq while reporting for NBC on the war was also compelling to the audience, and at times Teague himself was brought to tears when he spoke of intense experiences such as a bombing at a newly rebuilt school in Baghdad and witnessing the spiritual rebirth of Rafraf Barrak, a young woman who served as a translator for the news crew on site and whom Teague befriended. He said was so moved by her courage and her plight – she received routine beatings at home for even the most casual contact with males and was told from the age of 5 she was “bad” – he decided to try and bring her to America with him and make her part of his family.

Teague relayed he went to Iraq after much prayer from his wife and himself, believing it was what he was called to do.

“I felt something really important would happen there,” he said. Even though he was afraid for his safety, he said he knew he would be protected, thinking, “It’s time to press into God. He’s faithful and He’ll be there with me.”

Teague said his faith was upheld when two bombs were planted at the school but miraculously, no one was hurt. Additionally, he said Barrak herself was kidnapped by a group of extremists with the intent to kill her, but she managed to dive from the fast-moving car and escape in the car of another motorist. After completing the “insurmountable task” of bringing a Shiite Muslim Iraqi to America, Barrak now lives with his family in Texas, where she has become a Christian and is an active member of their church.

“God always finds a way,” Teague declared. “Rafraf thought she was just lucky until she realized God was pursuing her. He does that to all of us. Listen to God; he’s pursuing you.”

This is the first year the prayer breakfast returned after a hiatus last year due to the economic downturn.

“It was wonderful to be able to hold the breakfast again,” said Carl Pletcher, coordinator of the event for RVI Leadership. “Don was a fantastic speaker and we enjoyed his story immensely.”

The master of ceremonies for the event was Steve Plemmons, CEO of Bill Plemmons RV World. The invocation was said by BJ Thompson, president of BJ Thompson Associates, while Jim Huebner, president of Huebner Petersen, read scriptures and Jack Enfield, sales and marketing manager at MOR/ryde, conducted the prayer.

Gold sponsors were Wilbur Bontrager, Jayco chairman of the board and CEO; Matthew Miller, Newmar Corp. president; John Wuori, Fabric Services president and CEO; Thetford/Norcold; BJ Thompson; Marzahn & King Consulting Inc.; John Regan, Fabric Services chairman of the board; and Jim Huebner.

Silver sponsors were Jack Enfield; Steve Plemmons; John Spader, Spader Business Management Inc. president; Carl Pletcher; and Mike Keller, Keller Marine and RV president.

Bronze sponsors were Chris Craft and Chad Stoltzfus, Lake City Bank, senior vice presidents of commercial banking; Gary Shuder, Newmar Corp. vice president of finance; and Statistical Surveys Inc.

“We are so grateful to our sponsors who supported the event this year. We would not have been able to bring it back without their generosity,” Pletcher stated. To be included on the mailing list or become a sponsor for next year’s event, contact him at (574) 215-7173 or pletproperties@frontier.com.

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Day 1: Breaking News from Louisville Show

November 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Tuesday, Nov. 30

Tuesday, Nov. 30

Following are highlights of some of the developments announced at or reported to RVBUSINESS.com during this week’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

RVIA Releases 3 Videos

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association has released three new videos in conjunction with the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show underway this week in Louisville, Ky. One of the videos new appears on the RVBUSINESS.com homepage.

RVIA Welcomes Chinese Delegation

A delegation sponsored by the Department of Commerce in Beijing, China, is visiting the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show today and Wednesday in Louisville, Ky.flag.GIF

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) will host a reception for the Chinese delegation tonight at the Kentucky Exposition Center. The Chinese will be meeting with U.S. vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. Tables have been set up and five interpreters have been hired to assist the attendees communicate with each other.

Some members of the delegation will be visiting the RV/MH Hall of Fame on Thursday in Elkhart, Ind., and visiting one or more RV plants.

RVIA President Richard Coon said there is great potential for the RV industry to enter China. Coon said the Chinese consumers have more disposable income and leisure time than ever before and are interested in learning more about the RV lifestyle.

Newmar Adds MCD Innovations Shades

MCD Innovations announced that Newmar Corp. is installing MCD shades in their 2011 Dutch Star and newly redesigned 2011 Ventana models. The windshield and driver/passenger shades in the Ventana replace the visors and curtains that have been installed in the past. The Dutch Star model also includes the cockpit shade system. In addition, American Duo house shades are available for these models.

