FMCA Convention Featured In RV Video Podcast
American RVer “” a new television show produced in high-definition video and stereo audio and converted into a video podcast that is then uploaded to the AmericanRVer.com Web site “” will feature FMCA’s 77th International Convention (held in Perry, Georgia, in March) as part of its May 2007 and June 2007 shows.
AmericanRVer.com offers a series of videocasts related to the RV industry. Its owners and producers are Jim and Peggy Grich, F342867, broadcast veterans and full-time RVers. Their monthly videocasts highlight the RV industry, its people, and travel destinations, and may be downloaded free of charge onto a personal computer, iPod, or other handheld audio or video device. Each show is less than a half-hour in length and is available in video or audio-only format. The shows can be downloaded at AmericanRVer.com or by visiting the online Apple iTunes store or various podcast directories on the Internet.
The TV-style production is only one part of the Web site. A travel log highlights the Griches’ most recent travel destinations. American RVer products ultimately will be available for purchase, and industry sponsorships will allow visitors to go directly to RV-related businesses.
The Griches have been in the television and video production industry for more than 30 years, formerly owning a television station and currently owning American Imaging, a video production company. In addition, Jim has been the web master for his company, Web.Lync, for the past 12 years and has produced hundreds of Web sites for businesses.
The Back Bay Café at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort in Newport Beach, California, is going to the dogs “” literally. The waterfront eatery has a special dog-friendly seating area where guests may dine in the company of their four-legged friends. The dedicated open-air space is situated along the outer perimeter of the restaurant and seats 20. Once the dogs and their guardians are seated and the party has placed their order, servers arrive with bowls of fresh water and a variety of dog treats for the pets to enjoy.
“We decided to open our dog-friendly dining area in response to numerous requests from our visitors who wished to have their pets accompany them while they dine,” said Andrew Theodorou, the resort’s vice president and general manager. He indicated that the new area has been quite popular.
Newport Dunes is a 100-acre waterfront resort with a 386-site state-of-the-art RV park, a 450-slip marina, and a private waveless beach and playground that has been enjoyed by families since 1958. For more information, call (949) 729-3863 or visit www.newportdunes.com.
Monaco And International Truck Sign Agreement To Manufacture Chassis
Monaco Coach Corporation, based in Coburg, Oregon, announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to form a joint venture with International Truck and Engine Corporation, a subsidiary of Navistar International Corporation, to manufacture rear-engine diesel motorhome chassis.
Under the joint venture agreement, Monaco Coach Corporation and International Truck will own 49 percent and 51 percent, respectively, of the newly formed company called Custom Chassis Products LLC. Initial plans call for the operation to manufacture more than 5,000 diesel chassis in the first year.
The transaction was finalized in March, and production was expected to begin immediately. Monaco Coach Corporation will lease its 210,000-square-foot Roadmaster chassis plant, located in Elkhart, Indiana, to the joint venture.
International Truck and Engine Corporation also owns Workhorse Custom Chassis, which it acquired in 2005.
Online Campground Reservations
Consumers are turning to the Internet more than ever to book outdoor travel reservations, according to Deb Kohls, vice president of business development at Friend Communications. Ms. Kohls reported that the RV parks and campgrounds using Friend Communications’ ReservationFriend booking agent are seeing a 100 percent growth in online reservations via the system compared to this time last year. The year 2006 resulted in a 128 percent increase over 2005.
“Last year was a banner year for online reservations,” Ms. Kohls said. “We have long known that consumers appreciate the ability to make reservations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the continual increase in ReservationFriend bookings proves just that.”
More than 750 campgrounds use the ReservationFriend system for connecting with online travelers. FMCA commercial member campgrounds that participate in the ReservationFriend program are identified on FMCA’s online Business Directory by a yellow “Reserve Online Now” banner. Visitors also can click the “Book Your Campground Reservations” button on the FMCA.com home page to use the online reservation service.
Born Free To Offer Full-Body Paint
Born Free Motorcoach, based in Humboldt, Iowa, announced that it will now offer full-body paint on all Born Free motorhome models.
