Students Tour RV-Industry Factories For Manufacturing Day
RV industry manufacturers Spartan Motors Inc. and Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) were among companies that hosted students for events related to Manufacturing Day 2019. Designated as the first Friday in October, Manufacturing Day is a nationwide celebration meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.
Nearly 100 high school students visited Spartan’s Charlotte, Michigan, headquarters on October 4. They took part in a hands-on tour of the manufacturing facilities.
LCI hosted nearly 500 students from a half dozen schools from October 1 to 16. Seven Lippert plants participated in the program, which included tours and employees sharing success stories.
Second Season In Store For “The RVers”
Even before the first episode of “The RVers” aired on TV, the series was picked up for a second season.
The show, a project of FourPoints Television, has enlisted YouTube celebrities to provide an in-depth look at various facets of RV life. They include Cherie Ve Ard and Chris Dunphy of Technomadia; Peter Knize and John Sullivan of The RV Geeks; and Tom and Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move. Anthony Nalli, the show’s executive producer and director, is the host/narrator. Two previously announced participants have bowed out: Eric Jacobs of Nomadic Fanatic and J.D. of Big Truck Big RV.
The first season was scheduled to premiere November 17, 2019, on Discovery Channel. The show became available for digital download on Apple TV, Amazon Instant Video, and Google Play on November 18 (with the download expected to be free for at least a week). The show was scheduled to premiere on Wild Pursuit Network (Canada) on November 22. It will be available on PBS in January 2020 (check local listings).
The second season will begin May 16, 2020, on Discovery Channel. Well-known RVers making appearances that season will include Marc and Julie Bennett of RVLove; Brian and Melissa Pursel of RV with Tito; and Heath and Alyssa Padgett.
For more information, visit www.thervers.tv.
Roadtrek Hires CEO, Begins Production In Ontario
Roadtrek Inc. is back in business with a new CEO and production of two 2019 models under way.
Dane Found, whose RV industry experience spans more than three decades, was appointed CEO of Roadtrek in October 2019. Mr. Found now leads the North American operations of what Roadtrek officials say is “a brand-new company.”
This past July, the manufacturer of Type B motorhomes was acquired by France-based Rapido Group, which has 13 brands under its corporate umbrella, including Westfalia. The fresh start follows a tumultuous period for Cambridge, Ontario-based Roadtrek.
In 2016, the company was acquired by Germany-based Erwin Hymer Group (EHG) and became a brand of Erwin Hymer Group North America. In 2018, as Thor Industries Inc. prepared to acquire EHG, alleged financial improprieties emerged in the North American operations. Thor excluded those operations from its purchase, and Erwin Hymer North America was placed in receivership. Four production plants ceased operations, and more than 800 employees were laid off.
Since acquiring Roadtrek, Rapido Group has assembled a Roadtrek senior management team, including Karyn Torcoletti, head of marketing and communications. She said the company’s lineup includes Zion and Zion SRT, built on the Ram ProMaster chassis; and CS Adventurous, RS Adventurous, ETrek, and SS Agile, built on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis.
Production has started for the 2019 Zion and Zion SRT. Production for 2020 models will not begin until near the end of the first quarter of 2020, Ms. Torcoletti said. Production of vehicles on the Ford Transit chassis is planned for late 2020.
The company is operating out of a Tyler Street plant in Cambridge, Ontario. In late October 2019, Roadtrek had about 65 employees.
For more information, visit www.roadtrek.com.
RV Technical Institute Hosts Grand Opening
More than 250 people attended the September 23, 2019, grand opening of the RV Technical Institute in Elkhart, Indiana. The crowd included RV dealers, manufacturers, suppliers, and local business leaders.
The newly renovated 18,000-square-foot facility has seven classrooms; a student lounge; office space; and a 10,000-square-foot bay area with classrooms, space for component parts lessons, and RVs for hands-on training and assessments. The institute’s executive director is Curt Hemmeler.
In 2018, the boards of the RV Industry Association and National RV Dealers Association approved a plan to create a program that standardizes RV service technician training on a national level and addresses the shortage of trained technicians. Training will happen not only at the institute but also at a network of regional partners.
“This initiative will help close the skills gap, draw new talent into the growing RV industry, retain existing RV techs, and ultimately create a better experience for our customers, the RV consumer,” said Matt Miller, president of Newmar Corporation and board chairman of the RV Technical Institute.
Younger Buyers Help Offset Canadian RV Sales Decline
RV sales in Canada dipped in the first half of 2019, but millennials appear to be giving the industry a boost.
The Financial Post reported that Canadian retailers had sold 25,928 RVs by June 2019, a 14.3 percent decline from the same period in 2018, according to Statistical Surveys Inc.
The Canadian RV market historically has consisted of an older demographic, and while that continues to be the case, some people are seeing a trend of younger buyers.
“That barrier to entry — the purchase price of the unit — has come down over the last decade, so we’re seeing younger buyers being able to enter,” said Bruno Tombari Jr., president of the Ontario Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association and owner of Bella Vista RV Centre in Orillia, Ontario.
The 2019 North American Camping Report states that 61 percent of RVers are owners rather than renters, a 5 percent increase over previous years. The report attributes that to millennials (people born from 1981 to 1996) and Gen Xers (those born from 1965 to 1980) being eager to own RVs.