RV News April 2021 - Redesign Issue

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RV News The Voice of the RV Industry

April 2021

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Tiffin: All About Family The State of Air Conditioners’ Availability . . . . . . . . . . . . P22 Learning a New Way to Sell F&I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . P40

Motorized Manufacturers Mull Production Shift . . . . . . . P58 Hot Camping Accessories Dealers Need This Summer . . . P66




Contents VOL 45, ISSUE 4 | APRIL 2021

TOP STORY

10 Tiffin: The Next Generation

After nearly 50 years in business, Tiffin Motorhomes has a new owner and new products in the pipeline but the same foundation that built the company’s success.

10 RV MANUFACTURING

INSIDE

22 Air Conditioners’ Future Thawing

After struggles in 2020 to produce enough products to meet soaring demand, air conditioner suppliers see better days coming in 2021.

26 HVAC Repairs Present Challenges 22 AIR CONDITIONERS

Technicians describe challenges they face, and solve, when handling HVAC repairs.

32 Gen-Y’s Dynamic Growth

The creators of the original adjustable drop hitch have expansion in their sights.

40 The Era of RV Lifestyle Protection

Brown & Brown Dealer Services is launching a new training routine designed to sell consumers on protecting their RV experiences.

32 AFTERMARKET SUPPLIER

48 Natural Elements of Selling RVs

A rural Wyoming dealership is connecting with an eclectic customer base that includes residents, tourists and natural resource workers.

58 Motorized Model Year Misalignments 48 DEALER PROFILE 2

RV News | April 2021

Although nearly all towable manufacturers said they plan to align model year and title changes beginning this summer, the choice for motorized manufacturers has been complicated.

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Departments

RV News The Voice of the RV Industry 685 S. Arthur Ave., Unit 6 Louisville, Colorado 80027 (720) 353-4003 rvnews.com PUBLISHER & ADVERTISING SALES

Dana Nelsen

dana@rvnews.com (720) 353-4003 Ext. 7889 EDITOR IN CHIEF

Chris Freeman

chris@rvnews.com (720) 353-4003 Ext. 1064 DIGITAL EDITOR

Jordan Benschop

66 CAMPING ACCESSORIES

news@rvnews.com (720) 353-4003 Ext. 1065

79 THE BEST OF

STAFF WRITER

Jessica Mordacq jessica@rvnews.com (720) 353-4003 Ext. 1067

66 Stocking Up on Accessories

Summer camping accessories will begin flying off dealers’ shelves soon. Three distributors discuss the products and categories parts managers need to order.

CREATIVE DIRECTION

Jim Nissen

commandshiftoption.com ART DIRECTOR

Don Schumann adproduction@rvnews.com (720) 353-4003 Ext. 1063

79 The Best Of: Camping Accessories

Aftermarket suppliers display the best camping accessory products the companies ever made.

CIRCULATION & SUBSCRIPTIONS

Alex Burba

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

UPCOMING TBO CATEGORIES:

MAY Jacks, Lifts & Leveling JUNE Power Solutions JULY Made in the USA

Greg Artman, Thelma Grimes, Dan Larson, Garrison Wells, Valerie Ziebron Subscription requests, address changes should be sent to admin@rvnews.com.

IN EVERY ISSUE

ADVICE

Letter from the Editor . . . . . . . 6 Letter from the Publisher . . . . 8 Advertiser Index . . . . . . . . . . . 88

Are You Batting .300 in Your Business Office? . . . . . . 74 What Is Stopping Your Best Busy Season? . . . . . . . . . 76

RV News The Voice of the RV Industry

April 2021

ON THE COVER

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Tiffin: All About Family . . . . . . . . P20 The State of Air Conditioners’ Availability . . . . . . . . . . . . P37 Learning a New Way to Sell F&I. . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . P53 Motorized Manufacturers Mull Production Shift. . . .P61 Hot Camping Accessories Dealers Need This Summer

RV News | April 2021

(L to R) Tiffin Motorhomes President Van Tiffin and CEO Bob Tiffin walk through the company’s headquarters and Type A campus in Red Bay, Alabama.

Send letters to the editor and feedback on the publication or website to chris@rvnews.com.

RV News magazine ISSN 0193-2888 is a trademark and copyright of DRN Media Inc., 685 S. Arthur Ave., Unit 6, Louisville, Colorado 80027. www.rvnews.com 2021 DRN Media Inc. All printed rights are reserved. RV News magazine is published monthly by DRN Media Inc. 685 S. Arthur Ave., Unit 6, Louisville, Colorado 80027 (720) 353-4003. ©

POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to DRN Media Inc. 685 S. Arthur Ave., Unit 6, Louisville, Colorado 80027. Any and all items submitted to RV News magazine become the sole property of DRN Media Inc. Submitted items and any and all content within RV News magazine or on its website cannot be reproduced, republished or reprinted unless written consent from the publisher is given. Advertisers and/or their agencies assume all liability jointly and severally for advertisements that appear in the printed and online editions of RV News magazine. Editorial content, including columnists and opinion articles do not necessarily represent perspectives or opinions of RV News magazine, DRN Media Inc., or its staff, owners or principles.

RV News is published by DRN Media Inc. rvnews.com


Failure, Success & Great Success T

he difference between success and great success often entails a failure or two on the path to an amazing destination. In our March issue, we beta-tested a brand new magazine section we are very excited about. It is called, “THE BEST OF….” Going forward, RV News Magazine will highlight an aftermarket category with THE BEST OF EVER… products in the selected aftermarket category. In our March beta test of the new section, we highlighted “THE BEST OF

Hitches and Towing.” In that section, we made a couple big mistakes in our quest for a great new magazine section with highly successful products. Danko’s RVIbrake Shadow Braking System had an inaccurate description of their new product that combined two of the legacy company’s products, one that is installed and one that is portable. The Roadmaster product in THE BEST OF section had a description of their Nighthawk tow bar, but the

picture was of one of their other towing products. Below are how these two products should have appeared. Both products deserve to be represented properly… especially if where they are being displayed is a compilation of THE BEST OF. RV News deeply regrets our failure in the journey of these two products great success. Both help RV consumers reach their amazing destination successfully. We are sorry our inaccurate editorial coverage caused a detour.

Roadmaster

The Nighthawk is an illuminated tow bar with embedded LED lights along each arm. It has an 8,000-pound towing capacity. Nighthawk incorporates internal channels for the included power cord and safety cables. Non-binding latches transform 5 pounds of force against the latch into 2,000 pounds of force against the lock. The Nighthawk fits Roadmaster, Blue Ox and Demco baseplates. It weighs 35 pounds. roadmasterinc.com

RVibrake Shadow

Danko’s RVibrake Shadow is an installed braking system for flat towing cars that allows consumers to quickly get on the road. The product is always ready. RVibrake Shadow features technology to detect when a vehicle is flat towing. No user setup is required. Traditionally, installed braking systems required 6-8 hours to install, but RVibrake Shadow’s plug-and-play design can be installed in less than two hours. Consumers receive instant peace of mind-feedback with the included RVi Command Center tablet. An accessory Tire Patrol tire pressure monitoring system can also be integrated into the Command Center tablet to create a comprehensive towing solution. rvishadow.com Part Number: 50mg0166 MSRP: $1295

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April 2021 | RV News

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Letter > FROM THE EDITOR

The Long Road Back Chris Freeman

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ave you ever felt like the world was spinning like a centrifuge around you, then stopped on a dime, only to start rapidly spinning again? What am I saying? We all just lived through 2020, of course you do. The industry is in a similar situation. Just as clogged manufacturing supply chains appeared ready to break free and fuel production floors, a once-in-a-millennium Texas winter storm came along. You might not read about it in the papers every day, but the storm had a massive effect on the RV industry because of the large number of OE parts used to build RVs that require some form of petroleum-based raw material. Anything using foam, plastic or resin, and also glues that connect materials together, are in short supply. Electronics, appliances, furniture and other imported products slowed supply chains last year, not to mention ongoing issues with semiconductor chips. International chip manufacturers were facing global production pressure before the Texas fiasco. Now major Texas chip plants, hit hard by the winter storm, are seeing supplies further constrained. Speaking of storms, the Suez canal was completely blocked due to a dust storm forcing a container ship to run aground, blocking all global traffic through the canal for weeks.

The Brighter Side

The RV universe is not doom and gloom, though. Manufacturers have ramped up production and wholesale shipments significantly since October, according to RVIA reports. But even with manufacturers’ going full barrel, our industry 6

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has a long way before it will satisfy the ever-increasing consumer appetite for our industry’s products. Summer retail registrations reported by Statistical Surveys Inc. indicates demand far outpaced monthly wholesale vehicle shipments reported by RVIA. Monthly shipments failed to exceed monthly retail registrations until October. Neither of these numbers factor in how dealers have backlogs of units sold but not made or delivered yet. Dealer order backlogs from large manufacturers who publicly report such information are significantly higher than they were 12 months ago. For example, Thor reported North American towable backlogs through Jan. 31 up over 454 percent when compared to January, 2020. Thor’s North American motorized backlogs were 272 percent higher than a year earlier. Winnebago (+307.1 percent towable backlog and a motorized backlog increase of +424.3 percent through Feb. 27) and Rev Group also reported significant backlog increases from the same time a year ago (+376.5 percent motorized and towable backlog through Jan. 31). Breaking it Down

What do all these statistics mean? First, consumers’ ravenous appetite for RVs is increasing. The numbers back up the experience, with retail registrations through the winter at record levels. Anecdotal interest at consumer shows in the first quarter showed fewer buyers, but consumers ready to purchase. Second, it seems low dealer inventories will be the norm for quite a while. Considering the backlogs,

units not already spoken for on dealer lots are rare. They will be quickly snatched up. Low inventories and high demand will play out in dealers’ favor this year as far as gross profit. It will be much like the residential housing market during the past 18 months. Dealers must be wary not to price themselves out-ofrange, but I don’t see a future where profit margins are not maximized. So, take a deep breath, stay hydrated and be prepared for a spring/summer like you’ve never seen. Were you busy last year? You ain’t seen nothing yet. New and Improved

We are thrilled to unveil our new magazine look with this April issue. This goes far beyond a simple refresh. Our year-in-the-making redesign will make the magazine easier for you to read and more entertaining to view. We enlisted the help of the best design consultant around, spent time going over the little details and the glaring ones, engaged with industry experts to bounce ideas off them, and came up with the magazine you see today. We are proud of RV News’ history, but it was time to bring our look and feel up to date. Flip through, look at our new table of contents and THE BEST OF aftermarket section. See how our stories read and look. I would love to hear everything you think, good or not. Email me at chris@rvnews.com and enjoy! Thanks for reading,

Chris Freeman Chris Freeman Editor in Chief

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Letter > FROM THE PUBLISHER

Ladies and Gents Dana Nelsen

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ow that we are quickly approaching the summer months, I hope business is robust and you and your fellow employees are healthy and happy. We here at RV News have been extremely busy on new projects to help all of our readers stay informed, be successful and profitable. This issue is a result of some of that work. Hopefully, now that you are on this page of the magazine, you’ve already noticed something is amiss with what you are seeing as you flip through the pages. Our logo and the entire front cover look different. You may have noticed our editor’s letter and Table of Contents have been updated. As you continue reading, this RV News magazine may seem a little unfamiliar. We’ve revamped everything. As the oldest magazine in the RV industry, I am very conscientious of our history and the legacy the RV News brand possesses. RV News magazine has been published and has served the RV industry longer than any other business information source, by a large margin. It has been in the industry longer than most people currently working in the industry. That’s saying something. One of the issues we faced with our redesign was the magazine looked like the oldest publication in the industry. We set about fixing that and we’ve been working on what you see in this issue for nearly a year. We had several goals as we sought to capture a new look that goes far beyond mere aesthetics. Our goals included:

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• Give the magazine a contemporary look that was attractive, fun to read, bold and distinct. • Display and provide RV business information in a more concise format that highlights the most important information in a way that is uncluttered. • Thoughtfully revamp how photos appear, where they appear and what photos belong between our pages. A big push was to transform the people and make them appear so they are not merely in the magazine but come out of the magazine into reader’s lives. • More specifically, focus on the people our stories are about… We only write about business heroes that define greatness or that are doing great things. By knowing the people, what they do and why they do it, the stories create businessto-business opportunities for our readers. • Make the magazine live up to our tagline by the way it looks: The Voice of the RV industry… by making pull-out quotes stand out. They are not our quotes. They are the people of the industry, what they have to say in their voice. • Celebrate our advertisers and their messages by carefully controlling how our editorial content enhances the advertiser’s messages. There is an “art” to creating strong, useful and compelling advertising. We wanted to treat advertisements as the art they are.

While we may make some other small tweaks to the new look in the coming months, based on feedback from our readers and advertising partners, we hope this first effort is the first step on a path that provides a business-to-business trade magazine that our amazing readers deserve. Feedback on what we’ve done here is critical to our ability to give you information on what you want and how you want it. I love critical feedback because it challenges you to strive for excellence and be better. I humbly request that our readers write me and tell me what you like and dislike about the new look. You can reach me at dana@rvnews.com or 720-353-4003, ext. 7889. Finally, I’d like to thank a couple of people who served as an advisory board for this project. They wanted to remain anonymous so I’ll try to do this in a way that doesn’t reveal their identity by just using their initials. Thank you: CS, TM, JS, PA, DS and JN. I look forward to hearing feedback,

Dana Nelsen Dana Nelsen President

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Profile > RV MANUFACTURING

Tiffin Motorhomes founder and CEO Bob Tiffin launched his company in Red Bay, Alabama, in 1972.

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Tiffin: The Next Generation Under Thor Industries’ new ownership, Bob Tiffin’s sons and grandson look to expand and grow Tiffin Motorhomes by focusing on customer service and quality products. By RV News Staff | Photos by Armosa Studios

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he RV industry bobbed and weaved around Tiffin Motorhomes founder Bob Tiffin the past 50 years. Tiffin Motorhomes moved straight. Tiffin Motorhomes remained independent. Tiffin Motorhomes remained in Alabama. Tiffin Motorhomes remained committed to its community. “Before Tiffin Motorhomes started in 1972, I worked with my father at his building supply company in Red Bay,” Bob Tiffin said. “I noticed many times, families would have to leave Red Bay to find work up north. When we started the Tiffin Motorhome plant, we were glad to provide jobs for the local community so they could stay here in Red Bay.” When news broke in December that Thor Industries had bought Tiffin Motorhomes, change seemed inevitable. Tiffin’s principals, however, say they expect no major changes operating under the new ownership.

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We were never too focused on how much money we could make. We were more focused on how we could satisfy the customer and get them what they wanted.” – Van Tiffin

The company’s flagship Type A products were three of the top eight Type A brands by market share in 2020. The motorhomes collectively registered 14.3 percent market share in 2020, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. The Allegro—the best-selling brand—had a 5.96 percent market share, Phaeton ranked sixth (3.3 percent) and Allegro Bus was eighth (3.1 percent). Tiffin’s Type C Wayfarer is also growing market share.

