Tiffin Motorhomes Welcomes Zephyr Back To 2005 Lineup
Tiffin Motorhomes, C1717, based in Red Bay, Alabama, announced that its top-of-the-line motorhome, the Zephyr, returns to the company’s motorhome lineup for 2005 after a two-year hiatus.
The upscale Zephyr includes new side-vision cameras and accommodations for king-size beds and full-size sofas. The 45-foot coach includes a 500-horsepower engine, quad slideouts, a 32-inch LCD TV, solid-surface countertops in the galley, and three air-conditioning units. The Zephyr also features keyless entry and compartment doors, Hydro-Hot heating and water-heating systems, OnStar vehicle assistance, seamless front and rear caps, a 10,000-watt generator, and many other amenities.
General manager Tim Tiffin said that demand for the Zephyr has been significant, particularly from past customers, but that the company will take a slow, methodical approach to its reintroduction, building just 50 to 75 units a year.
Tiffin’s other models “” Allegro, Allegro Bay, Allegro Bus, and Phaeton “” feature elegant and bold designer interiors, additional floor plans, and many new options, including full-body paint, for 2005.
For the first time in its 32-year history, the manufacturer has looked to a consultant for interior design guidance.
“In the past, Tiffin interiors have been very understated with no bold statements,” explained Mr. Tiffin. “Our theory was that our customers would use their accessories to dress things up. We turned to an interior design consultant who has worked with a number of other leading manufacturers in the recreational vehicle industry. Our new interiors are rich, elegant, fantastic, and different, but they still reflect the good taste that we have always enjoyed.”
In the past two years Tiffin has added 20,000 square feet to its main production plant in Red Bay, requiring 250 to 300 more employees. With the acquisition of an additional manufacturing facility in Belmont, Mississippi, approximately seven miles from Red Bay, Tiffin also has significantly expanded its full-body painting capacity and nearly doubled its total square footage. Full-body paint is currently offered on the company’s Zephyr, Allegro Bus, Phaeton, and Allegro Bay models.
The roll-off of the 2005 line is not the end of changes on Tiffin models for the coming year, however. Mr. Tiffin said that by the end of 2004 the company will likely come out with four more floor plans, followed by another two or three in the first half of 2005. He also indicated that the company will begin to develop lower-end diesel and gasoline models.
Coachmen RV Helps Indianapolis Colts Reach Their Fans
The Indianapolis Colts kicked off their first “Blue Nation Tour” this past June, traveling the state of Indiana in a Coachmen Mirada motorhome to promote the team and its proud Hoosier history. It was the first such tour for the National Football League team that moved to Indianapolis in 1984.
The moving pep rally covered nearly 1,000 miles during its four-day tour, reaching thousands of fans in 10 towns. The tour was so successful that the Colts plan to continue using the motorhome through the end of the season at all Colts home games as well as at area Friday night high school football games. The motorhome is easy for fans to spot “” it’s painted in Colts blue with an action picture of quarterback Peyton Manning, who was the NFL’s co-player of the year last season.
During the tour fans were invited inside the motorhome to mingle with the Colts players and cheerleaders. They also were treated to giveaways and had the opportunity to buy tickets and Colts merchandise. Typically, four players made the tour at a time.
The Mirada also served as a locker room of sorts for two important team members: the mascots. The motorhome offered plenty of room for getting into costume and cooling off between appearances.
Winnebago Industries Breaks Ground For New Ship-Out Building
Winnebago Industries Inc., C93, recently broke ground for its new state-of-the-art ship-out facility at the company’s headquarters in Forest City, Iowa.
The $2.3 million, 49,000-square-foot facility will include 25 stations for predelivery inspections of the company’s Winnebago, Itasca, and Rialta brand motorhomes shipped from Forest City, as well as a water test booth, an undercoating bay, and alignment and road test stations. According to company officials, consolidating these processes in the new facility will increase efficiency and facilitate material flow. The new ship-out facility will be built near the corridor used for shipping motorhomes to CDI for full-body paint and to Bennett Motor Express for final delivery to dealers.
