“When I built the first one for myself, it was just that, I built it for myself. I never envisioned it would go as far as it has,” said Tolbert.
He designs and builds outside of the box which can be seen in his more conservatively priced truck campers all the way up to his fancy custom-designed RVs.
His designs guarantee you are never leaving the house without exactly what you need.
“So we can do things other RVs can’t. I’m towing a trailer that weighs 28,000 pounds behind me that has all the things we are blessed to have in Idaho,” said Tolbert.
Tolbert stressed this isn’t just for the wealthy.
“It doesn’t have to be the millionaires that have nice stuff. We can build something in a conservative way that most anyone can afford,” said Tolbert.
Tolbert definitely wears a lot of hats and is now in the middle of his most elaborate RV project yet while filming for the Travel Channel’s show “Extreme RV.”
This has been a unique experience because the show has been documenting the entire building process from the start until it is finished.
For the full story click here.
Editor’s Note: Examiner.com recently published a lengthy story on Powerhouse Coach, a builder of luxury motorcoaches. Excerpts follow. To read the entire story, click here.
When Doug Tolbert, a 20-year veteran of the towing and auto body business, founded his fledgling RV manufacturing business back in 1997, he probably had no idea that his coach building sideline would turn into a full-time business.
Dissatisfied with what the RV market had to offer he decided to build his own motorhome and in 1998 his first tricked out luxury “Powerhouse” Coach – on a full size class 8 diesel truck chassis – hit the road. Initially intended for his own personal use his first two custom-built coaches proved so popular that by the turn of the millennium, he found himself operating a full-time RV manufacturing business.
By 2004 his annual sales exceeded $1.3 million and by 2010, in spite of the struggling economy, his projected sales will reach $2.8 million. Today, Powerhouse Coach continues to build its signature Ultra Line custom luxury motorcoach but has also added trailers, toter trucks, special use emergency vehicles and a new line of pickup campers to its product portfolio.
When Talbert, 45, established Powerhouse Coach he received backing from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Zions Bank, and the SBA loan guarantee program. The Idaho SBDC and Brigham Young University also provided consultancy advice to assist Talbert in developing a marketing plan for his new venture.
Although the concept of building an RV on a class 8 chassis was not new, Talbert was sure that his product would stand out unequivocally from his competitors and was confident that his extensive business acumen, his entrepreneurial flair and the quality of his product would be enough to carry Powerhouse Coach to success.
But bringing a new product to market is not without risk and the demise of Zimmerman, Minnesota-based Kingsley Coach in 2008, Talbert’s closest competitor, amply illustrates Len Hardy’s old adage that, “businesses go under through lack of cash not lack of profit.” Kingsley – established in 1994 – also produced custom coaches on a variety of class 7 and 8 chassis supplied by Peterbilt, Kenworth, Volvo and Freightliner. Their vehicles were impressive and included a massive 56-foot-long single-unit Mobile Incident Command Vehicle for the Maryland State Police and a 50-foot-long, 50,000-pound mobile showroom for Silestone floors. Such high profile sales helped generate annual revenues of as much as $6.2 million (2006) but the company’s ongoing operating losses continued to mount and ultimately forced Kingsley out of business.
Fortunately Powerhouse had a “rainy day” fund and was able to weather the recession. “Six to eight months ago it was pretty tough but it’s kind of on the rebound now … I see a lot of positive things out in the market place,” said Doug.
Motorhome manufacturing is a tough industry and it’s clear that staying focused on the customer is the key to Talbert’s success, “there’s probably nobody that works with a customer closer than I do to take something from concept and design to reality,” said Talbert.
It’s certainly hard not to be swayed by the fact that he knows his product, believes in his product and sells with considerable enthusiasm. In large part this appears to be motivated by his belief that many current motorhomes are demonstrably unstable and underpowered. Talbert’s view that, “production motorhomes are just very poorly built,” is supported by the significant RV aftermarket for shocks, anti-sway bars and air bags – all of which are intended to help stabilize a motorhome chassis by reducing sway and roll. This naturally makes one wonder why so many coachbuilders are seemingly unconcerned with the performance of their finished product.