Customers can still call CEO Bob Tiffin at his office to discuss their motorhomes and what they like, or do not like, about the vehicles. Bob Tiffin’s oldest son, Tim Tiffin, is general manager of the Type B/C division, based in Winfield, Alabama. Van Tiffin, another son, is the company president and leads the Type A division in Red Bay, Alabama. Grandson Leigh Tiffin is the general manager of the Vanleigh towable division in Burnsville, Mississippi. “When Thor Industries came to us, one thing was clear: Thor appreciated our success in the RV industry,” Bob Tiffin said. “They never sought to define or redefine Tiffin Motorhomes.” On the Horizon

The Wayfarer Type C plant will soon share space with the company’s first Type B motorhome line. Additionally, the Vanleigh division is releasing its first fifth wheel toy hauler later in 2021. Tim Tiffin said the company’s new Type B offering has been in the works April 2021 | RV News

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Profile > RV MANUFACTURING

(L to R) Tiffin and Thor Industries President and CEO Bob Martin discuss Thor’s acquisition of Tiffin Motorhomes during a December meeting. for nearly a year, long before Thor purchased the company. The Type B is now being prototyped, with floorplans expected to be released in May and debuted “sometime this summer.” Although the Type B uses the same van chassis as the Wayfarer, Tim Tiffin said the division has gone through a steep learning curve to create the new unit. To learn the best way to build Type Bs, he said a small engineering staff was dedicated to the project. “They are two totally different products,” he said. “We have had to learn a lot to get our mind around how this product goes together. Wayfarer does not have much room, and these have even less. We had to learn a whole new skill set.” In Burnsville, Leigh Tiffin said Vanleigh engineers underwent a similar process creating the new fifth wheel toy hauler hitting the market soon. “We are really, really excited about this product because it has been 12

RV News | April 2021

To us, it was very important that Bob be in charge and stick around for a few more years. I am hoping to learn from a legend of the industry. – Bob Martin

requested by our customers that love Milano and Beacon,” he said. “They say, ‘We are ready for a real toy hauler, a quality-built toy hauler. I am tired of pulling my brand-new Harley Davidson in something that is not up to standard with the toys I carry.’” Leigh Tiffin said adding travel trailers to Vanleigh’s portfolio may also come at some point. “Long term, our goal has always

been to be a full-line, luxury manufacturer,” he said. “Meaning, we may not give you every single segment in the industry as far as towables, but with a broad brush, we are going to cover the waterfront. We are going to have something in there that makes sense for everyone if they are looking for a best-in-class product synonymous with Vanleigh and Tiffin. “There is a really unique opportunity for a company like Vanleigh to develop travel trailers that have a unique place in the market,” Leigh Tiffin said. “We would love to do that. We cannot control all the factors that determine how quickly we get there, but long term it makes so much sense.” Success Rooted in History

The DNA underpinning Tiffin Motorhomes is Bob Tiffin’s relationships with customers. His children and grandson repeatedly cite those customer connections as rvnews.com


In December, Tiffin gave Martin a tour of his classic car collection, totaling more than 15 automobiles. rvnews.com

April 2021 | RV News

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Profile > RV MANUFACTURING

Slideout engineer Josh Deaver cleans the microwave’s interior.

(L to R) Electrical Department Engineers Sarah Blankinship and JoAnn Hastings discuss their next electrical installation. 14

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Roof Design Engineer and CNC Programmer Nathan Hill tests overhead LED lighting. rvnews.com


the key to each division’s success and the single characteristic each family member tries to emulate. Tim Tiffin said following his father’s footsteps is not easy, recalling the difficulty he had mirroring his father’s customer service skills when he first started his career. “After college, it probably took me five years to understand,” Tim Tiffin said. “You listen to them, and you hear the importance of how building it right, (providing) customer service, and (ensuring) parts availability all become important. It eventually starts making sense.” Tim Tiffin said adding new vehicle segments to the company’s offerings was part of Tiffin Motorhomes’ longterm goal, which will rapidly move forward with Thor’s backing. “We were always ready to innovate,” Tim Tiffin said. “We do not try new products or ideas on a whim; we prove them out. We always tried to keep customers on the road and listen to what they were asking for, and from the dealer side as well, what they were asking for, what their pain points were.” Independence

Through the years, Bob Tiffin has publicly expressed pride in his company’s status as an independent manufacturer. Van Tiffin said being independent enabled the company to operate in ways other manufacturers might not. “The thing about being an independent company, you are always cognizant of cost and price, but it is not your No. 1 focus,” he said. “We were never too focused on how much money we could make. We were more focused on how we could satisfy the customer and get them what they wanted.” Distance from Elkhart, Indiana, has been a prime differentiator. The company’s Alabama location mandated being highly integrated. Tiffin manufactures its own chassis, fiberglass sidewall skins, front and rear caps, furniture, windows, cabinetry and doors. The company also does its own millwork and steel fabrication. Van Tiffin said the PowerGlide chassis Tiffin manufactures goes on about rvnews.com

Trent Tiffin, grandson of CEO Bob Tiffin, is a regional sales manager for the company’s Class C division.

Try, Try Again

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or the past five years, Tiffin Motorhomes has produced the Type C Wayfarer, but the product is not the company’s first attempt at cracking the small-motorhome market. Tiffin launched its first Type C model in the late 1970s, Tiffin Motorhomes General Manager of Type B/C Division Tim Tiffin said. When the unit failed to catch on, Tiffin halted production. The company restarted Type C manufacturing in the late 1980s and early 1990s but produced the same result each time. “Every time we tried it, it just did not work,” he said. “We tried to run it down the Class A line, and we did not have a separate facility, separate engineering or anything. It just did not work really well.” Changes happened when Tim Tiffin bought cab chassis five years ago, before the company even had a place to put them. He said seeing Tiffin customers starting to downsize, but not having a smaller motorhome to attract longtime customers, drove the decision to restart Type C production. Soon after the cab chassis purchase, Tiffin opened its Winfield, Alabama, facility to build the Wayfarer. “When we decided to do the Wayfarer product, we had a different facility, a

different staff, and that was what we focused on,” Tim Tiffin said. “We did not switch from product to product. We just never had that opportunity to do that in Red Bay all those years. I think that is where a lot of our success has been based.” The Wayfarer brand registered a 3.43 percent national market share in 2020, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. Tim Tiffin said growth came after a challenging first two years launching the product. “The last couple years, it has far exceeded my expectations,” he said. “It has done very well. We have had a lot of Tiffin owners buying their second RV or trading down. The market for small motorhomes is growing quickly. It is being in the right place at the right time. It has worked out well. “We will probably produce another Class C in some version and, in time, develop a line of Class B products,” he said. “We may build a Class C someday, but we do not have plans right now. We will probably stay with the Sprinter vans and Transit vans going forward, for the time being. We will grow the market, and if the opportunity presents itself to do something else, we will.” April 2021 | RV News

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Profile > RV MANUFACTURING one-third of its motorhomes, adding how Tiffin’s cabinetry work is particularly noteworthy. The company creates cabinets differently than Elkhartbased manufacturers do. He said being outside Elkhart means Tiffin’s interior designers are not sharing or duplicating cabinetry or other interior design knowledge with other manufacturers, which results in a distinctive look. “We just do what we know how to do. I think the No. 1 aesthetic of the interior is the cabinetry,” he said. “It can have the greatest impact on what makes the unit desirable, or not desirable.”

Cabinet Design Engineer Ben Pannell installs a pocket door trim piece.

Pannell connects the subwoofer in the motorhome’s lower compartment.

Engineering Manager Brad Warner installs connections to the generator. 16

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Workforce Training

Tiffin Motorhome’s distance from Elkhart also gives the company an exclusive labor pool. Since its opening in 1972, Tiffin has been the only RV manufacturer tapping into the Red Bay community workforce. Later expansions into nearby Winfield and Burnsville gave access to additional local talent. Leigh Tiffin said Vanleigh avoided siphoning talent from Red Bay when the company’s Burnsville plant opened in 2015. “Burnsville has been really good for us,” he said. “You have those Southern trades and work ethics. You have a lot of blue-collar folks who are used to getting dirty and working hard to make a living. It has a good proximity to Red Bay. That helped us facilitate training and helped us with parts supply, parts redundancy that Red Bay stocks and we stock.” Similarly, Tim Tiffin said the Winfield community provided its own diverse talent pool when the Wayfarer brand launched five years ago. “The vast majority of staff we trained in the local Winfield area,” he said. “We did bring a few guys from Red Bay, but not a lot. We developed our own engineering staff, our own sales staff, our own production staff. We use the local labor market for our staff, so it definitely has been a homegrown company.” Developing local talent in Alabama and Mississippi presents a different challenge from doing so in Elkhart, rvnews.com


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Profile > RV MANUFACTURING I think the No. 1 aesthetic of the interior is the cabinetry. It can have the greatest impact on what makes the unit desirable, or not desirable. – Van Tiffin

Furniture and Compliance Engineer Annah Sargent tests a cabinet drawer’s slides.

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Van Tiffin said. Many northern Indiana residents grow up with an RV industry familiarity, he said, providing a leg up when they hire on at a business. “Their parents worked in the RV industry, and their aunts and uncles and cousins did. That is what they do,” Van Tiffin said. “Around here, it’s different because there is this motorhome plant and fifth wheel plant that just kind of dropped into this rural area.” Bob Tiffin said the company took pride in creating local workforce opportunities.

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“We were also glad to provide opportunities for other businesses around us to be formed or older businesses to grow to supply Tiffin Motorhomes with components,” he said. “It was this spirit of cooperation that continues to make Red Bay a successful town.” Working Under New Ownership

For the first time since Bob Tiffin founded the company, Tiffin Motorhomes is operating under a new owner. Thor Industries President and CEO Bob Martin said the acquisition has been an incredible personal experience. Beginning with a conversation between Bob Tiffin and Martin, the deal quickly came together. “It has been good to get to know the family, the team members and the Red Bay facility,” Martin said. “We have been through just about every facility, getting to learn the people and the products. It has gone very well with the dealers, too, who received the news positively.”

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(L to R) Tiffin Motorhomes President Van Tiffin and his father operate out of the company’s headquarters. Van Tiffin leads the Type A division.

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Profile > RV MANUFACTURING Bob Tiffin said Thor’s financial backing provides resources private companies might find challenging. “We can share innovations as well as share new supply resources,” he said. “Expansion projects are not off the table. The only limit we have is our imagination.” Van Tiffin said Thor’s historical approach to acquisitions made company leaders feel comfortable. “We could tell how they dealt with all their other acquisitions. They did not go in there and say, ‘You are going to build everything like a Thor company,’” he said. “I have seen that done in times past with other manufacturers in the industry. It never worked.” The company remains in Bob Tiffin’s hands, and Martin said keeping Bob Tiffin in a leadership role was a key requirement in Thor’s acquisition. “To us, it was very important that Bob be in charge and stick around for

Long term, our goal has always been to be a full-line, luxury manufacturer. – Leigh Tiffin

a few more years,” Martin said. “I am hoping to learn from a legend of the industry. It is a great opportunity for the industry and a great opportunity for me.” New vehicle and brand development do not need Thor’s approval. Tiffin’s leadership will make decisions, such as whether to create all hardwood cabinets or to build its own chassis for all models. For decades, Tiffin Motorhomes’ unique approach separated the company from competitors. The question

moving forward is whether the attention to customers and quality will change with new ownership. “I do not think it can change,” Leigh Tiffin said. “If it changes, we have lost our way, and we are not what we said we were, and we are not being true to ourselves…. There is always the misconception out there, people that say, ‘Well, now you are part of a large organization, you are going to change.’ As long as I am there, and as long as I am guiding the vision and the direction for Vanleigh, this is really the only way I know how to operate.” Leigh Tiffin said he was looking forward to working with the “real RV people” in Thor’s leadership. His grandfather agreed. “We are looking forward to working with Thor,” Bob Tiffin said, “and we are looking forward to continuing to provide jobs to Red Bay and the surrounding area.”

Seizing the Opportunity

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eigh Tiffin saw his father and uncles follow in his grandfather’s footsteps at Tiffin Motorhomes. When the time came, the self-titled “entrepreneur at heart” said he saw opportunity in the company, but not in motorhomes. “To me, it was really simple. You have this wonderful brand, you have this wonderful knowledge of an industry and a business segment,” he said. “We are doing this at the highest level, and it really is just a small slice of the overall RV customer. Why couldn’t we build a towable product and take that same DNA, that same philosophy of doing business and treating customers and employees well, and roll that into something that would appeal to people that love a luxury towable product? That was the original thought process.” The market has proven him correct, he said, as Vanleigh developed a loyal customer base and produced two of the four fastest-growing fifth wheel brands in 2020, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. The Pinecrest ranked second and the Beacon was fourth. “We have been the Tiffin fifth wheel since the day we opened the doors,” Leigh Tiffin said. “We took a lot of the good from Tiffin, and we took a lot of the credit for what Tiffin is and what it represents in the marketplace. When you do that, you have to take the responsibility.

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“When people buy our products, they buy them because they believe that Tiffin is behind it. In their mind that represents extraordinary quality, extraordinary customer service. So that is our pledge, to live up to that name.” To continue moving that direction, Leigh Tiffin said Vanleigh will lean heavily on its people. “You can have the greatest ideas in the world, and they are not going anywhere if you do not have winners on board that are aligned well with the company’s values and have great character as individuals,” he said. “That has been a wonderful lesson for me in this process. We built an entire workforce from scratch; we have a lot of great people, a lot of great leaders now. I do not take that for granted. I know how hard that was to develop.” Vanleigh General Manager Leigh Tiffin is the grandson of Bob Tiffin.

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Trends > AIR CONDITIONERS

Air Conditioners’ Future Thawing Suppliers’ solutions to air conditioner component shortages and overwhelming demand are finally cooling frustrations over the appliance’s availability. By RV News Staff | Photos by Stillson Studio

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hroughout Elkhart, Indiana, travel trailers and fifth wheels lined grassy areas outside manufacturing facilities like tightly packed sardines last fall. Sunlight gleamed off smooth exteriors, yet units were nowhere near complete for delivery drivers. RV manufacturing managers overlooking the crowded fields shook their heads, conveying one collective thought: If only we had more air conditioners … Air conditioners were a prime laggard in product availability, but the situation is looking up. Numerous

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RV News | April 2021

product categories began recovering from supply chain constraints late in 2020 but not all OE categories have seen the progress ACs have. Various reasons drive the slow recovery, including difficulties with raw materials and primary component availability, increasing RV manufacturer demand and offshore shipping interruptions. Other product segments are seeing the same problems as air conditioner suppliers. Numerous categories like electrical components, furniture and oil-based resins experienced similar issues.

Parts Problems

Suppliers said there is no silver bullet cure or single answer but they are working through backlogs and preparing to meet the unprecedented demand. The main difficulty with RV ACs has been acquiring compressors. Compressors are globally used in numerous applications in other industries. Oil and gas, construction, healthcare, pharmaceutical and automotive industries all need a healthy compressor supply. As manufacturing shutdowns and employee capacity limitations cut compressor rvnews.com



Trends > AIR CONDITIONERS availability, conflicting demand from various industries resulted in RV AC suppliers’ struggles to acquire the coveted compressors. Suppliers indicated many components like compressors, coils and electrical components are sourced from places like China, Brazil and Vietnam, which have all faced raw materials challenges. Furrion Project Engineer Dan Putt said, “These compressors go everywhere, and everyone is trying to get as many as they can. We have had to make trade-offs and look at alternative compressor suppliers to catch back up. The compressor has been the most concerning red flag from our side of things. Other suppliers are facing the same issues.” International component manufacturers have operated factories at less than full staffing. One major AC manufacturer’s Brazilian supplier spent months at 50 percent capacity, before briefly increasing to 75 percent, when COVID-19 restrictions eased. Then, COVID-19 cases spiked, and the Brazilian plant scaled back to 50 percent again. “That same pattern goes for countries all over the world,” Putt said. “One of our major component

suppliers in China built a new facility in India. Even though the facility is finished and ready to open, the Indian government will not let anyone from China into the country. There is a big building waiting for production, but they do not have anyone from that country ready to go.” One major air conditioning brand uses overseas component fulfillment. In contrast, Furrion and Dometic import finished air conditioners. Both supply chain models (components vs finished goods) have proved challenging. Clogged West Coast import conditions add another layer to getting compressors and other components in. Transport ships with hundreds of containers are sitting, waiting to dock and unload. Overseas freight shipments arriving on U.S. shores is estimated at being 30 percent up, yet U.S. dock unloading space remains unchanged. COVID-19 protocols also reduced how many workers are manning West Coast docks. Demand Dynamics

Suppliers cited how OEMs are producing 30 percent to 40 percent more RVs but air conditioner demand is spiking 50 percent to 60 percent.

