While acknowledging the need to keep pace with the industry’s rapidly evolving landscape, Jayco Inc. officials equally stressed the importance of its family-grown roots and adherence to “our core values” as the company opened its 2012 Dealer Homecoming Monday (June 18) in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“Businesses throughout the world spend a lot of money every year trying to find the winning formula for improving their performance and competitive advantage,” stated Derald Bontrager, president and COO of the Middlebury, Ind.-based company, while delivering the keynote speech to attendees representing 145 Jayco dealerships at the Sheraton Resort Hotel and Convention Center. “What many organizations often fail to realize, in my opinion, is that lasting success comes from having a team that recognizes that people and values are their most important assets.”
Tying into the meeting’s theme of “One Family, One Future,” Bontrager noted, “Yes, we’re a family business. And we have included you in our extended family. And that means we’re all in this journey together. That’s where we’re different from most of the others.”
That journey includes, according to Bontrager, staying in step with an often-fickle and increasingly technologically-savvy consumer. “Our future depends on our ability to satisfy the passions of a shifting marketplace,” he said. “Today we are operating under a whole new set of wants, needs and desires on the part of our customers. That, and the economic realities which periodically cycle through our industry, have altered our business.
“The simple fact of the matter is that, out of necessity, Jayco has changed, is changing, and will continue to change.”
To reinforce the point, Bontrager reported that the company’s retail sales were up 16% year-to-date compared to the previous year. “That is an outstanding achievement, even in an improving economy,” he said.
He added that Jayco’s new generation of product, prominently displayed for dealers in Myrtle Beach, also offered evidence that the builder was in tune with today’s consumer.
“One of the worst business clichés, in my opinion, is, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’” Bontrager said. “The moment we have a product or service that is innovative or hot in the market, someone else is trying to figure out how to do it faster, cheaper and better. So our goal in product management is to obsolete our own products before someone else does. So, if it ain’t broke, we’ll break it.”
Bontrager also related that Jayco’s Twin Falls, Idaho, facility will play a key role in future plans, noting, “Expansion of our offerings out of our western facilities remains a high-priority item as we plan our strategy for the future.”
Following Bontrager’s opening remarks, several awards were presented to dealers, including:
• The Jayco Founders’ Award for 2012 was presented to RV City based in Morinville, Alberta, owned by Ross and Jean Hodgins. The dealership, founded in 1968, was first named to Jayco’s Gold Circle in 1991. The retailer currently operates on a 15-acre site and employs 60 employees.
• The top five Jayco motorhome dealers in North America were: No. 5, Vogt Motorhome Center, Ft. Worth, Texas, Danny Vogt and Aaron Vogt; No. 4, Camping World RV Sales, Albuquerque, N.M., Dane Wyatt and Nora Rashid; No. 3, K & C RV Centers, Longmont, Colo.; No. 2, Terry Town Travel Center, Grand Rapids, Mich.; and No. 1, Richardsons RV Centers, Riverside and Menifee, Calif., Steve Richardson.
• The largest towable dealer award and the No. 1 combined award were presented to Happy Trails RV Inc., Grande Prairie, Alberta and Prince George, British Columbia, Peter and Susan Teichroeb, and Neal Stranaghan and Madonna Reardigan.
• Gold Circle awards went to dealerships marking milestones with Jayco, including: 40 years, Thompson Family RV, Davenport, Iowa, Brad and Brandy Thompson, Ayton and Dalton Thompson; 30 years, Town & Country RV Center, Clyde, Ohio, Dale and Holly Tea, and Bill Tea; 25 years, Miles Motors, Swannanoa, N.C., Miles and Colene DeBruhl; Steve’s RV Center, Lacombe, La., Steve and Josh Bordelan; Crestview RV Center, Buda, Texas, Mike and Vickie Regan, Lindsey and Kelsey Regan; Hope’s Camper Corner, Monroe, La., Lloyd and Beverly Sivils; RV City, Huachuca, Ariz., Ron, Vi, Daniel, Daniella, Sadie and Torrie Hoffman.
Recreational vehicle and manufactured housing builder Skyline Corp. reported a net loss on increased revenue for its fiscal third quarter, ended Feb. 29.
Total net sales in the period were $36.8 million, a 16% increase from the $31.8 million reported in the same period a year ago. RV sales rose 34% to $17.7 million from $13.3 million in the previous year while housing revenue edged up 3% to $19 million.
