Tiffin Motorhomes Debuts Compact Type A
Tiffin Motorhomes introduced the 28-foot Allegro Breeze Type A motorhome during the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, this past December. The new model is 17 feet shorter than the company’s top-of-the-line Zephyr but only 9.5 feet longer than a Chevrolet Suburban. The motorhome has a gross vehicle weight rating of 21,500 pounds.
“The Breeze is responsive to our customers, dealers, and others in the RV market,” said Bob Tiffin, CEO of the family-owned Type A manufacturer founded in 1972. “This coach is wonderfully maneuverable and easy to park, and we’ve included many of the high-end touches of our much larger diesel pushers.”
The Allegro Breeze is powered by a Navistar Maxxforce 215-horsepower diesel engine and is built on Tiffin’s own PowerGlide chassis. Introduced in 2008 on the Allegro Bus, the PowerGlide chassis quickly became a popular option, offering one-stop service for Tiffin owners at dealerships and the Tiffin service facility. The PowerGlide chassis for the Allegro Breeze is newly designed on a coach-ready platform.
“This new motorhome allows us to reach out to new markets, including younger families seeking an alternative to more costly vacation arrangements and veteran RVers who no longer want to drive, set up, or maintain a 40-foot-plus diesel pusher,” commented Tim Tiffin, general manager. He noted that the company had not established fuel economy figures yet, but the average is expected to be somewhere in the mid-teens.
According to Bob Tiffin, the allure of the single-slideout motorhome is not solely found in the performance. “The Allegro Breeze is a contemporary, exciting, high-end smaller coach. The furniture and décor are sleek. We also came up with a very attractive antique white finish for cabinets and drawer fronts. The whole package will be eye-catching at the beach, a tailgating party, or a campground.”
The Allegro Breeze is expected to begin appearing at Tiffin’s network of dealerships in the United States and Canada in March 2010. Pricing had not been established at press time.
For additional information about Tiffin products, visit http://www.tiffinmotorhomes.com/ or call (256) 356-8661.
Thetford Cofounder Celebrates 100th Birthday
RV industry pioneer and Thetford Corporation cofounder Frank Sargent celebrated his 100th birthday on September 21, 2009, in Naples, Florida.
Mr. Sargent and sons, Charles and Ron, founded and incorporated Thetford Engineering Company in 1963 after recognizing a need to make recreational life more pleasant through advancements in sanitation.
Like many early entrepreneurial efforts of the 20th century, Thetford began as a fledgling company operating out of a garage “” in this case, in Thetford Township near Flint, Michigan. Within five years, Thetford was manufacturing three products that it continues to successfully produce today: slide-blade, porcelain RV toilets; Aqua-Kem, the RV industry’s first concentrated liquid holding tank deodorant; and the Porta-Potti, the first two-piece, hand-carried portable toilet.
“Frank was very active in the design arena and was constantly coming up with new product ideas for discussion,” said Earl Sweet, who became the company’s first non-family employee in 1964 and retired from Thetford in 2002.
“He was a hardworking, self-educated gentleman who expected you to work as hard as he did,” Mr. Sweet added. “He is one man who I feel very fortunate to have known, and I consider him a friend. He was a mentor to many people, especially those of us who were involved in starting Thetford.”
Thetford was owned by members of the Sargent family until 1989. Currently it is a privately held, American-owned company with eight manufacturing facilities in four countries. Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Thetford subsidiaries include Norcold, Tecma, and Spinflo.
For more information about Thetford and its products, call (800) 543-1219 or visit http://www.thetford.com/.
Court Orders Country Coach Liquidation
Country Coach LLC, which staved off extinction earlier in 2009 by filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, was ordered to enter Chapter 7 liquidation by a federal bankruptcy judge on November 25, 2009, bringing an end to the company founded by Bob Lee in 1974.
According to published reports, Country Coach still owed $8.2 million to Wells Fargo, its primary creditor, and had missed repeated deadlines for submitting a reorganization plan in August, September, and October. Since the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in March, company CEO Jay Howard had tried to find investors for Country Coach as the company began building a limited number of coaches. However, with no financial assistance imminent, Wells Fargo returned to court to seek immediate liquidation.
The report indicated that the company’s assets included 10 luxury coaches completed and ready for sale, with a total value ranging from $5 million to $9 million, depending on whether they are sold at auction or sold retail, along with 15 partially built coaches at the Junction City, Oregon, plant.
RVIA President Delivers Positive Industry Forecast
RVIA president Richard Coon told attendees at RVIA’s 47th National RV Trade Show, December 1-3, 2009, in Louisville, Kentucky, that the RV industry is primed and ready for recovery. During the “Outlook 2010″ breakfast on the first day of the show, he emphasized the continued popularity of RVing and the recent uptick in wholesale RV shipments as evidence that the worst of times may be over for the industry.
Mr. Coon pointed to a strengthening stock market, slowing job losses, higher productivity, increasing home sales, and rising manufacturing hours as reasons for economic optimism, while noting that weak consumer confidence, continued high unemployment, and low consumer spending still present challenges.
Perhaps the most telling sign that the RV industry is on the road to recovery can be found in wholesale shipment numbers. Mr. Coon reported that 16,600 total units were shipped in October 2009, an increase of 23 percent over October 2008 shipments.
Based on these positive developments, Mr. Coon reported that University of Michigan economist Dr. Richard Curtin now forecasts wholesale shipments to finish 2009 at 159,500 units. Looking ahead to 2010, he noted that Dr. Curtin sees RV shipments climbing by 27 percent to 203,500 units, with increases spread across all vehicle types. In the motorized segment, Type A motorhome shipments are expected to rise 20 percent to 6,100 units; Type B motorhomes may hit 1,400 units on 17 percent growth; and Type C motorhomes are predicted to increase by 30 percent to 6,900 units.
Thor’s Wade Thompson Loses Battle With Cancer
Wade F.B. Thompson, cofounder, chairman, president, and CEO of Thor Industries Inc., died November 12, 2009, after a 14-year battle with five cancers. Mr. Thompson was 69 years old.
Mr. Thompson founded Thor in 1980 with Peter B. Orthwein, Thor vice-chairman, when the duo acquired Airstream, the renowned travel trailer builder. Mr. Thompson turned Airstream around from a $12 million annual loss to a $1 million profit in its first year. Thor went public on January 11, 1984, and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange on August 29, 1986, six years to the day after its founding.
Mr. Thompson said that his major business legacy was not only helping to build Thor into a leading manufacturer of recreation vehicles and buses but also the fact that the company never lost money. Even during fiscal 2009, a year of worldwide recession and a depression in the RV industry, Thor remained profitable.
Mr. Thompson devoted the last decade of his life to helping find a cure for cancer. He founded the Drive Against Prostate Cancer in 2000. The Drive, consisting of two Airstream mobile medical vehicles, has provided free prostate cancer screenings to more than 101,000 men, particularly the under-served and veterans. Screenings were provided at several FMCA international conventions as well. Mr. Thompson also was a major contributor to Zero-The Project to End Prostate Cancer, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and the Cancer Research Institute, and he actively financed clinical trials for melanoma and colon cancer in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
He is survived by Angela, his wife of 42 years; his children, Charles Thompson and Amanda Jane Thompson Riegel; his daughter-in-law, Olya Thompson, son-in-law Richard Riegel III, and six grandchildren.