Monaco RV LLC has announced it will unveil “The Next Generation of RVs” at the National RV Trade Show, Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, in Louisville Ky.
In partnership with Navistar and its 175 years of transportation expertise, Monaco will display in its products the adoption of the leading design strategies and production techniques from the transportation industry. This Next Generation of RVs from Monaco will elevate the RV experience for owners and dealers alike, according to a news release.
Products from all three Monaco RV brands, Monaco, Holiday Rambler and R-Vision, will be on display.
- From the R-Vision brand will be the all-new half-ton towable Onyx fifth-wheel, along with the affordable SilverCreek and Onyx travel trailers. The iconic nameplate Presidential fifth-wheel returns for Holiday Rambler Towables, along with the new half-ton towable Aluma-Lite fifth-wheel and Ion travel trailer.
- Holiday Rambler Motorized line of family-friendly affordable models will debut the all-new Aluma-Lite Class A, Aluma-Lite Class C and Vacationer to name a few. The Monaco brand will showcase the Vesta, the first fully vertically-integrated RV, where chassis, engine and house are all from the same manufacturer.
- Also on display from the Monaco brand will be the new Platinum interior of the Knight Diesel motorhome and the redesigned Camelot motorhome.
The Product Reveal will take place at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 30 in Booth No. 3200, Monaco RV displays the “Next Generation RV from Holiday Rambler.” This never-before-seen product will redefine the Holiday Rambler brand for the future to come. Representatives will be on hand daily, conducting seminars on the Maxxforce Advanced EGR engines and its benefit as a no-hassle solution for meeting 2010 emissions requirements. This clean emissions alternative is proven effective and simple to maintain, while providing a low-cost of ownership, as no additive is required.
Food and refreshments will be offered throughout the three day show, along with special giveaway events. Dealers and industry professionals are encouraged to stop by and discover “The Next Generation of RVs” at Monaco RV.
Monaco RV LLC today (Nov. 11) announced the hiring of Dave Terry as its director of towable sales.
The 25-plus-year RV industry veteran will lead the R-Vision and Holiday Rambler brands from the Wakarusa, Ind., facilities, further solidifying Monaco RV‟s commitment to its towable division, according to a news release.
“Dave has extensive managerial experience in all segments of the towable market, from inexpensive stick-and-tin models and ultra-lites to toy haulers and high-end fifth wheels,” said Mike Snell, vice president of sales and product development. “We are excited to have Dave on our team to re-energize our towable products and sales relationships.”
Known as a trusted partner among dealers, Terry has established successful relationships with dealers across the U.S. and Canada. He has lived in most regions of the country, which has provided him with a deeper understanding of the needs of dealers in those different regions.
“I am proud to join the Monaco RV team,” says the newly appointed Terry. “The incredible size and strength of Navistar, the iconic nameplates of R-Vision and Holiday Rambler and the corporate desire to revitalize its towable business, made this an excellent opportunity for me. We will give dealers across North America a financially secure and stable business partner they can trust and build their business models around. This will be the desired ‘win-win’ situation for our dealer partners.”
Terry resides in Goshen, Ind., along with wife, Suzann and their three children.
As the dust settles from the first annual Open House Week in and around Elkhart County, Ind., the region’s recreational vehicle manufacturers are beginning to assess the impact of what they experienced this week as at least 15 RV builders followed the lead of Elkhart-based Forest River Inc. in opening their doors to thousands of North American RV dealer personnel.
What makes it so unique and novel is that few of these companies worked together in orchestrating these open houses. No chamber of commerce or economic development agency called industry players to the table and proposed that they all, in concert, host dealers the week of Sept. 27-Oct.1.
This, instead, was more of a spontaneous action by RV builders intent on capturing the attention of North American RV retailers in the fall, even in some cases if it means pre-empting to an extent the industry’s traditional “Louisville Show,” the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show slated for Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in Louisville.
