Pledging to eliminate what its executives termed “commodity-driven RV sales,” Skyline RV Group staged its first dealer meeting since before to the Great Recession for a group of about 80 retailers June 3-5 at the sprawling Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Ill., in the west Chicago suburbs.
Skyline’s informal get-together — more akin to a product launch and private sale than a structured conference — attracted dealers representing nearly 120 markets across the U.S., according to Don Emahiser, president of the Elkhart, Ind.-based RV-building subsidiary of Skyline Corp., a publicly held builder of RVs and manufactured housing. However, while the atmosphere was intentionally low-key, the message conveyed by Emahiser and Brad Whitehead, Skyline RV’s director of sales and marketing, outlined an aggressive focus on steps taken by the firm’s realigned management team to refresh the venerable company’s RV segment.
“What you’ll see shortly are 10 new coaches from the ground up. We didn’t just take what Skyline had, put a new TV in it and call it a day,” Emahiser told the dealers following an early breakfast in the resort’s atrium. “We’ve re-engineered how we believe a stick-and-tin travel trailer or laminated travel trailer should be. The industry doesn’t need just another version of a tan lightweight with blue stickers.”
“If we look across the spectrum of product available today, I believe that there’s very little separation — I call it the ‘sea of sameness,’’ added Whitehead. “It just varies by very small degrees. We believe it’s time to do something different, and it’s something we’re acting upon. It’s something we’re putting into practice. We are going to differentiate ourselves from the other companies out there. We’re going to get off of the ‘commodity train’ and roll out product that’s very different from what’s available in the rest of the business.”
That product, as the assembled dealers discovered, included a virtual rebuilding of the company’s entire towable lineup. But while Skyline’s stick-and-tin travel trailers, marketed under the Nomad, Layton and Weekender brand names, have been substantially upgraded, it’s all been completely redesigned. “Essentially,” Whitehead noted, “we just retained those names. The biggest changes were made to Skyline’s laminated offerings, where the existing Koala, Walkabout and Eco-Camp lines were eliminated.”
In their place, dealers learned, Skyline debuted its all-new 7 ½-foot-wide ultra-lite Dart, 8-foot-wide lightweight Javelin and Trident, a premium, full-featured laminated travel trailer.
Included in the rollout were several “SKYsmart” features that are being utilized throughout all of its travel trailer brands. These run the gamut from 63-inch by 80-inch queen beds — said to be the largest standard bed available in travel trailers today — to SKYsteps in bunk models plus flush-mount range covers to maximize countertop space and convenient USB plugs in the bedroom.
Skyline’s overhaul is a result of a renewed commitment by the company to revive its RV division. “RVs are a part of Skyline’s DNA,” Emahiser noted. “The company has been a ‘player’ in the RV market for much of its 60-plus years, but it fell off in recent years. So they (Skyline’s corporate managers) are very, very committed to making sure we not only are viable but also are a thriving entity in the RV world.”
Along with the product rollout, Whitehead also announced a number of new business practices intended to enhance the company’s relationship with its dealer body, including a major investment by Skyline to eliminate paperwork for replacement parts and warranty work. “We invested the dollars and are going to online parts ordering, online submissions for payments. This isn’t ‘down the road’ — we’re already locked in the contracts and the wheels are in motion.”
Among other company initiatives:
• A profit-centered business plan. “Margins are back in play,” Whitehead offered, “because we have built into the product the things that will create separation. Our business philosophy is going to be profit-centered from the standpoint of our partners.”
• Secure “farmland” for dealers. “We will protect dealership territories — and have chosen to not do business with dealerships whose primary part of their business is Internet-based selling. We want dealers who are interested in brick-and-mortar businesses, growing markets, growing their influence and market share and customer base.”
• Establishing dealership-managed marketing funds. “Usually with a co-op account, there is all sorts of bantering and bickering and having to get permission. Not with us. We’re setting aside 1% of the net invoice on every purchase for platinum- and gold-level buyers that goes into a fund — and it’s your fund to use. You don’t need our permission; just send us a receipt or show-space contract — you decide what you’re using it for.”
• Fall/Winter inventory assistance. “We have an ‘I-squared” (i2) inventory incentive that takes the place of conventional interest reimbursement.”
• Build to order. “We’ve committed ourselves to being a ‘build-to-order’ company, not a ‘build to sell’ company,” Whitehead pointed out. “We won’t set unsustainable run rates, we’re not going to build excessive yards and we’re not going to build acres of ‘opens.’ That also means that we’ve opted out of the ‘auction’ that takes place at the end of every month.”
