Goshen, Ind.-based Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. has named Kelly Green as vice president of operations with responsibilities over engineering, purchasing and manufacturing.
“The primary objective of this appointment is to improve cross-coordination of engineering, purchasing and manufacturing within Dutchmen. This will accelerate improvements with respect to operating efficiencies, cost reduction initiatives, product quality, and operational initiatives,” said Cam Boyer, president of Dutchmen in a press release.
Dutchmen said that Green brings a strong background to this position with over 16 years experience in the RV industry where he has a solid reputation for his leadership, dealer and customer relationships, and management skills. He organized and led teams responsible for customer relationships, after sale technical service support, dealer website for warranty transaction processing and part ordering, material procurement, product design, strategic investments and overall company strategy. He also was a member of the leadership team responsible for the successful turnaround of Dutchmen.
Green holds a bachelor’s in business administration and has served on the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Committee of Excellence.
“Kelly is a strong member of the Dutchmen Team with an understanding of how to run a business successfully,” said Boyer. “He has a great depth of experience in dealing with our customers and is a strong agent for change. When you put all of these qualities and experiences into one package, we have an extraordinary resource on the Dutchmen team that will help us strive towards our goal of producing the best value products in the market. I am excited about the effect this will have on Dutchmen’s performance.”
The following is a Q&A with Airstream Inc. President and CEO Bob Wheeler conducted by The Street.
Airstream trailers are finding new life along open roads in the U.S. and abroad, but that shiny, iconic aluminum body is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to wooing consumers.
The Airstream was born in 1929 when founder Wally Byam built the first model on a Model T Ford chassis using only a teardrop-shaped shell of a shelter, an icebox and a kerosene stove. The trailers went into mass production in 1932 after Hawley Bowlus, the man who designed Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit Of St. Louis aircraft for the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris, designed the rounded aluminum body to reduce drag by 20% compared with square trailers.
It became one of the great symbols of roadside America from the 1950s through the 1970s, but has found an audience beyond the greatest generation and baby boomers in recent years. Airstream CEO Bob Wheeler says an increased focus on Airstream’s design elements helped double trailer sales to more than 1,500 in 2011 and nearly tripled sales of the company’s motor homes. Thor Industries Inc.-owned Airstream is also predicting 15% to 20% growth in 2012 against a forecast of 4% industrywide decline.
Recent company partnerships have only helped matters as the company’s 27-foot trailer collaboration with Eddie Bauer has built on the company’s work with outdoor-oriented brands such as surf- and skate-focused Quicksilver. Designer Christopher Deam, meanwhile, last year unveiled an Airstream concept trailer replete with stainless steel appliances and storage, bright white vinyl seating, illuminated translucent cabinets and Kennedy-era lime carpeting and throw pillows juxtaposed with Obama-era tech such as flatscreen televisions and super-slim climate-control systems. Nintendo uses an Airstream trailer painted with a giant Mario face and illuminated with LEDs as a mobile testing facility for its games and consoles.
Wheeler gave us a call a few days ago and spoke about the Airstream’s resurgence, tinkering with an icon and the delicate business of growing a legacy brand:
The Street: During summers my family and I spent camping in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains in the mid-’80s, there was always a lot of chatter when an Airstream pulled into the campground. I remember being drawn by that aluminum exterior, but getting the feeling that there were tight quarters inside. How has Airstream approached consumers who remember its trailers during eras of stripped-down amenities?
Wheeler: That’s been our constant challenge: to get people to understand that this iconic shell that they recognize from their childhood, when you walk inside, isn’t your grandfather’s Airstream. It’s modern both in its technology and interior design and meets people’s current tastes and lifestyle needs.
The Street: What features in recent models have been getting the buyers’ attention and bringing them beyond that novel exterior?
Wheeler: First and foremost is some of the interior design work we’ve been doing in the past 10 years specifically. Starting in 2001, we introduced a line of travel trailers called the International Line that represented very cutting-edge, modern design in any venue — either residential or, certainly, in the RV world. Those products started to get the attention of the design aficionados and design press. more than anything, that has attracted attention to our brand and cemented it in people’s thinking as current and relevant to their lifestyles.
To read the entire interview and view photos and a video click here.
Goshen, Ind.-based Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. unveiled its entry-level Dutchmen 814RB travel trailer at last week’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
According to a press release, the new model features sleek styling with a radius front profile, colored front and rear exterior walls, upgraded graphics and a roomy floorplan.
Standard features include a stereo, microwave, antenna, refrigerator, spare tire, front window with rock guard and rear stabilizer jacks. Dutchmen, a Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary, said three more floorplans are planned for the series.
“The acceptance was phenomenal and orders were very strong. We wanted to create a smaller, value-priced trailer that still looked high end with all the equipment standard. We accomplished that,” said Steve Paul, vice president/general manager for the Dutchmen product group.
For more information on Dutchmen RV and its brands visit www.dutchmen.com or call 574-537-0600.