Again, Forest River started it all in 2008 when the economic atmosphere wasn’t all that good and the Berkshire Hathaway unit’s senior management decided to do something to build dealers’ spirits. Their answer was a big product show on the grounds of the company’s corporate headquarters on the west side of Elkhart.
“The recession led us to this because of our financial strength, and, being a strong company, we wanted to show the dealers that we thought that they needed a boost because a lot of the morale was weak that year,” recalls Forest River National Sales Manager Jeff Babcock. “We wanted to build the dealers’ confidence that, of course, Forest River’s going to be here and have them come down here, as we said, and stroll through the acres of product and have a good time on us.
“And I think we’ve got a pretty good reputation for taking care of dealers down here,” Babcock added. “We thought that, hey, it would be a good thank you to the dealers to throw something here. And, you know, we had a good turnout that year, and every year it continues to grow and grow and grow.”
The difference this year is that other manufacturers decided to piggyback on Forest River’s event with their own open houses on the same week, and the dealers came in droves, flooding area hotels, restaurants and bars starting on Monday. The action built up on Tuesday and peaked for the most part on Wednesday evening when hundreds of dealers converged on two sites in particular.
The social hour hot spots were rather predictable, as three Thor Industries Inc. divisions, Keystone RV Co. Inc., Thor Motor Coach and Breckenridge, worked together to host several hundred dealers at a happy hour gathering in a tent outside the RV/MH Hall of Fame on Elkhart’s east side. Some estimated the crowd at 650.
On the opposite side of town, Forest River presided over a blowout party so big – they say it drew in excess of 3,000 dealer personnel – that the company’s caterers were hard pressed to keep up. The party tent, which also featured live music like Thor’s, was positioned amid 500 display units.
From all we can tell, most all of the parties involved this week seemed to come away with a good taste in their mouths for the entire sequence of events. The general consensus was that, whatever occurred here in Elkhart this week, it was all “plus business.” And that goes for some of the smaller companies like Open Range RV, Evergreen Recreational Vehicles, Dynamax Corp. and Carriage Inc. for whom a story was posted earlier this week.
Manufacturers say that Open House Week did a good job of servicing an industry that is still finding its equilibrium on the heels of a global recession.
“It was fantastic,” said Doug Gaeddert, general manager of several Forest River divisions and first vice chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), sponsor of the annual Louisville Show. “Each year (the open house) gets better, and anybody who’s anybody in the RV business was pretty much in town this week. And, absolutely, it will be a record-breaking deal that will take us right on through into the first part of the year. It’s been fantastic.”
Gaeddert says everyone benefitted from the added participation of other companies. “I think it has benefitted the local community,” he said. “It’s obviously benefitted Forest River greatly and all the companies who have tagged on. I don’t know if there’s anybody left who didn’t do one this year. But if there are, I hope they do one next year.”
Forest River President and CEO Pete Liegl says the towable and motorized manufacturer drew in excess of 800 U.S. and Canadian dealerships and ultimately hosted 400 more people had pre-registered for the event, many of whom were bonafide buyers.
He says it’s all a general reflection of the industry’s surprising strength at this point in time. “Unquestionably,” said Liegl, “things have been good this year, and I think that things are going to be damn good next year. I really do.”
So, plan on Forest River following suit next year. “We’re running out of land,” said Liegl. “In fact, we added 20 acres next door that we didn’t have last year for extra parking. Heck, we can close down the streets next year, but I don’t know if we can outdo the enthusiasm of the dealers this year. I really don’t. Dealers are positive, happy, not only with us, but with everything. They’ve all had a pretty good year. They’ve survived 2009, and they’re operating much more like true businessmen, which is good, and I believe next year’s going to be even better. I really do.”
The general tenor of comments was much the same among the Thor companies that joined forces over at the Hall of Fame.
“It’s a good thing, a great thing for our dealers from all over the continent and overseas, and it’s a great thing for us as manufacturers,” Bill Fenech, president of Thor Motor Coach, told RVBUSINESS.com. “Dealers got to see a bunch of new products in a casual, relaxed environment. I can’t tell you how many dealers are saying ‘this is a great thing you’re doing for the industry.’”