▪ Doug Graham Jr. joins the Skyline RV Group with over 12 years of sales and management experience in the RV industry. Graham spent six years at Forest River Inc., four years with Keystone RV Co. and most recently two years at CrossRoads RV. As a regional sales manager, Graham will be responsible for growing and developing Skyline’s stick-and-tin travel trailer business in the southwestern and southeastern states from New Mexico to Florida.
▪ Darren Williams brings 22 years of industry experience to the Skyline RV Group. As a manufacturer’s rep, Williams spent 10 years at Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., six years with Country Coach Inc. and two years at CrossRoads RV. Williams also spent four years on the retail side of the business as a general manager. Williams will be responsible for growing and developing Skyline’s lightweight laminated travel trailer business in the Great Lakes and south central states in the U.S., as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.
▪ Matt Berg has been in the industry since 1995. Spending 12 of his 19 years with Keystone, he has held various sales and management positions. He joins the Skyline RV sales team as a regional sales manager for the laminated lightweight travel trailer division. Berg will be responsible for managing accounts and growing Skyline’s market presence in the west central third of the U.S. from New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana north to Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana. Skyline said Berg has spent most of his career in the territory developing outstanding dealer relationships.
Brad Whitehead, director of sales and marketing for the RV Group, noted, “We’ve been very busy assembling a truly outstanding team of talented people who are held in high regard throughout the industry, both on the operational side and the sales side of the business. The addition of Doug, Darren, and Matt strengthens and completes what I believe to be one of the strongest sales departments in the industry, meaning that our dealer partners will be able to expect and receive an industry-best sales, service and support experience.”
For further information, contact President Don Emahiser at email@example.com.
• Joe Burr has been hired as the new production manager for Plant 66 in Elkhart, Ind., where he will be responsible for improving production processes and operations. Burr brings 19 years of manufacturing experience, most recently serving as plant manager for CrossRoad RV’s Sunset Trail line.
• Rito Islas has been brought in as the new production manager for the Plant 61 in Bristol. Islas has logged over 10 years of senior RV leadership responsibilities, most recently with Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC.
• Landon Foote, formerly employed by Crossroads RV, has been appointed as an RV designer with extensive RV engineering and development experience.
• Brent Burlew has been hired at the Bristol facility as a materials manager. Burlew previously worked for Crossroads RV and KZ RV where he gained over 10 years of RV purchasing and materials management experience.
“As we continue to refine the Skyline RV products, these new staff additions will strengthen our production capabilities,” said President Don Emahiser.
For further information, contact Don Emahiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elkhart, ind.-based Skyline Corp. announced that John Fisher has joined its RV Group as national sales manager, reporting to Director of Sales and Marketing Brad Whitehead.
According to a press release, Fisher was previously product manager for the Sunset Trail Division at CrossRoads RV.
“I’m really excited to work with the dynamic team that Skyline has formed to revitalize the RV Group,” said Fisher.
Don Emahiser, president of the RV Group, added, “This new appointment of John to the RV Group, along with the recent hiring of Brad, gives us a very strong advantage in the RV market. We are eager to move forward and make Skyline what it is meant to be – an RV industry leader.”
For further information, contact Don Emahiser at email@example.com.
Indiana-based Skyline Corp. announced a restructuring of its RV Group at the company’s Elkhart and Bristol locations, according to a press release.
In addition to the recent hiring of Don Emahiser as president of the RV Group, two new positions were created to consolidate operations of both facilities.
Skyline named Michael Worden as the new director of operations. Worden formerly served as division manager of the Elkhart plant and is a 21-year employee of Skyline.
“These are very talented people in key positions,” said Emahiser. “Previously, each division operated independent of each other. By combining leadership, we will become more cohesive in our products, strategy and operations.”
For further information, contact Don Emahiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skyline Corp., a manufactured housing and towable RV manufacturer headquartered in Elkhart, Ind., announced that veteran RV executive Don Emahiser has been hired to lead the company’s RV business group.
According to a press release, Emahiser will serve as president of the RV division and report to Skyline’s president and CEO. Emahiser will focus on product development, marketing and sales along with production and engineering.
Prior to joining Skyline, Emahiser served as the president of Crossroads RV, Redwood RV and Carriage RV. “I’m honored to be a part of the tradition-rich Skyline organization and can’t wait to assist with future successes,” said Emahiser.