Also used in both coaches on the driver’s side window is the innovative, patent-pending MCD SwayShade, the unique roller shade configuration that travels forward as it is pulled down so as to cover the lower front corner of the driver’s window, which a normal shade cannot do. Newmar specified this unique shade for both the Ventana and Dutch Star.

“With Newmar’s high standard of craftsmanship and their ability to lead the industry with their innovative products, we are pleased that they have selected the American Duo Shade System for two of their most popular coaches,” said MCD Innovations CEO Dave Townsley. “ We look forward to working with Newmar and providing their customers the best the industry has to offer in solar protection, outward visibility and privacy.”

“Newmar is constantly looking to partner with the best Suppliers in the Industry to provide our discerning customers with the quality products that they deserve in their motorhome. MCD American Duo Shades will be a valued addition to our Dutch Star and Ventana Diesel Brands,” said Kyle McCrary, director of luxury motorhomes and product design at Newmar Corp.

Accidents Hamper Show Traffic

Multiple accidents on Interstate 65 southbound near Eastern Parkway just north of the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., site of this week’s National RV Trade Show, have closed two lanes this morning, a MetroSafe Communications supervisor told the Louisville Courier-Journal.

There were reports of injuries, but the supervisor did not know the severity or how many people were injured. A Trimarc incident report said six vehicles were involved.

All southbound lanes were closed for about an hour after one accident was reported about 5:40 a.m., but the two left lanes were re-opened just before 7 a.m.

No further details were immediately available.

Morin Named Canadian Dealer of the Year

Daniel Morin

Daniel Morin

Daniel Morin, owner of Roulottes Desjardins, St-Jerome, Quebec, was named Canadian RV Dealer of the Year by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers of Canada (RVDA of Canada).

Morin’s award was announced and presented Monday night (Nov. 29) during the Canada Night Dinner held at the Galt House in Louisville. Morin is a 41-year veteran of the RV industry. He was a founding member of the RVDA of Quebec, past chairman of the RVDA of Canada and past director of Go RVing Canada board.

Thor Falls Short of Analysts’ Forecasts

Thor logo Thor Industries Inc. fell short of profit forecasts provided by Wall Street analysts who follow the giant  RV company.

Thor said Monday its fiscal first-quarter profit edged higher amid a 21% jump in revenue, Businessweek reported.

The company reported net income of $23.7 million, or 44 cents a share, for the three months ended Oct. 31. That compares with net income of $23.4 million, or 42 cents a share, in the prior-year quarter.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of 54 cents a share, on average.

Revenue increased to $606.7 million from $502.6 million a year earlier.

Thor said RV sales rose 30 percent versus the same quarter last year, while bus segment sales declined 11 percent.

Peter Orthwein, Thor’s chairman, said gross margins were affected by increased discounting as dealers remained cautious entering the slowest season of the year.

Shares in Thor Industries rose 14 cents to $33.78 in aftermarket trading after falling 91 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $33.64 during the regular session.

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Newmar Execs Complete Cross Country Cruise

October 26, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Newmar executive team members (from left)

Newmar executive team members (from left) Margaret and John Sammut, Mahlon and Irene Miller, Matthew and Pam Miller and Candace and Dick Parks at Oct. 13 sendoff.

The senior management of Nappanee, Ind.-based Newmar Corp. today (Oct. 26) completed an unprecedented road trip during which they drove four Newmar Class A motorhomes to 18 RV dealerships in 14 days over 4,100 miles.

Their goal, both stated and unstated, was to kick off the company’s new social media campaign and generally remind the RV Nation of Newmar’s brand, reputability and products coming out of the Great Recession.

And John Sammut, vice president of sales and marketing, speaking for the rest of the Nappanee, Ind.-based company’s traveling executives, says the “Go Newmar” road trip was a resounding success.

The travelers, including co-founder Mahlon and Irene Miller, President Matthew and Pam Miller, Chairman and CEO Dick and Candace Parks as well as Vice President of Sales & Marketing John and Margaret Sammut, not only called on current and prospective Newmar dealers but in the process stressed the merits of social media during their travels by posting video, picture and words regarding their experiences on the company’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/GoNewmar <http://www.facebook.com/GoNewmar>.

After early morning prayers with an assemblage of employees outside one of the company’s plants on Oct. 13, the executive team’s route first took them south from Nappanee through Indianapolis then eventually west to their terminus today in Seattle, Wash. Along the way, Sammut reports, they received warm greetings at each dealership, sometimes from Newmar owners armed with welcome signs, baked goods and other symbols of appreciation.