“The venue here brings a whole different atmosphere,” noted Matt Thompson, vice president and general manager of Thor Motor Coach’s diesel brands. “And I think the dealers really appreciate it, and we’ve been able to really relax, sit down, spend a lot more quality time together with individual dealers and really rekindle some old relationships and build some new ones. It’s really unlike anything I’ve seen in the last ten years that I’ve been in this business.”
“For us, it was phenomenal,” Keystone President Bob Martin told RVBUSINESS.com. “It’s our first time doing it, and we’re very excited. We had great attendance.”
In anticipation of Open House Week, Martin said, Keystone moved some 2011 product changes forward on the calendar and had plenty for dealers to see. Fact is, Martin noted, September may be a better time frame for new model introductions rather than November or December when the Louisville Show is held – at least for some dealers and some products.
Thus, open house week could be playing a role in changing – to an extent – the industry’s habits. “It is,” said Martin. “Dealers are excited. They think it’s a good time of the year to come in and see product – a good time of the year to make buying decisions because they can buy new current product for the fall so they’re ready for spring show season. Everybody’s asked, ‘how does this affect Louisville?’ We don’t know yet. I mean, we’ll still have new products at Louisville and a reason to come to Louisville as well.
“Overall, though, it was very positive. Many dealers came through. They loved the product and the venue. You know, having it at the Hall of Fame is a draw. Many of the dealers actually haven’t been to the Hall of Fame, So, with that, it’s made the complete package with Keystone, Thor Motorized and Breckenridge. It’s been a very good venue for us.”
Indeed, the open house – a low-budget approach to manufacturer-dealer relations that has been used for years by individual companies — was a topic of choice over drinks at more than one local lounge as people began to analyze where all of this might lead.
Many in the industry have long treasured the fact that the recreational vehicle business still has a strong, single-site national show at which an entire spectrum of companies can participate, including component and service suppliers, aftermarket distributors, software vendors, finance companies, etc.
These open houses certainly aren’t cogent supplier venues, although a few suppliers did set up displays at a couple open houses. And their absence, most agree, would be a real problem if open house week ever gained an edge over Louisville.
Other concerns? How about the weather? The elements cooperated this past week; the weather was beautiful. But what if it wasn’t? With so many companies operating with outside venues, with tents in a few cases being the only shelter other than nearby factories and the insides of display units, the entire sequence of events was completely vulnerable to the elements. And everyone knows it.
As for expenses? While this whole phenomenon is sort of a low-budget sales tactic, it’s not all that cheap of an approach for the key manufacturers who covered dealers’ lodging, shuttle service and entertainment while in town.
And what about RVIA, the national trade association that depends so heavily on revenues from the Louisville Show to balance its annual budget? Louisville, loyalists point out, helps fund standards programs, political lobbying, public relations initiatives and so forth. What would become of the association and all of its critical services it if the wheels would ever come off the Louisville Show?
RVIA, for its part, is standing by and observing the whole scenario, cognizant, as RVIA President Richard Coon pointed out in a Monday (Sept. 27) statement, that “there continues to be strong, widespread industry support” for the Louisville Show.
“This year,” wrote Coon, “we will have 71 manufacturers and 230 suppliers displaying the latest RVs and products across more than 760,000 square feet of exhibit space. That is a substantial increase over the 604,000 feet of space used last year. Additionally, my colleagues at the manufacturing companies holding these events in Elkhart have assured me that the National RV Trade Show remains an integral part of their plans this year and moving forward.”
That said, few would argue that this past week’s activities around Elkhart County could be a harbinger of some eventual changes for the industry and, ultimately, for RVIA and the Louisville Show.
How much change remains to be seen.
“Well I think it’s changing the industry’s habits pretty greatly,” said Gaeddert. “As to the fate of the Louisville Show, which I know is a little bit of a question on everybody’s mind, I don’t think it threatens the Louisville Show. (But it’s) probably a little incentive for the Louisville Show to become a little more creative, raise the value of that product even further.