Net loss for the third quarter of fiscal 2012 was nearly $7.4 million as compared to a loss of $8.7 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2011. On a per share basis, net loss was 88 cents compared to $1.04 for the same period a year ago.
Elkhart, Ind.-based Skyline announced the closure of its recreational vehicle facility in Hemet, Calif., due to weak demand in its market area – primarily states in the Pacific and Rocky Mountain regions. Operations are expected to conclude in April. The company said dealers that purchased recreational vehicles from this facility will have their product needs met by the facilities in Bristol and Elkhart.
Other highlights included:
• The board approved a resolution to suspend dividend payments on the outstanding shares of the corporation’s common stock until further notice. The suspension was for cash preservation purposes. The Board will evaluate financial performance and liquidity needs in determining the timing and amount of future dividend payments.
• Skyline reached a settlement in the case of FEMA formaldehyde product liability litigation. The settlement resulted in the corporation incurring a charge of approximately $400,000. The total settlement of $737,000 was remitted to the United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana subsequent to Feb. 29.
To view the entire report click here.
KZ RV LP will celebrate both its 40-year history and the future of the company during the upcoming dealer open house May 30-31 at its headquarters in Shipshewana, Ind., according to a press release.
“It’s an exciting time for several reasons. We’re proud of our past, and we’re eager to forge ahead,” said Andy Baer, KZ’s vice president of sales and marketing. “The recreational vehicle market has shown great resilience and the buying public are ready to get out and enjoy the RV lifestyle.”
KZ will show new products, conduct plant tours, give out dealer awards and hold social events for dealer attendees and KZ employees. Last year, 130 people from about 70 dealerships attended the open house.
“We like to give our dealer partners a sneak peek at what we’re working on, because they give us valuable feedback. They know what will sell and how we can make our products even more attractive to buyers,” Baer said. “That kind of input is critical to our ability to remain relevant, and it’s a big reason why we’re thriving after 40 years.”
Baer acknowledges that KZ’s spring open house is an unusual event considering the recent boom of manufacturers’ fall open houses in northern Indiana.
“Those events have their own purpose. In the fall, we receive many visitors spanning various levels of relationship with us, including casual observers who just want to see what we’re about, and we welcome that,” he stated. “Meanwhile, this invitation-only spring open house is for our established dealer partners so we can applaud their accomplishments, get their recommendations on product developments, rekindle our friendships with dealers – some of which span multiple generations – and just talk about the future. We want to give these special people our undivided attention for those couple of days.”
Baer said that KZ’s 40th anniversary will be a focal point all year in communications and outreach among all channels and associates. “KZ is proud of its heritage and we’re fully aware that it’s because of our dealers, employees and vendors that we’ve had so much success,” he explained. “We’re going to tell them ‘thank you’ every chance we get.”
For more information about the dealer open house, e-mail KZ RV at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: The following is an article from the Elkhart (Ind.) Truth featuring industry veteran Ed Kinney detailing the demise of venerable builder Carriage Inc. To view the entire story and accompanying pictures click here. Kinney can be contacted at (574) 596-7444 or email@example.com.
On a recent morning inside his studio, Ed Kinney was gluing pebbles onto his latest creation, a fairy house, and listening to a recording of singer Tony Bennett. Behind him sat a barber chair, sink and large mirror for the times when someone drops by for a quick haircut.
Kinney is an artist, a barber, an entertaining talker and a former RV industry executive who watched Carriage Inc. crumble from the inside. He harbors sadness and anger over the demise of the luxury fifth wheel maker, admitting he had a difficult time coming to terms with the company’s closure.
Yet when he talks about Carriage, the stories that come out first are the happy ones.
“Carriage, I always told people it was a magical place because of the people,” he said. “They took the time to do things right. They had a schedule but if something was wrong, they stopped the whole line to fix it. They had a lot of pride in what they were doing.”
Founded in the late 1960s, Carriage produced well-built, high-quality recreational vehicles at its Millersburg campus. In October 2011, production abruptly halted and then a few days later, PNC Bank filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer, stating Carriage was in default of its obligations to the bank.
The real estate has been put into receivership at the request of PNC and the assets were auctioned in a marathon session that lasted 14 hours Feb. 21. Kinney, the former vice president of sales and marketing, said he attended the sale long enough to see CrossRoads RV, a division of Thor Industries, purchase the Carriage intellectual property, including the name and fiberglass molds.