“We have always been known for selling coaches in any color, as long as they were white,” joked Phil Overby, vice president of sales and marketing for Born Free Motorcoach and Dodgen Industries. “But we have had numerous customers who have asked for body paint. We hope that this new option will fill that void.”
Mr. Overby said Born Free motorhomes still will be available in white, since the body paint will be an option that is added at the time the coach is built.
For more information about Born Free motorhomes, call (800) 247-1835 or visit www.bornfreemotorcoach.com.
Second Edition Of Work Camping Book Available
Support Your RV Lifestyle work camping book
The second edition of Jaimie Hall’s Support Your RV Lifestyle ($19.95, Pine Country Publishing) is now available with even more information for folks who support their RV lifestyle by working while they travel.
The 400-page book examines all aspects of making a living on the road and provides advice on finding the right job “” with the proper compensation “” to make the experience worthwhile. Key topics include figuring how much money you need to make to support your lifestyle; how to find jobs, volunteer experiences, and ideas for your own business; how to write an RV resume and prepare for an interview and compensation negotiation; and how to handle issues that face full-time RVers, such as health insurance, income taxes, etc.
New to this edition are additional ideas for earning money on the road; the latest technology for keeping in contact and finding job openings; resources for learning about campground reservation systems; how to use the Awesome Applicants searchable database at www.workamper.com; and more than three dozen new job resources.
The book is available from online booksellers; by visiting www.rvhometown.com; by calling (928) 607-3181; or by mailing a check for $21.95 to Pine Country Publishing, 127 Rainbow Drive, #2780, Livingston, TX 77399-1027. For an additional $10, a companion CD with more articles and a resource list with clickable links is available.
Silver Crown Pushing Into Motorhome Market
Silver Crown Coach, a subsidiary of Supreme Corporation, recently celebrated its first anniversary since it was formed following the purchase of Pony Xpress in March 2006.
Silver Crown produces four type C models: the Pony Xpress Motorhome, Motorhome Garage, and Toterhome, as well as the Silver Crown “S” Series. They also manufacture “toy” trailers that are designed to be pulled behind these coaches.
The company, which was initially based in a 7,000-square-foot facility in Goshen, Indiana, has since moved to a larger site in White Pigeon, Michigan, just north of the Indiana border. The new facility, which became fully operational in July 2006, includes a 33,000-square-foot main building, two other 6,000-square-foot buildings, and a total of 11 acres of property to accommodate future growth.
Chris Miller, general manager of Silver Crown, estimates that the company will produce 150 motorhomes and 30 trailers this year. He said that 25 percent of the motorhome production will come from Silver Crown’s “S” Series luxury line. These motorhomes, which are available in 44-foot and 45-foot floor plans, include amenities such as granite countertops; Dutch-made oak, cherry, or maple cabinetry; electric or hydraulic slideouts; indirect light shades; Bose stereo systems; and under-tile heated floors.
The Pony Xpress line includes models for folks who like to play. The Motorhome Garage features a large area in the rear for hauling motorcycles, an ATV, or a golf cart, while the Toterhome provides adequate living area and a semi-hitch in the rear for pulling larger trailers. The Motorhome model includes the same qualities as the other two, but in a more standard type C layout.
During its first year the company has shown its line at numerous RV shows and was represented at FMCA’s recent convention in Perry, Georgia.
For more information, contact Silver Crown at (866) 497-0339 or visit www.silvercrowncoach.com
Mandalay Introduces First Full-Wall-Slideout Model
Mandalay Luxury Division, based in Elkhart, Indiana, recently introduced the Presidio 39F motorhome, the company’s first model with a full-wall-slideout floor plan. The 39F includes a 29-foot full-wall slideout on the driver’s side of the coach.
The Presidio 39F is built on a Freightliner XC raised-rail diesel chassis with a 330-horsepower Mercedes-Benz MBE 926 engine and an Allison 3000 MH six-speed automatic transmission. The motorhome has a gross vehicle weight rating of 32,000 pounds and includes a hitch receiver with a six-point connector that is rated at 10,000 pounds.
