Today’s video comes from KPTV FOX 12, Portland, Ore., featuring an overview of RVing and a tour of a Denali travel trailer by Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc.
Things are going very well for CrossRoads RV, according to a report in the South Bend Tribune.
And further evidence of that became evident Monday when the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp. in conjunction with the town of Topeka and CrossRoads RV announced the construction of a new 22,000-square-foot corporate headquarters building at the company’s 45-acre campus in Topeka, Ind.
The headquarters will be constructed near the company’s plant. The project will result in up to 10 new positions.
“We are in a growth mode here,” said Alexandria Trusov, marketing director for CrossRoads RV. “And we have expanded beyond our current capacity and needed more space.”
Currently more than 500 people work at the campus, which includes four plants, a customer service center and the current corporate headquarters.
This does not count the estimated 250 people expected to be added by 2014 when a 93,000-square-foot facility will be completed at a cost of $3.9 million.
CrossRoads RV, a division of Thor Industries, manufactures a wide variety of recreational vehicles, including toy haulers, travel trailers and destination trailers. Some of its better known brands include Zinger, Z-1, Rushmore and Sunset Trail Ultra-Lite.
CrossRoads RV is also a sister company to Redwood RV in Syracuse.
Heartland Recreational Vehicle’s makeover of its Trail Runner brand last fall successfully rejuvenated the conventional-built travel trailer line, spurring retail sales and creating sustained demand with the company’s dealer body.
“Our dealers were very specific in their needs,” said General Manager Nick Eppert in a press release. “Through telephone and face-to-face conversations, the need for lower dry weights and a more aggressive price point came through loud and clear. Accordingly, we made some monumental changes in the product that really paid off.”
The reengineered, sharply priced Trail Runner now boasts “more models designed for the half-ton truck market than ever before,” according to Eppert, who reported that dealers took note of the changes.
Julie Leach, sales manager for Leach Camper Sales in Council Bluffs, Iowa, a respected dealership that is currently marking its 50th year of operation, noted, “We at Leach Camper Sales have truly enjoyed our relationship with Heartland’s Trail Runner edition. We have had excellent support from our sales rep and the warranty department. They have responded to our needs immediately and without hesitation. That has allowed us to achieve a dramatic increase in our sales area. We have currently experienced a 30% increase from 2011 to 2012 with five more months to go. We look forward to our continued success with Heartland.”
Building on the success of the Trail Runner, Heartland launched the Trail Runner Super Lite Edition (SLE) at the 2011 Louisville Show. “This product brings even lower dry weights and price points to the table,” Eppert said. “At Louisville, we showcased two models in our display, and dealer reaction was outstanding. Based on our dealer’s input we quickly expanded the offering.”
The Trail Runner SLE currently offers seven floorplans, available with non-slideouts, traditional slides and galley sliderooms.
Eppert said that several new introductions for both the Trail Runner and SLE are planned at this year’s Open House, adding, “Even though we are coming in at a more aggressive price point, the Trail Runner brand is still loaded with popular features that RVers are looking for.”
Amenities include Beauflor linoleum, real-wood cabinet doors and drawers, full-extension ball bearing drawer guides, pocket-bored screwed cabinets and radial tires with EZ-Lube hubs.
“I am thrilled with Heartland’s passion to be awesome in travel trailers,” said Eppert. “The future is very bright for the Trail Runner brand and its dealers.”
Editor’s Note: The following is an article that appeared in the New York Times, profiling five towable RVs that stand out in the marketplace. Included in the list was the EverGreen RV Element, Jayco Seismic, Airstream International Sterling, Taxa Cricket and Most Futuria Sports + Spa. To read the entire article click here.
For a long time, travel trailers came in two basic varieties: the big white shoebox or the Chiclet-shape pop-up; Airstream’s iconic aluminum bubble was a notable exception.
The shoebox still makes a large footprint in the travel-trailer market, but as overall sales have grown since 2005, to 165,100 conventional and pop-up trailers last year, some manufacturers have found success with more adventurous designs.
Yet finding the market’s sweet spot is trickier than backing into a campsite. A Dutch start-up, Your Suite In Nature, attracted attention in 2010 with a pop-up that opened into a canvas approximation of the Sydney Opera House.
The Opera was stunning and well appointed, but at 33,000 euros (more than $40,000) it was quadruple the average price of a pop-up. Manufacturing ceased in March after only nine Operas were produced. In an e-mail, the company’s founder, Rob Vos, cited high production costs as well as low sales.
