Tom Raper RV Provides Motorhome for Biden

September 6, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

2008 Phaeton Class A motorhome built by Tiffin, like the one Tom Raper RV provided for Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Cincinnati on Monday.

It was a fairly typical Friday at Tom Raper RVs in Richmond, Ind. Until the White House called, that is.

Seems the vice president of the United States wanted a motorhome to relax in before and after his speech Monday (Sept. 5) at the Cincinnati AFL-CIO’s annual Labor Day picnic at Coney Island, the Richmond Palladium-Item reported.

Ed Unger, director of corporate operations for Tom Raper, first took a phone call Friday from the AFL-CIO, asking if the Richmond recreational vehicle company would be willing to provide a motorhome for Vice President Joe Biden.

Unger said yes. Then the White House advance staff called — first to say thanks for filling the need on short notice, then to work out the key details.

Unger brought in one of his sons — he has four who work for the company — to help meet the request.

“Dad was pretty surprised (to get those calls),” Eddie Unger, sales manager at Tom Raper, said Sunday.

Biden’s temporary home was a 2008 Phaeton, a 40-footer made by Tiffin Motor Homes Inc. in Red Bay, Ala. The vehicle was delivered Sunday so Biden’s staff could make sweeps and security checks before the vice president climbed aboard.

“President Obama took a lot of heat for using a million-dollar bus made in Canada (during his recent bus tour),” Eddie Unger said. “They requested the one for Biden be made in America and I wanted to make sure it was one we actually sold new at Tom Raper so we could get some recognition, too.”

Eddie Unger included one request of the White House: A chance to meet and shake Biden’s hand, and perhaps have a photograph taken with the nation’s second-in-command. The White House agreed to the request and Unger attend the event on Monday.

Biden’s speech was expected to fire up the troops on the biggest issue to face organized labor in Ohio in decades — the effort to pass a referendum doing away with Senate Bill 5, which would limit public employees’ bargaining rights, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported last week. At least 15,000 area union members and their families attended the annual picnic.


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Tiffin Unveils Longer Breeze at FMCA Reunion

April 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

2011 Tiffin Breeze

2011 Tiffin Breeze

Tiffin Motor Homes Inc. introduced a longer 32-foot version of its stylish Breeze diesel pusher motorhome at the recent Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) 85th Annual Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase in Perry, Ga. Tiffin initially introduced the Breeze with a single 28-foot pusher floorplan — the smallest on the market — at the 2009 National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. ”It has a little more storage,” said Jerry Williamson, national sales manager for the Red Bay, Ala., manufacturer. ”And we’ve added a second slide that opened up the living area considerably.” The 32 footer is built on the company’s 21,500-pound GVWR PowerGlide chassis equipped with a 215-hp Navistar MaxxForce 7 diesel engine. The Breeze is equipped with a one-piece windshield, antique white interior, booth dinette, queen bed and separate toilet and shower MSRP: $168,000.

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Here are the RV Industry’s Top-Selling Brands

February 21, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

Tiffin Phaeton

Tiffin Phaeton

RV consumers apparently like to stay with a good thing when they find it — or so it would seem from the brands that repeated as the No. 1 sellers in 2010 in their respective categories.

Repeat top-selling brands included the Keystone Montana fifth-wheel, Jayco’s Jay Flight travel trailer, Tiffin’s Phaeton diesel-powered Class A motorhome, Forest River’s Georgetown gas Class A and Winnebago View’s diesel minimotorhome. The only two first-time leaders were the Coachmen gas Class C motorhome and the Forest River Rockwood folding camping trailer.

The Montana led the pack for the 10th consecutive year with 9.4% of retail fifth-wheel sales while Jayco Inc.’s Jay Flight snagged 6.4% of the travel trailer market, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., the Grand Rapids, Mich., company that tracks RV industry retail sales.

In the motorized market, Tiffin Motor Home Inc.’s Phaeton was the best-selling diesel motorhome with 13.2% share, Forest River Inc.’s Georgetown was the top-selling gas Class A, with 13.9% share, and Winnebago Industries Inc.’s View was the No. 1 Class C diesel on the market with 21.9% share.

Other 2010 market share leaders were Class B, Winnebago’s ERA (16.6%; Class C gas, Forest River Inc.’s Coachmen (17.6%); folding camping trailers, Forest River’s Rockwood (7.3%); and park models, Breckenridge (17.6%).

Winnebago View

Winnebago View

Keystone President Bob Martin said the Montana has staying power for several reasons with customer loyalty being high on the list.

”Loyalty is important,” said Martin, whose Goshen, Ind., company hosts about 100 Montana owners at a rally each fall at the nearby Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds. Many of them have bought five or six Montanas over the years.