Long a sport for the winter-hardy, ice fishing — which just now is beginning for the season in far northern Minnesota — might soon also attract those who insist on warmth and (relative) luxury with their cold-weather walleyes, crappies and sunnies.
The Grand Forks (Iowa) Herald reported that what began not many years ago as an experiment in mobile fishing houses built on retractable wheels has blossomed into a business with many competing manufacturers. Many were on display at the St. Paul Ice Fishing and Winter Sports Show last weekend.
Sarah Coates Lange, general manager of Coates RV Center near Forest Lake, which sells Salem ice cabins, said winter anglers have provided a big boost to her recreational vehicle trade, which slows in winter.
“The ice cabins have been very, very popular,” Lange said. “They’re made to RV specifications, and we outfit about half the units we sell with air conditioners, so they can be used in summer as travel trailers.”
Manufactured by Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River Inc., a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Co., Salem ice cabins range from 14 to 20 feet, with show prices from $11,000 to $16,500.
Other mobile winter-fishing house builders also were at the show, including Ice Castle of Montevideo, Minn., the largest manufacturer of ice “homes,” with sizes ranging to 24 feet and Custom Cottages, which builds “hunting, fishing, camping mobile shelters” of aluminum alloy frames and shells, also displayed at the show.
Lighter, less expensive and more portable fabric fishing shelters manufactured by Clam, Eskimo and Frabill (plenty of each were at the show) offer winter anglers more flexibility in their hunts for fish through the ice.
And Canvas Craft, headquartered in the northwest Twin Cities suburbs, was exhibiting fabric fishing shelters whose walls and ceiling include Thinsulate insulation. Noteworthy is its Northlander all-terrain trailer ($2,795), which converts from ATV hauler to ice fishing shelter, hunting blind or utility trailer.
Airstream Inc. unveiled the Sterling Concept trailer, designed by architect Christopher Deam, during this week’s 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
According to a press release, the collaboration between Airstream and Deam continues a partnership that started more than a decade ago with the 2001 Airstream International CCD.
The most striking design feature of the Sterling Concept trailer is the use of anodized aluminum surfaces for the interior. Deam said he wanted to bring the “unmistakable appearance of the Airstream’s exterior to the interior of the unit and use a premium, lustrous material that provided plenty of light and reflectivity.”
He added, “The aircraft-like aesthetic and modern monocoque design required high precision, resulting in a product that is both aggressively modern and timeless.”
The Sterling Concept trailer features bright yellow woven vinyl flooring that has a soft, luxurious feel and is complemented by the white ultra-leather upholstery and classic mid-century Merimekko fabric used throughout the unit. All countertops and roof-lockers are edged with pure aluminum extrusions which harmonize with the aluminum interior skin and premium fixtures in the galley and lavatory.
“Airstream is the ultimate object of design,” said Deam. “The Sterling concept trailer project was a true collaboration with Airstream and forced us both to push the limits of what is possible. For a designer it is always great to work with a brand where you can exercise furniture and product design together with manufacturing – it is the ultimate.”
Deam said the Sterling Concept captures what is essential about Airstream travel trailers and imparts to it a modern flair, demonstrating Airstream’s continuing commitment to be a thought leader for the RV industry.
“This concept trailer represents a fresh take on Airstream, and we think it will appeal to people who are design-savvy and appreciate quality construction and unique, modern design,” added Airstream President and CEO Bob Wheeler.
Lancaster, Calif.-based Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp. is introducing two additions to the company’s new line of travel trailers during this week’s 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
Along with the 1575 trailer, Lance is showing a 1274 model, its smallest unit, and the 2385 floorplan, the largest in the lineup.
According to a press release, the 1274 travel trailer features a large slideout, pop-out tent sleeper and a dry bath. With a dry weight of 2,250 pounds, the1274 is an easy tow for vehicles with a 5,000-pound tow rating.
“The 1274 feels a lot larger than it is with the pop-out tent sleeper,” says Gary Conley, national sales manager for Lance Camper adding, “And with its length and weight, it’s a very easy trailer to tow.”
The 2385 is equipped with a large kitchen offering almost eight feet of counter space, along with a full-wall slide with a “Super Dinette” and private bedroom.
Offering a dry weight of 4,615 pounds, the 2385 can be towed by most V-8 powered SUVs and light-duty trucks.
“The full wall slide and enormous kitchen really make this trailer stand out,” says Gary. “For RVers looking for the quality they’ve come to expect from Lance in a larger package – this is it.”
The new 1575 travel trailer from Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp. has proven to be a popular favorite for both dealers and consumers, according to a press release.
The 1575 is one of the newest in the Lance travel trailer lineup. With a length of just over 15 feet, it features a residential queen size bed, Lance’s “Super-Slideout” dinette and a dry bath. According to Lance, the interior is open and “feels even more spacious with several large windows.”