Ironically, Kinney’s RV career ended at the same place it began, Carriage. He had just closed his small barbershop to pursue a job offer in the manufactured housing industry that quickly turned sour. Kinney was then thrown a lifeline by Clarence Yoder, the founder of Carriage, who offered him the opportunity to learn about making and selling fifth wheels.
“Carriage was special because it was a great company with incredible people,” Kinney said.
To view the entire story and accompanying pictures click here.
Indiana’s LaGrange County Economic Development Corp. (LCEDC) has awarded a $50,000 grant from the LaGrange County Investment Fund to CrossRoads RV.
According to a press release, the towable builder announced last December that it was expanding operations and constructing a new facility at its campus in Topeka. The project is expected to result in the creation of up to 250 new jobs at CrossRoads RV by 2014, and will include approximately $3.9 million in new investment in the community.
“We are thankful for the assistance from the LCEDC and the LaGrange County Investment Fund,” said Don Emahiser, president of CrossRoads RV. “We were nearing capacity with our current facilities, and really needed to find additional manufacturing space. This grant from the Investment Fund really helped us make constructing a new facility that is tailored to our needs a reality.”
“We are always happy to help a local company like CrossRoads RV expand their operations in our community,” said Ken Mishler, chair of the LaGrange County Investment Fund Advisory Board. “This grant helped CrossRoads RV create another large investment into our LaGrange County community and we are thrilled that they have continued to grow locally.”
The CrossRoads RV grant represents the largest job creation project to date. “Making LaGrange County attractive for business investment is the main goal of the LCEDC and the Investment Fund. We are thankful to the LaGrange County Commissioners and Council for giving us the ability to provide an investment incentive such as this to our customers to help them bring growth to our community,” said Mark Leu, chairman for the LCEDC. “Their foresight in helping the LCEDC create this fund continues to pay dividends for our economic development efforts.”
“CrossRoads RV has been a great partner for the Town of Topeka and LaGrange County, and we’re excited that they have continued to grow in our community,” said Keith Gillenwater, president and CEO of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp. “A local success story like the continued growth of CrossRoads RV as one of our largest employers is truly what the mission of the LCEDC is all about –bettering the lives of all in our community through the opportunities that economic development brings.”
Jayco Inc. recently launched a new “mobile website” making product information and owner resources accessible from anywhere.
Featuring easy-to-use navigation and an optimized layout, the site provides the same important information about Jayco products and services as the company’s website, www.jayco.com, but in an all-mobile package, according to a press release.
Customers can access the site by visiting jayco.com on their mobile device with the site immediately redirecting traffic to the new mobile site.
“We are excited to launch a tool that allows customers to connect to the Jayco brand from anywhere,” said Sid Johnson, director of marketing for Middlebury, Ind.-based Jayco. “We want to provide our customers with easy access to information about our products and our dealers. The Jayco mobile website will be powerful in enhancing the digital Jayco experience.”
The mobile site showcases Jayco’s extensive product line of RVs with its organized list of features, specifications, floorplans and photos. Allowing for easy product research, the site allows customers to easily shop Jayco’s camping trailers, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, motorhomes and toy haulers, all on a mobile device.
Other key features of the site include: A dealer locator with mapping feature; roadside assistance information; a campground locator; towing guidelines; and an RV glossary.
Goshen, Ind.-based Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. has named Kelly Green as vice president of operations with responsibilities over engineering, purchasing and manufacturing.
“The primary objective of this appointment is to improve cross-coordination of engineering, purchasing and manufacturing within Dutchmen. This will accelerate improvements with respect to operating efficiencies, cost reduction initiatives, product quality, and operational initiatives,” said Cam Boyer, president of Dutchmen in a press release.
Dutchmen said that Green brings a strong background to this position with over 16 years experience in the RV industry where he has a solid reputation for his leadership, dealer and customer relationships, and management skills. He organized and led teams responsible for customer relationships, after sale technical service support, dealer website for warranty transaction processing and part ordering, material procurement, product design, strategic investments and overall company strategy. He also was a member of the leadership team responsible for the successful turnaround of Dutchmen.
Green holds a bachelor’s in business administration and has served on the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Committee of Excellence.
“Kelly is a strong member of the Dutchmen Team with an understanding of how to run a business successfully,” said Boyer. “He has a great depth of experience in dealing with our customers and is a strong agent for change. When you put all of these qualities and experiences into one package, we have an extraordinary resource on the Dutchmen team that will help us strive towards our goal of producing the best value products in the market. I am excited about the effect this will have on Dutchmen’s performance.”