Terry Decio, Skyline’s vice president of marketing and sales, noted, “We are truly excited to have Don join our team and we look forward to harnessing his solid RV experience as we grow our business.”
Skyline, founded more than 62 years ago, manufactures RVs under the brand names Nomad, Aljo, Layton and Weekender along with its newer, ultra-light Koala, Walkabout and EcoCamp trailers.
Skyline Corp.’s Terry Decio says he’s back in charge of RV sales after a hiatus of many years, and that he is consolidating all of the company’s RV production in Elkhart, Ind., over the next four or five weeks.
Decio told RVBUSINESS.com that in addition to Elkhart, where the RV and manufactured home builder is based, the company currently operates RV plants in Bristol, Ind., and Mansfield, Texas.
“We will keep the Mansfield plant running for a while, until we decide what to do with it,” said Decio, son of Skyline founder Art Decio. “Texas is still the No. 1 destination state for RVs, so we want to continue to work that market in a big way and will continue shipping a lot of product into the Lone Star State. But we’re going to do it from Elkhart County.”
On the RV side, Skyline today makes smaller travel trailers, destination trailers and park models. Decio is intent on adding to that mix.
“What I’m trying to do is expand the base of product into the market,” says Decio. “I cannot produce the variety of product that buyers are looking for out of the Texas plant. I can give them far more choices out of the Indiana plant because 90% of towable RV’s are built in Indiana and the Elkhart plants are a lot bigger than our facility in Texas.
“I can’t build any of the bigger units in Texas, plus there’s no supplier base. I’m the last plant left down there – everybody else has left. I can’t be flexible or creative, so I made a decision based on the fact that we want to offer more products. I know that in Elkhart I can do anything I want.”
The consolidation comes on the heels of the company’s annual earnings report which showed a net loss of $10.5 million, punctuated by a 10% decline in year-over-year RV sales.
Decio said that Terry Bodenbender, who has been running RV operations, will continue focusing more on product development as he has done for the past 18 months.
“I managed RV’s for a long time. Now, I’ve decided, I want to do it again,” Decio said, noting that he will assume duties as vice president of sales for and marketing for both RV’s and housing. “I ran RV’s for 20 years, then focused on the housing side after 40 years with the company. Everybody’s excited. I’m excited, and I want to keep pushing this business along. I think it’s going to get better and better.”
Skyline builds manufactured housing in several locations, including Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kansas, California and Oregon. Decio aknowledged that the MH side is “a bigger component” for Skyline than RV’s.
“We’ve always been larger in the housing than we were in the RV’s,” Decio said. “But now we want to grow our RV’s again, too.”
Decio adds that Skyline will have product to show dealers during next month’s Elkhart County RV Open House, exhibiting on Northland Drive in Elkhart.
Elkhart, Ind.-based Skyline Corp. recently reported a net loss for its full fiscal year on a 3% decline in sales.
Sales for the full year were $177.6 million compared to $182.8 million reported in the same period a year ago.
The company incurred a net loss of $10.5 million for the year as compared to a net loss of $19.4 million for fiscal 2012. On a per share basis, net loss was $1.25 compared to $2.31 for the comparable period a year ago.
Recreational vehicle sales declined 10% to $66. 5 million in fiscal 2013 from $73.7 million in fiscal 2012 while housing sales dipped 2% to $111.1 million from $109.157 million.
Other highlights for the year included:
• Two idle recreational vehicle facilities located in Hemet, Calif., were sold for a gain of $1.4 million.
• An idle manufactured housing facility located in Mocksville, North Carolina was sold for a gain of $230,000.
Elkhart, Ind.-based RV and manufactured housing builder Skyline Corp. reported flat sales for the fiscal first quarter of 2013 while improving on its net loss.
According to documents filed with Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) sales during the first quarter totaled $49.9 million, an approximate 1% decrease from $50.3 million in the same period a year ago.
RV sales were $19 million in the first quarter, a 10% decrease from $21.1 million a year ago. Housing sales rose 6% to $30.9 million from $29.1 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2012.
Net loss for the first quarter was $3.5 million as compared to $6.8 million the previous year. On a per share basis, net loss was 41 cents as compared to 82 cents for the same period a year ago.
The company said that decreases in the RV segment were caused primarily by a decline in sales to Canadian dealers.
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.
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