In part, the high demand is a result of a quantity increase of air conditioners installed on each RV as original equipment. In comparison, water heater demand also increased with more vehicles built, but each RV requires only one water heater. As a result, the number of water heaters needed by the RV industry is predictable and more easily managed. Air conditioners differ. RV models that might have had one OE air conditioner four years ago might require two today. Luxury fifth wheels that previously included two OE air conditioners might now feature three. OEM model changes created a multiplier effect in the past 12 to 24 months. One supplier estimated a 1.5 to 1.6 per-vehicle air conditioner to travel trailer ratio. On fifth wheels, demand depends on the niche. Mid-profile vehicles are estimated at a 1.6 to 1.8 per vehicle ratio. High end fifth wheels are estimated at a 2.3 to 2.4 per vehicle ratio. Fifth wheel manufacturing changes increased air conditioner demand by 33 percent. Factoring in increased vehicle manufacturing and higher per vehicle ratios, AC manufacturers went from 0 percent demand when RV plants were forced to close to 130 percent to 140 percent increases in ordering rates in just six to eight weeks. Seizing the Opportunity

Dometic Product Manager Cassandra Teverbaugh joined the company in 2015. Dometic Brisk II air conditioners come in 13,500 and 15,000 BTU options. 24

RV News | April 2021

During Putt’s first two years at Furrion, the company’s air conditioners were primarily sold in the aftermarket. When the pandemic began, Furrion found OE opportunity at its doorstep. “We came into it with a little leverage because we had inventory at the right time,” Putt said. “That got some of the OEMs excited about the new product. From there, we were able to come out ahead because we had inventory during the shortage.” Furrion originally planned to launch air conditioners to the OEM market in 2017. Delays pushed the release to 2018, missing the primary OEM buying cycle. The company instead launched in the aftermarket. rvnews.com


Furrion Product Engineer Dan Putt leads the refrigeration team. Furrion Chill air conditioners are available in sizes including 14,500 and 15,500 BTUs. Putt said the products were received favorably by aftermarket buyers. “When we launched, we hit hard in the aftermarket space and moved a lot of volume that way,” he said. “We had a lot of volume in the aftermarket, but it was slower moving, and because of that, we had uncommitted inventory available. So, we had that inventory we could share and leverage. When OEMs started seeing shortages, we were able to jump into it.” Soon after, though, Furrion found itself in the same position as other suppliers, with swelling demand causing capacity constraints. “We planned to get that capacity, but the volume was not there before the pandemic,” he said. “We were challenged in December and January to make sure we had product available. Now, growth is coming, but we are able to meet the capacity.” Answering the Challenge

Air conditioner suppliers are meeting OEM requests with new approaches to challenges. To boost component availability, suppliers looked outside traditional supply chains to find new vendors. Vendors making new products must navigate traditional testing and vetting processes, actions that slow fully come online. rvnews.com

First, suppliers must identify potential alternative component providers. They then must ensure the providers’ products meet stringent standards for use in air conditioners. Putt said Furrion evaluated various component manufacturers before finding an acceptable option. “We expedited product review as quickly as possible,” he said. “We have internal quality standards that we set out in our projects, clear requirements on cooling, the proper temperature conditions, performance in extreme conditions. We do those types of tests to make sure they meet the standards we require.” Furrion’s final testing ended in January. “One of our biggest challenges was when it came down to a final realistic test…a coach test,” Putt said. “In the environment in Indiana in the middle of January, it was hard to find a way to have the temperature hot enough to need to cool the coach down. We came up with innovative ways to test it, using chambers and creating a simulation, more or less, with significant enough heat to compare the cooldown process and make sure it was still in line with what we expected the product to be.” Furrion increased production at its China plant by increasing the workforce on current lines. However, the

company also invested in new lines to double-build quantities. “For us, we have been pretty lucky with air conditioners…to have the demand we are seeing now with the capacity of our current supplier,” Putt said. “We have not had to venture out beyond who we are working with to increase capacity. The only thing we have done is added tooling to increase capacity throughput, and that is working quite well. As growth continues next year, we might have a whole different conversation.” Looking Ahead

Although the process took nearly a year, RV suppliers say the steps taken to increase capacity are finally enabling them to match demand and slowly eradicate backlogged orders. “Dometic has committed considerable resources to expand capacity and improve the availability of our RV rooftop air conditioners,” Dometic President Americas Scott Nelson said. “In addition, we continue to actively mitigate risk by following recommended guidelines and protocols in our manufacturing facilities. We are working diligently with our supply base partners to avoid or dramatically minimize the impact of part shortages or transportation delays.” April 2021 | RV News

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Feature > HVAC

HVAC Repairs Present Challenges Whether from wiring or ductwork or difficult access, technicians agree that HVAC repairs sometimes present unique challenges. By Thelma Grimes | Photos by Stillson Studio

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echnicians discussing HVAC repairs said myriad concerns can cause challenging repairs, including new and unfamiliar products, wiring problems, ductwork issues and accessibility. Aaron Bashore, service director for Tom Schaeffers Camping and Travel Center, knows a thing or two about great technicians. He competed against some of the best at the RVX Top Tech Challenge in 2019, finishing third among the six finalists. Confidence was one of the common traits each Top Tech contender shared. Bashore said confidence is essential to becoming one of the best of the best. “They are not afraid to tackle any challenge,” he said. “Even if it is something you are not used to seeing, they are not afraid of anything. They will just jump right in there.” Problem-solving skills are another shared trait, Bashore said, one that has tested everyone in RV service during the past year. With some manufacturer employees working from home and unreachable to ask questions or get direction, in 2021, techs sometimes had to use a maverick approach to HVAC repair when diagnosing problems. “You have to have a lot of confidence—confidence in your repair, confidence in your diagnosis, the

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RV News | April 2021

confidence you will come out on top and solve the problem,” he said. “I have always had it. Some technicians gain it through repetition. Some technicians are good, but they always question whether they made the right diagnosis, and are fixing the right part. “Ones that have it can jump right in, even if it is a new product they have never seen,” he said.

I have... seen multiple repair attempts where technicians focus on the discharge airflow. It has to get air into the furnace first. Start at the source. – Randy Davis

Air Conditioner Challenges

Bashore said repairing ACs in 2020 presented new difficulties because manufacturers were installing new, less familiar original

equipment on RVs, as supply chain shortages strained traditional HVAC supplier sources. Some manufacturers, he said, got creative. Although Dometic air conditioners have been a staple in the RV industry for decades, manufacturers began using different original equipment from suppliers like Furrion and General Electric in 2020. The new equipment requires techs to learn new information when diagnosing and repairing problems. “We are seeing different thermostats, different wiring setups,” Bashore said. “There is an installation manual, but for the most part, techs have to sort through how to diagnose and fix problems on their own.” When working on a GE HVAC system, Bashore said he and other technicians faced a few cases where the compressor was not coming on. The thermostat could be set at the lowest setting but still be 10 degrees off, he said. With seemingly no real starting point, Bashore said technicians had to go through the wiring and entire system to find the problem because best practice sequence of operations was lacking or needed to be developed. The Furrion systems are different than anything Bashore has worked on rvnews.com


(L to R) Grand Design RV Technicians Keith White and Jeff Marner perform service work on consumer RVs at the Middlebury, Indiana, service center. in his 16 years of experience. In one case, technicians could not determine why a thermostat was reading a different temperature than it should. Techs eventually learned there was an unidentified sensor mounted atop the air conditioner. Because the sensor was atop the unit, the sensor was measuring outside air rather than the inside temperature. “This was a case of having a sensor in a place where techs did not even know there was one,” Bashore said. Accessing furnaces has been another recent challenge, he said. On rvnews.com

some RVs, furnace placements have changed. He said as manufacturers build more efficient, consumer-friendly RVs, easy HVAC access is sometimes an afterthought. Bashore said technicians work through the issue because they understand an RV’s design is customer driven. “Customers want what they want, and manufacturers do their best to oblige,” he said. “But for us, a furnace problem is no easy fix. Manufacturers get creative and bury things. We have miles of wiring to sort through and work out.

“If a furnace is placed in an area with no access door, we have to get creative in getting through the wires, water lines and other areas to reach it,” he said. “We see a lot of crushed ductwork along the way.” Nothing Like the Real Thing

Randy Davis has been a technician for 35 years. He currently works as a technical training manager at Grand Design RV. Early in his teaching career, Davis taught students on mock-ups and props, and when he went to April 2021 | RV News

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Feature > HVAC

Aaron Bashore, service director for Tom Schaeffers Camping and Travel Center in Pennsylvania, competes in the RVX Top Tech Challenge in 2019. Bashore finished third in the competition.

Grand Design, the RV manufacturer wanted him to do the same. Instead of using mock-ups, he said, he needed a real RV to teach the students. Grand Design agreed, and Davis set to work removing panels, adding accessories and preparing a training trailer. Davis said most production issues that lead to HVAC problems occur because of wiring or ductwork. “Over the years, I have seen a lot of overheating furnaces,” he said. “I have also seen multiple repair attempts where technicians focus on the discharge airflow. It has to get air into the furnace first. Start at the source.” Most RV furnaces are a hot block. The furnace sucks in air from the RV interior and blows it across the hot block before returning the air into the living space.

With the ambient air and discharge air separate from each other, we start checking for the source of the issue. – Jeff Marner

White determines temperature differences between ambient and discharge air. 28

RV News | April 2021

Airflow is the key, and Davis recommended technicians check airflow coming and going to the block when diagnosing furnace problems. He said though RV manufacturers could add more ductwork to ensure HVAC systems work properly, odds are good more ductwork is unnecessary for proper airflow. “About 70 percent of the time, it is not about the duct at all,” Davis said. “A lot of the time, the air is not even getting to the furnace to push hot air out. Adding more ducting really does nothing.” Instead, if a furnace is cycling on the limit because of overheating, the first thing Davis said to do is duplicate the issue. Get a temperate reading and verify it truly is the limit, he said. If the cycling is on the limit, cap the propane line, detach the power supply rvnews.com


safely and remove the furnace. Then, Davis said, bench test it. “Make sure the exhaust is installed and air can easily flow through the unit,” he said. “If it still fails, the issue is with the furnace. If the furnace works fine on the bench, the problem is the RV.” Check airflow to and from the furnace, Davis said, and do not concentrate simply on the discharge, or ductwork. He said his most memorable air conditioning repair was not a challenging fix but was a challenging diagnosis. Two brand-new vehicles rolled into the garage with similar AC problems. The new air conditioners were not pushing cold air. “We ran the AC and did not get a temperature split,” he said. “We disassembled and checked the inside but found nothing causing the problem. We climbed on top of the vehicle to pull the AC up and check it for moisture—nothing.” After more than two hours of searching, Davis and his service partner failed to discover the problem. Then Davis said he nearly facepalmed himself when an epiphany hit him: The original equipment suppliers never charged the air conditioners. Once refrigerant was added, cool air shot through the system like a winter wind storm. “They had been so far behind and were pushing out units like crazy,” Davis said. “I guess they just forgot that key ingredient.”

Bashore leads a team of 12 technicians operating 22 service bays at Tom Schaeffers Camping and Travel Center.

Wired

Jeff Marner, a decades-long service technician at Grand Design RV, said he often sees various air conditioning and heating system wiring issues. He has worked on residential HVAC as well as RVs. He said although technology and education make things easier, some cases still stump technicians. A common customer complaint, Marner said, is the air conditioning kicking on but then immediately shutting off, a process known as short-cycling. Diagnosing this problem relates to how the unit was installed. rvnews.com

Marner begins diagnostic work by measuring the airflow temperature from an RV’s ductwork. April 2021 | RV News

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Feature > HVAC

Grand Design RV Technical Training Manager Randy Davis teaches a class on electricity.

“My immediate thought might be we could be getting short-cycle air,” he said. “With the ambient air and discharge air separate from each other, we start checking for the source of the issue.” Marner said accessing HVAC systems to diagnose and repair issues are often the most challenging aspect of repair. By accessing the divider wall, Marner said technicians should first check for cracks, holes and leaks in the wiring and ducting tape. Tracking down leaks and switching out pumps located next to the boiler in a false metal wall can require techs to push into uncomfortable positions. When technicians get complaints about insufficient heat flowing through the system, Marner said they may have to access the underbelly. He said crawling into an RV underbelly can “become an adventure.”

You have to have a lot of confidence— confidence in your repair, confidence in your diagnosis, the confidence you will come out on top and solve the problem. – Aaron Bashore

Marner tests sensors to determine whether they can accurately read temperatures. He also ensures the components are receiving the correct voltage. 30

RV News | April 2021

“When you are getting up under the unit to get to a furnace, it is a trip where you will run into dead rodents and other things,” he said. “The more creative manufacturers get in RV design, the more difficult it has become for (technicians) to diagnose issues.” In one case where Marner had a furnace short-cycling, the technicians had to remove a wall to fix the problem. The wall featured specialized stone masonry that had to be completely rebuilt. “It is great how some of these units are being designed,” Marner said, “but when you have a problem with the HVAC system located behind or inside something, it could cause some issues.” rvnews.com


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Profile > AFTERMARKET SUPPLIER

Gen-Y’s Dynamic Growth Gen-Y Hitch founder Carl Borkholder, shown with the company’s Torsion-Flex Hitch, founded the supplier after creating an adjustable drop hitch that enabled users to connect to numerous trailers with varying heights without replacing the hitch. By Dan Larson |

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RV News | April 2021

Photos by Stillson Studio

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(L to R) Borkholder and co-owner Dan Miller discuss the company’s Rebel drop hitch.

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en-Y Hitch founder Carl Borkholder built his dealer-oriented hitch company with policies to protect retailers from the “I found a lower price” headache common to online retail sales. He said the robust sales of “the innovative product line,” combined with ever-growing dealer adoption, has validated the business’ growth and is mandating expansion. Within the next year, Borkholder will consolidate the company’s three northern Indiana buildings into a new manufacturing, warehouse and headquarters facility. From a one-man startup, the company now employs 70 people. Borkholder and co-owners Dan Miller, Scott Tuttle and Ruben Borkholder are the principals of C.D. Corp., a privately held company that owns NexGen Industryz, located in Bremen, Indiana. Along with specializing in welding and fabrication, NexGen Industryz produces trailer hitches, accessories and aluminum ramps under the Gen-Y Hitch brand.

