June '17

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rv-pro.com June 2017 • RV PRO • 29 motorhome, the New Aire, which aims to meet many of the requirements the next generation of RVers says it needs in order to take to the road. Although Newmar has grown its facilities, its workforce and the number of RVs it produces, it still is a family-owned business with a company philosophy that puts honoring God as the first item of business. Nevertheless, as the company honors its 50-year history, President Matt Miller insists it does so with an eye toward the future. "The thing that really helps you to thrive and do well after you have that foundational culture is to understand the nature of embracing change," he says. "You have to constantly change and get better. If you don't, it doesn't take very long and you won't be leading any more. You'll be stale. You can't keep up with the marketplace." What the Dealers Want When Marvin Miller and Marvin Newcomer started the business, they didn't worry about setting the bar too high. Their goal was just to build and sell the best-quality RVs the world had ever seen. "We never designed RVs according to what we thought was best," Marvin Miller said at the time. "We built the RVs our dealers asked for, based on what our shared customers were asking for from them." Those dealers bought up the Kountry Aire at a rate that made Newmar one of the largest fifth wheel builders in the industry. By 1984, Marvin Miller was looking to retire, but wanted to make sure that any potential buyer would keep the business in Nappanee. Along came Mahlon Miller, who bought a 51 percent stake in the company, and soon after that Newmar entered the Class A motorhome segment, where it has made its bread and butter ever since. "When I first proposed the idea of building Class A motorcoaches, not everyone was onboard," Mahlon Miller says. "But once each person within the company was able to see what kind of coach we were capable of building, we all knew it was a golden opportunity for us to set a new standard in the Class A segment." That standard continued to build when, in 1990, Newmar introduced the Dutch Star and Mountain Aire – two diesel pushers that are still in production. Innovation Over the Years Over the next two decades, Newmar became something of a standard-bearer for change in the industry. First came slide-outs – yet another idea that Mahlon Miller found himself trying to convince people was good. "I had several people say, 'You can't put a slide-out in a motorhome – it's impossible,'" he says. The story goes that Miller had a fifth wheel built with a slide-out and, along with two of his engineers, towed it over the roughest roads they could find in Nappanee. Throughout the process, the slide-out stayed quiet and convinced the engineers that the idea could work in motorhomes, too. Newmar's first motorhomes hit the market in the 1980s. The Dutch Star and Mountain Aire became the company's first diesel pushers in 1992. After the Kountry Aire began production in 1971, Newmar quickly became the largest manufacturer of fifth wheel trailers. In 2012, the company stopped making fifth wheels to focus on the motorized market.

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