The Newmar executive team leaves Newmar parking lot in Nappanee Ind. on Oct. 13.

The Newmar executive team leaves Newmar parking lot in Nappanee Ind. on Oct. 13, at the start of 4,100-mile trek to RV dealers in the western half of the U.S.

In the process, hundreds of people became Internet “friends” and signed on to Newmar’s Facebook page and were prepared to welcome the travelers at their various stops. Some of those “friends” followed the road trip from as far away as England.

“I think it exceeded our expectations in terms of goodwill and general overall feeling,” Sammut told RVBUSINESS.com today as the caravan approached Seattle. “We have the general feeling this industry is healing slowly. Financing continues to be an obstacle, but customers’ desire to continue to use their recreational vehicles is as strong as it ever has been and the dealers and manufacturers who survived are there to continue to participate.

“We’ve been delivering that message (to dealers) for months,” he added. “Before this road trip, we (the company’s managers in general) had been on the road 150 days to our dealers and customers. But to do it in the product we manufacture — and provide service for — was a grass roots way to reinforce that message. The company is standing strong and continues to build a great quality product.”

“A lot of dealers mentioned (that it was unique) and told us they were very glad to see the top management walk the walk and talk the talk,” Sammut continued. “To have Mahlon and Irene Miller, the majority owners, along for the trip was extremely powerful with dealers as well as retail customers. The Millers greeted people at every stop.”

Sammut anticipates all but one of the dealers he visited to be attending next month’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., which, he points out, is yet another sign that the industry is healing.

Sammut adds that the trip went relatively hitch-free. And while the road trip served as kind of a shakedown cruise for the four 2011 coaches, the executive team did notice a few needed vehicle enhancements that were promptly relayed to the company’s engineering department in Nappanee.

All in all, though, things went well enough that the executive escapees are already considering a 2011 reprise — but this time toward the East Coast instead of the West.

“It will be bigger and better next year,” said Shannon Stover, the firm’s marketing director. “We already have dealers from the East Coast with ideas.”

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Canyon Center RV is Newest Newmar Retailer

October 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Newmar Corp. has announced that Canyon RV Center in Colton, Calif., is its newest dealer.

Canyon RV Center, established in 1992, has been serving southern California with excellence in RV sales, service and RV storage, according to a news release.

“We’re extremely proud to begin our partnership with Andy Coyle and his team at Canyon RV Center,” said Pat Terveer, Newmar director of sales and product planning. “We look forward to expanding our business with Canyon RV in southern California. This important market continues to rebound, and we’re excited about the future.”

Coyle said, “Our team is really excited to be offering these excellent Newmar products that are competitively priced, yet still provide the long term quality that is vital in today’s motorhome market.”

Canyon RV Center offers a full service RV repair shop, including RV chassis lubrication, generator service, transmission service and warranty service for new or pre-owned RVs.

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Newmar Management Team Hitting the Road

October 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Newmar Corp. executives taking to the road (l-r): John Sammut, Mahlon Miller, Matthew Miller and Dick Parks.

Newmar Corp. executives taking to the road (l-r): John Sammut, Mahlon Miller, Matthew Miller and Dick Parks.

An unusual scene developed early this morning (Oct. 13) in Nappanee, Ind., as Newmar Corp.’s senior management team, along with their spouses, gathered with some of the company’s 405 employees outside one of the firm’s motorhome-building plants to offer a quick prayer before setting out on a 4,100-mile, cross-country tour that will lead to the doorsteps of 18 U.S. dealerships over a period of 15 days.

And while none of the people involved in this business junket claim to be all that adept at the intricacies of social media, all of them — owner Mahlon and Irene Miller, President Matthew and Pam Miller, Chairman & CEO Dick and Candace Parks as well as Vice President of Sales & Marketing John and Margaret Sammut — are stressing the merits of social media during their travels by posting video, picture and words regarding their experiences on the company’s Facebook Page — www.facebook.com/GoNewmar.

Sammut emphasizes that the social media element is not just a lark, but part of a long-term strategy.

“It’s not just about the trip,” he said. “We’re kicking it off with the trip. But we see a lot of valuable aspects of social media in terms of training retail sales people, interacting with customers, getting feedback about product, about the lifestyle and just having fun because this is a fun business and we’re going to have some fun doing it for the next 15 days.”