“This model offers a lot of value in an RV,” says Gary Conley, national sales manager for Lancaster, Calif.-based Lance. “Add to that the small size, and it’s no surprise it’s become an overnight success.”
The 1575 sleeps four and has a dry weight of just 2,480 pounds making it an easy tow for many of today’s smaller SUVs and light-duty pickups.
For more information, contact Norm Jacobson at 661-949-3322 or email at NormJ@LanceCamper.com.
Forest River Inc. will introduce the luxury Aviator travel trailer at the Nov. 29-Dec. 1 National RV Trade Show, representing “a culmination of new concepts and design ideas,” according to a press release.
“When we sat down to design the Aviator over a year and a half ago, we wanted to bring to market a luxury travel trailer that would revolutionize this industry. Low maintenance, customer friendliness and a unique look were the criteria we used in developing this product,” says Kevin McArt, general manager for the new Aviator.
Features in the Aviator include an aerodynamic front cap with integrated windshield, contoured composite sidewalls and a maintenance-free fiberglass roof. Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River also noted that the construction of the Aviator is wood-free.
“Not only is the absence of wood material a strong environmental commitment, but the implementation of aluminum and composite materials add higher strength tolerances and are impermeable to moisture,” said McArt.
Aviator is also the first RV unit in any segment to introduce Smart Technology. The base of the system is an incredibly powerful Sony tablet computer. “We’ve assembled a system of familiar components that when combined together deliver unparalleled access to information, entertainment and ease-of-use for our customers,” said Cody Schade, regional sales manager for the Aviator.
According to Schade, Mobile Onboard Smart Technology (MOST) allows customers to share a direct service link not only with the dealer network but also with Forest River. It provides a personal, interactive guide including how-to videos and tutorials, troubleshooting, and any question a customer may encounter on set-up, appliances, or other features.
“The result,” the Aviator team states, “is a more confident and educated customer, which results in fewer service situations and less maintenance at the dealer level.”
For additional information contact Regional Sales Manager Matt Maday at (574) 642-3119, ext. 215, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Cody Schade, at (574) 642-3119, ext. 273, email@example.com.
Topeka, Ind.-based CrossRoads RV has introduced the Cruiser Aire towable line, available in five travel trailer and four fifth-wheel double-slide floorplans, all designed for towing by half-ton trucks or SUV’s.
The latest series in the company’s popular Cruiser brand ranges in length from 24 to 32 feet, offering full-depth slideouts and weighing from 4,500 pounds to 7,000 pounds. MSRP’s start at around $23,900 nicely appointed.
The aluminum-framed units are equipped with many standard features that other RV manufacturers offer only as options, including:
• 60-inch by 80-inch deluxe memory foam mattress.
• LED Lights throughout the interior.
• Oversized pass-through storage.
• Cathedral ceilings throughout the unit.
• All double-slide floorplans.
Rudy Boals, national sales manager, noted, “We are excited to offer a product families are able to afford and tow with the half-ton truck or SUV they drive on a daily basis. The Cruiser product is a brand customers have come to know and trust we are entering into the lightweight market with a new spin by introducing double-slide floorplans focused on the lightweight buyer. Our ongoing collaboration with dealers and retail customers has brought a whole new sense of style in the Cruiser Aire.”
The new line also carries CrossRoads RV’s 2 + 5 warranty that protects against defects in materials and workmanship for two years from date of delivery and a five-year structural guarantee against floor, walls, and roof defects.
The all-new Cruiser Aire will be displayed at the Nov. 29-Dec. 1 49th Annual National RV Trade Show Louisville, Ky., at Booth No. 100 in the South Wing of the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC).
A newly formed company has purchased the assets of TrailManor Inc. and gone into production to revive the lightweight trailer brand.
According to a press release, TrailManor Manufacturing Company LLC was created to ensure that “TrailManor will be here for years to come with quality products, great service and unforgettable camping experiences.”
Bob Eickhoff, a long-time sales representative for TrailManor who formed the new company, noted, “Our new organization makes the TrailManor brand much stronger.”
The company is now producing TrailManor trailers in a Jacksboro, Tenn., plant, located near Knoxville, with plans in 2012 to open an additional manufacturing facility in Hartington, Neb. The company’s general offices will be located in Hartington.
Eickhoff noted that several positive changes have been made under the new company to support TrailManor owners and dealers. He said that instead of having parts centralized at the TrailManor plant, there will be dealer locations across the country that will stock parts, speeding access to needed components. TrailManor is also rolling out the Sport line of smaller, value-priced trailers, which features units ranging from 16 to 24 feet.
Eickhoff said that he thanked dealers and owners for the patience they have shown during the transition, which began in September.
“We are very fortunate to have dealerships and TrailManor enthusiasts who have cheered us on, and we look forward to bringing them exciting new products,” he said.
To learn more about TrailManor’s innovative, super-lightweight trailers, visit www.trailmanor.com.