RV PRO

May '16

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rv-pro.com MAY 2016 • RV PRO • 15 the fifth wheel business – an impressive accomplishment for an RV maker founded just four years ago. Thor, Forest River, Jayco and Grand Design have a lot of company: The number of competitors in this segment has grown to at least 13, offering more than 250 different floorplans, so the fight for market share is intense. Amid this intense battle, the RV Industry Association is projecting whole- sale shipments of all fifth wheels will reach 76,100 units in 2016, a modest 1.3 percent increase over the 75,148 ship- ments of 2015 (see Figure 3 on page 23). To garner some input on the prospects for mid-priced fifth wheels and the merits of RVIA's forecast, RV PRO talked with four of the major players. Forest River's Sandpiper an Industry Leader In terms of sheer volume, no manufac- turer can match the strides Forest River has made in mid-priced fifth wheel sales growth. Category sales have skyrocketed from about 1,600 units in 2010 to nearly 12,000 in 2015. Most of Forest River's fifth wheel brands are ensconced in or border on the mid- priced point. A good example is Forest River's legacy fifth wheel, the Sandpiper. Available in 16 different floorplans, it is the RV maker's second best-selling brand in this price range and No. 5 in the industry. Gunter, the Forest River general man- ager, says retail sales for Sandpiper at all price points were up 40 percent last year. In the $40,000 to $65,000 range, sales were up more than 49 percent. For Sandpiper, the fifth wheel's most popular floorplans are bunk models, which Gunter says runs contrary to the rest of the industry. "We were one of the first (full-profile fifth wheels) with opposing rear bunks on both sides (with an outside kitchen). We came out with that four years ago," he says. "That drove us and became our 'bread and butter.' We also came out with a bath-and- a-half unit. Our newest model is the 381 RBOK – two full baths and five slides." Sandpiper features include solid-surface countertops, residential-style cabinets, lots of glass in the cabinets, crown molding, high-gloss color-matched fiberglass exte- riors and name brands for many compo- nents. The two-tone, walk-in shower fea- tures a glass sliding door. Forest River also recently announced that it is now offering Forest River's Sandpiper's features include solid-surface countertops, residential-style cabinets, lots of glass in the cabinets, crown molding, high-gloss color-matched fiberglass exteriors and name brands for many components.

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