The idea for the trip evolved from a conversation Sammut and Parks had had over dinner recently while visiting dealers.

“We thought it would be cool, coming out of this downturn, now that things are beginning to gradually improve, to go out and promote the company and mingle with customers as well as prospective and current Newmar dealers and let them know we’re here.” Sammut told RVBUSINESS.com.

“We’re standing, and we’re ready for the future,” he noted, “And we thought that this timing — right before Louisville — would be perfect for launching a venture like this: 4,100 miles, 18 dealers, 15 days.”

After a visit tonight with Mt Comfort RV in Greenfield, Ind., near Indianapolis, the itinerary leads through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas — including Lubbock, where they’ll check out Camper Coaches and greet the mayor — and on to Albuquerque, Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, San Diego and up the California coast to Guaranty RV in Oregon with an end point in Seattle.

Along the route of their “Go Newmar” social media campaign, Sammut says Newmar’s senior management is also sending a message that the RV lifestyle is alive and well. “I think as things improve, people are not going to give up their recreational vehicles. They’re going to continue to enjoy the lifestyle,” he said.

“We’ve done a lot of visiting with dealers over the last year and a half,” added Parks. “Usually we fly in and get a rental car, but we’re going to do it with a motorhome.”

The executive travelers are utilizing four 2011 Newmar Class A’s, the Mahlon Millers in a 40-foot, tag-axle Dutch Star, diesel pusher; the Sammuts in a 36-foot gas Canyon Star; the Parks driving a 43-foot Dutch Star tag-axle diesel, and the Matthew Millers in a 43-foot, bath-and-a-half, tag-axle Ventana.

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Newmar Launching Social Media Campaign

October 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Newmar Corp. has launched its social media marketing effort with a new Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GoNewmar. The company’s intent is to communicate with the Newmar community of owners as well as those who desire to own its products, according to a news release.

“Newmar is very excited about the Go Newmar Facebook page and the opportunities it will provide our company to interface with customers and fans of the Newmar brand,” said John Sammut Newmar vice president of sales and marketing. “We see this as a place to get feedback from our customers, interact with dealers and have some fun with fans of the Newmar brand.”

The executive management team for the Nappanee, Ind.-based manufacturer will be launching its “Go Newmar” social media campaign by getting out on the road. Beginning Oct. 13, the Newmar Facebook Page will contain details, video and pictures from the upcoming 14‐day road trip. Members of Newmar’s executive management team include the company’s owner Mahlon Miller joined by his wife, Irene; Newmar President Matthew Miller along with wife, Pam; CEO and Chairman Richard Parks and wife, Candace, along with Sammut and his wife, Margaret.

During the 4,100-mile journey, 17 RV dealerships will be visited. The trip will feature four 2011 model year Newmar motorhomes to be showcased at dealerships and campgrounds along the route of travel. The eight members of the Newmar travelling team will meet with customers and dealership personnel and will be available to answer any questions about Newmar and its products. Photo opportunities will also be accommodated.

To learn more about the Go Newmar Product Tour, details about the route of travel and RV dealers included on the trip visit www.facebook.com/GoNewmar or the campaign website www.GoNewmar.com, which goes live Oct. 13.

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Newmar Corp. Launches 2011 Fifth-Wheel Line

August 27, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

image001During the recent Newmar Kountry Klub Rally in Goshen, Ind., Newmar Corp. unveiled its 2011 fifth-wheel lineup.

Due to dealer and customer input, Nappanee, Ind.-based Newmar has resurrected its legacy towable brands of Kountry Star and Kountry Aire, replacing the Cypress and Torrey Pine brands, respectively. In addition, the toy hauler brand, X‐Aire, has gone through significant changes for 2011, according to a news release.

“The product brands Kountry Star and Kountry Aire are identified with Newmar,” said John Sammut, Newmar vice president of sales and marketing. ”Dealers and customers realize the brand equity of both products. The decision to change names and revamp over eighty percent of the floor plans offered was met with great excitement by dealers and customer’s alike at the rally.

Kountry Star will feature nine floorplans, ranging from 32 feet to 37 feet, with two wood and interior choices, Sony televisions, automatic television lifts on some models, and optional Villa Stone Tile floors and Corian countertops and stairs.

Kountry Aire will be offered in five floorplans all either 36 feet or 37 feet in length. Key features include four exterior graphics choices, hardwood desktops and dinettes, Ultralux leather sofas, halogen lighting and optional Manhattan maple glazed cabinet doors, ceramic tile,  Sleep Number Deluxe Air Mattresses and hydraulic leveling jacks.