RV Alliance America Expands Coverage, Will Change Name
RV Alliance America (RVAA), C95, a long-standing nationwide provider of specialty-RV insurance, now offers insurance for boats, motorcycles, snowmobiles, personal watercraft, ATVs, and collector cars, in addition to its insurance products for motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, bus conversions, campers, medium-duty trucks, autos, and pickup trucks. RVAA’s expansion allows the company to offer recreation enthusiasts even more insurance options.
As part of that evolution of service, RVAA, an Aon company, will change its name to Aon Recreation Insurance in March 2005.
Susan Corscadden, managing director of the company, explained the rationale behind the name change. “Our customer base has developed over time into recreation enthusiasts of all kinds, and while we’ve offered boat and motorcycle coverage for years, we need a name that truly reflects our product offering,” she said.
In addition to recreation vehicle coverage, RV Alliance America also offers stand-alone umbrella liability coverage, which protects policyholders’ assets with liability coverage that extends beyond the basic coverage of homeowners’ or vehicle insurance. The company also offers ME plus, a medical evacuation plan that covers travelers for unexpected medical expenses when they have a medical emergency.
Temperatures Fall, But RV Travel Stays Hot
The most recent “Campfire Canvass” survey “” conducted by Robert Hitlin Research Associates of Reston, Virginia, for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) “” revealed that 95 percent of RV owners expected to travel more or about the same this autumn and winter as compared with last year.
Survey respondents anticipated traveling an average of 29 days during the fall/winter “” three days more than they did during this period last year “” despite the rise in fuel prices. They also planned to log approximately 1,700 miles, nearly 70 more than last year.
Some of the most common reasons cited by respondents for spending more days RVing this fall/winter included enjoying nature (62 percent), taking mini vacations (58 percent), traveling at their own pace (51 percent), escaping stress (45 percent), and spending time with family (34 percent). Nine out of 10 respondents said that they believed owning an RV allows them to take more mini vacations.
The overwhelming favorite RVing activity cited was camping (80 percent), followed by fishing (49 percent), hiking (42 percent), attending craft and fall festivals (42 percent), shopping (40 percent), and viewing foliage (36 percent).
The survey showed that RVing families are better able to enjoy the benefits of outdoor activities that lead to a fit lifestyle. Hiking and walking were two of the most popular RVing activities mentioned, with more than 75 percent of respondents saying that they are more physically active on RV trips than when they are at home.
Ninety-four percent of respondents indicated that RVing helps their families maintain a healthier lifestyle. Reasons cited most often included the ability to relax and relieve stress (85 percent), control their own schedule (75 percent), and cook/eat their own food (74 percent).
Loyal Customers Travel From North Pole To Florida For RV Purchase
Anthony and Lorraine Martin of North Pole, Alaska, recently traveled 3,760 miles to purchase an RV from Lazydays RV SuperCenter, C1702, which is located near Tampa, Florida.
According to company officials, Lazydays continues to attract customers from around the world, no matter how far the distance. The company has RV customers from all 50 states, with nearly half of them coming from outside the state of the Florida.
Once the Martins picked up their Fleetwood Bounder at Lazydays shortly after Thanksgiving, they planned to embark on a fun-filled family vacation packed with plenty of sight-seeing stops along the way as they traveled back to their home in Alaska.
Blue Bird, Prevost Undergo Restructuring
In October 2004 Blue Bird Corporation, C4, announced the completion of a financial restructuring plan of its parent company, Henlys Group plc, and it subsidiary companies, including Blue Bird Corporation. The restructuring establishes Blue Bird Corporation as the sole operating subsidiary of a newly formed U.S.-based holding company (Peach County Holding Inc.) principally owned by Volvo Group and members of Henlys’ banking syndicate.
After the restructuring, 42.5 percent of the company is owned by Volvo Group, 42.5 percent by members of the Henlys’ banking syndicate, and the balance is held by Blue Bird management and the trustee of the Henlys Group pension plan.
As part of the restructuring, Volvo Bus Corporation, a division of the Volvo Group, acquired sole ownership of Prevost Car Inc., C632, which previously was held through a 50-50 joint venture between Henlys Group plc and Volvo Bus.
Blue Bird Corporation is a leading manufacturer of school buses in North America and also produces commercial buses, luxury coaches, and luxury motorhomes. It has production facilities in Fort Valley, Georgia; Lafayette, Georgia; and Brantford, Ontario, Canada, and employs approximately 1,500 people.
