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KOA Named Champion in Go the Extra Mile

November 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

KOA logoKampgrounds of America (KOA) has pledged an increased total contribution of $100,000 to the 2010- 2012 “Go the Extra Mile” voluntary fundraising program for Go RVing, once again achieving “Champion” status as a supporter of the effort.

KOA rejoins Thor Industries Inc. and Winnebago Industries Inc. in the top-ranked Champion donor tier, according to a news release.

The “Go the Extra Mile” Program sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has raised more than $500,000 in voluntary contributions for 2010-2012 from 19 RV industry companies and organizations. The voluntary funding program has helped boost the Go RVing advertising campaign by supplementing income from new unit assessments.

Participation in the “Go the Extra Mile” program for the remainder of the current 2010-2012 pledge drive is still open and encouraged because, although the RV market forecast looks favorable for the upcoming year, new unit assessment collections still trail behind pre-recession levels.

Contributions to the program pledged this year will allow companies to be recognized at RVIA-sponsored industry events in 2011 and 2012. For those companies already participating in the 2010-2012 “Go the Extra Mile” program, an increase to their contribution level will result in recognition at the higher contribution level for the remainder of the pledge drive.

“Go the Extra Mile” donors qualify for various levels of industry-wide recognition and other benefits depending on the amount of their contribution. The minimum pledge to quality for recognition benefits is $2,000 over the pledge-drive period. Companies who pledge to contribute at the highest level of $100,000 or more are designated as “Go the Extra Mile” Champions and recognized with special publicity events. Donating companies can have RVIA invoice their contributions quarterly.

For more details on the “Go the Extra Mile” program or to become a participating company, contact RVIA Advertising Manager Margie Spence at (800) 336-0154 ext. 357 or via email at Mspence@RVIA.org.

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Montague Outlines Thor’s Redwood RV Plan

November 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Tom Montague

Tom Montague

Tom Montague has a big responsibility and a tiny office in Syracuse, Ind. The two situations seem to be a good fit.

Montague, the national sales manager for the newly formed Redwood RV, only needs a desk, a cell phone, a chair and two wall-sized whiteboards to do his job. Anything more right now would be a waste as he is rarely in his office, The Goshen News reported.

This past week Montague returned from a two-week tour of the country to sell Redwood’s new residential fifth-wheel unit. Much of that time was spent in Florida, where he visited seven of the top 10 RV dealers.

“When they saw the product, they could not believe the look and feel of the product,” Montague said.

Fifteen of the 17 dealers Montague and his crew visited, ordered the new fifth-wheel from Thor Industries Inc.’s newest company.

Creating a new company

Thor is an ever-growing force in the RV industry, but usually expands by acquiring existing companies. But that did not happen for the residential fifth-wheel niche, so Redwood was formed.

Thor made Redwood a division of Crossroads RV in Topeka, Ind., and has attracted experienced talent from across established RV manufacturers. Redwood’s president, Don Emahiser, moved over from leading Carriage Inc. Montague came over from another Thor company, Keystone RV co. Since then they, and other managers of the company, have been assembling a team to build Thor’s first residential fifth-wheel and market it to dealers.

Tom Montague, left, watches as Keith Ballard and Daryle Bontrager

Tom Montague, (left) watches construction of a Redwood RV fifth-wheel. Photo courtesy of The Goshen News.

The unit will be made in lengths from 35 feet to 39 feet long and be priced from $65,000 and up. There are three current floorplans. Five floorplans will be available in January. By spring, Montague plans to have eight floorplans in the Redwood stable.

So, why is Thor starting a new fifth-wheel company? To fill a segment of the RV market the company has not entered previously.

“Thor has spent millions of dollars to gain and then retain customers from the ‘stick and tin’ all the way up to the Montana (a Keystone RV fifth-wheel). And they do a phenomenal job of that. One in every four coaches, I think, is a Thor product, maybe even more. At the end of that cycle we let that customer go to buy something like a DRV.”

But with Redwood coming online this fall, Thor loyalists will be able to step up to a residential fifth-wheel about $10,000 more than the top line towable.

Furnished like home

With the whine of screwguns and hand drills in the background, Montague walked through a Redwood prototype on the factory floor. He pointed out the unit’s residential furniture. He picked up the mattress in the bedroom to show off the European-style slatted box springs beneath it. And he pointed out that the closet’s clothes rack extends the full width of the trailer.