The X‐Aire toy hauler is available in five floorplans,  ranging from 38 feet to 41 feet, including a 41-foot bath-and-a-half floorplan. Changes for 2011 include two new graphic choices, two interior décor and wood choices, new fascia and headboard designs, new laminate countertops, larger Sony televisions, and popular options such as, solid surface countertops and side by side washer and dryer.

All three Newmar towable products will be introduced to the public at the upcoming Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show, located in Booth No. 522, Sept. 15-19 in Hershey, Pa.

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FMCA Convention Drew 2,000-Plus Coaches

August 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Monaco RV Vesta

Monaco RV Vesta

Alex and Jan Alexander were in the 17th week of a tour of the West Coast in their 2006 Country Coach when they pulled into the gates of the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond, Ore., for the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) 84th International Convention Aug. 11-14. One of more than 2,000 motorhome families to attend the mid-week event in central Oregon, the young couple from St. James City, Fla., intended to spend the four days soaking up information.

“We’re here for several reasons,” Alex noted after exiting the Tiffin Motor Homes manufacturer’s display. “We wanted to see what’s going on in the industry — but, most importantly from an educational standpoint, to visit the displays and see the latest in engines and electronics … it (Redmond) has a little bit of everything.” And, while the first-time visitors to the convention hadn’t considered upgrading their luxury coach prior to the event, Alex did note that “we may change our minds. Right now, we’re looking at an Allegro bus.”

According to Jerry Yeatts, FMCA event director, the Alexanders’ upbeat attitude personified the 84th convention, which also was highlighted by the public debut of the new Vesta motorhome from Monaco RV LLC and the West Coast introduction of the Insignia from Jayco’s Entegra Coach division.

Newell Coach display

Newell Coach

“We had a little over 2,000 families there, and about 200 coaches on display,” he said. “Compared to the last time we were here, it was probably comparable, numbers-wise — but as far as attitude and enthusiasm, it was amazing. The members were probably in their best mood we’ve seen in quite a while. Seems like sales were up, spirits were up, and overall it was a great convention.”

It also apparently was quite successful for a number of exhibitors. “One OEM said that the higher-end coaches they brought were sold,” Yeatts said. “Another dealer who brought in 11 coaches sold six.”

Shannon Nill, general manager of Guaranty RV, Junction City, Ore., echoed Yeatts’ assessment on the overall atmosphere of the program. “We sold 18 RVs at the Redmond rally, about evenly distributed between new and used,” Nill noted, out of about 75 units the dealership supplied to several displays including Monaco, Newmar Corp. and Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc. “Beyond the sales, however, one huge point was that the mood of the customer was really strong compared to last year’s rally. People were eager to RV. The gatherings of this kind after a slowdown are even more important than normal.”

This year marked the fourth time FMCA has held a convention at the Redmond fairgrounds, but was the first time the association kicked off the event with a Wednesday “preview” day. Gates opened at 5 p.m. on “hump day” for touring outdoor manufacturer displays, followed by access only to indoor exhibits Thursday morning. All displays became accessible at noon and thereafter.

Entegra Insignia by Jayco Inc.

Entegra Insignia by Jayco Inc.

“We really didn’t receive any comments concerning shifting the pattern,” Yeatts said. “The gate on Wednesday was greater than normal, but we don’t know if that’s attributable to starting later in the week, or later in the day.”

The Vesta, introduced to dealers two weeks prior to the Redmond convention, immediately attracted quite a bit of attention from rally attendees due to its unique aerodynamic styling.

“We’ve had a lot of customers come up to us that hadn’t really considered a Class A before just because of the size,” said Ryan Lee, marketing director for the Coburg, Ore., manufacturer. “They take a look at this, with the sleek design, and see that it’s really easy from an ergonomic standpoint to sit up there in the driver’s seat and drive that coach.”

Built on a proprietary 26,000-pound GVWR Monaco Roadmaster chassis and designed in conjunction with wind-tunnel testing, the single-slide 32-foot Vesta (a 35-foot floorplan also is planned) features a sloping front fascia, low center of gravity and tapered rear section. MSRP for the 32-foot coach is $195,000-$200,000.