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Warehouse Manager Leon Miller helps provide products to a 500-member dealer network. April 2021 | RV News

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Profile > AFTERMARKET SUPPLIER Born of Frustration

Borkholder owned a tree-care business and operated several tool/ equipment trailers, most of which had different tow heights and weight capacities. Switching out hitches every morning to accommodate the various trailers seemed like an unnecessary, avoidable delay. Frustrated by an everyday hitching annoyance, he made his own solution. A skilled welder with working knowledge of trailer design from a past job assembling trailers, Borkholder invented his initial product, the Gen-Y Hitch. The adjustable drop hitch enabled users to connect a single truck to numerous trailers with varying heights without replacing the hitch. The second iteration integrated a tried-and-true suspension technology into a new hitch design. The Torsion Flex Gen-Y Hitch’s inspiration applied engineering magic to customers’ common frustrations with present-day hitches. “I have always been a problem solver, tearing things apart to see how they work,” he said. “My expertise is in engineering, and there has always been a welding machine in my garage. I would tell friends that if it is made of steel, I can make, modify or fix it…so long as there is a welder nearby.” A Versatile Hitch

Borkholder launched his company with a standard back bumper hitch with multiple stacked receivers, which made the ball height adjustable. The hitch provided versatility with a quick-release, adjustable-height, three-ball mount and quickly found a market selling to many businesses that also used numerous trailers. Still a popular item, the original design now encompasses a five-hitch product line under the Mega-Duty Adjustable Drop Hitch banner. The line starts with a hitch rated at 10,000-pound towing capacity and runs up to a model with a 32,000-pound capacity. The Rebelbranded line of hitches includes four light-duty drop hitches rated 34

RV News | April 2021

from 5,000 to 7,000 pounds. With retail pricing starting under $100, the Rebel is aimed at the casual or value-oriented customer. Borkholder said most of Gen-Y Hitches’ growth can be attributed to the Torsion-Flex line of drop hitches, gooseneck couplers and fifth-wheel pin box replacements. Torsion-Flex lines include the light-duty Glyder and standard Boss drop hitches, the Spartan and Pegasus gooseneck couplers, the Executive fifth wheel hitch, the Contractor trailer connector and the Victory Lane line for Super Cs and motorhomes.

The timing was perfect for a heavyduty hitch because all that was available were rated at 10,000 to 12,000 pounds. Of course, all our competitors make a heavy-duty hitch now, but back then there was not much around. – Carl Borkholder

He credits Torsion-Flex Gen-Y hitches’ growing popularity to the products’ significant reduction in inertia transfer from the trailer to the tow vehicle. He said eliminating 90 percent of the linear and bump movement from the trailer improves ride comfort and safety, protects cargo, increases fuel efficiency, and reduces tire wear. “Torsion suspension has been used in automobiles since the 1930s,” Borkholder said. Suspension technology that uses a twisting steel bar on rubber mounts as a weight-bearing spring has been used for the past 90 years in applications from military tanks to high-end travel trailers.

Integrating torsion suspension into trailer hitches provides insulation from the inertial differences between the trailer and tow vehicle. “The technology is simple, and it works well in a hitch,” he said. “Adding things like an airbag or rubber insert to a hitch just does not work as well when it comes to isolating the trailer from the truck.” Good Timing

Demand grew once people saw the hitch in action, persuading Borkholder he needed manufacturing help. “Ten years ago, the auto manufacturers were fighting over whose truck had the heaviest towing capacity,” he said. “The timing was perfect for a heavy-duty hitch because all that was available were rated at 10,000 to 12,000 pounds. Of course, all our competitors make a heavy-duty hitch now, but back then there was not much around.” Next, Borkholder took two steps that lit the fuse and blasted Gen-Y Hitch from the launch pad. He contracted out manufacturing to a local fabricator, then hired the best sales and marketing guy he knew. “I brought Joel Helmuth on board while we were still producing in my garage,” he said. “Even though I could not pay him at first, with his help, we quickly reached a point where we did not have enough capacity to keep up with demand. That is when we partnered with the local fabrication shop and started hiring employees to help with orders and shipping.” Solid Foundation

Borkholder credits Helmuth with setting a company foundation that stands today. Although recently retired, Helmuth made “understanding the customer” a cornerstone of the company’s business. Gen-Y Hitches’ growth was driven by online sales and, until recently, sales through a dealer network. From the beginning, the company relied on a strong social media presence to drive online sales. “Our other bit of good startup timing was taking advantage of the power of ads rvnews.com


Borkholder led Gen-Y Hitch to double sales growth every year from 2012-2015.

Shipping associate Jared Slabaugh.

Office Manager Shawna Skiles.

The Gen-Y Hitch assembly line. rvnews.com

Laser Engineer Merle Miller operates the press brake machine.

Machine Programmer David Stutzman works the laser cutting machine. April 2021 | RV News

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Profile > AFTERMARKET SUPPLIER on social media to reach customers,” Borkholder said. Once things got rolling in 2012, Gen-Y Hitch sales doubled every year for the next four years. By the end of that stretch, the company had 100 dealers. Today, the dealer network has grown to an estimated 500 dealers, including a dozen or so in Australia who are supplied by a dedicated distribution company Helmuth helped set up. “They love our products Down Under,” Borkholder said. “We ship an entire container over there every couple of months.” At a Crossroads

Marketing Director Donna Schmucker greets customers in the company showroom near a fifth wheel king pin box.

Saw Operator Al Kern cuts hitch shanks that get welded to Gen-Y’s drop hitches. 36

RV News | April 2021

By 2015, Borkholder found himself at a crossroads. Production had outgrown the contract fabrication company making Gen-Y hitches. The fabricator had no interest in expanding to manage the additional work. Gen-Y would have to find another way to produce hitches, and the most viable solution involved bringing production in-house. In-house production meant a capital infusion and new partners, to avoid turning to private equity. The first potential partner Borkholder met with was Helmuth’s cousin, Miller. Miller had just sold Precision Painting Group to Patrick Industries and was eager to get back in the game. Miller introduced him to Tuttle, who joined the partnership in 2018. Although not as involved in everyday operations, Tuttle has a reputation for being involved in and growing successful businesses. He was a founder of Heartland RV and also launched Livin’ Lite, both of which were eventually sold to Thor Industries. Tuttle brought business development expertise and RV savvy into the rapidly growing company. Today, Gen-Y operates three separate facilities: one for fabrication, another for powder coating and a third for shipping, warehousing, fabrication and headquarters operations. The former facility is in Bremen, Indiana, with the latter two located in Nappanee, Indiana. rvnews.com


I have always been a problem solver, tearing things apart to see how they work. My expertise is in engineering, and there has always been a welding machine in my garage. – Carl Borkholder

Cramped Capacity

After seven years of strictly online and dealer-direct sales, Borkholder added national distribution last year. His company also released four new products in 2020 and has five more in the pipeline. Borkholder acknowledges sales growth is sometimes cramped by manufacturing capability. “We need more capacity,” he said. With 2021 shaping into another strong industry year, Borkholder said the C.D. Corp. management team is negotiating with an independent fabrication shop in northern Indiana about a possible acquisition. If that business deal goes through, the acquisition will open the door to automotive OEMs, a segment Borkholder said is seemingly ripe for the Gen-Y hitch. Within the next year, Borkholder and his partners plan to consolidate operations and management under a single roof while acquiring companies that can be bolted on. “At this point, our growth plan is to acquire solid functioning companies with good products and an established customer base,” he said. Minimum Advertised Price

A key company value proposition is Gen-Y’s dealer-oriented focus. A year ago, Gen-Y Hitch products implemented a Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policy. The policy protects dealers from online deep discounting and reseller predatory pricing. Borkholder said dealers love how MAP helps them maintain high levels rvnews.com

April 2021 | RV News

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Profile > AFTERMARKET SUPPLIER

04-06-20 B

B Gen-Y Hitch employees send hitches down the production line.

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RV News | April 2021

of customer service by “maintaining distribution channel health.” He stressed how the program “is strictly and uniformly enforced.” Any customer who advertises a Gen-Y product at a price below the company’s MSRP is violating the company’s MAP pricing policy. Likewise, selling a Gen-Y Hitch to a reseller in noncompliance with the policy is also a violation. He said MAP pricing violators are given three strikes before Gen-Y Hitch terminates their dealer status. “One thing a dealer hates is when a customer walks in the door and shows the same product listed on Amazon for a lower price,” Borkholder said. “They really hate that, and that is why they have embraced our MAP policy.” U.S. companies have employed MAP policies for more than a century. MAP policies are different from retail price maintenance agreements that

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Our growth plan is to acquire solid functioning companies with good products and an established customer base. – Carl Borkholder

prevent resellers from selling below an established price. With his experience as an online retailer, Borkholder said he knows how lower prices posted online can damage a dealer’s business, especially smaller, brick-and-mortar dealerships with limited online presences. The Gen-Y policy states the company monitors online resellers and auction sites and advises customers against doing business with those that are in violation. “Our response to violations is simple,” Borkholder said. “We just stop selling them product, and there is nothing they can do.”

Andy Hochstetler, product development manager, prepares to cut steel on the company’s automatic steel shear machine.

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The VueIP Vehicle Capture Module easily allows you to document images that can protect your business in any situation with DOCUMENTED vehicle condition. For more information please give us a call at : (877) 702-5378 or online www.ipcnv.com rvnews.com

April 2021 | RV News

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Feature > F&I

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RV News | April 2021

rvnews.com


The Era of RV Lifestyle Protection Brown & Brown is retraining finance and insurance professionals with a new approach to sell service and roadside assistance policies based not on saving money on repairs, but instead on protecting families’ dream vacations. By RV News Staff | Photos by Jessica Marie Photography

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inance and insurance professionals have used a uniform method to sell F&I products for decades. The pitch centered on how consumers would save money on unexpected but necessary repairs. Brown & Brown Dealers Services is changing the F&I conversation. The company’s employees are touring the country providing training on a new F&I approach and perspective. Welcome to the era of RV Lifestyle Protection. In a post-pandemic world, Brown & Brown Director of F&I RV Training Shawn Moran said service and repair have become less factory-centric as consumers travel farther from home to vacation in RVs. If RVers encounter trouble when far from home, getting nearby RV dealerships to do repairs can be difficult if they are swamped with service jobs from their local customers. Rather than touting the economic benefits of consumers avoiding a repair bill, Moran said, F&I professionals should instead promote how F&I products protect consumers’ RV lifestyle and vacations. The new conversation strategy being taught is vastly different

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from the staple pitch F&I professionals have previously used. “These contracts have so many aspects to sell, and a finance individual in their average lifetime learns the first 20 aspects that are really important to sell to the consumer,” he said. “It is not all the micro items in it that maybe they never use in their lives. We are identifying one of those micro items and reteaching F&I professionals nationwide how we must change our way of presenting because the entire way of RVing is changing.” Beginning with Rebranding

Brown & Brown’s training shift began when the company bought Vehicle Administrative Services and its accompanying SafeRide Motor Club division. Moran called SafeRide the “hub of protection” of the company’s services, specifically Brown & Brown’s position as a leading mobile mechanic dispatch. “When you are stuck in the middle of nowhere, and you had a catastrophic failure, the factory warranty is not as good as it used to be,” Moran said. April 2021 | RV News

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Feature > F&I

(L to R) Brown & Brown Director of F&I RV Training Shawn Moran discusses training tactics with Campers Inn National Finance Director Rett Jaques.

Moran demonstrates to Jaques how service policies that emphasize camping experience protection can sell more effectively to RV buyers. 42

RV News | April 2021

“The repair wait lines are so long at many dealerships that consumers are going to nontraditional sources to get help. The service contract we offer works with any certified repair facility.” Brown & Brown’s strategy provides multiple options when overwhelmed dealer service departments cannot make repairs quickly. As an example, Moran cited a recent unusual claim exemplifying the policy’s reach. “For the first time in history, we had a claim a couple of months ago involving a heating and cooling company, someone who would normally work on your house, for a repair on an RV roof,” he said. “The vehicle owners were in trouble and could not find help. The local heating and cooling guy said, ‘Well, I work on Carrier units, I could probably fix that AC on the roof.’ We ended up paying the claim to him. “It kept the customer’s RV lifestyle going,” he said, “and the F&I product ultimately protected the vacation. The situation could have ended negatively. The consumer would have gotten no immediate help and likely would have wondered why they bought the RV.” Brown & Brown wants to rebrand its policies and redefine how F&I professionals talk about service contracts with consumers. The focus no longer simply emphasizes saving consumers money by covering unexpected repairs. Moran said RVers are accessing more remote places where emergency service is extremely limited. Compound limited-area service with a crushing demand for repairs, and Moran said now is the time to begin different conversations with new consumers. He added that since the pandemic, people are traveling farther to distance themselves from others. “Yellowstone seems to be one of the U.S. hotspots for social distancing and still being able to camp, and it is open,” Moran said. “We provide services to people who are camping in very remote places like Yellowstone. “We’ve compiled and expanded the protection group of service companies, where we are protecting you on the rvnews.com


way there, (and) we protect you on the way back. We find people to help customers when they are stuck,” he said. “Most importantly, we offer the other aspect of the product where when a person comes to the consumer’s location to fix an issue, it helps pay the bill on those, too. The mantra very quickly evolved into ‘the RV Lifestyle Protection’ set of programs.” When done properly, RV Lifestyle Protection presentations help consumers envision the policies saving the day at their dream destinations. Moran said consumers can imagine scenarios where mobile emergency services ensure accidents are handled quickly and trips avoid cancelation. “The last thing you want to do is tell your kids you cannot go on vacation because you had a blowout,” Moran said. Previously, F&I professionals were taught to expect consumers’ objections, such as “I can fix it myself,” “I

rvnews.com

We are identifying one of those micro items and reteaching F&I professionals nationwide how we must change our way of presenting because the entire way of RVing is changing. – Shawn Moran

am a good mechanic,” and “I can pay for that.” After hearing such refusals, F&I professionals learned rebuttal methods to address those concerns and ultimately persuade customers to buy a service policy. Now, Moran said, the conversation begins by noting the dealer warranty’s

benefits and the desire for consumers to have the dealership do the service work. However, F&I professionals also note a dealer warranty’s limitations, such as the inability to provide service when the dealer is based in Florida and the RVer is in Yellowstone or anywhere else on the road far from home. “One of the things we are teaching, and it is really important, is to have a conversation with the consumer about their RV lifestyle hopes and dreams,” Moran said. “What is the thing on your list? What do you want to do? What are you dreaming for this adventure? Listen to the consumer tell you what their dreams are.” He said that once consumers explain what their goals are, the F&I person must clearly understand how each customer intends to use the RV, because everyone is different. “Understand how the RV Lifestyle Protection product you offer can help that consumer make their dreams

April 2021 | RV News

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Feature > F&I

(L to R) Mike Zugelder, U.S. Bank senior underwriter; Jonny Mack, Florida sales representative; and Jake Sterpka, sales manager, lead a session at Brown & Brown’s F&I training school.

come true and work within those guidelines,” he said. “That changes the whole dynamic.” Because experiences are unique to each consumer, Moran stressed the importance for F&I professionals to tell consumers their goal is to help reach their dream trip, not just once, but repeatedly. “That takes away from ‘I can fix it myself,’” Moran said. During training presentations, instructors start with camping images, Moran said, because they want F&I staff to understand what consumers have in mind when they buy an RV and plan to take a trip. “They are going to get to a campsite, build a fire. It is at night; they will have a good, cold drink in their hand, and they are going to look up at the stars and not see the whitewash of the lights in town and enjoy that,” he said. “I remind F&I professionals of that because it is not about protecting the mechanical things, it is about protecting their ability to get to that moment.” Consumers still might say something like “I can fix it myself,” Moran said, but because the conversation changed, the objection is less important. Instead, the training teaches F&I professionals to focus on the opportunities lost if repair issues keep RVers from going camping one of the five or 10 times a year they get the chance. “You have lost the RV lifestyle,” he said. “Everything Go RVing taught people, you lose that moment. Your sanity, your health, your peace of mind, that time with your family and what is most important is gone. “That is what we are teaching people,” he said. “It changes the entire mantra of how they look at selling. It is a Brown & Brown push, but it is an industry push. Not many people have identified it, but I can tell you at Brown & Brown, we wrapped our arms around it and embraced it.” Be Everywhere, All the Time