“Obviously,” he added, “I’m involved in RVIA, and I think it’ll push RVIA to increase the value of the Louisville Show and look at some issues – maybe timing – with respect to the value of that product. This is a competitive world, and I don’t care if you’re an association, a manufacturer, a publisher, if you don’t improve the value of your product continuously, somebody else will.”
“Louisville is a great show and it has its place,” noted Fenech. But he said that timing is a key issue because dealers who wait to buy at Louisville usually can’t get product in time for their key early retail shows – often not until February or March. In a perfect world where both the open houses and Louisville prevail, he suggests, dealers can do both – buy in September and December.
“Consider this a sneak peak at the Louisville Show,” adds Thompson, noting that his Thor division will be bringing significant new product to Louisville, including the company’s biggest unveiling of the year — a Class A that will be “one of a kind in the industry.”
“I think that dealers are taking more time in choosing the brands and the companies they do business with,” said Don Clark, president of Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., a Thor division that set up separately on the north side of Elkhart in a vacant boat manufacturing plant. “And having an Elkhart open house will give them an opportunity to meet with the manufacturer and find out not only if the product is a good fit, but if the company and the people are a good fit for their businesses.”
Dealers with whom RVBUSINESS.com chatted in Elkhart generally viewed the open houses as a plus. “You can see product in a relaxed atmosphere,” said Doug O’Banion, president of Motor Home Specialist, Alvarado, Texas, a key Monaco dealer and one of Texas’s largest RV retailers. “It’s a great idea for the manufacturers and the dealers to come and see what they have to offer. If we see something we don’t have, we’ll order it.”
O’Banion, on the other hand, doesn’t see the open houses as a viable replacement for the Louisville Show. “As a dealer,” he said, “you will see at Louisville what the other manufacturers have. You have to go to Louisville.”
Jeannie Haught, co-owner of Northtown Motor Home in Rockford, Mich., also sees a lot of value in Louisville and suspects that the open house impact will be minimal. “This is a product show,” she said of this past week’s events. “Louisville is where you go to see what your competitors are carrying. This should not hurt the Louisville Show.”
But Roger Smith, owner of Smith Trailer Sales in Monroe, Ind., thinks this latest open house twist could make the Louisville Show obsolete. “I think we can do away with Louisville,” he said. “I saw more here than in Louisville. That’s the disappointment (vs. the National RV Trade Show).”
Based on what they saw and experienced this past week in Elkhart, meanwhile, Robb Cusack, Rod Roy and David Epp of Fraserway RV’s seven-store Canadian operations feel they may have seen a glimpse of the future. The trio, who visited Gulf Stream Coach Inc., R-Vision, Starcraft RV, Evergreen and Thor events, among others, think this whole open house concept is going to get legs in the future.
“I feel this is the new Louisville,” said Cusack, who runs the company’s Halifax store. “This is where dealers are going to come and see what’s new for the following year for product. I mean, it’s very exciting to be here. The weather’s awesome. And I’ll tell you what: The manufacturers have gone way over the top. There’s entertainment, food – I mean we didn’t buy one meal in four days. It’s amazing.”
Monaco RV LLC will hold a dealer product Open House Sept. 28-30, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its Indiana facilities on 606 Nelson’s Parkway in Wakarusa,Ind.
On display will be motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth-wheels from each of Monaco RV’s three brands: Monaco, Holiday Rambler and R-Vision, according to a news release.
“With dealers in the area for RV events next week, we were receiving calls from dealers wanting to see our products and facility, so we decided to hold an open house,” said Mike Snell, senior vice president of sales and product development. “We will have numerous products on display along with our state-of-the-art production facility open for dealers to tour. We are extremely proud of our clean, modern facility, which houses the latest in manufacturing technology. Our manufacturing plants provide us with the capability to build the highest quality, best products on the market.”
