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Northwood Mfg. Delivers 1st Snow River TT

December 21, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Officials gather at delivery of the first Snow River travel trailer built by Northwood Manufacturing Inc.

Officials gather at delivery of the first Snow River travel trailer built by Northwood Manufacturing Inc.

Tom Nelson, owner of Nelson’s RV’s Inc. in Boise, Idaho, took delivery of the first Snow River travel trailer produced by Northwood Manufacturing Inc., La Grande, Ore.

Present for the ceremony were Nelson who was accompanied by Office Manager Cynthia Nelson-Robinson and Nelson’s RV General Manager, Brent Thompson.

Susie Davidson with the Idaho Department of Commerce was there to recognize the event. On hand from Northwood Manufacturing Inc. were CEO Jim Jones; Director of Purchasing and Marketing Lance Rinker; Director of Manufacturing Keith Williams; and Northwood Sales Manager Jim Baehmann, according to a news release.

Snow River is one of four new brands recently launched by Northwood Manufacturing. Snow River is a step-up full line towable that offers travel trailers and mid-profile fifth wheels that will MSRP for $23,000 – $35,000. The four-season Snow River utilizes two option bundles to create a full-featured towable that includes a slideout, front fiberglass cap, aluminum wheels, power awning, LCD TV, DVD player, Winston Cherry cabinetry and many more amenities.

A prominent RV dealer in the Boise market, Nelson’s RV’s Inc. also operates a dealership in nearby Caldwell, Idaho. Nelson has been a Northwood dealer since 1995 and is a top retailing dealer for Northwood Manufacturing. Nelson, a full line Northwood dealer, perceives the addition of Snow River (and the other three new brands) as a way to increase his sales volume and strengthen his relationship with Northwood.

Northwood Manufacturing Inc. is a dominant towable manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. Northwood produces the iconic Northwest brands Nash, Arctic Fox, Arctic Fox truck campers, and Desert Fox toy haulers. In addition to the Snow River, Northwood has launched Fox Creek, a value-oriented trailer line; Fox Mountain, a mid-profile fifth-wheel line; and Wolf Creek, a value-oriented truck camper.

For more information call (800) Ron-Nash (800-766-6274); ; or visit the website: www.Northwoodmfg.com

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Northwood Mfg. Unveils 3 Lightweight Brands

November 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Northwestern U.S. towable builder Northwood Manufacturing Inc. has introduced three more affordable and lightweight towable brands — along with a truck camper for light-duty trucks — for the 2011 model year.

The new CampSite, Snow River and Fox Mountain towables and Wolf Creek truck camper were introduced to about 120 people attending an Oct. 12-15 open house at the company’s La Grande, Ore., headquarters.

”Our current brands are premium products and depending on the product, they are in the high-end of the price band,”said Sales Manager Jim Baehmann. ”That is acceptable because we’ve got value there for the discriminating market. But in terms of overall market, we’d prefer to participate in a lower part of the price band so we can participate in a larger portion of the market.”

The new brands are:

  • The entry-level CampSite, a basic fiberglass camping trailer available in six 17- to 27-foot floorplans. MSRP: $15,000 to $23,000.
  • Snow River, a new ”step-up” towable series with molded front caps and heated-and-enclosed tanks in eight travel trailer and four fifth-wheel floorplans. MSRP: $23,000 to $33,000.
  • The all-season Fox Mountain, a laminated fiberglass mid-profile fifth-wheel available in three floorplans with GVWRS under 9,500 pounds designed for lighter-duty tow vehicles. Two more floorplans will be added by spring. MSRP: $33,00 to $45,000.
  • A Wolf Creek welded-aluminum-and laminated fiberglass truck camper — also targeting lighter duty pickup trucks — currently available in two 8-foot floorplans with two additional layouts by spring. MSRP: $16,000 to 25,000.

Other brands in Northwood’s lineup include Arctic Fox travel trailers, fifth-wheels and truck campers, Nash travel trailers and Desert Fox sport utility trailers to which the company has made a series of upgrades for 2011.

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Magazine Outlines Northwood Succession

August 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Northwoods Manufacturing Co.'s

Northwoods Manufacturing Co.'s Ward King (left) and Jim Jones. Photo courtesy of Truck Camper Magazine.

Truck Camper magazine has published an interview with Jim Jones, CEO, and Ward King, COO, of Northwood Manufacturing. Interview topics include the status of Northwood Manufacturing’s founder and president, Ron Nash, the leadership transition, Outdoors RV and the vision for Northwood Manufacturing moving forward. The article is available now on Truck Camper magazine’s website at www.truckcampermagazine.com.