”Members of the Montana Owners Club are incredibly loyal,” he added. ”After they buy a Montana, they just won’t buy anything else. Montana is user friendly and loaded with features with quality that no one else can match.”

Jerry Williamson, Tiffin national sales manager, said that while the Paeton was developed as an entry-level motorhome, over the years it has evolved into a mid-priced coach in the ”sweet spot” of the diesel market.

”We improved the product as far as amenities and styling every year,” said Williamson, who noted that most RVs creep up in price as consumers ask for more features and amenities. ”We ‘mother-hen’ the Phaeton very closely. We have the best feature package that is offered in the mid-range price point.”

Roger Martin, Winnebago Industries Inc. vice president of sales and marketing, said we worked closely with Daimler AG, Mercedes Benz’ parent company, and invested the time and money to develop the Winnebago View along with sister-brand Itasca Navion on the high mileage Sprinter cab chassis, previously offered only in a B-van configuration. These efforts provided Winnebago Industries with a head start in developing these products over other manufacturers.

”That’s the primary reason that the product has been so successful,” Martin said. ” It was unique in the industry for two or three years before folks starting copying the idea.

”The View essentially created the segment of the fuel-efficient, stylish units based on the Sprinter,” noted Martin. ” I also credit the dealer organization we have. They really grasped this concept and did an excellent job selling it.”

Sid Johnson, Jayco Inc. marketing director, noted that the Jay Flight has changed during the six years it has led the travel trailer market.

”Initially, Jay Flight was positioned as a lower-end entry-level product that offered a great deal of value for the price,” Johnson said. ”It’s still somewhat that today, except that it has been steadily improved over the years from the standpoint of features.”

That, he said, appeals to younger buyers with families who have come to expect more than their Baby Boomer parents. ”It’s a heavy number from first-time buyers with a heavier than normal incidence of college education,” Johnson said. ”I’m not sure what all that says, except in terms of Jayco’s strategy, that product has become not only our bread-and-butter, but provides the foundation of our entire travel trailer strategy.”

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HGTV Show Features 20 Models on ‘RV 2011’

January 4, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

Chi-Lan Lieu

Chi-Lan Lieu

TV viewers watching ”RV 2011” on HGTV New Year’s day generally got glowing cable TV reviews of 20 motorhomes and towable RVs displayed last September at the Pennsylvania RV & Camping Show in Hershey, Pa.

Host Chi-Lan Lieu guided two families with children and a third couple through the maze of RVs at the Hershey Show on the grounds of Hersheypark.

Each family had different goals — the Herbst family was looking to upgrade while the Styles family sought their first RV, a high-end motorhome or towable and Lindsay and Chad Drvak were looking to accommodate rescued dogs.

Lieu, in turn, showed different RVs that she thought would meet their goals. Although none committed to buying an RV during the program, each chose one that they thought best suited their needs.

Among the units highlighted were Fleetwood RV Inc.’s high-end American Revolution and Tiffin Motor Home Inc.’s diminutive Allegro diesel pushers, Winnebago Industries Inc.’s Access minimotorhome, Prime Time Manufacturing’s Crusader fifth-wheel and Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc.’s SS Ideal van camper.

The Herbsts chose a Dynamax Dynaquest XV Class C motorhome; the Styles, a Dutchmen Voltage high-end sport utility fifth-wheel (SURV); and the Drvaks, an Earthbound travel trailer.

The hour-long program marks the 13th year that HGTV has highlighted new RV products, and will be rebroadcast at unspecified times during the year.

Producers of the program worked with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and its agency, Barton Gilanelli, to put the program together.

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Industry Steps it Up a Notch at Louisville 2010

December 7, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Opening day activity at the 2010 National RV Trade Show.

Opening day activity at the 2010 National RV Trade Show.

While attendance was up a moderate 4.5% at this year’s Louisville Show, North American recreational vehicle manufacturers generally reported an upbeat atmosphere and – in some cases – robust sales at the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show, Nov. 30 – Dec. 2 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) on the south side of Louisville, Ky.

The wares and services of more than 300 manufacturers, suppliers and distributors were displayed across more than 766,000 square feet of show space in the KEC  during the industry’s key annual trade-only event, sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

Now back in his Millersburg, Ind., office, Ed Kinney, vice president of sales for Carriage Inc., says results of the three-day show were decidedly positive and a good omen for 2011. “It was a record show for Carriage,” said Kinney. “Compared to last year, sales have probably tripled.”

Carriage debuted a revamp of its high-end Royals International at Louisville, along with a new “entry level” Cabo line and a new Cameo model — all of which, Kinney predicts, will translate into increased market share in 2011 for Carriage, which currently produces 25 units a week. “We intend to steadily increase production until we are building 37 units a week by the end of August,” he told

On the other hand, some felt that show traffic in the KEC corridors was a little thin at times. “From a numbers standpoint, the Louisville Show maybe didn’t have the impact that some have had in the past,” said Sid Johnson, director of marketing for Jayco Inc., Middlebury, Ind.