“Along with our state-of-the-art facilities, with the backing of Navistar, we are able to bring cutting-edge truck industry technology to our products,” continued Snell. “We are the only RV company to achieve a fully integrated motorhome, with the chassis, engine and house coming from the same manufacturer. The new MaxxForce advanced EGR engines are being implemented into both our Monaco and Holiday Rambler products, to rave reviews from our dealers. Our gas line up has expanded as well, with the introduction of the new Holiday Rambler Aluma-Lite Class C and Vacationer.”
Snell continued, “In our R-Vision and Holiday Rambler towables, we continue to focus on the growth of these divisions by introducing new models, floorplans and innovations. The new R-Vision Onyx is a great example. This Euro-contemporary travel trailer is packed with high-end features, but still stays true to the R-Vision focus of lightweight design which ensures maximum towability. Our Holiday Rambler towable division is upgrading current models by adding more eye appeal, amenities and standard features. Both divisions have new products in the works and we will continue to further incorporate Navistar’s engineering and product development resources into these products.”
Concluded Snell, “With our open house, we will showcase the strengths of our company: our products, resources and employees. We’re excited for dealers to come see what the new Monaco RV – backed by Navistar – is all about and what it has to offer them.”
In the first meeting since the Monaco, Holiday Rambler and R-Vision brands were acquired by Navistar International Corp., Monaco RV LLC, Coburg, Ore., will debut new towable and motorized RV lines during its Monaco RV Dealers Congress July 28-29 at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in the Chicago suburb of Lombard, Ill.
The dealer congress will include product displays at Navistar’s nearby Melrose Engine Plant, including the debut of the Vesta diesel pusher motorhome and the lightweight Monaco Onyx travel trailer.
”These are the first RVs developed with Navistar and their engineering, ergonomic and fuel people from the truck group,” said Mike Snell, Monaco senior vice president of sales and product development. ”Onyx and Vesta have all the technology that Navistar uses.”
As part of the development process, wind tunnel tests on the two lines were performed at Navistar facilities in Texas.
About 200 people are expected to attend the two-day congress that will include presentations July 28 by Navistar CEO Dan Ustain, Truck Group President Jack Allen, Monaco CEO Kay Toolson and Snell. Monaco currently has a network of about 200 towable dealers and 55 motorized outlets, Snell said.
Thirty products will be showcased at the Melrose factory on Thursday.
Snell said the congress will be a no-nonsense business meeting. ”In today’s business climate, we want to get the dealers in, show them our products and get them back home,” Snell said.
Monaco in May launched a print and online marketing campaign featuring the slogan ”Where to Next?” with a focus on Monaco RV’s connection to Navistar, including adopting Navistar’s MaxxForce EPA-compliant EGR diesel engines as standard on Monaco motorhomes.
The new Vesta motorhome with a tapered rear end to reduce drag and unique grill work, initially will be available in 32- and 36-foot single-slideout floorplans equipped with Navistar MaxxForce 7 diesel engines mounted on Monaco’s proprietary Roadmaster chassis.
”Vesta will be the first fully integrated motorhome since the GMC,” Snell said. ”We’ll be able to tell Joe Consumer that he will be able to make one phone call to take care of everything — the chassis, engine and box.”
A Holiday Rambler version of the new motorhome — the Trip — will debut in November at the Louisville Show. ”We are doing some things that will differentiate it from the Vesta,” Snell said.
The European-influenced Onyx will be available in 25- and 31-foot double-slide floorplans.
MSRPs for the Vesta and Onyx were not available.
Monaco RV LLC has announced it has added a new towable production line at its Coburg, Ore., headquarters, making room to build the 2011 Super Sport travel trailer by R-Vision.
Adding the new towable production line affords Monaco RV the opportunity to hire new employees to meet the increased production and market demand, the company stated in a news release. The first unit rolled off the new line in early June, and is averaging four completed units per day, or 20 per week.
The Super Sport towable by R-Vision is a lightweight, sporty travel trailer, available in 10 versatile floorplans ranging in lengths from 19 feet to 32 feet.