Founded in 2007, Truck Camper magazine is a free online magazine with over 400 feature length articles including camper news, lifestyle stories and a buyers’ guide. With over 35,000 unique visitors and 185,000 pageviews a month, TC‘s mission is to grow the truck camper marketplace by promoting truck campers as the most versatile and efficient form of RV on Earth.

To read that story, click here.

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Nash Expects Full Recovery from Jan. 12 Stroke

January 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Ron Nash

Ron Nash

Editor’s Note: Darin Nelson, sales manager for Outdoors RV Manufacturing, provided this release on the health of Ron Nash,  founder and president of Northwood Manufacturing Inc., who suffered a stroke on Jan. 12 and was hospitalized in La Grande, Ore.

After his condition stabilized, Ron entered a rehabilitation facility in Boise, Idaho, where he is working daily with speech and physical therapists. He has been communicating regularly with his family and company management, and is expected to make a complete recovery. Ron would like to thank all the employees, customers and friends who have sent expressions of concern and well wishes.

During Ron’s absence, Northwood and Outdoors RV continue to operate on a normal basis under the guidance of an experienced management team. The company has nearly 400 employees at its two manufacturing facilities in La Grande, making it one of the largest private employers in the area. Northwood and Outdoors RV products are distributed by dealers throughout the Western United States and Canada.

For continuing updates, please visit us at www.northwoodmfg.com and www.outdoorsrvmfg.com during the coming weeks.

Nash founded Northwood Manufacturing in 1993 and the company has grown steadily under his leadership. Northwood manufactures travel trailers, campers, toy haulers and outdoor support vehicles. In 2009, Nash purchased the Fleetwood Travel Trailer plant in La Grande and formed Outdoors RV Manufacturing, which produces four popular travel trailer models.

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CBS TV’s ‘The Mentalist’ to Go RVing This Season

September 14, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

 

Simon Baker of CBS drama "The Mentalist"

Simon Baker of CBS drama "The Mentalist"

Two RV companies’ products will be getting some quality air time on an upcoming episode of CBS Television’s popoular show, “The Mentalist.”

The Good Sam Club was contacted recently by CBS/Warner Bros. to provide a variety of vehicles for the show at a location shoot on Tuesday ( Sept. 15), according to Sue Bray, executive director of the club.

The club’s parent company, Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), provided two test trailers manufactured by Peterson Industries Inc., Smith Center, Kan., and Northwood Manufacturing Inc., La Grande, Ore.

AGI also supplied a boat, ATVs and motorcycles.

Warner Bros. is going to make a donation to Hole in the Wall Camps in exchange for the vehicles AGI provided, Bray noted.

“The Mentalist” revolves around a celebrated psychic-turned-detective (Simon Baker) who has a powerful gift for observation and investigates crimes for the California Bureau of Investigation.

RVBusiness and RVBUSINESS.COM are AGI holdings.

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OEMs Devising Smaller, More Fuel-Efficient RVs

August 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Editor’s Note: This is a review written by Jeff Johnston. His Motor Matter column runs in the Washington Times and other newspapers. He also is a contributor to RVBusiness.

More fuel-efficient is definitely “in” these days when it comes to RV products. Manufacturers are coming up with interesting, new, smaller motorized and towable options for those looking for something a bit different to fit today’s economic sensibilities.

Winnebago Via

Motorhomes based on the Dodge Sprinter van, both the full van and cutaway chassis, are popular and commonplace today. Winnebago Industries Inc. has gone one step further with the introduction of its all-new 2010 Via Class A motorhome.

The Via and its Itasca equivalent, the Reyo, are based on the Sprinter “cowl” chassis that’s currently being imported exclusively by Winnebago. This chassis allows the company to design its entire coach from the ground up, as is typical for any Class A motorhome, instead of working with the Sprinter cab or body features used on the earlier models.

At 25 feet long, the Via is a compact vehicle, yet it offers full-featured livability and comfort. At the same time, its 154-hp Mercedes-Benz 3.0-L turbo-diesel 6-cylinder engine delivers fuel economy numbers considerably higher than the average gas-powered Class A and better than various front- or rear-engine diesel-powered rigs on the market.

Sprinter-van-based Class B motorhomes are reported to achieve as much as 20-plus mpg. Winnebago hasn’t released any fuel economy figures yet, but it’s reasonable to presume that the Via will achieve lower numbers than the smaller van-based rigs, but still better than a V-8-powered coach.

Contemporary body styling and graphics give the coach visual appeal, and the interior abounds with smooth, rounded surfaces and next-generation-looking cabinets. It’s a rig that likely would please the most persnickety type who doesn’t want just another box on wheels.

The Via starts at $135,132 base MSRP. That’s not cheap, but long-term fuel savings make it a viable investment option.