“It’s pretty striking,” Lee said of the styling. “One of the things that we’re trying to do at Monaco is that, when a coach rolls down the road we want people to know it’s a Monaco; we want people to know it’s a Holiday Rambler (Monaco’s sister division). And this type of styling is going to get us there.”

Winnebago Via

Winnebago Via

Along with the Vesta, Monaco also brought several models with fresh 2011 floorplans to Redmond. “We’re showing our first 2011 Dynasty and Camalot here at the show,” noted Mike Snell, senior vice president of sales and product development for Monaco. “The Dynasty has a 500hp engine, and we’ve changed the paint scheme and have really upgraded the interiors. On the Camelot, we did the same: changed the front facia, the backsplash, put in a ceiling insert in the living room — we really dressed up the inside. We also have our slide-in-a-slide Diplomat here. We had the slide-in-a-slide in the Dynasty, and we added it to the Diplomat, which is a 43-footer.”

The Entegra Insignia, which debuted almost simultaneously at Affinity Group’s The Rally, July 22-25, at Louisville’s Kentucky Exposition Center and Redmond, is the Jayco division’s “entry-level” coach for the high-end Entegra line. Built on a 32,400-pound GVWR Freightliner XCR chassis powered by a 360-hp Cummins ISB diesel engine, the $265,000 MSRP Insignia features heated-and-enclosed holding tanks, frameless flush-mounted slideout rooms, gel goat fiberglass sidewalls and a steel-reinforced front cap and windshield frame plus interiors sporting glazed maple hardwood cabinets and leather hide-a-bed sofas.

Yet another new unit drawing a crowd was the 2011 model from Newell Coach Corp. Upgrades to the 2011 welded-steel-and-aluminum Newell motorcoaches — the first since the 2006 model year — include upgraded front caps with bright-white “string-of-pearl” LED running lights that outline the outer edges of the headlights, plus rear-body trim and redesigned side moldings. Interiors feature wood windowsill trim bordered with seamed leather, carbon-fiber instrument panels and automated air conditioning and heating.

The upbeat atmosphere at Redmond was, in the view of many dealers staffing the manufacturer exhibits, a reflection of a more optimistic viewpoint already noted at their respective dealerships.

Brian Kehoe, a sales consultant for Sandy, Ore.-based Johnson RV Sales who was manning the Entegra display, noted that the dealership “has experienced four months consecutive of record sales for the company. It’s been fantastic. All the way through, from the B class, C class, Class A gas and diesel units.” The dealership, site of the former Fred’s RV, opened under the Johnson RV Sales umbrella last year and features 12 service bays and three buildings — including an indoor showroom — on seven acres.

At the Tiffin exhibit, Rick Neat, a salesman from RV Corral, Eugene, Ore., one of three dealerships providing coaches for the display, called August “the best month in two years.

“There’s more business out there,” following the shuttering of dealers and OEMs alike during the recession, he said, adding that consumer credit is likewise on an uptick. “On the big money, it’s starting to ease up a bit. A lot of people are going to credit unions now, which are getting a lot more flexible than they were in the past.”

Mike Alverez, with All Seasons RV, Bend, Ore., concurred. “Our banks have loosened up,” he said at the Winnebago Industries Inc. exhibit. “They’ve changed on how they are financing. They are looking at people in a better light, where before it was tough to get financing accomplished. The other thing, too, is that GE, our flooring company, has backed off; they are letting us get product in here, and we’re making the turns we need to make to keep it going.”

Freightliner display

Freightliner display

Along with new coach designs and features, Redmond also was one of the first consumer shows to feature motorhomes fitted with new 2010 EPA emissions-compliant engines, and several exhibitors — including Gaffney, S.C.-based Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. and Spartan Chassis, Charlotte, Mich. — fielded questions from consumers and dealership personnel somewhat confused about the technical merits of the two competing drive systems developed to meet the EPA criteria. Cummins Inc. utilizes an aftermarket treatment system, while Navistar’s new MaxxForce engines employ Advanced EGR technology.

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Oregon’s FMCA Convention Now Underway

August 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The inside of the 2011 Itasca Ellipse motorhome on display this week in Redmond, Ore., looks like a living room.

On one wall, the coach has a sectional sofa and coffee table. A ceramic tile floor with granite inserts extends down the middle, and against the opposite wall sits a fireplace, lounge chair and computer desk.

“Looks like a small condo,” Mark McLaughlin, product trainer for Winnebago Industries Inc., which makes the Itasca line, told The Bulletin, Bend, Ore.