“Attendance seemed down from last year,” he added. “It seemed to be slower, but it may have been a function of space. Last year’s show was compressed from past years. This year it was more spread out than normal. Yet, I thought it was a very good show.”

Indeed, Johnson said all three of the company’s divisions, Entegra Coach, Jayco and Starcraft, were “pleasantly surprised” by the number of new dealers they were able to sign. And Johnson, for his part, thought that Louisville 2010 was clearly better than last year and was in the “upper half” and perhaps “upper third” of the national RV shows at which he has worked in his esteemed 36-year industry career.

“The overall and almost overwhelming positive aspect of it was the very refreshing enthusiasm and confidence that was evident from almost every dealer for the coming year,” Johnson added. “We were pleased with the whole thing.”

“The show went well for us,” noted Bob Wheeler, president of Jackson Center, Ohio-based Airstream Inc. “Traffic was down a bit, but purchases per attendee were up. We had a separate meeting for dealers and were able to present them with an overview of our products, our business plan and marketing efforts (for 2011). We received very positive feedback.”

According to Wheeler, the launch at the show of Airstream’s new Eddie Bauer co-branded 25-foot travel trailer generated a lot of positive feedback. “There was lots of excitement and strong initial orders,” said Wheeler. “They really seemed to get the collaboration and added functionality of the unit.”

Clearly one of the show’s busier displays was that of EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC, which unveiled a distinctive new 24-foot, wood-free Element travel trailer and also hosted an appearance by Terry Bradshaw, a former NFL quarterback, current Fox sports analyst and a new minority owner of Evergreen.

Supplier booths inside Freedom Hall

Supplier booths inside Freedom Hall

“It’s (the Element) different, unique and drew a lot of traffic,” said Doug Lantz, president and CEO of the Middlebury, Ind., towable manufacturer. “Being as it’s one of the lightest weight full-size trailers (at Louisville), it definitely got people’s attention.”

Motorhome specialist Tiffin Motor Homes Inc. had a solid show, according to Bob Tiffin, president of Red Bay, Ala., -based manufacturer.

“We had a great show, and took a lot of orders,” said Tiffin. “The dealers we had there were all happy with what was going on and they were complaining that we didn’t have hardly enough inventory. You know, they didn’t have enough motorhomes to sell, so they put their money where their mouths were and ordered a lot of units — 240 units altogether.”

That’s pretty decent, most would agree, in an era in which motorhome sales certainly aren’t at their peak. “Well, I can’t speak for the rest of the industry,” said Tiffin. “But we’ve (Tiffin) had a good year so far, and it looks like next year may be even better. So, our plans are to keep running 11 or 12 units a day and keep moving forward.”

Although Tiffin sees a moderate shift to smaller coaches, the company’s best seller at Louisville was a 40-foot Phaeton retailing in the $190,000-$230,000 range.

Bob Olson, chairman, president and CEO of Winnebago Industries Inc., came away with a positive take on the show. “I think it was an improvement over last year,” said Olson, second vice chairman of RVIA and co-chair of the Go RVing Coalition. “Last year, everyone really had a lot of uncertainty as to what the future held in store. I sensed a real feeling of optimism (this year) from dealers, other manufacturers and suppliers. I thought it was a very positive show.

“Having said that, we really don’t gauge success or failure of the show by what we get for orders,” said Olson, whose Forest City, Iowa, company drew a lot of attention with a modernistic redesign of its top-of-the line Winnebago Tour/Itasca Ellipse.

“We don’t go there with the attitude of ‘this is going to be what we have to have in orders to get to the spring market.’ It was a good show. You have to consider the economic times that we’re in. Going forward, we think that we’ll continue to get orders from the dealers that were at the show because it gave them an opportunity to see a lot of our product lineup. And from what we were able to see, they were very excited about it, especially Tuesday (opening day). It was nonstop traffic from the time we opened until we closed.”

Thor’s Goshen, Ind.-based Keystone RV Co. Inc., reports seeing strong traffic all three days of the show and “high dealer enthusiasm.”

“Dealers seemed to be very optimistic about their Keystone business and the industry in general, and very enthusiastic,” said Keystone President Bob Martin. “We could see it in their eyes. Keystone’s focus at this year’s show was to make each of our brands even stronger. So, we did not launch a new product line but chose instead to concentrate on our existing lines.

Traffic, likewise, was “steady” at the expansive Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. display at which dealers were introduced to an array of new models. “Our new products were very well received,” noted Steve Paul, vice president of sales and marketing for the Goshen, Ind.-based Thor division, which debuted an ‘upper-end’ Voltage toy hauler, a redesigned Aerolite Superslide series, an entry-level Aspen Trail towable line and affordable Rubicon toy hauler.

