May '16

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rv-pro.com MAY 2016 • RV PRO • 19 In 2015, Heartland unveiled a handful of cosmetic changes in the Bighorn, including a new wood décor, some dif- ferent lighting and fascia. Brady says Heartland incurred some price cost sav- ings and passed them along to dealers to hold the line on pricing. "It's very competitive out there," he says. "Any kind of little edge you can get helps." In past years, Heartland has added additional brands that fall in or touch the mid-priced segment, namely, Elkridge and Sundance, which also made Stat Sur- veys' Top 10 list in 2015. Another brand, Gateway (whose retail reporting statistics are lumped in with Sundance), targets a retail price of $49,900, which is a step down from Bighorn, which is now in the mid-$60s. "We saw a shift in Bighorn with all these features. We felt there was a void left behind where Bighorn used to be," Brady says. Gateway was introduced in 2012; it is avail- able in eight floorplans. "We've been watching all price points. If we can take pricing down, we will do it where we can," he says. The Bighorn experienced some price increases over the years as newer features such hydraulic level systems, larger TVs, laminated features, hardwood fascia, drop- frame chassis and solid-surface countertops were added. So, while Bighorn sales volume rose approximately 9.7 percent in 2015 over 2014, a smaller share of all Bighorns were sold in the mid-priced point. For 2016, Brady sees sales keeping pace with the record levels of 2015 or "a little bit above" and making incremental market share gains. He sees shipments remaining flat for the year, essentially supporting RVIA's forecast. Grand Design: Reflection Fiver a Key to Success In the four years since Grand Design RV debuted, the Middlebury, Ind.-based towables manufacturer has posted some eye-popping results – thanks in large part to its mid-priced Reflection fifth wheel. Retailers sold nearly 3,000 Reflections in 2015, putting Grand Design in a solid No. 4 spot at the $40,000 to $65,000 price point and breathing down the neck of No. 3 Jayco. Grand Design's growth has been "beyond our wildest dreams," says Product Manager Peter Kinden, who anticipates double-digit growth for the RV maker again this year. He attributes that growth to the RV maker's decision to be "very strategic in our floorplans." "In the first year and a half, we peaked out on four floorplans in fifth wheels. By the second year, we were at six. We're sit- ting at nine now and we've discontinued just one," he says. "Our strategy is to have dealers stock deep – not wide. We want to 'major in the majors.' Some manufacturers would love to have the turn rates on the one floorplan we discontinued. "Frankly, last year our dealers' turn rates were too high – we weren't building them fast enough and we sold everything we built," he says, adding, "Our dealers' turn rates were 50 percent faster than the industry average" (which is about 2-1/2 turns per year). Additional production space should help avoid that dilemma this year, according to Kinden. Reflection – including the Super-Lite version – accounts for more than half of Grand Design's unit volume in fifth wheel production and about 80 percent of the RV maker's fifth wheel sales in the target $40,000 to $65,000 price range, Kinden says. Kinden attributes Grand Design's suc- cess in part to its three-year limited struc- tural warranty, which he says is unique at this price point, along with offering a very feature-rich product for the price. Starting on the outside, Kinden says, the Reflection features larger "cavernous" storage compartments, which are unob- structed by plumbing, wiring and duct- work. The aluminum step also is a nice feature buyers appreciate, he says. "We laminated the aluminum-framed roof and end walls in the slide rooms, which gives a more rigid structure," he adds. "You look at the utility hookups and they func- tion like a much higher end fifth wheel." Inside, the slide rooms are a little taller and afford room for larger windows that

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