Brown & Brown’s annual F&I training school last took place in person in Orlando, Florida, in 2019. 44

RV News | April 2021

Brown & Brown’s ability to change F&I conversations is tied to the insurance supplier’s expansive connection to repair facilities. The company’s policies rvnews.com


work with any licensed repair facility in the U.S. and Canada, not just RV dealerships. Potential licensed repair facilities could include local repair professionals or a NAPA facility that stocks parts for RV repairs. Moran said the connection to an expanded repair facility group has long been an unused policy portion.“It now is just best understanding its utilization, especially since COVID, and how do you properly sell,” he said. “The industry has outsold its ability to service units, so we have to look for other sources for service. The units are not going to break any less. We still have to fix them. We still want to camp. So, we have to look for other sources to fix them. We are now looking for other repair avenues.” Moran said F&I people also need to explain to consumers that “the protection plans they offer are a set price” and can be included in the RV payment. “(The policies) are very easy to see,

budget for and understand,” he said. “What you cannot budget for today is labor rates rising off the charts. Your mechanical breakdown agreement pays listed labor at those facilities. It is at least making something seem affordable for a budgeted payment.” Standing Behind Dealers

As a wholesale insurance supplier, Brown & Brown does not sell products directly to consumers. Direct-toconsumer sales are often considered competing against dealers to gain consumers’ policies and money. Moran said Brown & Brown is instead focused on expanding dealer networks to become a premier insurance option. “One of the things about both myself and (Brown & Brown President) Mike Neal, we both live under the mantra that we always do the right thing by the dealer,” Moran said. “Mike and I both to this day believe the right thing

The repair wait lines are so long at many dealerships that consumers are going to nontraditional sources to get help. The service contract we offer works with any certified repair facility. – Shawn Moran

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April 2021 | RV News

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Feature > F&I

In the F&I office at Campers Inn in Mocksville, North Carolina, Moran and Jaques look through Go RVing camping pictures. Moran is encouraging F&I offices to be decorated with camping experience art, such as Go RVing pictures. in this industry, even when we bought the administrator that does roadside, is not to direct sell to consumers but to support our dealer base.” The wholesale approach includes Brown & Brown’s dealings with manufacturers. Moran said if a manufacturer wanted to include a one-year policy with a unit purchase, Brown & Brown would provide wholesale coverage to the manufacturer, but not directly compete with the dealer. “We are not posting on a website, ‘Please call us. We would love to sell you a policy.’ In doing that, we would be circumventing our dealers and costing them money,” he said. “We will not do that, as long as I am here and as long as Mike is here. We support our dealers, not hurt them.” Training, Technology Ramp Up

Although Brown & Brown instructors have been in dealership facilities since June 2020, the fall of 2021 will include a return to the company’s past annual F&I training school. The school will conduct three-day training classes in Las Vegas shortly before the RVDA Convention/Expo in November. Moran said Brown & Brown will provide social distancing at the school and abide by any pandemic restrictions that may still be in place. The training will center on changes in sales presentations to promote RV Lifestyle Protection. 46

RV News | April 2021

“We are going to work very heavily on talking to the F&I person about the entire mantra needing to change… even from how you decorate your office,” Moran said. “In the past, you put posters up and showed them the products you wanted to sell. That office has to change to be the picture of the campfire. It has to show the persona of

What you cannot budget for today is labor rates rising off the charts.Your mechanical breakdown agreement pays listed labor at those facilities. It is at least making something seem affordable for a budgeted payment. – Shawn Moran

the lifestyle. It will be much, much easier to explain why you are not selling something to them; instead, you are protecting the most important thing they are there to gain. That is going to come through our school.” Technology advances continue in 2021. Last year, Brown & Brown rolled out direct integrations between

dealer management software and the technology used to offer Brown & Brown products as well as those from partners App One, Menumetrics and 700 Credit. “In doing that, we saved the average dealer 31 minutes a deal due to integration and seamless use of their software,” Moran said. “Who knew, due to the number of units that were sold last year, that was probably one of the greatest things we have done to date? We are the proverbial authority on it now.” In 2021 the technology focus is centering around expanding electronic transactions. In March, Brown & Brown introduced electronic signatures on its products, enabling e-signing through cell phones, iPads and Topaz pads. The company will expand the process, Moran said, and is working with partners on additional e-signing capabilities. “We have been working very heavily with all our partners to overlay appropriately DocuSigned accounts to change the entire transaction to a more contactless, but still in person, transaction,” he said. “The amount of time you save not retyping a customer’s name over five times—their address, their cell phone number, their email, the unit VIN number—the amount of time saved is drastic…and your CITs (contracts in transit) go down drastically.” rvnews.com


Great partnerships produce great results National Auto Care, along with our 2020 Agency of the Year Brown & Brown Dealer Services, proudly offers a full suite of industry-leading F&I products for your RV customers. Choose the provider that can offer protection that no one else can! Stand out from the competition with these offerings SERVICE AGREEMENTS | ANCILLARY PRODUCTS LIFETIME & LIMTIED WARRANTIES | FULLY INTEGRATED MENU

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Feature > DEALER PROFILE

Natural Elements of Selling RVs Sonny’s RVs balances differing community and tourist needs with targeted diversification, resulting in disciplined growth. RV News Staff • Photos by Alicia Crispell

F

or many rural businesses, onestop shopping is a way of life. Sandwich shops double as gas stations or general stores. Pet groomers often sell toys, food and boarding services. Empty barns come to life as weekend party venues. Mike Rone, general manager of Sonny’s RVs in Evansville, Wyoming, found a similar opportunity in his market. The small town stretches only about 3.5 miles, providing a ZIP code to roughly 3,000 people. However, the mountain community finds itself comfortably nestled in the Casper Metropolitan Statistical Area—a location defined by abundant outdoor recreation and close ties to the oil and gas industry.

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RV News | April 2021

Wide-open space, tinged with urban amenities, creates an eclectic customer base, Rone said. Residents, tourists and natural resource workers vie for products but carry vastly different shopping lists in their pockets. In response, Sonny’s RVs began offering broader services and merchandise. “You have to read the market and shift accordingly,” Rone said. “Then, you can capitalize on where to make money, and that is when you move forward.” Keep Calm and Carpe Diem

A thoughtful and measured approach to growth opportunities started with Rone’s father, Sonny Rone. He launched the business in 1999 on a 3-acre lot with fewer than a dozen RVs.

Sonny’s RV General Manager Mike Rone took over the family business from his father, Sonny, and grew it to a 15-acre dealership. rvnews.com


rvnews.com

April 2021 | RV News

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Feature > DEALER PROFILE

Tad Klemke, certified technician, repairs an awning on a Dutchmen Voltage fifth wheel toy hauler.

(L to R) Spiros Marler, certified technician; Mike Ward, parts manager; Brandy Gowers, assistant parts manager; and Klemke pull product for service technicians. 50

RV News | April 2021

By keeping an eye on market gaps and a finger on the pulse of industry trends, Mike Rone said the dealership steadily expanded its facility, product line and services to better meet the unique demographic. Today, Sonny’s RVs stocks between 220 and 250 units. Neatly arranged on a 15-acre lot, they wear logos from brands such as Forest River, Keystone, Grand Design and KZ. The dealership’s 15,000-square-foot indoor showroom houses select motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels and folding campers. Inside, visitors walk through vehicle displays similar to a museum showroom. Decorative touches like picket fences, camp chairs and artificial trees surround the showroom’s RVs to help shoppers envision different camping scenarios. Rone said Sonny’s RVs takes great pride in the spacious facility, which opened in 2005 and differentiates the dealership from its nearby competition. Like many business decisions at Sonny’s RVs, the investment was practical. “With Wyoming’s volatile weather conditions, it is nice to be able to have a portion of the inventory in a climate-controlled building to display RVs year-round,” Rone said. He noted recent historic blizzards as proof the investment was sound. Continual physical expansions, however, pushed Sonny’s RVs to literal limits. Rone said the dealership is now landlocked between two other businesses. Offsite solutions and onsite restructuring will be key to further developments. With negotiations underway to purchase an additional 6 acres down the street, Rone plans to relocate the dealership’s indoor/outdoor storage to double or triple capacity from the existing 100 units. The move would provide much-needed onsite space for new product and expand service capacity, he said. Sonny’s RVs broke ground in early March on five new service bays. Rone said the dealership hopes to reduce lengthy repair and service times brought on by a pandemic-fueled interest in the RV lifestyle. rvnews.com


(L to R) Scott Anderson, sales associate; Don Carr, sales associate; Rone; Chris Stanek, sales associate; and Dan Candelaria, sales associate; comprise the Sonny’s RVs sales team.

(L to R) Taylor Bourquin and Katie Romine, parts associates, restock the restail store. rvnews.com

April 2021 | RV News

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Feature > DEALER PROFILE

Detailer Bobbi Prosser.

Klemke tightens lug nuts on the tire.

Finance Manager Brad Delano.

Receptionist Becky Harris talks with a customer.

Office Manager Sherry Volker. 52

RV News | April 2021

Operations Manager Scott Budig.

Glenn Donaldson, certified technician, repairs the rear of an RV. rvnews.com


“Families are still very concerned about traveling in planes, trains and cruise ships,” Rone said. “Once they arrive where they are going, their next concern is where they will stay. Are they going to feel comfortable staying in a hotel? Purchasing an RV eliminates those concerns.” Hold ’Em or Fold ’Em

To meet first-time buyers’ demands, the dealership looks beyond expansions. As Kenny Rogers famously sang, “The secret to survivin’ is knowin’ what to throw away and knowin’ what to keep.” According to Rone, Wyoming’s robust oil and gas industry provided the dealership with a consistent customer base. Workers stationed nearby sought upgraded RVs, and when labor contracts expired, a new customer base moved in. The dealership quickly realized the value in offering certain vehicle fleet aftermarket products like toolboxes, transfer tanks and running boards. “Everybody coming in towing a trailer also has a truck, and that truck needs accessories,” Rone said. “And often it is more than just a hitch—they need grille guards, bumpers, tonneau covers, etc.... So, we started with the spray-in bed liners, and it was great. It made sense. At that time, the oil fields were rockin’ and rollin’.” However, boom-and-bust cycles take their toll, and with the oil and gas industries waning, Sonny’s RVs plans to keep the truck accessories but sell the spray-in bed liner business to free up a full bay needed for RV repair. “It is a matter of identifying where we can generate more revenue, and making appropriate changes,” he added. Try Before You Buy

One year after opening the dealership’s new showroom, Mike Rone’s father started renting RVs. “My dad felt if we could get people in an RV rental, eventually a portion of those people would buy their own RV and create memories with their families,” Mike Rone said. “He was right. When my father started the rental business, he had a couple of tent rvnews.com

trailers and small travel trailers. We have since grown that to include eight to 10 travel trailers and two to three Class C motorhomes.” Sonny’s RVs is one of two dealerships in Wyoming to offer RV rentals—the other a 330-mile drive west near the Utah border. In a state where travel and hospitality constitute the second-largest industry (second to mineral extraction), Rone said providing the tourism-friendly service attracts new consumers. “The upside of rentals, other than having an additional source of revenue to the bottom line, is the potential of having that customer buy a unit,” he said. “It really is an inexpensive way for customers to find out if this is the lifestyle for them and their family.”

With Wyoming’s volatile weather conditions, it is nice to be able to have a portion of the inventory in a climate-controlled building to display RVs year-round. — Mike Rone

Interest in the dealership’s rental business increased alongside COVID-19 restrictions. Rone said many people seeking solutions to canceled vacations did not want to invest in a new RV but were happy to rent at a fraction of the price. Domestic and international travelers make up the dealership’s rental customers. Visitors arrive to see where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains but also to experience renowned sites such as Yellowstone, Jackson Hole and the Bighorn Mountains. RV rentals have their own set of business challenges, Rone said. “For dealers who are considering the rental market, I would say, always have a backup plan,” he stressed. “You will

have customers calling because they do not remember how to work things in the unit, such as the water heater, the furnace or how to hook up the sway control hitch. You will also have customers bringing the unit back damaged. And, when that happens, you are unable to rent again until you make the repairs. Keep good records of each rental unit and document everything.” Destination: Wyoming

To appeal to tourists, Sonny’s RVs relies on its strong digital footprint and branding tied to its Route 66 RV Network membership. Rone said the dealership’s enhanced web presence paired with placement on the Outdoorsy RV rental site attract consumers visiting Wyoming. Participation in the Route 66 RV Network builds awareness with RVers. Because past reputation dictates candidacy in the program, and dealers must be invited to join, Rone said the branding has built a priceless rapport with potential customers. “Route 66 helps us to sell more units,” he said. “Being a member gives the customer assurance that when they buy from us, wherever they go, Route 66 will be able to assist them in the event something arises with their unit.” The network connects 150 dealerships in more than 40 states and Canadian provinces. Club members benefit from widespread service and repair support, as well as access to a 24/7 hotline. Rone said the toll-free phone number is particularly useful when troubleshooting issues after business hours. Tools to Success

Sonny’s RVs places a premium on employee training and regularly uses in-house, offsite and online resources. Rone said his business is a minority in that it requires all employees to become RVDA certified. “Training is key to how Sonny’s RVs operates,” he said. “We recognize it as an investment in our staff and business. Sure, we could save money upfront and not put our employees April 2021 | RV News

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Feature > DEALER PROFILE

Sonny’s RVs broke ground on five new service bays in early March.

through training, but what is it going to cost us in the long-run?” Incomplete product knowledge and poor people skills lead to missed sales, longer repair times and potential unit damage, Rone said. With proper training, employees work more efficiently, he said, and provide a better customer experience. Employee development plays a larger-than-usual role at Sonny’s RVs, Rone said. In a state averaging 5.17 people per square mile, the dealership faces a shallow talent pool. New employees often come from the oil and gas sector, as many drillers seek alternate work when projects become idle. Rone said these candidates bolster staff during busy RV seasons but frequently require additional training. Tenure is often an issue, as Rone contends with the petroleum industry’s premium pay scales when oil/gas contracts renew. To retain dealership employees, Rone highlights what he thinks is the major differentiator: stability. “The oil and gas industries are highly volatile markets,” he said. “It can— and has—changed in a matter of a few short weeks, causing huge layoffs. We offer those employees a secure position 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., five days a week. There is little to no traveling, compared to what they have to do in the oilfield. They are home every night to spend time with their families.” Rone expects his staff will more than double to 35–37 employees during the upcoming busy season. He plans to use more in-person training resources as the state resumes normal business operations. “I am hoping we will be able to work with our parts manufacturers and suppliers, to have them come to our facility and provide hands-on training,” he said. “Also, every year we send our technicians to the factories for additional training on top of their RVDA certification courses.” Managing Change

(L to R) Romine calls for a customer to get a propane fill while Bourquin tracks the request. 54

RV News | April 2021

Sonny’s RVs offers an online preventative maintenance menu. The service checklist highlights recommended upkeep and service rvnews.com


Rone displays various RVs in the dealership’s 15,000-square-foot indoor showroom. rvnews.com