Speaking for both the motorized and towable sides of his company, Pete Liegl, president and CEO of Forest River Inc., based in Elkhart, Ind., had good things to say about the 2010 Louisville Show and the year ahead.

On a scale of “1” to “10,” in fact, he gave it an 8.5, noting that dealer interest was consistent with that of this fall’s Hershey Show and Elkhart County Open House.

“We did very well,” said Liegl. “Obviously, no matter what we do we could do better, but we had a good show. Dealers were enthusiastic about the product we have, and that includes the new Shasta plus Prime Time and our existing Coachmen and Forest River products. Beyond that, I think the whole show was good for everybody, and I think it’s an indication that everybody thinks it’s going to be a good year next year, too.”

“Next year will be better than this year as a generalization,” said Liegl, who expects his company to post about $2.4 billion in 2010 revenues. “If I had to guess, as far as the total number of units sold next year versus this year, I’m anticipating a minimum increase of 5% for the total industry. But I can guarantee you one thing: I’m not going to settle for 5%. All in all, though, I’ve got to say that this year’s been a very acceptable year for everybody in the RV business. And next year I think is going to be more of the same thing – a little better than this year.”

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PRVCA Reports Record Hershey Show Traffic

September 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Mirroring reports from show exhibitors of strong traffic and sales, the 42nd Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa., that ended Sunday (Sept. 19) posted record attendance of 35,020 — 9.% higher than 2009, the sponsoring Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA) reported.

”People have been putting off their purchases for a while and now is the time they want to buy,” Heather Leach, PRVCA director of marketing and education,” told

Reports from the FreedomRoads/Camping World dealership chain, Thor Motor Coach, Tiffin Motors Home Inc. and Carriage Inc. and other exhibitors consistently confirmed the strong sales trend.

Thor Motor Coach, formed by the recent merger of Damon Motor Coach and Four Winds International Corp., reported the show was possibly ”the best ever.”

”We nearly doubled our diesel numbers from last year, and last year was a good year,” said Matt Thompson, Thor Motor Coach vice president for diesels.

”We did excellent,” observed Phil Sarvari, executive vice president of Gulf Stream Coach Inc. ”We sold 38 pieces. People were buying, and our products were very well received.”

”Traffic was incredible,” added Don Clark, president of Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. ”We did more than 2 1/2 times the volume of retail than we did last year. The customers were very upbeat. It was reassuring to see that kind of traffic.”

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Exhibitors Report Strong Hershey Show Sales

September 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

RV dealers and manufacturers report that the 42nd Annual Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show that wrapped up a six-day run Sunday (Sept. 19) at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa., reminded them of days gone by.

”Borderline, it was the best ever,” said Bill Fenech, president of the new Thor Motor Coach, recently formed by the merger of Damon Motor Coach and Four Winds International Corp. ”It was very, very encouraging. Many of our products did significantly better than any other year, and it was definitely better than last year.

”And I think it was encouraging for the economy in general and for the RV industry in general.”

Although final attendance numbers weren’t available, Bob Tiffin, president of motorized manufacturer Tiffin Motor Homes Inc., Red Bay, Ala., was equally as encouraged by the sales results in Hershey where his company sold 49 Class A motorhomes, including more than a dozen of the company’s new 28-foot Breeze diesel pusher.

”We had a great show up there,” Tiffin said. It was the biggest (Hershey) show we’ve ever had. I think we’ve got something to look forward to in the RV industry, which is definitely on the way back.

”The people who were there to look at them at some point in the future, they will buy.”

Marcus Lemonis, president of the Freedom Roads/Camping World dealership chain, said the company sold 560 RVs, including more than 100 motorhomes.

”It’s unreal,” said Lemonis, who brought 220 sales personnel to staff 13 booths representing almost a dozen manufactures. ”We are feeling very good about the future.”

The heavy traffic also carried into high-end fifth-wheels. ”Hershey was very good,” said Ed Kinney manufacturer Carriage Industry Inc. vice president of sales. ”I don’t like to give out numbers, but traffic was good and we’ve still got orders that are coming through. It was positive news for the RV industry.

FreemdomRoads/Camping World is owned by the same company that owns

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2011 Tiffin Models Enhance Life on the Road

September 20, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

2011 Allegro living room

2011 Allegro Bus living room

Tiffin Motor Homes Inc.’s 2011 models make living on the road even more comfortable and eye-catching, according to a news release.

The new coaches sport 16 new interiors, including such names as White Diamonds, Tiffany, Caviar, Triple Crown Fabrics and Crème Brulee. Tiffin’s line ranges from the moderately priced Allegro, the only front-engine gas-powered coach, through the Allegro RED (rear-engine diesel) and Allegro Breeze to the Phaeton, Allegro Bus and top-of-the-line Zephyr. The Allegro Breeze, a 28-foot diesel pusher ($149,800 MSRP) makes its first appearance in the Tiffin line.