Yet the passing of the Opera hasn’t prevented other trailer companies from trying to break out of the box. Here are five other head-turning trailers:
EVERGREEN ELEMENT: A radically raked front end helps to make this trailer, from EverGreen Recreational Vehicles of Middlebury, Ind., a bit more aerodynamic than most.
Inside, the Element looks like a crew compartment on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”: there is a lot of blond wood, rounded edges and flush-set appliances.
The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $40,000, about twice the price of the average conventional trailer. But EverGreen’s chairman, Kelly Rose, said the price reflected the use of composite materials, rather than wood and particleboard. “Composite won’t mildew or rot,” Rose said. “It just won’t break down, and that keeps the Element’s resale value high.”
To read the entire article click here.
The following is an article in the Huffington Post profiling Airstream Inc. as it marks its 80th anniversary. To view a slide show of the iconic brand click here.
The Airstream recreational vehicle, all curves and chrome, was originally designed to evoke the open road and the aviation age. Hawley Bowlus, the man who created the brand’s toaster-over-in-a-wind-tunnel look was also the chief designer of Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. His America was all about going places and the Airstream was intended to be both a way to get there and a way to stay.
Over the years, the vehicles have gone from being associated with innovation to being of a piece with thrift store Americana — what Instagram is to cameras, Airstream is to vehicles — yet, in 1932 when company founder Wally Byam was just moving beyond tinkering in his back yard, he was engaging with a very modern notion: Mobility is the ultimate luxury.
The irony, of course, is that a company catering to Americans’ travel yen has itself been nothing if not stationary. The popular vehicles are still manufactured in Jackson Center, Ohio and their names still betray these roots. Buyers can choose between Sport, Flying Cloud and Classic Limited models. There is also an International, but that seems almost antithetical to the whole endeavor.
Despite its proud middle-American sensibility and heritage, Airstreams have always been more than middle class kitsch. They helped ferry generations of children and parents to beaches and wild places. They may not have conquered the West, but they certainly made it more accessible, allowing the denizens of America’s growing suburbs to get back into the outdoors. If Airstreams now look tiny next to the rolling mansions being offered by recreational vehicle manufacturers, there is a reason: They were designed to help us get away, not to help us schlep everything along with us.
Eighty years later, an Airstream in the driveway still means one foot out the door, an American stance if ever there was one.
Komfort’s 2410RK rear kitchen travel trailer by Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. was recognized by Consumer’s Digest magazine as a Best Buy travel trailer in its May/June 2012 issue.
According to a press release, the Best Buy title is awarded to less than 3% of the products competing in any particular category. In the magazine’s “Road to Recovery” article, Komfort was cited as the one product among dozens that “delivers all of the amenities that you’d expect from a premium travel trailer, but with more space for a lower price than other models deliver.”
Rich Dzierwa, editor of Consumer’s Digest, said, “Komfort stood out and rose to the top in what we deemed premium travel trailers.” The Best Buy product recommendation was a combination of product features, performance and price.
“Komfort was the least expensive of the travel trailer products reviewed, based on quality of construction, features, use of space and ease of towing,” Dzierwa stated. Research procedures for product evaluations are “comprehensive and diligent from the start.” He added that the magazine is “designed to serve consumers by helping them spend their money wisely.”
Rob Groover, general manager for Goshen, Ind.-based Dutchmen’s Infinity, Komfort and Dutchmen product lines, noted, “Komfort is a premium travel trailer at a midline price. This is not a cookie-cutter RV. There’s nothing like it on the market, especially in this price category.”
Groover added that Komfort models have a high insulation value, making them ideal for extended camping in most types of weather. Inside, modern interiors feature leather furniture with simple, contemporary lines and fresh decors with premium flooring. A crowned ceiling increases headroom. The exterior is set off by a sleek, aerodynamic front fiberglass cap and contemporary graphics.
Airstream Inc. announced its top performing dealers based on retail sales for model year 2012 for both travel trailers and touring coaches during Airstream’s National Dealer Meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
According to a press release, Colonial Airstream, based in Lakewood, N.J., claimed the top sales award for travel trailers for a record eighth year in a row, along with honors as ‘Top Dealer Overall’ and ‘Top Touring Coach Dealership.’
“Colonial’s continued success demonstrates their passion for our brand, but more importantly, their focus on customer service,” said Bob Wheeler, president and CEO of Jackson Center, Ohio-based Airstream. “The fact that they have been the number one dealer of Airstream travel trailers for eight years in a row is a testament to their hard work, and our company is extremely appreciative of their contributions.”