According to Mike Snell, senior vice president of sales and product development, building the Super Sport in two separate facilities not only allows the company to place an emphasis on quality, but also allows the product to reach market much quicker. The product is also built in Indiana.
“With the increased demand for lightweight, low-cost towables on the West Coast,” Snell continued, “this new line will ensure we remain price competitive in this segment, and continue to expand our marketshare growth with the R-Vision brand.”
Monaco Coach Corp., which terminated 2,000 employees and filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month, has received a letter from a large company interested in buying the Coburg, Ore.-based RV maker for $50 million.
The proposed purchase plan by the unnamed company is outlined in parts of a 60-page document filed Wednesday (March 25) by Monaco in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, according to the Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore. The overall document is a routine motion, asking the court for permission to use money from sales of RVs to pay the bills and keep operating at a scaled-back level.
But portions of the filing refer to the letter of intent received Monday from “a major public company” that would pay cash or stock for “substantially all assets of (Monaco) related to (the company’s) core RV manufacturing business.”
The proposed sale would enable Monaco’s secured lenders – Bank of America and Ableco – to be repaid “all or a material part” of what the RV maker owes them, according to the court papers.
In addition, the document says, “jobs would be preserved for the local communities so heavily affected by the … current circumstances and certain creditors would be benefited by the continuation of (Monaco’s) business lines.”
Monaco spokesman Craig Wanichek declined to discuss the proposed sale on Wednesday, but hinted that a deal may be close.
“We’re not going to make an announcement (on Wednesday),” Wanichek said. “We intend that the announcement will be forthcoming (Thursday) or Friday.”
He would not address questions regarding the number of employees that might be rehired if a sale is completed or to what extent the purchasing company might resume operations. He also would not discuss the unnamed company that is mentioned in the court documents.
“That will be in our announcement,” Wanichek said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of different parties involved (in bankruptcy negotiations).”
Monaco currently owes Ableco $37.4 million on a $39.3 million, fixed-term loan that was obtained last November. The company owes Bank of America and other lenders another $36.3 million on an $80 million revolving loan fund that was also negotiated in November.
In its bankruptcy filing, Monaco estimated that it has 25,000 to 50,000 creditors.
Its factory in Coburg and its service center in Harrisburg have both been idle since December. A holiday furlough was extended three times before the company terminated 2,000 of its 2,145 employees on March 2. Three days later, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware – the state where it filed incorporation papers.
In the documents filed Wednesday, Monaco laid out alternate budgets that account for operations with or without the sale of its assets. The company could file a motion in Bankruptcy Court by April 15 to allow a sale to go forward. A sale could be completed by June 19, according to the papers.
The documents mention dates this spring for bidding and an auction related to the “major asset sale.” Wanichek would not say whether those actions will be necessary if the proposed sale of Monaco is accepted by the bankruptcy court.
Monaco was founded in 1968 in Junction City as Caribou Manufacturing Co., and builds motorhomes and trailers under the brand names Monaco, Beaver, Safari, Holiday Rambler, McKenzie and R-Vision. It also operates motorhome resorts in California, Florida, Nevada and Michigan.
But it closed three Indiana factories last summer, idling 1,400 workers, then suspended its dividend and cut production in half. The company began cutting jobs last April, laying off 600 workers in Indiana and Oregon after the first in a series of quarterly losses.
Early this year, Monaco hired the investment banking firm Imperial Capital to help it find a buyer.
Its stock was trading for $10 per share a year ago on the New York Stock Exchange, but it was delisted when its share price fell to 6 cents after this month’s layoffs. It now trades under the ticker symbol MCOA on the Pink Sheets, where its stock rose by a penny per share on Wednesday to 9.5 cents.
Also on Wednesday, Monaco filed notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it has been unable to complete its year-end 10-K financial report due to the bankruptcy filing and related issues. Also, the company said, key people in its accounting department have resigned, including employees who handle SEC filings. The company indicated that it would file a completed report by or after April 3.