The Breeze, named “Best of Show” by RVBusiness at the 2009 National RV Trade Show, features Tiffin’s PowerGlide chassis with a 6.4-liter 215-hp Maxforce engine plus air ride and air brakes.

New interior features in the Allegro (30 feet to 35 feet; MSRP $110,880-122,640) and Allegro RED (34 feet to 38 feet; $194,040-199,360 MSRP) include 16-inch tile floors, solid-surface galley counter, solid-surface and tile backsplashes, under-counter-mounted galley sink, a gliding rocker, plus contemporary lighting and cabinet hardware.

The 2011 Phaeton (36 feet to 42 feet; $243,012-$295,498 MSRP) offers 16-inch polished porcelain tile; radiused base cabinetry joints; cloth, wood and wrought iron window treatments; hinged, easy-open stove cover; solid-surface color-coordinated shower enclosure; and optional lift recliners.

In the Allegro Bus (36 feet to 43 feet; $308,840-361,900 MSRP), standard features include upgraded multiplex wiring; multiple lighting adjustment pads; an optional safe; a master bath that features stylish drop-facia lighting and clear vessel sinks with high-end faucets; and a VacPan vacuum dustpan.

Tiffin’s top-of-the-line 45-foot Zephyr with a $471,520 MSRP has added a dehumidifier to the Quiet A/C system, a solid-surface step well; a full-tile galley backsplash with metal inserts; an optional safe; a solid-surface shower pan; inverted pyramid sinks with soft-flow fixtures and VacPan.

Most 2011 Tiffin coaches have larger TVs than their predecessors.

The company is pushing the coach capacity this year with 37-inch TVs because that’s what its customers are asking for, said Jerry Williamson, national sales manager.

Tiffin Motorhomes, founded in 1972, received one of three prestigious 2009 Quality Circle Awards presented by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) to Class A motorhome manufacturers for design, reliability, quality, value and competitive price.

Tiffin has earned the Quality Circle Award 11 of the 14 years it has been presented by the RVDA in connection with its Dealer Satisfaction Index. The 2009 survey included 1,644 brand ratings from 322 dealers. Quality Circle Awards are made to manufacturers receiving at least 15 dealer responses and scoring at least 80% in overall dealer satisfaction.

In addition to the consumer-related categories of the survey, Tiffin also was recognized with the Quality Circle Award for exemplary warranty, parts, sales and communications support to dealerships.

For additional information including dealer locations visit

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2011 Tiffin Diesels Sporting Jet-Like Cockpits

September 15, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

Cockpit of the 2011 Tiffin Breeze

Cockpit of the 2011 Tiffin Breeze

Slip into the driver’s seat of a Tiffin Motor Homes Inc.  2011 Phaeton, Allegro Bus or Zephyr and you can almost hear the control tower clearing these upscale diesel pushers for takeoff.

The redesigned, European-styled instrumentation panel has the grace and style of a private jet’s cockpit, the company stated in a news release.

“‘Dashboard'” hardly does this justice,” says Jerry Williamson, Tiffin national sales manager. “The left side is raised comfortably, with fewer controls. It’s contoured, contemporary and classy looking. It’s convenient with less searching for switches. It’s more user friendly in an integrated design. Our customers requested it and we delivered.”

From lighter tan surrounding the grey-inlayed controls, a distinctive dark matte finish near the windshield minimizes day and night driving glare. All Tiffin’s diesel pushers, the Allegro RED, Phaeton, Allegro Bus and Zephyr provide adjustable seat belt brackets for additional comfort in the 2011 models.

The nationally best-selling Phaeton, available in four floorplans ranging from 36 feet to 42 feet, complements the driver’s compartment with dashingly restyled front and rear caps.

The front cap sports a flattened windshield as an additional design element to combat glare and distortion. The driver’s side rearview mirror is mounted closer to the driver for safety and minimal vibration. The passenger-side mirror is mounted on an extended arm. Both mirrors are larger than previous models for increased driver’s visibility.

The Phaeton’s rear cap also has been redesigned for the new model year, including a large recessed opening for air flow, a smaller brake light and larger, lower taillights for added safety.

The Phaeton’s power train also adds dash and zip for 2011. The Cummins 380 six-speed offers an additional 20 horsepower from the previous model.

The new Phaeton’s MSRP ranges from $243,012 to $295,498 depending on length and choice of three chassis manufacturers, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Spartan Chassis Inc. and Tiffin’s own PowerGlide.

“We are confident the Phaeton offers more for your money than its competitors,” Williamson said.