CrossRoads RV, a manufacturer of towable recreational vehicles, said it plans to expand its operations in the northern Indiana town of Topeka, creating up to 250 jobs by 2014.
The Indianapolis Business Journal reported that the company plans to invest $3.9 million to buy land and construct a 93,000-square-foot facility adjacent to its existing 45-acre campus in Topeka, which is between Elkhart and Fort Wayne. The new facility will house the company’s Cruiser product line and is expected to begin operations in June.
“The new plant will give us the needed flexibility to expand our Cruiser line of RVs,” said Don Emahiser, president of CrossRoads RV. “The work force in Topeka is top-notch in our industry, and we are glad that we are able to expand at our home in this area.”
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered CrossRoads RV up to $2.25 million in tax credits and up to $200,000 in training grants based on the company’s job-creation plans. The town of Topeka will consider additional tax abatement.
CrossRoads RV, a division of Thor Industries Inc., already employs more than 600 at its six plants in Topeka and Syracuse. The company plans to begin hiring additional administrative, manufacturing and maintenance employees early next year.
“Indiana entered the recession making about half of all RVs. Now, we’re making more than four out of five,” Gov. Mitch Daniels said in a statement. “That’s what happens when businesses in a tough economy look hard to see which state has the best economic climate.”
Several RV makers have announced Indiana expansions this year. Lippert Components Inc. and Kinro announced plans to expand production in Goshen and Middlebury, creating up to 330 jobs by 2012. In addition, Cruiser RV announced it would add up to 200 jobs in LaGrange by 2014.
Towable builder Open Range RV Co. is moving ahead with plans to add a 21,500-square-foot addition to its main campus located on the north side of Shipshewana, Ind., as well as adding new equipment to the facility, including a new CNC router.
According to a press release from the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp., these investments will allow Open Range to “operate more efficiently and produce an even better quality product for their customers.” The project will also result in the addition of 10-15 new employees with an average wage of around $45,000.
The Town of Shipshewana approved abatement requests from the company and the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp. for 10 years on the real estate improvements and five years for the personal property. According to an earlier report by the Goshen News, estimated costs for the expansion are $580,880 for construction on the addition to its current facilities and $475,000 for manufacturing equipment.
“Open Range RV is a valued employer in the Town of Shipshewana, and we are glad that we can continue to build on our partnership with Open Range as they expand their operations here,” said Roger Yoder, president of the Shipshewana Town Council.
“Open Range has been a great partner in Shipshewana and LaGrange County, and we’re elated that they have continued to grow within LaGrange County” said Keith Gillenwater, executive director of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation. “Their continued growth in our community is a tribute to the quality craftsmanship that Open Range RV exemplifies, and truly is a testament to Open Range’s motto: ‘Enjoy the Journey!’ We look forward to continuing to work with Open Range.”
Open Range, founded in Shipshewana in 2007, has quickly grown to become a leading manufacturer of high quality fifth-wheels and travel trailers, and has been recognized multiple times with the “Quality Circle Award” by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).
“The continued demand for Open Range’s recreational vehicles has spurred our growth over the past few years” said Randy Graber, president of Open Range . “We are thrilled that our customers continue to appreciate the high quality and wide range of towable RV’s that we produce, and this growth really can be attributed to their dedication to our brand.”
Echo Manufacturing LLC, a manufacturer of lightweight toy haulers and travel trailers, announced the addition of Jason Howard as national sales manager.
According to a press release, Howard will be responsible for all sales and product development of Echo’s Bandit toy haulers, American Spirit travel trailers and the all-new North Bay travel trailer line.
“We couldn’t be more excited with the addition of Jason. Our small yet growing company has been in need of someone with Jason’s experience and professionalism to help us reach the next level,” said Mike Scheetz, president of Elkhart, Ind.-based Echo.
Howard has more than 10 years in the industry with several notable companies both managing sales and developing products.
“It is exciting to join a small quality manufacturer like Echo on the ground level. We are focused on giving the Dealers and our mutual customer’s innovative affordable products, the next year is going to be a blast,” said Howard, a long-time resident of Elkhart.
Echo also announced its first ever participation in the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show, Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in Louisville, Ky.
“With the addition of Jason and our first ever Louisville show we are anticipating a banner 2012 selling season,” said Scheetz
Echo products will be on display in Booth No. 5504 in the West Wing of the Kentucky Exposition Center. For additional information call 574.333.3669 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.