By Jeff Jefcoat, F118344
Two issues regarding motorhome ownership that I believe need to be addressed are the quality of motorhomes at the time of delivery, and service after the sale. You may be thinking, “Jeff, you put your foot in it this time.” After all, who is responsible for the products and the quality of the units available to us today? The manufacturer? I don’t think so. Isn’t it you and I, the purchasers?
Let’s look back just 10 years. Jean and I bought a new coach in 1992. Our first diesel pusher, it featured a 190-horsepower engine, and, boy, were we happy to have the noise in the rear and the open space up front. But it only took one trip over the Bullhorn Mountains at 12 miles per hour for me to see a real need for a bigger engine. And after our first long trip (three months), Jean saw a real need for a bigger coach, too.
In 1995 we traded for a 40-foot motorhome with 300 horses. In 1997 we bought a 40-foot unit with 475 horses. Isn’t that pattern rather typical? The manufacturers were pushed to get these larger coaches with larger engines off the production line, and we gobbled them up in unprecedented demand.
Where are we today? Even as the economy has declined, we are asking and actively seeking a level of quality in motorhomes at the time of delivery that is equal to that of the vehicles produced by the automotive industry today.
This past November, as we participated in the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, we had the opportunity to visit with chief executive officers, chief operating officers, and presidents of several major motorhome manufacturers. As has been the trend in many segments of American business, consolidation has taken place in rampant form in the RV industry. The two motorhome manufacturers with the largest market share today are Monaco Coach Corporation and Fleetwood Industries. In addition to the Monaco line, Monaco owns the Beaver, Holiday Rambler, and Safari lines. Fleetwood manufactures its own brands under various names. It is estimated that these two companies produce more than 50 percent of the motorhomes in America today.
As we were visiting with the company officers, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to detect that their first priority is to survive the economic slump we are in today. A close second priority (in conjunction with the recovery, I hope) is this issue of quality. One CEO stated that quality was the top priority he had assigned to the president of his company.
At the most recent meeting of the FMCA Commercial Council, the subject of quality was discussed. A special committee that includes a coach manufacturer, component suppliers, and others was appointed to review the issue of quality in the motorhome industry.
One FMCA member’s take on this issue was published in the December 2001 “Readers’ Forum” column (“Motorhome Quality Should Come Out-Of-The-Box,” page 179). In his letter, Ron Ward, F259635, wrote, “When will one of the manufacturers step up to the level of quality and reliability that we now expect with automobiles?”
Our generation has exploited this enviable lifestyle and fashioned the industry as it is today. We are now saying we need better quality at the time of delivery, and greatly improved service after the sale. The future of the industry is in the hands of the long-talked-about baby boomers. Will they tolerate poor levels of quality and service? I doubt it, don’t you?
Don’t Miss FMCA’s “Southern Sensation”
The Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter in Perry is nothing less than a “sensational” place to hold an FMCA convention. FMCA will be making its third trip to Perry this month when the association hosts its 27th annual winter international convention — “Southern Sensation” — March 19, 20, and 21. If you haven’t already made plans to attend but will be traveling along Interstate 75 at the time, we invite you to stop by!
Those who are planning to attend will be interested in several items in this month’s issue of the magazine. Beginning on page 104 are several articles that will help you to plan interesting side trips to enjoy either before or after the convention in Perry. A sneak peek at the many motorhomes and related components, accessories, and home products you can expect to view during the convention appears starting on page 132. And a preview of the seminar slate begins on page 126.
Also in this issue of the magazine is an article regarding Habitat For Humanity and the involvement of RVers in the activities of this Georgia-based ecumenical Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing worldwide. This article begins on page 88. In addition, FMCA treasurer Connie Pool, F140306, and her husband, Corbett, have written about their involvement in the FMCA Chapter: Habitat For Humanity in this month’s “Executive Notes” column, which starts on page 10.
Habitat For Humanity has been designated the official charity for the Perry, Georgia, convention. Donations can be made at the Habitat booth located in the FMCA Information Center beginning Monday, March 18, or by mailing a check to: HFHI, RV Care-A-Vanners/FMCA, P.O. Box 369, Americus, GA 31709. Make checks payable to Habitat For Humanity International. For your contribution to be credited to FMCA, please place “Event Code GV2601” on the memo line of the check.