Tiffin Motorhomes, founded in 1972, received one of three prestigious 2009 Quality Circle Awards presented by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA)  to Class A motorhome manufacturers for design, reliability, quality, value and competitive price.

Tiffin has earned the Quality Circle Award 11 of the 14 years it has been presented by the RVDA in connection with its Dealer Satisfaction Index. The 2009 survey included 1,644 brand ratings from 322 dealers. Quality Circle Awards are made to manufacturers receiving at least 15 dealer responses and scoring at least 80% in overall dealer satisfaction.

In addition to the consumer-related categories of the survey, Tiffin also was recognized with the Quality Circle Award for exemplary warranty, parts, sales and communications support to dealerships.

For additional information including dealer locations visit

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Tiffin’s Breeze Featured in RV Show ‘Blitz’

September 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The 2011 Tiffin Breeze

The 2011 Tiffin Breeze

The all-new 28-foot Tiffin Breeze diesel pusher motorhome is being introduced to consumers this week during a blitz of RV shows in Hershey, Pa., Dallas, Texas, and Montreal, Quebec.

”It just happened that way by coincidence,” Tiffin President Bob Tiffin told as he prepared to leave to attend the 42nd Annual Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa.

The consumer portion of the Hershey Show starts Wednesday (Sept. 15) and runs through Sunday.

The diminutive Breeze, named ”Best of Show” by RVBusiness magazine at last year’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., also is making its retail debut Thursday through Sunday at the Southwest RV Supershow at Dallas Market Hall and at the 23rd Montreal RV Show in Olympic Stadium.

”It’s going to be an interesting weekend,” Tiffin said. ”This time next week, I’ll tell you how it goes.”

The single-slideout Breeze, built on Tiffin’s proprietary 21,500-pound GVWR PowerGlide diesel pusher chassis powered by a 215-hp Navistar MaxxForce 7 V-8 engine, has been on display at Tiffin’s factory complex in Red Bay, Ala., for the last three months.

”We’ve had a very good reaction (from consumers),” Tiffin said. ”They like the way it looks inside and they like the way it drives. I think we’ve got a winner all the way.”

Tiffin said that the company will introduce a 32-foot double-slide version of the Breeze before the end of the year.

Tiffin said it’s too early to tell how the Breeze will be accepted by consumers. ”I don’t really know how much that market will be until we get into the retail sales,” he said. ”The orders for that unit have been really strong at the dealer level.”

Tiffin said that the Breeze is likely to appeal to older RVers who don’t want to leave the RV lifestyle but are no longer comfortable driving a 40-foot Tiffin Phaeton or Allegro Bus. ”This just might be the ticket for them,” he said.

The company has ramped up production across all of its motorhome lines after cutting back production to three units a week during a good portion of 2009. ”Like everyone else, we had a real struggle for seven, eight, nine months,” he said. ”Currently we are up to 10 units a day.

”I believe the worst of it is behind us, no doubt. But I don’t know if the large Class A market will get back to where we were in the foreseeable future. The level of motorhome sales is going to be anywhere from 9,000 to 15,000 units for a good long while.”

Tiffin said, however, that the company has sustained retail sales of about 50 motorhomes ”for several months.”

”We see that trend continuing,” he said. ”Time will tell the tale.”

While getting ready to leave for Hershey, Tiffin brought up one of his favorite subjects — a coordinated model-year introduction and an earlier Louisville Show, currently staged the week after Thanksgiving.

”I would love to see the introduction of all models at Louisville (while) moving the show back a month or two,” he said. ”Back in the old days, we had the South Bend show in the second week in August and everybody tried to meet that date to introduce their new products.

”I don’t know why we couldn’t go back to something like that and move the Louisville show to September.”

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Tiffin’s Allegro Breeze Goes Into Production

April 28, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Tiffin's Allegro Breeze

Tiffin's Allegro Breeze

Convinced that America needs a smaller, higher mileage, rear-engine diesel motorhome that retains plenty of amenities, Tiffin Motor Homes Inc. President Bob Tiffin personally set out last year to develop the Allegro Breeze Class A. Now, months after unveiling the prototype at last winter’s National RV Trade Show, Tiffin’s Alabama company is nearing the end of an arduous series of durability, safety and handling tests and is preparing to roll out production on an initial 28-foot, single-slide Breeze on a proprietary 21,000-pound GVWR PowerGlide chassis powered by a 215-hp Navistar MaxxForce 7 engine. Tiffin, which replaced the prototype’s spring suspension with full air-ride, plans to add a 32-footer with two slideouts later this year. “We do have our first (production) prototype on the line,” reports Jerry Williamson, national sales manager. “We’ll do two to three per week after that for three or four weeks and makes sure everything is running smoothly. Then, we expect in June that we’ll be in regular production.” Tiffin, hasn’t released any retail pricing to date on the Allegro Breeze, which is anticipated to get 13-16 mpg and was named RVBusiness magazine’s “Best of Show” at December’s Louisville Show. As for Bob Tiffin, Williamson says he’s pleased with the outcome. “I’ve not seen him this excited about a new motorhome,” he said. “It’s his baby.”