These finishing touches have been worked out over the past few months. The details are listed on those white boards in his office. On those wall-covering boards are categories for appliances, carpeting, lighting, etc. Options for each are neatly printed in black marker ink.

But there are hundreds of RV models in the marketplace and even more floorplans for each. So how does a sales director decide what to go with in an initial offering? Feelings.

Photo courtesy of The Goshen News

Photo courtesy of The Goshen News

“When you go in, you want it to feel like home. Our goal was, when you walk in we wanted it to be warm,” Montague said.

That’s why the residential furniture was chosen, so the comfort and tactile feel is the same found in a residence. After all, it’s likely someone will sell their home to take to the road long-term in an RV like the Redwood.

The chassis and interior will sit on Lippert Components’ top-of-the-line Falcon Integrated Technology frame system. Redwood RVs will have a two-year bumper to bumper protection plan and a five-year structural warranty.

Montague has a goal for Redwood — it’s to sell 1,100 of the fifth-wheels during the company’s first year. Last week there were 11 units under construction in the 105,000-square-foot plant. Fourteen more are on order and in line for production. If the expected growth occurs, then up to 80 people will be making Redwood fifth-wheels within a year.

About that sales goal for the first year, Montague said, “That would be a phenomenal start.”

The first public showing of Redwood’s products will be made at the National RV Trade Show for dealers in Louisville, Ky. beginning Nov. 30.

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Thor’s Annual Meeting Set for Dec. 7 in NYC

November 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The 2010 Annual Meeting of Stockholders of Thor Industries Inc. will be held at the Cornell Club, 6 East 44 th St., New York, N.Y., on Dec. 7 at 1 p.m. EST.

According to the company’s proxy statement, the meeting will be held for the purpose of considering and voting upon the following:

  • The election of one director.
  • The adoption of the Thor Industries Inc. 2010 Equity and Incentive Plan.
  • Such other business as may properly come before the meeting or any adjournment of the meeting.

Thor co-founder Peter Orthwein, 65, chairman, CEO and director since the company’s founding in 1980, is the lone candidate for the director’s spot and has the endorsement of the board for re-election.

Stockholders of record at the close of business on Oct. 15 will be entitled to receive notice of the meeting and to vote at the meeting.

To read a copy of the Thor proxy statement click here.

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Baird on Thor: ‘Confident in Profit Outlook’

November 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Baird logoEditor’s Note: Robert W. Baird & Co. issued a client newsletter on Tuesday following release of the first quarter financial results of Thor Industries Inc. Excerpts of that newsletter folllow.

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Raising estimates and maintaining $36 target price. Preliminary sales topped expectations, leaving us confident in our profit outlook. We see good value in Thor under 12x EPS (excluding nearly $3/share in cash) as macro catalysts unfold (election cycle and tax policy) and estimates trend higher (better retail and higher margin).

Summary

RV sales exceed expectations. Thor reported preliminary sales for the October quarter after the close, following its customary process. Sales of $607 million (+21%) exceeded our $591 million estimate and consensus of $586 million. RV sales increased 30% to $507 million, above our $472 million estimate. We estimate that Heartland RV added $45 million to revenue, implying organic RV growth near 19%. Bus sales fell 11% to $100 million, below our $119 million estimate.

Backlog down. The backlog declined modestly, down 22% YOY to $467 million. RV backlog fell to $254 million, down 19% from last year and down 3% sequentially. Without Heartland RV, the backlog would have been down more, of course. Bus backlog fell 25% YOY to $213 million, and fell 6% sequentially. Management noted that right-sized dealer inventory levels led to lower and more reasonable RV backlog, while bus backlog slowed due to the expiration of federal stimulus funding and tighter government budgets. We are raising our revenue estimate slightly, but maintaining our outlook for EPS of $2.50 in F2011.

Retail positive, likely hinges on tax policy. Retail improved in late summer and early fall. CEO Peter Orthwein noted, “Thor’s internal retail sales results through October continue to demonstrate solid year-over-year increases.” We see an extension of current tax policy as a potential near-term catalyst for retail demand.

To subscribe to this or other Baird newsletters, contact Craig R. Kennison CFA, ckennison@rwbaird.com or call (414) 765-3870.