April 2021 | RV News

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Feature > DEALER PROFILE

The Sonny’s RVs team includes: Front row (L to R): Candelaria; Shelby Branson, detailer; Jeff Wolff, certified tech; Donaldson; Volker; Harris; Ward; Sharon Fitzgerald, service writer; Gowers; Chris Turner, truck tech; Prosser. Back Row (L to R): Jefferey Webster, warranty writer; Carr; Romine; Delano; Rone; Budig; Bourquin; Brian Foote, service writer; Jordin Harrison, forklift operator; Klemke; Marler. intervals and helps buyers build a sustainable RV maintenance schedule. Rone said consumer education resources are gaining interest as new buyers flock to the industry. “Like many dealers in the U.S., we have seen our customer breakdown flip-flop,” he said. “Right now, we are at about 60 percent new buyers and 40 percent returning customers. Two years ago, it was the opposite.” Rone said the dealership’s market has seen RV interest among millennials and is finding ways to adapt once again. “If a business wants to continue to grow, it must continually change with the environment—that is Business 101,” he said. “We have already shifted our marketing budget from traditional media advertising to more social media advertising to attract the younger population to the store and we have seen positive outcomes.” Sonny’s RVs also works closely with Kansas-based Ride Marketing each month. Rone said the relationship keeps his dealership current on the latest digital tools. Starting small, Ride Marketing added new videos to inventory listings on Sonny’s RVs’ website. Now, additional technologies such 56

RV News | April 2021

Training is key to how Sonny’s RVs operates. We recognize it as an investment in our staff and business. Sure, we could save money upfront and not put our employees through training, but what is it going to cost us in the long-run? – Mike Rone

as SEO, paid advertising and geotracking work together to boost web traffic and build brand awareness. Local Loyalty

The dealership also sponsors sports programs, clubs and scholarships in the community, and donates to several philanthropic endeavors. “We have deep roots in Wyoming, and it is very important to us, as a family-owned dealership, to give back to the community that supports us,” Rone

said, citing non-profits he supports, such as the Child Development Center, Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club. At Sonny’s RVs, community goodwill includes sharing outdoor experiences. When local charities host raffles or auctions, the dealership frequently donates three-day RV rentals. Winning bidders win a free getaway, and the business gains a potential new customer. Many participants eventually embrace the RV lifestyle, Rone said. “With the influx of new buyers in the market and the popularity of the RV industry, I can only see this market continuing to grow,” he said. “Referral services, special outreach protocols and loyalty programs are all important, but the true component that keeps customers coming back is trust. If they trust you, they will come back every time. “If we continue to put ourselves in front of the customer through advertising, community involvement, follow-up customer service, and by providing exceptional parts and service,” he said, “the customer becomes loyal and seeks out the business for all of their RV needs.” rvnews.com


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Trends > RV MANUFACTURING

Dynamax Western Territory Manager Michael Wagner displays the months when Dynamax will begin 2022 model production, in alignment with title and Manufacturer Statement of Origin changes. 58

RV News | April 2021

rvnews.com


Motorized Model Year Misalignments Motorized manufacturers are considering adopting voluntary best practice recommendations developed by RVIA to match the alignment already occurring with towables. Only one has moved ahead with the change. By RV News Staff

T

owable manufacturers quickly decided to change production schedules to align their model year and Manufacturer Statement of Origin (MSO)/title changes. Motorized manufacturers, however, are finding a similar alignment elusive. Most towable manufacturers announced they will follow voluntary best practice recommendations approved by the RVIA Board of Directors in June 2020, which suggest aligning model/title changes in the summer. From July 1 to Aug. 31, manufacturers choosing to adopt the recommendations will make new model year changes in preparation for the Elkhart Extravaganza in September. However, among major motorized manufacturers, only Forest River’s motorized brands announced a similar alignment. Rev Group, Thor Motor Coach and Tiffin Motorhomes will not adopt the change this summer, while Newmar and Winnebago are considering the change but likely are out of time to adopt the alignment this year.

rvnews.com

“I know there are a couple of manufacturers on the motorhome side that had prior commitments,” Forest River General Manager Kevin McArt said. “They were unable to

Ultimately, the way it is today is kind of a blessing in disguise, but I also do see the benefit of standardizing a model year launch. – Jeremy Buckmeier

make that change this year, but they would consider making the change the following year.” Various factors are at play in the decisions, including chassis supplier schedules, dealer meetings and the Family Motor Coach Association International Convention.

“We recognize it is hard to control the chassis schedule,” RVIA President Craig Kirby said. “RV OEMs are just one piece of that overall schedule, so we knew that towable manufacturers would have more control when considering the voluntary recommendation. And we understood it may be difficult to get the chassis makers to be on the same time frame.” Chassis Considerations

Among the variables motorized manufacturers contemplate when deciding whether to align model year and title in the summer is the chassis release schedule. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) fixes its model year, which typically occurs the first Monday of February, RV and Commercial Bus Product Manager Jeremy Buckmeier said. Although the company has a set chassis VIN model year date, Buckmeier said FCCC aligns whatever changes manufacturers implement at their model year to mate the chassis to the motorhomes’ model year. April 2021 | RV News

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Trends > RV MANUFACTURING

Forest River General Manager Brian Clemens demonstrates hooking up a television in a motorhome. Clemens leads Berkshire, Dynamax, Forester, FR3, Georgetown and Sunseeker at the company.

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RV News | April 2021

From FCCC’s perspective, Buckmeier said, coordinating current model year schedules is effective. “I talked about alignment for years, saying why don’t we do this as an industry? The reality is it actually works out well with the motorized OEMs staggering their launches simply because of resources,” he said. “For us as a supplier, it helps because we know what our customers’ timing is. We can now manage our resources to those projects to meet their timing. We can do that more efficiently by our customers having those staggered timelines. “If we had to complete every one of our customers’ projects at the same time, it could be very challenging unless OEMs started providing information sooner,” Buckmeier said. “Ultimately, the way it is today is kind of a blessing in disguise, but I also do see the benefit of standardizing a model year launch.” Another factor manufacturers will note is cost. Buckmeier said emission and regulatory changes FCCC adheres to occur at calendar year changeovers, which is why the company sets its model year in February. “Say we wanted to move our model year from a Feb. 1 start date to July 1. That would become very challenging, as you have to adjust for these regulatory changes and the cost impact that come with those,” he said. “That also

impacts the RV OEMs. As emission changes happen, they come with a specific price increase. An OEM is going to have to either align their pricing structure with that increase or absorb the pricing. It is always easier to do it at a model year start than it is to do it in the middle of a model year.” Change Leaders

Forest River decided to begin the motorized alignment process this summer before RVIA approved the best practice recommendation last June. Brian Clemens, Forest River general manager, said the decision was in the works for more than two years prior. “The idea came up about two or three years ago, after the fall show,” he said. “We said at the time, if we are going to do this, we have to wait a full year to announce it because dealers are ordering based on prior years’ plans. So, it has been in the plans that long.” The decision put Clemens’ brands— Berkshire, Dynamax, Forester, FR3, Georgetown and Sunseeker—in step with Forest River towables in building products to unveil at the Elkhart Extravaganza. The motorized move, however, put Forest River on its own. “After we committed to changing this summer, we heard a couple of manufacturers say they had committed to an April or May schedule for rvnews.com


2021,” Clemens said. “We are going to continue to do best practices in line with the RVIA recommendation. Sometime after the July 4 shutdown, we will make the model change.” Forest River’s change will alter its production schedule by four to five months, Clemens said. He cited benefits to consumers and lenders by not creating mid-model-year units as reasons why the change is worthwhile. “Realistically, once we get into the groove, it will be easier,” he said. “We used to make some fall show changes, and then try to make some changes at the start of the model year, so the consumer would have something new in the new model year. Some manufactures would make all their changes at model year; some would make all their changes at the fall show and then no changes at model year.

Ultimately, the way it is today is kind of a blessing in disguise, but I also do see the benefit of standardizing a model year launch. – Jeremy Buckmeier

“It really was not conducive for consumers, so we think this is the way to do it,” Clemens said. “This should eliminate mid-model-year changes.” Although Forest River will align model year and title/MSO, it will not be able to align model year with the new chassis’ model year. McArt led the RVIA task force that approved the best practice recommendation to the board. He said the task force included various stakeholders to see how a potential change would affect each manufacturer. “It is a little more coordination with the chassis suppliers,” McArt said, “and coordination to ensure the VINs are in alignment.” Although the new models and new chassis might not align perfectly, rvnews.com

Clemens said the move to summer alignment would get Forest River brands closer to chassis alignment. “Sometimes, depending on the model year, you might have a 2020 RV on a 2018 chassis,” he said. “This year, oddly, we may end up with a 2022 chassis under a 2021 motorhome. Mostly, though, we will be much closer to the chassis releases doing it this way. The best-case scenario is we will be matching, and the worst case is we will be a year off.” Federal regulations specify the RV OEM, not the chassis manufacturer, define a completed motorhome’s model year.

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Rev Recreation Group decided to stick with its traditional schedule due to its dealer meeting plans. Rev Recreation Group Director of Sales Lenny Razo said the company planned to launch its 2021 model year products at its dealer meeting in May, after Rev Group canceled its dealer meeting last year because of the pandemic. Instead, the 2021 dealer meeting was canceled, and Rev Group will continue its regular production schedule. “Our offline schedule for all of our Class As will be that mid-May time frame rolling into June,” he said. “We were trying to have that at the beginning of May, but due to some supply chain constraints, we pushed it back a couple of weeks.” Razo said he had considered potentially aligning model year and title/ MSO this summer, but for Rev Group, the planning involved with its dealer meeting was the 2021 sticking point. “There is nothing really difficult about making the change; it was the timing this year as to why we did not,” he said. “When we canceled the dealer meeting, it was too late to push the model year launch back even further because things already were in motion.” In considering whether to make the change moving forward, Razo said chassis suppliers’ plans played a role because of the economics involved.

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Trends > RV MANUFACTURING

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REV Recreation Group Director of Sales Lenny Razo rejoined the company in 2020. Rev Group’s motorized products, such as the Holiday Rambler Armada, will remain on the typical model year changeover schedule for now.

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Typically, he said, when chassis suppliers launch new model years in March, prices increase. “So now what do you do if you are not launching your product for four more months? You either have to eat those extra costs or you have to reprice your product with three months to go in a model year,” Razo said. “You run into situations where chassis suppliers are not in line with those summer production dates. Ford is not going to change their timing, and Freightliner is not going to change their timing, because they do not just supply to the RV industry. It could cause some issues with pricing going forward.” Although aligning model and title/ MSO benefits consumers and dealers as beneficiaries, Razo said Rev Group could benefit by making the summer alignment in 2022.

There is nothing really difficult about making the change; it was the timing this year why we did not. When we canceled the dealer meeting, it was too late to push the model year launch back. – Lenny Razo

“It would give us a few more months to develop product,” he said. “It also allows dealers to clear a few more months of summertime selling to clear some of the older products out. When you launch in May, they really only have rvnews.com


March and April to clear products out. In a normal year, dealers would have a few more months to clear out products, so I do see that as an advantage.” Razo said Rev Group will reevaluate the decision not to change alignment from its current schedule. Among the factors weighing into the decision are industry OEM plans. “We are going to take a look at it for next year,” he said. “We like the idea of the industry all being on a very similar time frame,” Razo said. “It is definitely something we will look at next year.” One Step at a Time

Thor’s motorized products remain on current model year changes. Thor Group RV Manager Matt Zimmerman said the primary reason is the motorized model year situation is different than towables. With Thor announcing it would align towable production in the summer this year, Zimmerman said the company would postpone making a similar motorized move. “I think the plan is for Thor to solve the pain point on towables by making the move and giving that an opportunity to resonate,” he said. “Then we will gauge interest and feedback from our

dealer partners on what we should be doing moving forward with motorized.” The lack of mid-model-year motorized chassis factored into Thor’s decision, Zimmerman said. “Motorized product changes happen at model year,” he said. “When you buy a 2022 model, you are getting all the latest and greatest product enhancements for that brand. With towables, we were not set up that way.” Thor plans to judge dealer feedback on changing towables’ alignment this summer before deciding on motorized, giving the manufacturer a tight timeline to decide whether to align motorized in summer 2022. RVIA’s best practice recommendation included a suggested three-year implementation period, through 2023, including an annual review. Zimmerman said Thor, in conjunction with dealer partners’ input, would decide later whether to make the alignment change “or stay where we currently are at.” Tiffin Motorhomes, which Thor acquired shortly before 2021, will join its parent company in keeping motorized production on a spring changeover schedule. Type A President Van Tiffin

Thor Group RV Manager Matt Zimmerman leads towable and motorized divisions at Thor. The company will examine the model year alignment changeover by its towable divisions this summer before deciding whether to make a similar change in motorized products.

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Trends > RV MANUFACTURING

Dynamax National Sales Manager Tony Anagnos discussed motorhomes on display at the Elkhart Open House. Forest River’s motorized brands will align model year and title changes this summer, in part because the manufacturer wants to have new units at Open House. said the company will likely make the alignment change in the future. “We really had not given it any consideration until after the acquisition,” Tiffin said. “It seems the industry will be going toward aligning model year and title in the summer.” Still Under Consideration

Both Newmar and Winnebago said they are still considering whether to follow RVIA’s recommendation this year. Time is getting short, however. Dealers will plan lot space to feature new products already ordered, and knowing whether that space will be needed in May or in September requires different preparations. “Our premium brands at Winnebago Industries, including Newmar Corp., are aware of and considering the RVIA model year best practice recommendation,” Winnebago said. In 2020, Newmar hosted a virtual dealer meeting in late March, unveiling its 2021 model highlights. 64

RV News | April 2021

To date, Newmar has not introduced 2022 models. However, Winnebago has shown two 2022 model year motorhomes: The Type A Journey, which debuted at the

Motorized product changes happen at model year. When you buy a 2022 model, you are getting all the latest and greatest product enhancements for that brand. – Matt Zimmerman

Tampa SuperShow in mid-January, and the Type C Ekko. Both models were announced in the company’s November product release.

“We intend to strike a balance between supporting the industry’s desire to narrow the timing of new model year introductions,” Winnebago said, “and our competitive aspirations to achieve increased, profitable market share for our business and valued channel partners through a steady wave of innovative products.” Manufacturers who are considering changing model year schedules might need to start conversations with chassis suppliers sooner rather than later, Buckmeier said. “It depends on what kind of changes they are talking about,” he said. “If they are talking about something that takes development work, you are talking a year-and-a-half-plus out. If you are talking about add(ing) TPMS to a model that we already have in our portfolio, then typically you can add it in the next order. We like to have conversations a year to two out to allow our team the time to work closely with OEMs and get those changes implemented the best way possible.” rvnews.com



Trends > CAMPING ACCESSORIES

(L to R) Laurelhurst’s Bry Mellen, sales representative; Jess Sheppard, purchasing manager; and Jeremy Chase, president, collect camping accessories at the distributor’s Portland, Oregon-based headquarters.

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rvnews.com


Stocking Up on Accessories Distributors identify three camping accessory product lines retail managers should stock up on to keep cash registers ringing. By Garrison Wells

| Photos by Ron Schwane Photography and Ana Dee Photography

B

uying an RV and aftermarket parts/accessories go hand in hand. A 2019 RVIA aftermarket parts and accessories consumer survey indicated 86 percent of respondents said they shop to replace parts or accessories, 83 percent said they wanted to accessorize or upgrade the vehicles they own, 80 percent liked looking at new products, and 75 percent just like hanging around aftermarket parts and accessories. Among camping accessories, distributor representatives said uniquely designed furniture will be popular this year. Solar products are on fire. Even pet accessories are getting into the mix. “This has been a crazy year,” said Michelle Krueger, purchasing agent for Arrow Distributing Inc., based in Omaha, Nebraska. “There are a lot more people out there camping.” Find a Seat

Kuma Outdoor Gear’s outdoor furniture is drawing attention in 2021. Distributors said the Edmonton, Canada-based company is making waves with its company mantra: “Experience Luxury Outdoors.” “The Kuma stuff, especially, has been tough to keep in stock,” said rvnews.com

Michelle Krueger, purchasing agent at Arrow Distributing Inc., counts camping accessory inventory at AC Nelsen RV in Omaha, Nebraska. April 2021 | RV News

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Trends > CAMPING ACCESSORIES

Keller Marine and RV Director of Sales Michael Keller creates a Kuma outdoor furniture product display outside a dealership.