True North Freelance OSV

The interest in downsized trailers means more RV manufacturers are treading the fine line between an RV and a simple enclosed place to sleep on wheels. Northwood Manufacturing Inc., a company long known for building functional and high-quality RVs designed by outdoors enthusiasts, has developed a new small trailer that fits a variety of recreation product niches.

The new Freelance Outdoor Support Vehicle (OSV) by Northwood’s True North division is an exciting addition to the smaller-RV market. It resembles one of the classic teardrop-style trailers on steroids and offers a wide variety of equipment and function options.

In essence, it’s a 1,535-pound trailer with a sofa that folds down to a bed, a rear lift hatch that covers a kitchenette unit and several exterior-access storage compartments. Its rounded front and sloped aft end help with aerodynamics, and the unit’s 16-foot, 4-inch length means it can be stored in many garages.

As with a teardrop, users need to bend over inside as the entire rig is just 6 feet 9 inches tall overall from ground to roofline. Inside, it’s just the sofa/bed that folds down to 48 x 77 inches, some mesh storage pockets, and extra open storage space. A lower-level access hatch provides pass-through long-item storage capability.

And that’s still a lot more luxurious than the average tent. The Freelance OSV is aimed at those who want to make the leap from a tent into an RV without a lot of complications or cost. This rig retails for about $8,250 base MSRP, and heads up to closer to $13,100 fully equipped.

Users can opt for the base package or equip the Freelance OSV with a wide variety of options including a complete array of Thule rack-mount storage and sporting-toy-mount or camping accessories.

The Freelance OSV is an interesting and versatile new option for first-time RVers or those wishing to expand the flexibility of their leisure time activities.

Chalet RV: Moving and Shaking

The product designers at Chalet RV Inc. have been busy with a new model aimed at the lightweight towable market. A company spokesman said the product would be ready for introduction very soon, pending some final detail touches on the first model.

While it’s no big news to build a lightweight RV these days, the big difference lies in how your lightweight compares to the other guy’s product.

The new Chalet model is said to break new ground in that regard and will offer full livability features, including a dry bath, in a very compact size. It’s not a fold-down, like another popular Chalet product line, and it’s not a teardrop, although it blends elements of each.

It also uses wide-body design to help achieve extra interior space.


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Oregon OEM Makes Big Moves in Northwest Market

July 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

 

Outdoors RV Mfg. CreekSide travel trailer

Outdoors RV Mfg. CreekSide travel trailer

While the RV industry generally is in the doldrums, Ron Nash, president of Northwood Manufacturing Inc., La Grande, Ore., hasn’t let that stop a major expansion effort on his part in the Northwest.

In recent months Nash has:

  • Purchased for just over $2 million Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.’s 86,000-square-foot La Grande factory that Fleetwood closed before declaring chapter 11 bankruptcy in March.
  • Started another company — Outdoors RV Manufacturing Inc. — hiring  about 100 former Fleetwood employees to build four new towable brands in the former Fleetwood plant.
  • Acquired more than $200,000 in parts and supplies from Riverside, Calif.-based Fleetwood as part of a new program to enable Outdoors RV to repair orphaned Fleetwood Prowler, Wilderness, Terry, Mallard and Backpack travel trailers.
  • Built a 40,000-square-foot chassis shop adjacent to Northwood’s factory in La Grande, leasing part of it to axle manufacturer Al-Ko Kober, to supply chassis for both Northwood and Outdoors RV products.

Nash, for his part, says he’s in for the long haul.

”This is my job,” Nash told RVBusiness. ”This is what I love doing. Whether there are half as many people in the business when this is all over with, it’s not going to be me that is going to be gone. We have been low key about spending money, and we socked a lot away so that we can do what we need to do.”

The new chassis facility and recently created Outdoors RV lines greatly increase Nash’s presence as a regional manufacturer in the Northwest U.S. and Western Canada. Outdoors RV also puts Nash in the entry-level and lightweight towable markets for the first time.

Outdoors RV has completed 50 units and signed up about 40 dealers since going into production May 19 with the entry-level CreekSide (wood and aluminum), lightweight TamarackTrail (aluminum and fiberglass), TimberRidge (aluminum and laminated fiberglass) and luxury lightweight WindRiver (aluminum and laminated fiberglass) travel trailers. Base MSRPs range from $15,000 for the CreekSide to $29,000 for WindRiver.

Nash reported a backlog of 450 units, an impressive number for a new company in a tough market. ”A lot of our units are being sold through the good Fleetwood dealers who were there before,” Nash said.

Former Fleetwood Vice President Jim Croxton serves as general manager of the new Outdoors RV operations and Darin Nelson is sales manager.

While Nash has focused recently on getting the Outdoors operation up and running, he reported that sales of Northwood’s Nash and Arctic Fox travel trailers and fifth-wheels, Arctic Fox truck campers and Desert Fox sport utility RVs have increased substantially from a year ago.