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Thor Reports Huge Q1; Reflect Heartland RV

November 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Thor Industries Inc. announced today (Nov. 2) preliminary sales and backlog for the quarter and three months ended Oct. 31.

Preliminary consolidated sales in the quarter were $607.17 million, up 21% from $502.55 million last year. RV sales were $506.79 million, up 30% from $389.93 million last year. Both consolidated and RV sales in the first quarter of Thor’s 2011 fiscal year include Heartland RV, acquired Sept. 16. Bus sales were $100.38 million, versus $112,.62 million last year.

Q1 results exceeded analysts’ expectations, the Wall Street Journal reported

Cash, cash equivalents and investments on Oct. 31 were $137 million. Consolidated backlog on Oct. 31 was $467 million, compared to $599 million last year. RV backlog was $254 million, versus $315 million last year. Bus backlog was $213 million versus $284 million last year.

“RV backlog is at a more reasonable level now that RV dealer inventory has been right-sized for current demand. Bus backlog is lower due to the expiration of federal stimulus funding and tight state and municipal budgets,” said Peter B. Orthwein, Thor Chairman, CEO  and president. “Thor’s internal RV retail sales results through October continue to demonstrate solid year-over-year increases,” he added.

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Baird Forsees 10%-15% 2010 Towable Growth

October 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Baird logoEditor’s Note: Robert W. Baird & Co. issued a client newsletter after this week’s release of the August towable sales figures by Statistical Surveys Inc. (SSI). Excerpts from the Baird Newsletter follow.

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U.S. towable registrations increased 11% in August. Dealer sales of towable units increased for the sixth consecutive month in August. Total U.S. towable retail increased 11% (travel trailers up 11%; fifth-wheels up 11%) compared to an 8% drop in motorhomes. Looking to the remainder of 2010, we expect approximately 10-15% retail growth in towables, with Thor taking share.

Summary

Towable retail up 11%. Towable demand improved in August. Travel trailer registrations grew 11% while fifth-wheel demand also increased 11%. Towable sales outpaced motorhome sales which fell 8% in August.

Leaders gaining share. Thor continues to take share with retail registrations up 16% in the month. We also note that Heartland RV (No.4 market share and recently acquired by Thor [THO-$31.52-Outperform]) saw registrations increase 41%. Altogether the top five manufacturers have seen retail grow 20% YTD versus 8% YTD industry growth.

Inventory. Dealers have increased towable inventory in 2010 as towable shipments have exceeded retail sales. We believe that dealer inventory is fairly balanced at current levels and future shipments should track in line with retail demand.

Retail SAAR. We calculate a seasonally adjusted rate of retail (SAAR) registrations. The SAAR of towable demand increased to 159.K units in August from 153.6K units in July.

Recent news. Winnebago (WGO-$9.74-Outperform) indicated today (Oct. 18) that it is looking to acquire SunnyBrook RV, the No. 13 player in towables with 1% share.

To subscribe to this or other Baird publications, contact Craig R. Kennison, CFA, at ckennison@rwbaird.com or (414) 765-3870.

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RV Industry Vet Joins Dutchmen Sales Force

October 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Tim Dunn

Tim Dunn

Dutchmen RV announced Thursday (Oct. 14) the appointment of Tim Dunn as regional sales manager with responsibility for the Goshen, Ind.-based towables manufacturer’s Kodiak and Four Winds brands within the western sales region.

A 21-year veteran of the RV Industry, Dunn spent the majority of his career as the general manager of one of the largest dealerships in the Rockies. He also held positions with a major RV rental firm and as an independent manufactures representative for several RV brands.

“We are very excited to be able to attract Tim to the Dutchmen team,” said Ryan Thwaits, product manager for Dutchmen RV. “His years of retail and wholesale experience make him very valuable to our dealers. He understands the complexities of running a retail RV dealership — this experience will allow him to partner with his dealers and create a relationship that extends well past the point of the wholesale delivery. He also is an excellent product trainer and will work tirelessly to assure his dealers that the product Kodiak and Four Winds will retail quickly and profitably.”

Dunn cited the “strong and progressive attitude” of Dutchmen, a division of Thor Industries Inc., in making his decision. “I am honored to be given the opportunity to become a part of it and look forward to a long and rewarding career with the ‘new’ Dutchmen.”