Avalon RV Center employee Matt Petry (center) discusses camping chair features with customers at the Medina, Ohio, dealership. 68

RV News | April 2021

Bry Mellen, sales representative for Portland, Oregon-based Laurelhurst Distributing Inc. “It is definitely different from other furniture products…has a lifetime warranty, more weight capacity, cupholders and phone holders in the chairs…which is huge for people.” The numerous colors are an attractive option that draws buyers, Mellen said. Kuma offers the single Lazy Bear chair, the Lazy Bear heated chair, the Bear Trax rocker and a Cub Junior chair for children. The double Bear Buddy fold-up couch has a heated model. Mellen said she liked the products so much, she bought them for personal use. “I have them because I really like them,” she said. “They are warm, and it is like having a blanket around you.” To Michael Keller, Keller Marine and RV director of sales, the lifetime warranty also helps drive Kuma’s popularity. He credited the chairs’ quality look and design, competitive prices, and single or double seating options as consumer attention grabbers. “From Realtree Camo to the blue plaid to the heather grey, it pops in the showroom, and they are comfortable as well,” Keller said. “The Bear Buddy has a wine glass holder on each side as well as cup holders. It is the small things that draw the consumers’ attention.” rvnews.com


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Trends > CAMPING ACCESSORIES The line’s chair legs extend outward, rather than inward, making the chairs sturdier when consumers push off to stand up, he said. The double-seating chairs have no bars through the centers, “so you can lay end to end and be comfortable,” Keller said. Kuma’s related accessories include blankets, wine tumblers and log pillows. Distributors also noted the popularity of the Bear Den Gazebo. The gazebos can be enclosed and a floor added. “It is kind-of a yurt style of gazebo,” Mellen said. The five-sided gazebo is newer to the market and “kind of cool,” Krueger said. “People out camping do not necessarily want to always be out in the elements,” she said. “It can extend your space. It has a carrying case, and privacy panels can be added. It is a neat idea, and I think the price point on it is good, too.”

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Hot, Hot, Hot

Solar products remain hot RV addons. Krueger said local campground scarcity makes consumers more interested in solar product add-ons. “Here in Nebraska, there are not enough campsites for all the campers out there,” Krueger said, “so I would think that people would jump on the fact that solar kits help when you are off the grid, cannot find a camping spot or just want to go out to the river.” Aftermarket solar accessories offer vehicle-mounted or portable options, she said. “If somebody does not want to mount it on their camper or take the time to install one, there are the portable ones out there, too,” Krueger said. Environmentally conscious millennials are likely to clamp onto solar, she added. “They are going to want to preserve as much of this earth as they can, and do so with solar,” she said. Laurelhurst is capitalizing on solar’s popularity.

“Solar has been a huge kickoff for us,” Laurelhurst President Jeremy Chase said. “Go Power! is the main solar brand we carry here, and I definitely echo statements that solar is doing really well.” Starting in Canada and now a California-based Valterra Products subsidiary, Go Power! has grown from a small company to becoming among North America’s leading RV solar products suppliers. Go Power! offerings now include a portable 100-watt solar kit. The kit weighs 10 pounds and is designed for tent trailers, camper vans and RVs with minimal storage. The kit includes a 30-amp charge controller, cables and various connection options as well as a durable, low-profile, bendable solar battery charger. The company’s Solar Extreme Charging System features three 190watt modules and a 3,000-watt inverter/charger as a more permanent option. Keller said solar products are big West Coast performers but are not

rvnews.com


nearly as popular on the East Coast. “We are looking to get more solar in the Northeast,” he said. “It is because of the really nice trees at all of the campsites. In the West, they have always done boondocking. In the Northeast, boondocking has not been done as much in the past.” Education and smart marketing, Keller said, will be the strategy boosting continued solar product growth. “It’s a growth area,” he said. “Every year, we go, ‘Man, I think we should do more of this.’ It is a combination of the consumer and the dealer being educated. Educating our dealers is the biggest thing we can do to grow solar sales.” Pet Parade

Distributors also predicted the pet supplies category would see strong camping accessory sales. The pet market’s potential is huge. The American Pet Products Association’s national survey shows 63.4 million U.S. households owned dogs in 2020.

A customer browses through travel mugs in the General RV Center retail store in North Canton, Ohio.

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Trends > CAMPING ACCESSORIES According to an RVIA survey, more than 65 percent of RVers bring pets on their trips, with 93 percent being dogs, and cats ranking second at 8 percent. Available pet products include foldable bowls, traveling kits and “anything you can think of to make life with a dog easier, anything like that petwise,” Krueger said. She said pet products have attractive price points and margins. “They are economical, and they are eye-catching colorwise. There are a lot of colors. Pet accessories would set up as nice end-cap displays. I think you could go crazy with pet supply end caps,” she said. “I think everyone who has dogs want to take them with them. They will spontaneously buy things that make it more convenient and easier.” Promoting Quality

Avalon RV sells dozens of camping accessories in its retail store.

A couple examines features of Firman and Onan generators at General RV. 72

RV News | April 2021

These days, Keller said he noticed less brand-loyalty purchasing because many RVers are new to the lifestyle and have not established loyalty to specific brands. One generator might be a reliable and durable brand that experienced RVers know well. However, new RVers are not so aware and might be drawn more to a name they recognize, such as an Energizer generator. “Our dealers do a great job of selling great products which may not have been popular with someone who was previously in the lifestyle,” Keller said. “The consumer is looking for a quality experience, and as an aftermarket, as long as we are highlighting the value the product provides, the end consumer is happy. They will come back to buy more products. If we don’t promote quality products, the trust chain is broken. I fear what that may mean for our industry moving forward.” Lighting products also stepped up their game. Laurelhurst works with Jupiter Lighting, a small, Castle Rock, Washington, company that offers various RV lighting products. “They have these really cool dimmable light switches that can be magnetically connected,” Mellen said. “Lots of companies have them, rvnews.com


but you cannot dim many of them. With Jupiter lights, you can dim them down to just a few lumens.” With new product categories, distributors see a good year ahead for retailers featuring aftermarket camping accessories. “In general, I think anybody would want new products that are eye-catching or make their camping experience a little less old-fashioned,” Krueger said. “Anything that helps the camping experience feel more like home or makes it easier. I think that is going to be the breakout stuff, the things that make it easier.” Still, uncertainties abound on how explosive 2021 aftermarket sales will be. “I think that 2021 is setting up to be a good year,” Keller said. “It is one of those things that I am cautiously optimistic about. We are not automotive, so making camping fun should be our industry’s big focus.”

Consumers have been drawn to camping chairs which provide greater weight capacity and retro styles.

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73


Advice > F&I

Are You Batting .300 in Your Business Office? A

.300 batting average in baseball is considered excellent, with an average higher than .400 nearly unachievable. But is your company batting .300? Are you following the 300 percent rule? This question may seem like old news for some business managers, but the principle still pertains and is more important than ever. Some new business managers, however, may have never heard this question before. During a recent visit with a successful, seasoned business manager at a mid- to large-volume store, I asked him about hitting .300 and following the 300 percent rule. He gave me a deer-in-the-headlights look, signaling he was considering which side of the road would help him escape danger. Having seen that look before in a business manager’s eyes, I am not surprised by it. In the RV business office, the business manager wears many hats and has many duties other than merely selling products. Responsibilities include titling units, handling payoffs, making bank deposits, writing repair orders, running delivery schedules and being the store’s compliance officer. Business managers, in general, have four priorities to fulfill. Priority one: Deliver the unit as soon as possible. Often, unprepped inventory will delay physical delivery. This changed a lot in the last 10 years. The business manager should look for a way to paper-spot whenever possible. Yes, only paper-spotting a unit and not having the consumer take delivery is possible. The marine industry has been doing this for years, and marine dealers have three VINs to handle: boat, motor and trailer.

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When you expedite the unit delivery, accurate paperwork is critical. The business manager should double-check everything before the customer leaves the store. To deliver the unit successfully and efficiently, the business manager should follow a specific, structured sales process that delivers the unit correctly, without mistakes. The F&I sales process should include an effective interview that leads to a menu presentation. The 300 percent rule falls in line here: present 100 percent of the products 100 percent of the time to 100 percent of the people. Also, you should have a 100 percent full disclosure of sold products that the customer sees and signs at the point of closing. Priority two: Expedite the store’s cash flow. The business manager is responsible for initiating a seamless cash flow policy, including an in-depth contract in-transit review during the daily meeting. During the busy season, this list should be updated twice a day. As dealer ownership continues to compress in the RV industry, multiple-location dealerships rely on a cash flow policy with no room for error. The expanded inventory floor plans, payrolls and fixed expenses require a systematic approach to expedite cash flow. The business manager must be ahead of the curve in this fast-moving environment. Priority three: Protect the dealership. Some people call it CDA (Cover the Dealer’s Assets). In today’s business environment, CDA is a critical responsibility in every facet of the dealership. This priority is important not only when dealing with external customers but also when dealing with internal customers–the employees.

CDA is crucial with everything a business manager does, from the extra duties to the deal itself. CDA also includes how a business manager discusses business or interacts with fellow employees. In addition to the deal, business managers must contend with many other areas. They are interacting with lenders, vendors, state licensing entities, DMV offices and consumers when discussing disclosures on dealer agreements. If business managers find themselves with compliance officer duties, the word “responsibility” takes on a whole new meaning. As you look at the responsibilities, remember, compliance policies are required by many government agencies, and compliance risk exposure is huge. Potential exposure is real and can be life changing for all involved. Compliance is more than just locking the office door. So how does a .300 batting average come to be? Where does the “make money part” come in? Priority four: Make the store money. In some circles, this is the No. 1 and only priority. Everybody has their own game plan, but as proved repeatedly, business managers can make a base hit when they handle the first three priorities.

I can still hear my baseball coach saying, “Base hits win more games than home runs.” I do not know how true that is in actual baseball statistics, but I do know a rally of base hits score more points than a single home run unless the bases are loaded. Bases-loaded home runs do not happen often. So, business managers follow your process. Do an effective interview, present a menu, and close the customer. Print, press, then sign them out. Do not hesitate to put pen to paper as consumers are sitting there during their first visit. Remember: • Deliver the Unit – “Dot” all the “I’s” and cross all your “T’s.” • Cash Flow – Expedite and process the deal immediately • CDA – Follow your compliance policies • Have a 300 percent rule in place – Present 100 percent of the product to 100 percent of people 100 percent of the time By following these four priorities, you not only will be batting .300 at the plate but will be swinging for the warning track and chasing .400 as well. Happy selling!

Greg Artman National Training Manager, Higginbotham Insurance Agency

Greg Artman is the national training manager for Diversified Insurance Management, a Higginbotham company. He spent more than 20 years in the automotive, RV, powersports and marine industries as a finance training and managing representative, of which the last 16 years have been with Diversified Insurance Management. He worked as management in numerous dealerships. 763.477.8127 | gartman@higginbotham.net rvnews.com


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Advice > BUSINESS MANAGEMENT

What Is Stopping Your Best Busy Season? D

id you make any progress with your New Year’s resolutions? It is healthy for your business and personal development to start the year aspiring to achieve accomplishments: eat better, work out more, get better organized, implement the new dealer management software…. These goals help point you in the direction you want to go. Hopefully, you are sticking with some of them, but as we get a few months into the year, identifying which barriers keep you from your best performance can be equally important. What do you need to stop doing? This is especially important as we prepare for our busy season. Are there distractions redirecting your focus, sucking up your energy, time or resources? We are entering our busy season, and we all have areas within our personal and professional control that will make a tangible difference in success. As many medical and business professional have found, saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that are most important. How good are you at saying no to others and yourself? This is a learned skill that requires practice. There are two key elements: 1. You must identify choices taking you in a direction you do not need to go. Saying yes, or just handling a situation, may seem easier or more polite, but recognize doing so keeps you from important goals and objectives. 2. You must have the guts and determination to defend your no and stand behind your decision. Saying no to someone, especially a customer or a beloved team member, can be hard, and even

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RV News | April 2021

harder, when you must say no to yourself. What you like to do is not always the most important priority. Do you need to exercise better control of the time you invest in following political news, business reports or social media? You cannot control what is happening in the world; consuming too much information may put you in a funk

step back. Occasionally, you might need to coach them, based on how issues were handled. Encouraging them to get outside their comfort zones enables them to grow. Do not swoop in to save the day. Let them learn to be the hero. On a recent dealer visit, I was impressed with a young dealer who was able to track his team’s progress

You will have plenty of challenges outside your control as you navigate your busy season. Do not let yourself spend more time than necessary on what you cannot change or that are not a priority.” as well. You need to know what is going on, but you likely can stay well informed in less time. Determine that right time amount and stick with it. Chances are you will be a lot happier. Having spent countless hours observing dealerships, I have seen certain pitfalls you should avoid. Let us look at some of them by job description. Dealer Principals: Stop getting sucked into every customer and departmental issue. You are limiting your team’s ability to exercise the empowerment and responsibility you have given them. Dealers who give in to type-A tendencies limit their dealerships’ growth potential. Practice letting go. Give your team the tools, the training and opportunity, then

based on the tools and processes he had put in place. He checked the customer relationship management and texting platform hubs to ensure leads and inquiries were responded to quickly. He looked at the open sales and open RO lists, all from his phone or computer and without hovering over anyone. In his morning meetings, he intentionally praised team members who excelled. The growth his dealership is experiencing is awe-inspiring. The best part is he is raising young leaders and teaching them to effectively use those same tools. He can go home to his family at a reasonable hour and not be a slave to multiple dealership locations. Sales Professionals: Stop judging your customers. Treat everyone as if they can buy the most expensive coach available.

Practically every seasoned sales pro has a story involving a customer the sales staff thought did not have a nickel to their name who then made a six-figure purchase. Be aware of your internal mind chatter limiting your prospecting and sales. One piece of wisdom for sales is to stop setting up customers for disappointment. Be sure to check with parts and the sales manager before setting pricing, availability or delivery times. The best way to build customer loyalty is to work together as a team so the customer has a great experience in every department. The more consumers see your team like and respect each other, the more they trust the entire dealership. Service and Parts Managers: Stop keeping data from the team and stop mandating all decision-making go through you. The more one person controls information on scheduling, dispatch, pricing, availability and such, the more that person is bombarded with questions all day. The team becomes less efficient, and staff and customers become more frustrated. Make information, especially workflow details, easily available to everyone on the team. This helps porters, techs, advisors and sales deliver a better customer experience while increasing shop profitability. Technicians, Detail and Lot Crew: Stop bottling up until you are ready to boil over. If you see something hurting your job or the dealership’s product quality or work, tell the people who can do something rvnews.com


about it. If you are uncomfortable talking to them, send an anonymous note “from a caring eye in the shop.” Failing to say anything will grate on you, making you increasingly frustrated. Though you can vent to your peers about the issue to feel better, they cannot fix it. Venting just leads to shop drama, making everyone miserable. These points lead to two last suggestions for everyone at the dealership: Stop avoiding the tough decisions that need to be made. You know what they are. The choices you have been putting off—the ones that make you want to change the subject when they come up. There is a great saying, “knock out the hard stuff first.” If you get the tough one done and have it handled once and for all, it will be so freeing for you. You will feel so much better and have so much more energy to focus on other worthy goals that need your energy.