”Production is down from a few years ago, but last week we did 63 units,” Nash said. ”Truck campers have really taken off. Last year, there were times when we were only six or seven a week.”

Production of the newly named Outdoors units — CreekSide, TamarackTrail, TimberRidge and WindRiver travel trailers — is expected to result in $28 million to $30 million in sales the first year, according to Nash, the former general manager in the early 1990s of the Fleetwood La Grande plant that he bought for just over $2 million.

Fleetwood should emerge soon from Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a motorized RV builder under new ownership, but not in towables.

Although moving to fill the market vacuum in travel trailers created by Fleetwood exit, Outdoors RV will not replicate Fleetwood’s offerings.

”We are changing some things to make the product more bulletproof,” Nash said, noting that front caps on Outdoors RV products will be fiberglass instead of ABS to better withstand cold temperatures. Units also will be better insulated and equipped with heated and enclosed holding tanks while radius rubber roofs have replaced fiberglass roofs for the same reason.

”We want to make sure our stuff is more durable,” Nash said. ”Our whole thrust is that customer want units that will stay together, and they want companies that stay together. If the customers aren’t happy, you’re toast.”

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Northwood Tops Other Suitor for La Grande Plant

May 14, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

A bidding war  of sorts Wednesday (May 13) in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside, Calif., netted Riverside-based Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. a slight premium for its defunct travel trailer plant in La Grande, Ore.

Judge Meredith Jury approved the sale of Fleetwood’s plant to Northwood Manufacturing, a 15-year-old company based in La Grande that has 400 employees. Northwood paid $2.05 million for the plant.

Arbutus RV and Marine Sales Ltd., a British Columbia-based retailer, had initially offered $1.8 million for the facility. Arbutus, a Fleetwood retailer that would have had to find someone to run the manufacturing operation, raised its offer to $2 million, but the judge ruled Northwood the winner, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Fleetwood, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, is selling off some of its assets to raise enough money to help it continue to operate without accepting an $80 million debtor-in-possession financing plan from Bank of America. Fleetwood hopes a buyer for the entire company can be found while it continues to operate, according to the newspaper.

The judge also approved the sale of equipment in Fleetwood’s Mexicali, Mexico, travel trailer plant to Krystal Enterprises LLC of Brea, Calif., for about $150,000. Krystal manufactures high-end Class B and C motorhomes,stretch limousines and midsize luxury buses.

Fleetwood opened the Mexicali plant, its first foreign operation, in 2007. Craig Millet, Fleetwood’s bankruptcy attorney, told the court he offered to show others the factory but there were no takers.

“The market is extremely thin for this equipment,” Millet said.

Bank of America must still agree to Fleetwood’s financing plan, but approval of that was continued until May 26.

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Fleetwood Gets 2nd Bid for Oregon Plant

May 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

A second bidder has entered the auction for the defunct Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. travel trailer plant in La Grande, Ore.

Northwood Manufacturing Inc., based in La Grande, has met the statutory requirement by bidding at least $100,000 over the earlier bid submitted by British Columbia RV dealer Craig Little, owner of Arbutus RV & Marine, according to Fleetwood attorney Craig Millet. Little’s bid was $1.8 million. The deadline to submit a bid was last Friday.

Northwood’s owner, Ron Nash, was traveling this week and unavailable for comment. But according to Millet, he understands Northwood would use the former Fleetwood facility to make travel trailers.

Northwood builds travel trailers, truck campers, fifth-wheels and sport utility trailers.

The firm’s business has been “picking up” the past three to four weeks, according to a company spokesman, and all production lines are in operation.

Northwood’s interest in buying the Fleetwood plant means both interested parties will need to attend a hearing on Wednesday afternoon in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside, Calif., where an auction will take place, Millet explained. The highest bider will get the plant. Fleetwood has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since March 10.

The court also will be asked to rule that afternoon on a motion to allow Krystal Enterprises, based in Brea, Calif., and makers of Krystal Coach limousines, to assume all liabilities of the former Fleetwood travel trailer plant in Mexicali, Mexico, and take over the leased plant. Fleetwood began making travel trailers in Mexico several years ago but discontinued operations there and faces a long-term lease liability for the facility.

Fleetwood  had operated the plant in La Grande for about 40 years before closing for good in March. The work force had declined from a peak of about 300 to 160 when the plant finally shut down, according to The Observer, La Grande.

Little is a prominent RV dealer in western Canada and operates five RV dealerships in the province. He has never built RVs but hopes to change that by building travel trailers similar to the former Fleetwood product. Little noted that there is “a strong, highly experienced work force already there” in La Grande and he wants to put it back to work.

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