RV PRO

June '18

Issue link: https://read.uberflip.com/i/984959

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 22 of 108

18 • RV PRO • June 2018 rv-pro.com R V M A N U F A C T U R E R S showerheads; residential-style front doors with built-in blinds instead of the standard "patio door;" and porches. "Eighty percent of the park models we build have porches," Grymonprez says. "We find customers are willing to pay an extra $3,500 to put their lawn chairs and a gas grill on," so price creep does not appear to be an issue. Another new feature in recent years for a lot of builders is the mini split heating and air conditioning units, which eliminate the need for floor ducts. This feature adds about $1,000 to the heating and cooling price, but is quiet and efficient and has become a staple in as many as 80 percent of today's park models, Grymonprez estimates. For units not going to campgrounds, today's typical retail customer is "a middle-aged couple looking for a weekend get- away where the family can meet and enjoy the outdoors. A lot of states allow park models on private property as long as they're not lived in full-time. We're still selling to snowbirds. It would seem that the park model customer is a bit different from your traditional RVer but I could be wrong." The typical park model dealer also is changing. It used to be just the few who sold park models only, but now RV dealers in general are selling park models because they see the added extra business potential, according to Grymonprez. Others are joining in, including dealerships that sell storage buildings and some manufactured housing dealers. Athens Park Model RVs will again participate in the "Park Model Village" at the Elkhart County Open House in Sep- tember. Grymonprez suspects that Athens' plants in Pennsyl- vania and Minnesota will provide the units, giving dealers more options. Giving more options from a single company, as well as featuring more companies, will help draw more dealers to Open House, he says. Forest River Ask Gary Duncan, general manager of Forest River's Park Model Division, how business is going and one gets an encouraging answer: "It's starting off better than I can remember since I joined the company in 2011." A strong U.S. economy and an improving economy in Canada – where the division does approximately 40 percent of its business – are key factors in this year's fast start, according to Duncan, whose division was one of the founding pillars when Pete Liegl established Forest River in 1996. Duncan has a mere 33 workers on his production line in a 38,000-square-foot factory in Elkhart, but he says the team routinely builds eight units a week, and the output helps make the division in the top three in every market it competes in: the Midwest, the East Coast and New England and Canada. Freight costs, which can run as high as $9,000 per unit for trucking to the West Coast, preclude profitable marketing to the West, Southwest and deep South, he notes. Nevertheless, the company has made occasional sales in Colorado, Arizona and even in Alberta, Canada. Speaking of Canada, that Canadian market has been a treasure trove since the Canadian economy rebounded, according to Duncan. His largest dealer is in Ontario. Forest River builds six brands: the top-of-the-line Quailridge, the entry-level Summit, a larger Quailridge and Summit for Canadian customers, and the America's Park Cabins Lodge series and America's Park Cabin Premium Cabins series rental cabins for KOA and other campgrounds. MSRPs on the Summit range from $35,800 to $47,100, on the Quailridge from $45,400 to $57,500 for some loft units and on the Lodge Series from $57,500 to $63,400. Duncan's dealer body is comprised of retail dealers who sell primarily park models, campground owners who serve as retail dealers selling to neighboring campgrounds and campgrounds that rent their units. Either way, most Forest River park models end up in campgrounds. Forest River's most successful dealers specialize in park models, according to Duncan. "It's a different customer than the typical RV buyer; a park model is usually the last RV they're going to buy," he notes. Duncan says many models sold as rentals don't get regis- tered, and rentals are a growing segment of the park model business. Also, because the park model segment is really a niche market (given its 4,000 annual unit production) – even Figure 2 Leading Park Model Destinations* STATES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PERCENT California . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.4 Texas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.6 Arizona . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.2 Florida . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.0 Minnesota . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.0 Michigan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.6 Pennsylvania . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.6 Canada . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.6** * Top U.S. states, plus Canada. Figures are for April 2017. The industry shipped 418 units that month – the most for any month that year. ** Ontario was top Canadian destination with a 3.6 percent share, or more than 75 percent of the entire Canadian market. Source: RVIA

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of RV PRO - June '18