The layout on display at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center used the added space provided by the slideouts, the RV sections that pop out when it’s parked. As outfitted, it costs close to $345,000, said McLaughlin.

The 2011 Ellipse, new models from Monaco RV LLC, Entegra Coach and other manufacturers and motorhomes belonging to members of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) were among the expected 2,000 RVs filling the fairgrounds for the association’s annual convention.

It’s the fourth time the convention, which officially began Wednesday (Aug. 11) , has been held at the fairgrounds since 2001, and it’s expected to draw more than 6,000 people.

In the three years between this year’s show and the last convention in Redmond in 2007, the motorhome industry has traveled through tremendous turmoil, along with nearly every other industry.

From 2006 to 2009, shipments of all recreational vehicles fell about 58%, according to figures from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

In 2009, four manufacturers — Rexhall Industries Inc., Country Coach LLC, Monaco Coach Corp. and Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. — filed for bankruptcy.

Coburg-based Monaco, which owns the Beaver coach line once made in Bend, was acquired by Navistar International Corp. the same year, and is now Monaco RV LLC.

Through June of this year, however, production has been increasing, according to the RV association, and officials from motorcoach manufacturers and dealers expressed guarded optimism Wednesday at the convention.

New models, accessories and components were scheduled to be in the spotlight Wednesday night and today. FMCA members, however, also have many seminars, sightseeing tours and opportunities for socializing throughout the four-day event.

Some manufacturers featured new slimmed down, higher-mileage models, while others mentioned the certified green factories where their vehicles are made, and nearly all will be touting emissions-reducing technology that will help diesel-powered motor coaches meet new federal emissions regulations.

Monaco has its newest model, the Vesta, on display. Monaco and Navistar jointly developed the vehicle, which they unveiled July 29. The motorcoach is supposed to get 15 to 18 mpg, according to comments company officials made to RVBusiness magazine.

The Vesta, which will be made in 32- and 35-foot models, comes with cherry wood cabinetry, marblelike countertops and other high-end details usually only found in the larger coaches, said Pat Fraser, of Paul Evert’s RV Country, in Fresno, Calif.

“To get this kind of luxury, you usually have to go to a larger vehicle,” Fraser said.

Entegra’s Anthem 42-foot motorcoach has those details and more. It has 1 1/2 bathrooms, a full-size Whirlpool refrigerator, separate, stackable washer and dryer, a cedar-lined closet and four flat-screen televisions, one of which is on the exterior of the RV.

It’s located under a flip-up panel, part of an entertainment center that includes a stereo, speakers and, of course, the remote.

One of the newest features for many of the motorhomes is mostly hidden.

New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions guidelines call for reduced diesel-engine emissions, and different manufacturers meet them in different ways.

The system Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. has on display at the fairgrounds uses a catalytic-converter-like system that reduces vehicle emissions to only nitrogen and water, according to the company’s literature.

“It’s actually cleaner going out,” said Ken Nisley, of coach-maker Newmar, referring to the emissions, “than the air going in.”

The rally concludes Saturday.

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Attendance/Sales Soar at AGI’s The Rally

August 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Rally 2010 logoThousands of recreational vehicle enthusiasts from every state and province in North America celebrated the RV industry’s centennial at The Rally, a four-day extravaganza at the Kentucky Exposition Center, July 22-25.

An estimated 10,000 attendees – including those staying onsite in 2,867 RVs and 5,000 day pass visitors – demonstrate a boom in the RV industry with consumers showing their commitment to the lifestyle they enjoy. The event also pumped more than $11 million into the local Louisville economy, according to a news release.

Attendees browsed the latest and greatest RV models from 42 RV manufacturers and dealers and enjoyed 350 product booths displaying the newest RV products, gadgets and services.

Fleetwood RV Inc., one of the largest motorhome manufacturers in the country, significantly exceeded sales projections, while Lazydays, a leading RV dealer, sold 20-plus units. Pat Terveer, national sales director for Newmar Corp., another leading RV manufacturer, said the company had good results that included selling six of the seven motorized models it displayed at the show, including its luxury new amenity-packed, 2011 Essex diesel motorhome, a $650,000 model. Camping World, which was an exhibitor in both the RV Sales and RV Accessories areas, reported strong sales results as well.

“All in all, we exceeded expectations and The Rally couldn’t have gone better,” said Mike Schneider, CEO of Affinity, parent company of The Rally’s hosts. “Our exhibitors came to Louisville hoping to have a good show and they had a great show. When you put these folks together with our consumers, it gives us a powerful buying group that spends money on the lifestyle they love.”