Dutchmen RV brands include the Denali, Four Winds, Grand Junction, Aerolite, Kodiak, Voltage, Rubicon and Dutchmen brands. For more information on Dutchmen RV and its products visit www.dutchmen.com or call (574) 537-0600.

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Thor’s Redwood Division’s Now in Production

October 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Redwood RV's new residential fifth-wheel

Redwood RV's new residential fifth-wheel

Syracuse, Ind.-based Redwood RV, a division of Thor Industries Inc., rolled its first full-time, residential fifth-wheel offline Thursday (Oct. 14). “It’s an exciting day,” said Redwood President Don Emahiser.

The Redwood line is being built in a state-of-the-art, 105,000- square foot factory and includes industry firsts like its Custom FIT chassis and Diamond Residential Furniture Line. “Basically FIT — Falcon Integrated Technology — is the foundation the RV is built on.” Emahiser said.  “It’s something we’ve been working on with our suppliers to address a big concern dealers are facing when it comes to basic service.”  According to Emahiser, FIT simplifies the process and gives the dealers a single point of contact for solutions.

Emahiser said Redwood’s goal is to build and market Thor’s first residential fifth-wheel for full-time lifestyles. “We plan to sit at the top of Thor’s current offerings,” said Emahiser, who formerly worked for Carriage Inc. and Starcraft RV Inc.

“This is Thor’s first venture from the ground up,” added Dave Boggs, Redwood’s director of marketing. “It’s an exciting time and a market we currently don’t play in.” The Redwood, available in three floor plans, will make its debut at the RVIA’s 48th Annual National RV Trade Show Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in Louisville, Ky. Base MSRP for the new Redwood is $65,000.

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Dutchmen Names New Regional Sales Manager

October 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Dwayne Kazmierczak

Dwayne Kazmierczak

Rob Groover, general manager of the Grand Junction division of Dutchmen Manufactruing Inc., announced today (Oct. 6) the addition of Dwayne Kazmierczak to its sales team. Kazmierczak will be in charge of the Northeastern Region for the brands, according to a news release.

Kazmierczak is a twenty 25-year veteran of the RV industry, holding positions in sales and product development.

According to Groover, “Dwayne’s experience in the industry will prove to be invaluable to our company. His product knowledge, professionalism and relationships with his dealers will help continue to make Grand Junction a major force in the marketplace.”

According to Kazmierczak, “I very am excited to be part of the Grand Junction team. The product line is exceptional. I am looking forward to helping our dealers succeed with the product. Plus, I am eager to show prospective customers the benefits of being a Grand Junction dealer.”

Kazmierczak, his wife, Christine, and two daughters reside in Granger, Ind. Kazmierczak’s office is in Goshen at Dutchmen RV corporate offices.

Kazmierczak can be reached by phone at (574) 975-0653 or by e-mailing at dkaz@dutchmen.com. More information on the Grand Junction and Colorado brands can be found at www.grandjunction-rv.com.

Dutchmen RV is a division of Thor industries Inc. Dutchmen RV produces several brands of towable recreational vehicles that are sold throughout the United States and Canada. Dutchmen RV brands include the Denali, Four Winds, Grand Junction, Aerolite, Kodiak, Voltage, Rubicon and Dutchmen brands.

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Doug Richards Joins Redwood RV Sales Team

October 5, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Doug Richards

Doug Richards

Doug Richards has joined the sales team at Redwood RV, Thor Industries Inc.’s new high-end fifth-wheel manufacturer.

“Doug is a key hire for Redwood RV. He brings instant credibility to what we believe will be the best high-end, luxury, sales team in the industry. I love his excitement, experience, and product and market knowledge – not to mention his outstanding dealer relationships are exactly what we need to get Redwood RV moving in the right direction,” Tom Montague, national sales manager, stated in a news release.

Richards brings nearly 23 years of high-end sales experience to Redwood RV. Recently, Richards was a sales leader at Carriage RV Inc., where he excelled despite the challenging environment.

Richards  currently resides in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with his wife, Lori, and their two daughters. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in marketing.

Redwood RV will debut its new products in booth 1101 in the Thor display at the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show, Nov. 30-Dec. 2at the Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville, Ky.

Headquartered in Syracuse, Ind., Redwood RV products are distributed through dealers throughout the United States and Canada. Redwood RV is a division of Thor Industries Inc.

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