May '17

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14 • RV PRO • May 2017 rv-pro.com R V M A N U F A C T U R E R S Heartland: 'Toy Haulers Are in Our DNA' Heartland RV began building toy haulers within a year of its inception in 2005 and company representatives consider the segment a big part of the RV maker's business plan. The RV maker's Torque and Cyclone toy haulers are gaining plenty of traction with the introduction of two new floorplans, according to AJ Jones, senior general manager for Cyclone and Torque. The $30,000 to $40,000 price point – where the Torque travel trailer is positioned – is one of the fastest-growing segments within the company's lineup, he notes. The Torque's 285 floorplan features an open concept, a 16-foot garage, the biggest kitchen in its class, and a king-sized bed, all providing "a very residential feel," Jones says. Similarly, the all-new 322 features a big living space, a huge wrap-around kitchen, one- and-a-half baths, a king-sized bed and a complete outside kitchen. Consumers are demanding more higher-end features in their travel trailer toy hauler, as well as larger garages, Jones says. "The garage space is crucial because a lot of the toys are larger now," he says. "The older toy haulers had 9- and 10-foot garages. That's not cutting the mustard anymore." That being said, "We've changed a lot of the way customers view toy haulers," Jones says. "Five or six years ago, mention the words 'toy hauler' to a buyer and a wall went up. They pictured racing red interiors, checkered awnings, and amenities directed toward a young, male buyer. Heartland was one of the first to step up and make the amenities homier. "Today, the garage is seen as a bonus room for more facili- ties – and not just as a toy function," he adds. "I would say 35 percent of our customer base doesn't have toys. They're using the garage for other purposes. That's driven a lot of growth." Jones says the winter show response was the best in the RV maker's history, justifying Heartland's decision to double capacity allocated for toy hauler production. "The market for toy haulers has been great – probably the best it's ever been. The problem is: Everyone wants a piece of the pie and dabbles in it. Most companies will try to 'add a toy Heartland's Torque travel trailer toy haulers include models featuring a big living space, a huge wrap-around kitchen, one-and-a-half baths, a king-sized bed and a complete outside kitchen. Torques are positioned to compete in the fast-growing $30,000 to $40,000 segment of the market. hauler.' With Heartland, toy haulers are a very large part of our business. We have entire facilities, teams, and staffs dedicated to toy haulers. It's not something we 'dabble' in. It's part of our DNA. That separates us from the others." Jones surmises there will always be a certain number of OEMs that get into the toy hauler business simply because the pie is getting bigger each year. Still, Heartland's commitment to the market segment has made it a standout in the field, he says, pointing to Stat Surveys' data showing Torque travel trailer toy haulers are the fastest growing in the industry, up 217 percent in 2016 alone. "The Torque brand sells both high-end fifth wheels (less money than Cyclone) and travel trailers. If looking at overall numbers of fifth wheels and travel trailers, Cyclone/Torque/ Road War- rior is by far No. 1 in the stats in 2016, selling 2,478 units in

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