Prevost Car Inc. is a leading North American manufacturer of intercity touring coaches and bus shells for high-end motorhome and specialty conversions. Prevost’s major manufacturing facilities are based in Sainte-Claire, Quebec, Canada.
Winnebago Industries, Freightliner Custom Chassis Sign Exclusivity Agreement
Winnebago Industries, C93, based in Forest City, Iowa, announced at its Dealer Days event this past July that the company has signed a new three-year exclusivity agreement with Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation, C1905, of Gaffney, South Carolina. This new agreement calls for all Winnebago Industries’ diesel-pusher motorhomes to be built on Freightliner chassis. This includes all Winnebago Journey and Vectra models and Itasca Meridian and Horizon models.
The Evolution chassis, which was developed by Freightliner in conjunction with Winnebago Industries, is used exclusively on the Vectra and Horizon models. The Evolution features a one-of-a-kind formed-rail design for motorhomes, which is said to result in a lighter, stiffer chassis than typical raised-rail designs, as well as increased midsection storage. The Evolution is equipped with either a Caterpillar C7 350-horsepower engine or a Cummins ISL 400-horsepower engine and ZF independent front suspension, and it features a 56-degree wheel cut.
In 2004 Winnebago Industries reportedly will be the largest single user of Freightliner chassis in the industry. The company’s share of the diesel-pusher motorhome market has grown from 8.7 percent in July 2003 to 14.6 percent through July 2004, according to a July 2004 report by industry researchers Statistical Surveys.
San Francisco 49ers Receive A New Roadtrek Community Cruiser
Home & Park Motorhomes, C3790, based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, delivered to the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League a new 2004 Roadtrek 190-Versatile type B motorhome featuring a team graphics package. This Roadtrek, based on the 3500 Chevrolet Express van, is specially outfitted with the team’s colors and logo. Also featured are the logos of the NFL, the 49ers Foundation for Community Outreach, the 49ers Gold Rush Cheerleaders, team sponsor Gatorade, and a full-size image of members of the 49er offensive line in action.
Throughout the 2004 football season, the San Francisco 49ers Roadtrek Community Cruiser has been a regular sight in San Francisco and the surrounding area at charity events, tailgating activities, and team promotions.
Mandalay Luxury Division Building New Facility
Mandalay Luxury Division, a division of Thor Industries, C847, began construction of a new production facility in September 2004. The 190,000-square-foot building will be located adjacent to the Four Winds International complex in Elkhart, Indiana.
Carter Yoder, national sales manager for Mandalay, said a larger production facility was necessary due to increased Mandalay motorhome sales as well as the introduction of the new Presidio type A diesel motorhome. “This expansion will allow the company to meet the increased demand much more efficiently,” he noted.
In the spring of 2004 the company purchased a 21-acre plot of land to accommodate future growth and expansion. The new facility, which is expected to begin operation in April 2005, will contain all production-line functions for both the Mandalay and Presidio models.
Thousand Trails Expands With Purchase Of Ponderosa RV Resort
Thousand Trails Inc., C3338, announced in late September that it has purchased the Ponderosa RV Resort in Lotus, California. This campground, located in a rural community in the heart of California’s Gold Country, offers more than 150 sites along a 1/2-mile stretch of American River frontage.
In addition to a swimming beach, several places along the river enable rafters and kayakers to launch their watercraft. Many riverside campsites allow anglers to cast a line right outside their RV. A swimming pool, a clubhouse with recreation hall, a general store, and a café also are provided.
Local attractions include surrounding farms, orchards, and vineyards, as well as several historical sites dedicated to the Gold Rush era. Historic downtown Placerville is a short drive away on State Route 49 and offers a variety of restaurants, specialty shops, and antique vendors. Several family-owned, award-winning vineyards clustered in nearby Fair Play enable visitors to explore a range of quality wines in a day’s time.
The Ponderosa RV Resort will be a NACO preserve, opening access to NACO members as well as to Thousand Trails and Leisure Time members. The campground is now open.
For more information, call (800) 205-0606 or visit www.thousandtrails.com.