“This year’s sales national dealer meeting was a huge success for Airstream,” added Wheeler. “The meeting afforded us the opportunity for an open dialogue with our dealers, which helps us understand their needs moving forward, and for us to provide them some insight into what we are working on for the future. We appreciate the open discussion and always enjoy recognizing top performance, as well.”
The following is a list of the top dealers that were recognized in terms of retail sales during the event:
• Top 10 Airstream Dealers ranked by travel trailer retail units sold: Colonial Airstream, Lakewood, N.J.; Airstream Adventures Northwest, Covington, Wash.; Airstream Adventures Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore.; George M Sutton RV, Eugene, Ore.; Bates RV, Dover, Fla.; Camper Clinic II, Buda, Texas; Southwest Coaches Irvine, Calif.; Toscano Recreation, Los Banos, Calif.; Windish RV Center, Lakewood, Colo.; Can-AM RV Centre London, Ontario, Canada.
• Top 5 Airstream Dealers ranked by Touring Coach retail units sold: Colonial Airstream, Lakewood, N.J.; Bates RV, Dover, Fla.; Camper Clinic II, Buda, Texas; Airstream Adventures Northwest, Covington, Wash.; Schumacher European Ltd., Phoenix, Ariz.
In addition to the top dealer awards, Airstream also recognized the No. 1 parts dealer for model year 2012, Out of Doors Mart from Colfax, N.C., along with two dealers for demonstrating service excellence over the past year, Can Am Trailers from London, Ontario, and JD Sanders from Alachua, Fla.
“Just as important as sales recognition is to identify those dealers who go above and beyond the call of duty to take care of our mutual customers after the sale,” said Dave Schumann, general manager of parts and service for Airstream. “Although it is a difficult job in picking from so many good dealers, our team decided that Can Am Trailers and JD Sanders fit the bill for this prestigious award. Their commitment to customer satisfaction is to be commended, and Airstream appreciates the passion they show each and every day.”
Jackson Center, Ohio-based Thor Industries Inc. reported a 9% increase in sales for its fiscal third quarter, ended April 30.
Preliminary consolidated sales in the third quarter were $925.35 million, up from $852 million in the third quarter last year. RV sales in the quarter were $806.5 million, a 9% increase from $742.8 million the previous year. Bus sales in the quarter also rose 9% to $118.9 million compared $109.3 million a year ago.
Consolidated sales in the nine months totaled nearly $2.2 billion, up 11% from nearly 2 billion in the prior year period. RV sales during the period rose 11% to $1.87 billion compared with nearly $1.7 billion the previous year. Bus sales in the nine months were $326.2 million, up 9% from $298.5 million in the year-ago period.
Thor reported that cash, cash equivalents and investments on April 30, 2012 were $149 million while consolidated backlog was $684 million compared to $633 million last year. RV backlog was $448 million, up 5% from $427 million last year. Bus backlog was $236 million, up 15% from $206 million last year.
“Thor’s top line sales performance continues to be strong in both our RV and bus businesses, pulled by solid retail RV activity through the spring and an improving bus market,” said Peter B. Orthwein, Thor chairman, CEO and president. “However, our businesses were impacted by an elevated promotional environment driven by aggressive competition. This is resulting in the compression of our margins.”
Gulf Stream Coach Inc. affiliate Yellowstone RV, Nappanee Ind., announced the release of the Bull Dog line of “ruggedized” all-season travel trailers designed to provide secure, comfortable living accommodations for people who work in remote locations and extreme environments.
Initially developed for field workers in the oil drilling and pipeline construction industries, the Bull Dog serves as a work-ready outpost for anyone who needs housing that can be moved quickly and easily as job site locations change, according to a news release.
While Gulf Stream Coach continues to sell fleets of modified recreational travel trailers to oil workers and other mobile work crews, the new Bull Dog extends movable housing to work locations where no ordinary travel trailer would suffice. The expanded range of operation and purpose-driven design of the Bull Dog makes it an attractive solution for commercial rental fleets and international mining, drilling and construction firms.
“Our goal was to create a home base that field workers, contractors, engineers and project managers could count on whether they are prospecting for oil in Alberta or running a mining operation in the Pacific Northwest,” said Mike Spencer, national sales manager for Yellowstone RV.
Built on a 2-inch by 14-inch tubular steel frame and measuring just under 34 feet, the Bull Dog boasts two 100-pound LP tanks, two 35,000 BTU furnaces, two 110V baseboard heaters, a 13,500 BTU roof-mounted air conditioner, 93 gallons of fresh water, four 40-gallon waste water tanks, an 80-amp power converter and R-38 insulation in floor and ceiling.