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Tiffin Motor Homes Scion in Thursday’s BCS Game

January 6, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Leigh Tiffin, No. 99, watches the flight of the football during a game this season.

University of Alabama placekicker Leigh Tiffin, No. 99, watches the flight of the football during a game this season. AP Photo.

Everybody gives massive Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody credit for saving the Crimson Tide’s undefeated season when he blocked two field goals in the fourth quarter of a 12-10 win against Tennessee.

Cody credits Leigh Tiffin, according to USA Today.

And why not? Tiffin, the Tide’s senior All-America placekicker, had all of Alabama’s points that day on field goals from 38, 50, 22 and 49 yards.

Tiffin has had a handful of days like that in his career, even a career-high five field goals against Mississippi this season, scoring 16 of Alabama’s 22 points.

But he has never had a signature, legend-making kick the likes of the 46-yarder Hunter Lawrence, his Texas counterpart in Thursday’s BCS title game, booted as time expired to give the Longhorns a 13-12 victory against Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game.

Heck, he hasn’t even made the most famous kick in his family.

That would belong to his father, Van Tiffin, an All-America kicker at Alabama in the mid-1980s who will forever live in Tide lore for his last-second 52-yard field goal that beat archrival Auburn 25-23 in 1985. Van is the son of Bob Tiffin, founder of Tiffin Motor Homes Inc., Red Bay, Ala.

Tiffin hopes for a similar experience Thursday night in the Rose Bowl. It’s not that he doesn’t want quarterback Greg McElroy and running back Mark Ingram to convert third downs. But there’s a part of him that roots for fourth down.

“I think you’re in a bad situation if you want the offense to convert every time,” Tiffin says. “If you don’t want to go out there, you’ve already lost.”

Alabama hasn’t lost this season, and Tiffin has rarely missed. He’s made 29 of 33 field goals. He’s Alabama’s career leader in field goals (82) and points (378). With two field goals against Texas, he could tie the Bowl Subdivision season record of 31. The FBS career record is 87.

Tiffin was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award for best placekicker, losing out to UCLA’s Kai Forbath, and he talked to Forbath recently about kicking in the Rose Bowl, UCLA’s home stadium.

“He says it’s a great place to kick,” Tiffin says.

If a long kick in the waning seconds is to determine the national title, Tiffin says he’s ready. He takes his mind-set from Nick Saban, Alabama’s famously focused coach.

“He talks about blocking out the clutter,” Tiffin says. “You can’t be worried about what some fan is going to say if you miss it.”

But he knows there are few fans like Alabama fans. They still idolize his father. They don’t forget heroes — or goats.

Tiffin has been more hero than goat, but few ‘Bama fans have forgotten his freshman meltdown in 2006, when he was subbing for injured kicker Jamie Christensen and, in a game against Arkansas, missed three field goals and an extra point in a 24-23 loss.

“That (stunk),” he says. “But that’s all a part of it.”

That game shook the freshman’s confidence. Three years later, he’s rock solid.

“Coach Saban says to approach my job like an assassin, and I like that analogy,” he says. “You might only get one chance. You might wait all game to get it.”

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RVB Names Tiffin’s Allegro Breeze ‘Best of Show’

December 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Allegro Breeze, Best of Show

Allegro Breeze, Best of Show

Tiffin Motor Home Inc.’s 28-foot Allegro Breeze, chosen as ”Best of Show” by the RVBusiness staff during the 47th Annual National RV Trade Show, breaks new ground with regard to diesel-pusher length due to its relative short dimensions.

In fact, the Breeze, built on the Red Bay, Ala. manufacturer’s own 21,500-pound GVWR chassis equipped with a 215-hp Navistar MaxxForce 7 V-8 engine, may point to the future direction of motorized RVs.

As the Allegro Breeze is a concept vehicle that is expected to be available in March, Tiffin in late December hadn’t set an MSRP nor determined fuel mileage, although it’s expected to get miles-per-gallon in the mid-teens.

The mid-priced Breeze has a single streetside slideout, one-piece windshield, antique white interior, booth dinette, queen bed, separate toilet and shower and plenty of interior and exterior storage for a coach its size and as such, may be a glimpse of things to come.

Roadtrek's Ideal

Roadtrek's Ideal

Runners-up in the “Best of Show” category include Roadtrek Motor Home Inc.’s unique 20-foot Class B coach on an imported 8,550-pound GVWR Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis equipped with a slideout that extends through the Sprinter’s rear double doors.