In addition to the full-wall slideout on the driver’s side, the floor plan includes kitchen and bedroom slideouts on the curb side. The bedroom and hallway area can be completely closed off from the rest of the motorhome and includes a queen-size bed, a vanity, two large wardrobe closets, and a full-size sofa. The spacious bathroom has entry doors from both the bedroom and hallway.
Some of the standard features include a round, freestanding dinette; Flexsteel Infiniss Leather driver and passenger seats; a General Electric 1.7-cubic-foot stainless-steel microwave oven; front and rear furnaces; an 84-inch ceiling height; solid-surface countertops; and a 100-gallon fuel tank.
Four interior décor packages are available, with a choice of standard oak or optional walnut or cherry cabinetry. The exterior comes with a standard partial paint and vinyl graphics package or with a full-body paint option.
For more information about the Presidio 39F or other Mandalay products, call (866) 919-4444 or visit www.mandalaycoach.com.
Guide To Florida’s Fairways
Travel writer Alan K. Moore has translated his passion for golf into a book titled Florida’s Fairways: 60 Alluring And Affordable Golf Courses From The Panhandle To The Keys ($19.95, University Press of Florida). The guide spotlights 60 golf venues in the Sunshine State, including public courses, semiprivate clubs that welcome daily-fee players, and resorts.
The book explores the character of each course — from its architect, design, and history to an analysis of each hole, including advice on the drive and approach shots, and observations regarding hazards and putting surfaces. It is arranged in four geographical sections, with maps showing course locations and detailed directions from the nearest interstates or other major roads. Mr. Moore also includes current greens fees, phone numbers, and Web sites for the courses.
As a bonus, he directs golfers to places of history “” such as the course where Johnny Weissmuller was a lifeguard.
The book is available via local and online booksellers or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 226-3822.
Underground RV Storage
Hunt Midwest SubTropolis has announced the opening of a storage facility for RVs located in SubTropolis, a 1,200-acre subterranean industrial park situated approximately 10 minutes from Kansas City, Missouri’s central business district and 20 minutes from Kansas City International Airport. The complex is home to more than 50 local, national, and international businesses.
SubTropolis Storage is a 280,000-square-foot facility with accessibility to on-site wash and dump stations, valet parking, and an on-site safety department for security 24/7.
SubTropolis, touted as the largest underground business complex in the world, was created through the mining of a 270-million-year-old limestone deposit. In the mining process, limestone was removed by the room and pillar method, leaving 25-foot-square pillars that are on 65-foot centers and 40 feet apart. The complex is said to be completely dry, brightly lit, and to include 16-foot ceilings and miles of wide, paved streets. All entrances are at street level. SubTropolis has nearly 5 million square feet of leasable space.
For more information about SubTropolis Storage, call (816) 455-6500 or visit www.subtropolis.biz.
Dometic Acquires Waeco Group
Dometic, a Swedish company with a long history of providing comfort products to the RV industry, has acquired the Germany-based Waeco Group. Dometic supplies refrigerators, air conditioners, awnings, kitchen equipment, doors, windows, sanitation systems, and other products to manufacturers of recreation vehicles as well as large pleasure boats. The company has approximately 20 production facilities around the world.
Waeco’s products include portable cooling boxes for leisure applications, RV refrigerators and air conditioners, and a wide range of electronic accessories, among other items. The company has a well-established catalog business and a large network of retailers.
New Federal Lands Pass Available
In January 2007, the “America the Beautiful “” National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass” was introduced, replacing the Golden Eagle, Golden Age, and Golden Access passports as well as the National Parks Pass. This new interagency recreation pass, which was authorized by the U.S. Congress in 2004, combines the benefits of existing recreation passes from five federal agencies into one comprehensive pass that will benefit visitors to national public lands.
The new pass covers recreation opportunities on public lands managed by four Department of the Interior agencies “” the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation “” and by the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service. While access to most public lands remains free, this pass applies to those locations that currently have entrance or standard amenity fees.