Interior amenities include a 60-inch by 80-inch walk-around queen bed, huge banks of storage cabinets, a dry bath with tub/shower, a fully equipped kitchen, a jack-knife sofa and two flat screen TVs. Finishing out the interior is over 12 running feet of counter space that serves as a spacious, flexible workstation for computing, paperwork, gear repair and other on-the-job assignments.
The Bull Dog is currently available through selected dealers in the United States and Canada. For more information, contact Mike Spencer at Yellowstone RV (phone 574-773-7761 ext. 5158; email email@example.com).
Gulf Stream Coach Inc. reported that the Nappanee, Ind.-based builder’s towable offerings were resonating with consumers during the early round of shows.
“Figures from Statistical Surveys Inc. for the key indicator month of February show Gulf Stream retail sales up more than 29% over last year,” said Gulf Stream Executive Vice President Phil Sarvari in a press release. “We’re excited by the success of Gulf Stream Coach dealers at this year’s shows, and we are working hard to help our dealers take advantage of the trends that will extend the strong results of the season through the year.”
According to Gulf Stream, brands that were well received at RV shows and on dealer lots include:
• The VISA “super-lightweight” travel trailer, built with a distinctive one-piece laminated fiberglass roof that stretches in an aerodynamic arc from the front hitch to the rear bumper. The series provides the benefits of both advanced composites and handcrafted hardwoods while offering spacious, full-function floorplans.
• Gulf Stream’s new StreamLite/Gulf Breeze Champagne Series 30DBS, featuring a champagne-colored laminated exterior and high-gloss fiberglass front cap. Gulf Stream said that floorplans attracted the attention of both first-timers and veteran trailer campers.
• Gulf Stream affiliate Yellowstone RV’s Canyon Trail fifth-wheels, set off by a cherry stained interior option, feature a variety of floorplans and chassis technologies, including the SB-1500 floorplan built specifically for half-ton crew-cab pickups with extra-short cargo beds.
Randy Baskerville, general manager for the lightweight Ameri-Lite trailer noted, “Our Ameri-Lite 14RBC can give young families years of unforgettable camping experiences in the great outdoors for less than the price of a back yard hot-tub. That’s exactly what people are looking for at RV shows – unforgettable experiences and true value.”
For additional information contact Paul Campbell, Gulf Stream director of marketing, at (574)-773-7761, ext 5178 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org).
CrossRoads RV broke ground this morning on a new 93,000 square-foot manufacturing facility with 5,000 square feet of office space adjacent to the company’s existing 45-acre campus in Topeka, Ind.
According to a press release, the new production facility will house the company’s line of Cruiser towables. Construction is slated for completion in August.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) offered CrossRoads RV tax credits and training grants based on the company’s job creation plans while the town of Topeka granted a tax phase-in for the project. An additional 250 jobs will be created by this expansion.
“Indiana entered the recession making about half of all RVs. Now, we’re making more than four out of five,” noted Indiana Governor 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.”
CrossRoads RV, a division of Thor Industries Inc., is one of the nation’s fastest growing recreational vehicle manufacturers. CrossRoads builds a variety of fifth-wheels and travel trailers, including the Cruiser, which has been one of the company’s most popular products since its debut 10 years ago.
According to Don Emahiser, president of CrossRoads RV, “We’re pleased to be able to expand our facilities in Topeka. The new Cruiser facility’s design adds flexibility to how we manufacture and keep up with demand.”
Nuway Construction, a design/build general contractor located in Goshen, Ind., was chosen for the project. “This facility has been specifically designed to meet CrossRoads RV’s lean manufacturing needs,” said Randy Huffman, president of Nuway Construction.
Goshen, Ind.-based towable builder Keystone RV Co. announced today (March 29) the addition of Bella Vista RV Centre as its newest Vantage travel trailer dealer, according to a news release. Located in Hawkestone, Ontario, Bella Vista RV Centre is one of Canada’s largest full-line dealerships. “We are thrilled to have Bella Vista join the Vantage team,” says Troy Nusbaum, Vantage product manager. “Bella Vista’s professionalism and excellence in customer care make them a perfect fit for the new Vantage.” Bruno Tombari Jr. (shown in photo), Bella Vista general manager and co-owner, feels that the Keystone Vantage is ideally suited to his market. “Vantage combines timeless beauty with modern technology to create a new travel trailer unlike anything on the market today,” he said. “Our customers will love the sleek, clean exterior design and the contemporary interior styling.” He added, “Our staff was excited to see the first Vantage arrive on our lot. We believe it will appeal to both families and couples and serve as a show stopper at our dealership.” The lightweight Vantage was unveiled at last year’s Elkhart County RV Open House, sporting a distinctive exterior design and a eurostyle interior.
Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from a New York Times article featuring a Q&A with Christopher C. Deam, who has designed several units for Airstream Inc., including the new Sterling Concept trailer. To view the entire article click here.
If you’re the sort who falls into an escapist dream at the sight of an Airstream trailer, you may want to stop and see the company’s latest, the Sterling Concept Trailer, being shown in Palm Springs, Calif., this weekend as part of Modernism Week. Designed by Christopher C. Deam, a San Francisco architect who has been helping Airstream with its interior design for 13 years, it is still a prototype that may or may not be put into production.
You would certainly want to wipe the campground mud off your shoes before walking into this trailer. The aluminum interior is sleek and shining, with a queen-size bed, a streamlined bathroom with a shower and rounded cabinets for the sink, and capsule-shaped accent windows. And, of course, the trailer is Wi-Fi ready.
Deam, who runs CCD Architecture-Furniture, is married to Lara Hedberg Deam, the founder of Dwell magazine. They have 9-year-old twins, Cal, a son, and Macy, a daughter, and have done a bit of trailer travel themselves. Recently, Mr. Deam talked about his work.
How did you get involved in trailer design?
I was remodeling my brother Eric’s house with my friend Thom Faulders. This was around 1996. It was very small, like a 26-by-26 box, and we were looking at really efficient uses of space. So we turned our eyes to boats and R.V.’s to figure it out. The house won an A.I.A. Award and was in Sunset magazine, and they titled it “The Airstream Cottage.”
A light bulb went off in my head, and I thought, “I have to approach Airstream.” My idea was to review their interiors.
How did that work out?
They turned me down. They were, “You’re just not for our audience.” But then the opportunity arose for me to do a project with Wilsonart. They make plastic laminates. We came up with the idea of using a trailer for their trade show booth. Honestly, before the trailer arrived in my shop, I had never set foot in an R.V. before. For my brother’s house we had just looked at pictures.
What I found was, you had this great streamlined aerodynamic modern exterior, and then you opened the door and it was like grandma’s kitchen. There was a disconnect between the exterior and the interior. You approached the trailer and there was the magic promise of the future, and you walk in and it was like a log cabin on wheels. What we decided was, we had to do some kind of archaeology, stripping it down and getting rid of all the gewgaws and clunky interior, and taking it back to something really essential. I simplified it and emphasized the horizontal lines and put in a lot of fluid, curved laminates. We took that trailer to the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York, and we got the attention of an Airstream executive.
To view the entire article 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.”
Recreational vehicles are not necessarily getting smaller, but they are getting lighter, according to a report in New Jersey’s The Press of Atlantic City.
John Sulano, finance manager at Driftwood RV Center, pointed to a 3,200-pound, 21-foot-long model on the floor of the Atlantic City Convention Center during last weekend’s Annual Atlantic City RV Show. Ten years ago, a similar model may have weighed 1,000 pounds more, he said. “Weight is always a factor in the trailer business,” he said.
Manufacturers have been building recreational vehicles using aluminum framing instead of wood, and even making interior cabinets with lightweight compressed fiberboard or balsa wood, Sulano said.
“Every year the trailers get bigger and weigh less,” said Bob Burnett, rental manager at Driftwood.
Show Manager Anthony Tedesco said RV shows have had a good year so far with both attendance and at-show purchases, a change from several years ago when the economy had fewer people buying.
Kevin Broom, media relations director for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) said many manufacturers redesigned and innovated during those down years.
“Take a look around and you’ll see light, or ultra-light or super light. What you’re going to see is a lot of RVs that are smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic, more fuel-efficient,” Broom said. “While they’re getting smaller, they’re not really sacrificing living space. They’re using different materials to build.”
Meanwhile, as newer electronics such as flat-screen televisions became popular, they take up less space inside RVs, he said.
“Ten years ago, the tube TV took up a couple feet. Now a flat panel takes up 2 or 3 inches and you can hang it on a wall,” he said.
Lighter materials allow people to tow their RVs with smaller SUVs, he said.
Driftwood, with locations in Dennis Township and Egg Harbor Township, is one of the largest exhibitors at the show. The company typically has six to eight salespeople there, as well as managers, Sulano said.