Also in the runner-up category was Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC’s diminutive retro-looking MPG travel trailer with four 19- and 20-foot floorplans, fenders and front and rear pass-through storage that was a real eye-catcher.

While the Roadtrek slide-out van camper unit is the first in its class, the MPG is an example of a trend toward smaller travel trailers that include the Keystone Passport, Forest River R-Pod, the new Gulf Stream Visa, Micro-Lite Trailer Manufacturing Inc.’s Vymeron and Cikira RV LLC’s Retro-Lite, among others. All have are characterized by shorter lengths, lighter weights, a somewhat retro look and most have sloping aerodynamic front ends that provide better towing.

Heartland's MPG

Heartland's MPG

All of them also are positioned to appeal to a more cost-sensitive buyer.

For innovation in the 2010 model year — along with Roadtrek’s Class B slideout — RVBusiness recognizes the Chalet RV Inc. triple-slide truck camper that provides the feel of a Class C motorhome; Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc.’s Grand Junction fifth-wheel that incorporates a large cedar-line closet into the front cap; and Pacific Coachworks Inc.’s outdoor kitchen contained in a powered rear slideout.

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Baird: Curtin 2010 Forecast Too Conservative

December 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

baird_new_logoEditor’s Note: The investment firm Robert W. Baird & Co. hosted an investor field trip to the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.,  this week. Here are excerpts from the company’s report contained in a current client newsletter:


Low dealer inventory and strong OEM backlogs have insiders optimistic, supporting our robust (wholesale) recovery scenario. We remain bullish on wholesale fundamentals, but prefer a margin of safety until the magnitude of the retail recovery becomes clearer.


Light attendance. Attendance was light, by our estimation. Our sources indicate attendance was flat after falling 40% in 2008 as dealers conserve resources. Investor interest was up.

Don’t worry. Be happy. We sensed relief and contrived optimism at the show. The “bottom” we and others identified earlier this year – which is evident in low dealer inventories and robust OEM backlogs – has nearly everyone focused on a better 2010. We continue to believe the return to a “normal” inventory replenishment rate will drive a robust recovery in 2010 – but retail demand must recover if the recovery is to be sustainable.

The bank is boss. More than ever, bank decisions about consumer credit and wholesale lending control the fate of the RV industry. By enforcing more disciplined inventory management and demanding that consumers/dealers have more “skin in the game,” banks will influence industry growth and determine the winners and losers. Having been caught holding distressed collateral from weaker OEMs, banks want better partners. In an industry with few barriers to entry – access to capital provides an opportunity for well-managed businesses. Among the winners, one banker listed Thor Industries Inc., Forest River Inc., Tiffin Motor Homes Inc., Jayco Inc., Winnebago Industries Inc. and Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC.

Conservative RVIA forecast.  Richard Curtin revised his 2010 shipment forecast – but remains overly conservative in our view, especially in motorhomes. He sees 2010 towable shipments up 30% (up from 29%) and motorhome shipments up 25% (down from 27%). For perspective, we expect motorhome shipments to be up 108% at Winnebago.

Outlook. We remain bullish on fundamentals as a robust wholesale recovery unfolds, but prefer a better margin of safety.

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Tiffin Unveils 28-Foot Class A Diesel Pusher

December 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Allegro Breeze by TiffinTiffin Motor Homes Inc. today (Dec. 1) unveiled a concept model of the high-end, compact-sized Allegro Breeze diesel pusher at the 47th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. At 28 feet, the 21,500-pound GVWR Allegro Breeze is 17 feet shorter than Tiffin’s to Navistar Maxxforce 215-horsepower but only 9 1/2 feet longer than a Chevrolet Suburban. “The Breeze is responsive to our customers, dealers and others in the RV market,” says Bob Tiffin, CEO of the family-owned, Red Bay, Ala.,  Class A manufacturer founded in 1972. “This coach is wonderfully maneuverable and easy to park, and we’ve included many of the high-end touches of our much-larger diesel pushers.” Powered by a Navistar Maxxforce 215-hp diesel pusher manufactured in Huntsville, Ala., near the Tiffin plant, the Allegro Breeze is built on Tiffin’s own PowerGlide chassis. “This new motorhome enables us to reach out to new markets, including younger families seeking an alternative to more costly vacation arrangements and veteran RV folks who no longer want to drive, set up or maintain a 40-foot-plus diesel pusher,” explained Tim Tiffin, general manager. “While we don’t have specific numbers yet, we expect the Allegro Breeze will have good fuel economy – somewhere in the mid-teens of MPG — as a smaller, lighter coach with the Navistar engine. We will learn more in road-testing.”  The Allegro Breeze will begin appearing at Tiffin’s network of dealerships in the U.S. and Canada in March. Pricing has not been established.

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