For more than a decade, the annual Rally event has been hosted by Affinity, the nation’s largest provider of outdoor recreation clubs, services, media and events. Affinity’s family of affiliated companies, including the Good Sam Club, and Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines, works to enhance its customers’ recreational experiences and build the communities that share and promote their fun and adventurous lifestyles. Headquartered in Ventura, Calif., Affinity is leading the industry’s rebound by connecting consumers directly with manufacturers through The Rally and its 34 other consumer shows held annually across the country.

“The Rally demonstrates what we talk about everyday – we enhance the outdoor experience through connecting our partners with consumers,” said Terry Thompson, vice president of sales for Affinity Media/RV and a key organizer of The Rally. “We provide invaluable services to our members and, in turn, help advertisers connect with their target audiences. We produced a wonderful event for attendees, which created fantastic sales for exhibitors.”

The Rally celebrated the 2010 RV centennial in two big ways.

  • A special living display of 20 vintage RVs was organized in “Vintage Village,” showcasing models from 1937-1978.
  • Bob Livingston, senior vice president of Affinity Media, took 50 families on a sold-out pre-Rally Centennial Caraventure, which gave RVers an inside look into RVs, past and present.

Rounding out The Rally’s extensive event schedule, RV industry gurus presented more than 150 educational seminars, while stand-up comic Bob Newhart and legendary country music artist Tanya Tucker performed during its nightly entertainment program. New this year was “The Rally’s Got Talent” contest featuring a wide variety of acts and interesting talents on Sunday evening, July 25.

The Rally Dog Show, “Kentucky K-9s!” returned for the seventh year. Pet adoptions were also held with the Louisville Metro Animal Services where 12 pets found new homes as a result. Both are popular, recurring events in which Rally-goers showcase their love for their beloved four-legged co-pilots.

For updates on The Rally 2011, taking place in Redmond, Ore. July 14-17, visit www.therally.com, Twitter at www.twitter.com/therally, and Eons by clicking on www.eons.com/groups/group/the-rally. Information and pictures can also be found on The Rally Facebook group page at www.facebook.com/therally.

The Rally is hosted by the following Affinity companies: the Good Sam Club, Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines, Trailer Life and Woodall’s Campground Directories, Camp Club USA, Coast to Coast Resorts and Camping World President’s Club.

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Newmar Honors Florida Dealer for Service

July 28, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Newmar CEO and Chairman of the Board, Dick Parks presents the 2009 Mahlon Miller Service Excellence Award to Independence RV’s Service Manager, Todd Simpson, President/Owner Ronnie Jordan and General Manager Chuck Simpson.

Newmar CEO and Chairman Dick Parks (left) presents the 2009 Mahlon Miller Service Excellence Award to Independence RV’s Service Manager Todd Simpson, president/owner Ronnie Jordan and General Manager Chuck Simpson.

A Customer Satisfaction Score of 95.24% exceeded last year’s score of 94.26%, earning Independence RV Sales & Service Inc., Winter Garden, Fla., its second consecutive Mahlon Miller Service Excellence award for the best RV customer service in the nation from Newmar Corp.

The award was presented by Newmar Chairman and CEO Dick Parks and Vice President of Service Operations Matt Utley to Independence RV President Ronnie Jordan, Service Manager Todd Simpson and General Manager Chuck Simpson during a May visit to the dealership. Independence RV won in the super-competitive super-large RV category, according to a news release.

“The 10 questions on the Newmar Customer Satisfaction survey cover the entire RV dealership experience, and an operation must receive high marks on all parts of the experience to earn this award,” Parks said.

“Service is even more important today than it was five years ago — the way the market has been — customers have become savvier on the serviceability of a dealership. They’re not buying just based on price, they want to know if the dealership can take care of them after the sale,” said Utley.

“Every single member of our service team knows that their first and foremost duty is to satisfy the customer – and they do. That’s why we’re being recognized with this ‘best of the best’ award for two years running,” said Simpson.

To even be considered for Newmar’s top award, a dealer must score 90% or better in post-service customer surveys. To win, as did Independence RV, the dealer must beat out all other dealers throughout the United States and Canada.

Independence RV is not new to awards – the dealership has been in the top tier of Newmar service providers for each of the past five years. This is the second time Independence RV has won the nation’s top award.

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