Sales of the new pass began in January 2007 and are available at federal recreation sites that charge entrance and standard amenity fees; through government Internet sites; and through select third-party vendors. Existing Golden Eagle, Golden Age, and Golden Access Passports, as well as the National Parks Pass passes, will remain valid until expired, lost, or stolen.
Four different passes in the new interagency program are available. They include a new annual interagency pass that costs $80 and offers unlimited coverage of entrance and standard amenity recreation fees for a specific period of time, typically a year, beginning from the date of first use; a $10 lifetime senior pass for U.S. citizens age 62 and up; a free lifetime access pass for citizens with permanent disabilities; and a new, free annual volunteer pass for volunteers acquiring 500 hours of service on a cumulative basis.
The new interagency pass is good at vehicle-based entry sites for all occupants in a single, noncommercial vehicle. At walk-up sites, the pass is good for the pass holder and three adults (total of four adults). There is no charge for children under 16.
Officials noted that 100 percent of the revenue derived from passes sold at federal recreation sites will directly benefit the selling agency, and no less than 80 percent of the revenue will remain at the site where the pass was sold.
For more information, phone (888) 275-8747, option 1; or visit http://store.usgs.gov/pass. The annual pass is available for sale through the USGS store and through the government’s federal lands recreation Web portal at www.recreation.gov.
Lazydays Founder Announces Retirement
Don Wallace, founder and chairman of Lazydays RV SuperCenter in Seffner, Florida, has announced that he will retire from the company effective August 2, 2007. Mr. Wallace built Lazydays into the largest single-site RV dealership in the world, with more than 700 employees and $800 million in annual sales. His retirement date coincides with the 31st anniversary of the company, which he founded along with his father, H.K.; brother, Ron; mother, Edith; and sister, Connie, in 1976. Their initial investment was $500 cash and two travel trailers on a small dirt lot in Tampa, Florida.
Today Lazydays is located along the Interstate 4 corridor near Tampa on more than 126 acres with an 86,600-square-foot main building; 1,200 RV display sites; 273 service bays; a 300-site RV park with clubhouse; and the CrownClub, a separate RV destination for owners of luxury motorhomes. The site also includes a Camping World store, a Cracker Barrel restaurant, and a Flying J RV Travel Plaza.
Mr. Wallace has been the driving force behind the company’s extraordinary growth and success. He shared the company’s financial success through an employee stock ownership program (ESOP). His countless contributions to charities and nonprofit organizations have inspired Lazydays employees to launch their own philanthropic foundation, which is funded through payroll deductions.
“What most defines Don’s extraordinary career is his passion for customer service, tireless drive to do things perfectly, and his concern and caring for all Lazydays employees,” said John Horton, Lazydays CEO. “Everything we do each day is focused on the customer-centered philosophies that Don has instilled and reinforced over the past 30 years.”
Mr. Wallace and his wife, Erika, have two children, Donnie and Alexa. “What prompted my decision to retire more than anything else was when Erika said to me, “˜Honey, this means we can take our motorhome and travel all summer with our kids,'” Mr. Wallace said.
Kid-Friendly Coaches From Winnebago
For 2007, Winnebago Industries has added bunk beds to several of its models, which is proving to be a hit among families “” especially children. The Winnebago Sightseer and Itasca Sunova 35J type A motorhomes feature 30-inch-by-73-inch bunk beds in the back of these 35-foot models. To add to the fun, options include two 7-inch LCD DVD players with headphones and a remote control that can be flipped down for use. A drawer under the bunk beds provides storage for bedding and clothing. The Sightseer and Sunova 35J feature a king bed in the rear and a dinette and sofa in the front that provide additional sleeping space.
Bunk beds also are available in the 2007 Winnebago View and Itasca Navion 23B. The bottom bunk flips up to expose large pass-through storage below. Opposing sofas are available up front.
For more information, contact Winnebago Industries at (641) 585-3535 or visit www.winnebagoind.com.