Stop adding fuel or oxygen to dealership drama. Choose the high road. Act toward others the way you want them to act toward you. If you must say something, say it to the person directly and with empathy. What are the things you need to stop? What is keeping you from bringing your best self to your highest priority goals? You will have plenty of challenges outside your control as you navigate your busy season. Do not let yourself spend more time than necessary on what you cannot change or that are not a priority. Hone your focus and pour available resources into things you can control that will move the needle in the direction you want. Practice and develop your discipline in this, and you will put yourself, and your dealership, in the best position to make the most of this year.

Valerie Ziebron President of VRZ Consulting Valerie Ziebron is a leading industry expert and speaker. Through studying and comparing hundreds of dealerships across North America, VRZ specializes in helping dealers maximize resources, specifically their people, processes, space and location. Ziebron has delivered more than 5,000 presentations and has helped more than 1,000 small businesses. Her clients include Chrysler, General Motors, Yamaha Motor Co., Boating Industry Magazine, Shelby American Collection, Eastman Kodak, IPIX and many others. 313.506.8069 | vrzconsulting.com rvnews.com

April 2021 | RV News

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The Best Of Lippert Components

Lippert’s Solera Camping Chair with side table features a director-style chair made with breathable mesh padded fabrics. The chair has a steel frame and is rated to support up to 250 pounds. The side table folds down and includes a cup holder. The Solera Camping Chair and side table weighs 9 pounds and folds flat for transportation. lci1.com

Camping Accessories

I

n THE BEST OF aftermarket product section this month, we turn our attention to the best camping accessory products made, now and over time, in the category. These products are not ranked in any order. They represent each supplier’s best submission. Surging new RV buyers created new opportunities in camping accessories the past year. Many new buyers, less familiar with traditional leading RV brands, are more likely to purchase better-known consumer brands or rely on the recommendations provided by dealers’ trusted retail staff. Technology that enables campers to travel further away from crowded campgrounds, such as coolers that do not require ice and solar-powered products, will be top-sellers in 2021.

+

Camco Mfg.

TBO Index

Camco Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Camp Casual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Campfire Industries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 CanCooker Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 Carefree of Colorado . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Coghlan’s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 Dish outdoors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Dometic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Firedisc Cookers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Fireside Outdoor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Flagpole Buddy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 Fleming Sales Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84

GCI Outdoor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 Lippert Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Faulkner Furniture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Poles and Holders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 Prest-O-Fit Manufacturing, Inc. . . . . . . . 84 Protector Brands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 ShelterLogic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Stromberg Carlson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Thetford Corp. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Truma Corp. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Utica Cutlery Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Valterra Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

The Rhino Tote Tank, with steerable wheels, is a 28- or 36-gallon tank constructed from durable blow-molded HDPE that is UV-stabilized to resist deterioration from the sun. The Rhino Tote Tank kit has two steerable, 6-inch, “no-flat” front wheels with bearings; two 12-inch “no-flat” back wheels with bearings and a 24-inch towing handle. The minimum waste height hookup is 13 inches. The Rhino Tote Tank kit weighs 49 pounds. camco.net

Want To Be Featured In The Best Of? Call (720) 353-4003 to find out how your company can be included. Upcoming TBO categories: MAY Jacks, Lifts & Leveling

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JUNE Power Solutions

JULY Made in the USA

April 2021 | RV News

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The Best Of > CAMPING ACCESSORIES

Camp Casual

Camp Casual’s 12-piece dish set includes four complete settings and is packaged in a reusable cardboard case. The set includes four 11-inch dinner plates, four 8.5-inch salad plates and four 6-inch bowls. The dishes are made from melamine and are bisphenol A (BPA) free. The dishes are safe for use in a dishwasher’s top rack. campcasual.com

Faulkner Furniture

The Faulkner-branded Big Dog Bucket Chairs are made with UV-resistant 600D polyester fabric to prevent color fading. The foldable chairs support up to 300 pounds. Big Dog Bucket Chairs feature padded seating and a backrest. The chairs include a carrying bag with a shoulder strap. Big Dog Bucket Chairs measure 31.5 x 33.5 x 35.4 inches and are available in five colors. faulknerfurniture.com

Thetford Corp.

ShelterLogic

ShelterLogic’s Quad Rocker folding rocking chair has a lightweight frame and waterproof seat and back and armrests constructed from 600 x 660D PVC-coated fabric. The Quad Rocker has soft arms. It folds into an included carrying bag for transport. The Quad Rocker also includes a cup holder. shelterlogic.com

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RV News | April 2021

Porta Potti launched in 1968 as the first two-piece, hand-carried portable toilet. The 565E model includes a battery-powered electric flush, a holding tank level indicator for fresh water and waste tanks and an integrated toilet paper holder. The Porta Potti 565E features a flush lever and can be paired with a carrying bag. The toilet has a 17.6-inch seat height, 4 gallons of freshwater capacity and a 5.5-gallon waste capacity. The Porta Potti 565E weighs 13.45 pounds and includes a threeyear warranty. thetford.com

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TELESCOPING FLAG POLES • Huge RV Retailer Profit Margins • Specifically Designed for RV Consumers Who Camp or Tailgate • 32 Pole Mounting Options Available • 16 or 22 Foot Retractable Fiberglass Poles • Also Great for Roadside Dealership Marketing

SELLING DEALER DIRECT

CALL TODAY (562) 946-9019

Valterra Products

Valterra’s Solar LED wall lights remain lit overnight when fully charged. The exterior lights include a motion sensor. Lights feature three modes: full bright-off, full bright-dim and all-night dim. Solar LED wall lights are weatherproof and include a lithium battery. No wiring is required to install. Solar LED wall lights come in three energy use ranges: 1.5 watts, 3.2 watts and 6.8 watts. valterra.com

POLESANDHOLDERS.COM

Poles and Holders

Poles and Holders’ PNH-22Deluxe flagpole is a 22-foot, grey, fiberglass flagpole capable of displaying up to two 3- x 5-foot flags. The flagpole has seven collapsible sections that reduce its length to 48 inches when not in use. The flag poles come with four black swivel rings/carabiner clips to hook onto flags. The poles are recommended for use when the wind is less than 40 mph. The flagpole weighs 4 pounds, includes a lifetime warranty, and is available in 16- and 22-foot extended lengths. polesandholders.com

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April 2021 | RV News

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The Best Of > CAMPING ACCESSORIES

Utica Cutlery Co.

Utica Cutlery Enamelware is a dishware set featuring five wildlife scenes designed by wildlife artist Jim Tosrud. The sets include Eagle Camp, Elk, Deer, Turkey and Walleye. Sets that include four pieces will feature one dinner plate, one pasta plate, one bowl and one large mug. Sets including 16 pieces will feature four dinner plates, four pasta plates, four bowls and four large mugs. Enamelware sets are double enameled. The Enamelware sets are dishwasher safe. uticausa.com

Stromberg Carlson

The Base Pad Extreme fits under RVs to support 6,000 pounds to improve RV stability. The product supports 3,500 pounds when two Base Pad Extremes are stacked. Base Pad Extreme is made from a polycarbonate material and measures 10 x 12 x 7 inches. The Base Pad Extreme is a muted slate gray color. The Base Pad Extreme is packaged in sets of one, two, four or six pads. The product is made in the U.S. strombergcarlson.com

Carefree of Colorado

Carefree’s Fiesta patio awning is a spring-operated awning that comes in lengths from 8 feet to 25 feet. The Fiesta awning includes self-storing canopy clamps and a remote lock built into the arm. Fiesta awnings feature color-coordinated brackets and castings. The arms have single-track sliders on the inside of the arm channels to eliminate rafter binding. Fiesta awnings are available in vinyl or acrylic fabric. carefreeofcolorado.com

Dometic

The CFX3 45 Powered Cooler includes VMSO3 compressor cooling technology which lowers temperatures to as low as minus-7 degrees Fahrenheit. The 46-liter cooler holds as many as 67 12-ounce cans. The cooler includes a dynamic threestage battery protection feature that prevents completely draining car batteries and enables deep draw on dual batteries. The temperature can be controlled via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth through a CFX3 mobile app. The cooler measures 15.67 x 27.32 x 18.74 inches and weighs 41.2 pounds. dometic.com

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RV News | April 2021

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MAINTENANCE JUST GOT EASIER...

with

OVERHOOD MOBILE MAINTENANCE PLATFORMS

Truma Corp.

The Truma Cooler C30 is a portable fridge/freezer with a 30-liter capacity. The C30 fits between driver/passenger seats in vans and work vehicles. The cooler features a fold-down handle, includes a USB port and can connect to smartphones via Bluetooth. The app controls the fridge’s temperature. The cooler has an interior LED light. It maintains temperatures down to as low as minus-8 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooler connects to both 110-volt or 12/24-volt power sources. The Truma Cooler comes in eight single and dual-zone models. truma.net

* Deck size & height options * Easily roll alongside work areas * Folds flat for transport & storage

scissordeck@shaw.ca

1-877-730-2704

www.scissordeck.com

RV Odor Abate

Pleasant Journey, Pleasant Memories

for Holding Tanks • Dual Action Technology Eliminates Odor on Contact/ Non-Masking • Formaldehyde Free • Greatly Reduces Pumping Frequency

RV Super Digest

for Holding Tanks • Cleans Sensors • Liquefies Organic Waste and Toilet Paper • 1 Ounce Contains Over 31 Billion Enzymes

Dish Outdoors

Dish Outdoors’ Playmaker and Wally bundle enable consumers to connect to live HD TV without a cellular signal or Wi-Fi connection. Dish’s Playmaker portable satellite antenna installs on the RV’s roof. The Wally receiver connects to the portable antenna. The Wally receiver features built-in apps, channel search features and Bluetooth capabilities that may be added to the consumer’s bundle. The bundle provides access to 50 or more channels in a pay-as-you-go program billed monthly. Consumers do not need Dish service at home to use Dish Outdoors programming. dishoutdoors.com

To place an order email, call or scan here!

info@cheltec.com • 941-355-1045

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April 2021 | RV News

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The Best Of > CAMPING ACCESSORIES

Fleming Sales Co. Coghlan’s

Griddle ‘N Hitch fits standard 2-inch hitch receivers and supports 17-inch and 22-inch cooking griddles. The Griddle ‘N Hitch is made with 14-gauge black powder-coated steel. The Griddle ‘N Hitch can be used with a tailgate up or down. The product weighs 38 pounds and comes with the necessary hardware and a receiver pin. It measures 34 x 14 x 10 inches and is made in the U.S. flemingsalesoem.com

Prest-O-Fit Manufacturing, Inc.

GCI Outdoor

Coghlan’s Pop-Up Camp Trash Can is a spring-loaded trash can that folds flat for easy storage. The trash can includes a zippered top to keep pests out. The product features a clear plastic lid pocket to hold extra trash bags. By unzipping the storage lid, the spring-loaded container expands to its full 19- x 24-inch size. The trash can is made from polyethylene fabric and includes two carrying handles. coghlans.com

Outrigger RV Step Rugs have a micro-ribbed texture to improve traction. RV Step Rugs include expandable springs to fit most manual and electric steps. Outrigger RV Step Rugs are mold and mildew resistant, and UV protected to resist sun damage. The step rugs are made using an outdoor carpet that can be cleaned by hosing the rugs off. The rugs are available in several colors and sizes. prestofit.com

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RV News | April 2021

GCI Outdoor’s Freestyle Rocker has patented spring-action rocking technology. The rocker supports up to 250 pounds. The Freestyle Rocker features a beverage holder and a mesh backrest. The chair folds flat and features a carrying handle. The chair measures 24 x 25 x 34.8 inches with a 19.7-inch seat height. It comes in black, red or blue. gcioutdoor.com

rvnews.com


Firedisc Cookers

The Firedisc Cooker is a propane cooker made with ultra-high carbon steel. It stands 36 inches tall. It features a walled-disc cooking surface to hold large food and liquid volumes, including soups and stews and deep-frying. The cooker is powered with a 16-ounce disposable propane canister. The Firedisc Cooker seasons like a cast-iron skillet and can be cleaned by wiping it down with water and a cloth or paper towel. The Firedisc Cooker includes a five-year limited warranty. firedisccookers.com

Fireside Outdoor

Fireside Outdoor’s Pop-Up Fire Pit features a 24- x 24-inch burn area with a cooking area up to 500 square inches. The fire pit weighs 7.8 pounds and sets up in 60 seconds. The fire pit features scalloped aluminum sides and a stainless-steel mesh base to ensure 99 percent ash containment. The fire pit features a heat shield constructed with aluminum fiberglass and heat-resistant hook and loop straps. The Pop-Up Fire Pit includes a carrying case. FiresideOutdoor.com

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April 2021 | RV News

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The Best Of > CAMPING ACCESSORIES

Protector Brands

Protector’s Mosquito Repellent is a DEET-free spray that is safe to use on adults/children. The repellent uses an essential oil blend to repel mosquitos and other biting insects. The spray features a botanical scent. Active ingredients include lemongrass, geranium, peppermint and cinnamon oil. The Mosquito Repellent comes in 8-, 4- and 2-ounce travel sizes, along with a 0.6-ounce balm stick. protectorbrands.com

Campfire Industries

Campfire Industries’ Wolf’em Stick enables consumers to simultaneously cook marshmallows, hot dogs and a biscuit over campfires. The stick features two rotary handles and a backward-facing, dual-pronged cooking fork. The Wolf’em Stick is made with stainless steel and extends to 32 inches. The Wolf’em Stick includes a biscuit attachment to enable consumers to wrap biscuit dough around a rounded cooking form and roast the biscuit. Wolf’em Stick packaging includes a cookbook featuring more than 30 recipes. wolfem.com

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RV News | April 2021

CanCooker, Inc.

The CanCooker Jr. is built from food-grade anodized aluminum, enabling its use on heat sources ranging from campfires to barbecue grills. Can Cooker Jr. has a 2-gallon capacity, feeds as many as eight, and has a non-stick coating. Can Cooker Jr. creates a convection steam environment and includes a high-temperature silicone gasket. The cooker features riveted handles and a vented lid. cancooker.com

Flagpole Buddy

The Flagpole Buddy kit includes a collapsible flagpole, flag, mounts and screws. The kit’s two-point mounting system attaches to RV ladders. Upper “Twist” mounts enable the pole to be angled in from ground level. A lower “Cup” mount keeps the pole from sliding down. Pole top lights, cell phone booster mounts and accessories are available. After initial installation, a ladder climb is not required. flagpolebuddy.com

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> Call Now: 720-353-4003


Feature > WHAT’S NEXT

Coming in May • The Latest On Type C Motorhomes • The Monthly Dealer Profile

• Trends In Exterior Paint And Graphics From OE Suppliers

• An Aftermarket Look At Jacks, Lifts And Leveling

If you haven’t checked out rvnews.com in a while, stroll over and sign up for the daily newsletter, packed with timely relevant information from the RV News team.

Advertiser Index Airxcel Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Americana Tire & Wheel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Camco Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Cheltec Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Danko Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Dave Carter & Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Days Corp. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1, 62 Dometic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Easy Access Industrial Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Icon Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IBC IP Convergence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 King . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Kyle Group LLC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 LaurelHurst Distributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 LaVanture Products. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 LCI dba Curt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Lippert Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BC 88

RV News | April 2021

Thank you to our advertisers for their ongoing support of RV News magazine

Magnadyne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Marshall Excelsior Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 National Auto Care. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 NTP-Stag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IFC Poles and Holders. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 Pressure Systems Intl. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45, 62 Propack Packaging Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 REV Recreation Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Rieco-Titan Products Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 ShelterLogic Group. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Southwire Company LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Stromberg Carlson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Thetford/Norcold. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Thor Industries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Truist Bank. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 United States Warranty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Wyers Products Group. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 rvnews.com