Brady Resigns as President of Damon
Brian Brady has resigned as president of Damon
Corporation, in what the company describes as an amicable departure. The resignation
coincided with Damon's acquisition of Brady's equity interest in the corporation. Don
Pletcher, who also serves as chairman and CEO of Damon, has assumed the title of
Pletcher said, "I wish to express my sincere
appreciation for the many contributions Brian has made to the growth of Damon Corporation
and wish him well in his future endeavors. His dedication, loyalty, and counsel will be
Brady and Pletcher had led the company for the past 10
years following their acquisition of Damon from Georgie Boy Manufacturing, Inc., founder
Dan George. Since that time Damon has grown considerably and currently employs over 800
employees at their Elkhart and Nappanee, IN, production facilities. In 1997, Damon
reported annual sales over $170 million.
"My first and most important task in my new position
as president will be to insure that all Damon employees remain committed to building value
in the Damon franchise by partnering with our customers and building strong
relationships," Pletcher said. "It is my sincere desire that Damon become as
good as I know it can be while providing our customers with products and services that are
best-in-class in those markets in which we choose to compete."
Lazy Days Tops $300 Million in Sales
Lazy Days RV SuperCenter continues it's phenomenal growth
trend by posting a year-end total exceeding $300 million in overall sales with 5,065
motorized and towable units sold.
Don Wallace, Lazy Days president and founder, states;
"I believe the number one reason for our tremendous growth is based on Lazy Days'
total commitment to customer service. Understanding the needs of your customers and
satisfying those needs is a key element in the growth of any business. Moving into our
new, state-of-the-art dealership gives us the opportunity to provide a much higher level
of customer service and obviously contributed to this new industry sales record."
National RV Has Record Year in 1997
National RV Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: NRVH), announced
record results of operations for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 1997.
Net sales for the fourth quarter of 1997 nearly doubled
to $81.4 million from $42.1 million for the fourth quarter of 1996. Net income for the
fourth quarter of 1997 more than tripled to $4.9 million, or $0.67 per diluted share, from
$1.6 million, or $0.27, for the fourth quarter of 1996.
Net sales for the year ended December 31, 1997 increased
108.6% to $286.0 million from $137.1 million last year. Net income for the year ended
December 31, 1997 increased 119.6% to $14.5 million, or $2.09 per diluted share, from $6.6
million, or $1.26, last year.
Coachmen Sets All-Time Record Sales
Coachmen Industries (NYSE: COA) reported all-time record
sales for the year ending December 31, 1997. Total sales for the year were $661,591,185,
an increase of 9% over 1996's sales of $606,474,128. A dramatic increase in RV sales along
with a healthy rise in sales from the company's Housing Group propelled the new sales
record. RV sales jumped 19% while the Housing Group's sales rose nine percent. Sales for
the fourth quarter were also a record. Sales of $159,231,783 were up 16% over sales from
the same period last year.
Net income for the fourth quarter was $6,320,709. The
company now has achieved 24 consecutive profitable quarters. The company's previous
all-time record for consecutive profitable quarters was seventeen. Net income for the year
Chairman and CEO Claire C. Skinner said, "Our RV
sales were particularly strong in the third and fourth quarters, and we believe those
strong sales reflect the popularity of the company's new 1998 model offerings. Our newly
designed RVs are continuing to gain market share in all product categories."
Ocean Lakes Family Campground Named
"RV Park of the Year" by ARVC
The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds
(ARVC) has named Ocean Lakes Family Campground (Myrtle Beach, SC) "RV Park of the
Year" in the organization's Mega-Park category. ARVC chooses winners in four RV park
size categories. These awards are based on national directory ratings, operations
excellence, community service, association involvement, park promotions, management skills
and training techniques. Entries are judged by impartial industry professionals.
Record Third-Quarter SalesFleetwood
Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE:FLE) announced
preliminary sales for its third quarter and nine months ended January 25, 1998.
Consolidated sales for the third quarter were a record
$709 million, 13% ahead of last year's $628.0 million. The higher third quarter volume
reflects improved sales of both manufactured housing and recreational vehicles. For the
first nine months of fiscal 1998, sales rose 4% to $2.21 billion compared to $2.13 billion
for the similar period last year.
RV sales were up 17% to about $345 million, an all-time
high for the January quarter, compared to last year's $293.7 million, as all RV segments
posted record third quarter sales. Motorhome revenues of approximately $211 million were
up 20% from last year's third quarter, primarily due to higher sales of upscale Class A
products. Travel trailer sales rose 13% to $108 million, and folding trailers increased
19% to about $26 million.
RV sales for the first nine months of fiscal 1998 rose 6%
to approximately $1.06 billion compared to $1.0 billion a year ago. Motor home sales
increased 3% to a record $634 million. Travel trailer sales were up 8% to about $350
million and folding trailers rose a strong 29% to a record $78 million.
Fleetwood President, Nelson W. Potter, said, "RV
sales in this winter quarter have been more robust than normal, which reflects both a
healthy market environment and the strong customer appeal of Fleetwood products."
The company's manufactured housing group generated record
third quarter sales of approximately $354 million, which was 9% ahead of last year's
$324.4 million. For the first nine months of fiscal 1998, housing sales improved about 2%
to a record $1.11 billion compared to $1.09 billion for last year's similar period.
The company's supply group contributed third quarter
revenues of over $10 million compared to $9.8 million a year ago. Nine-month revenues were
about $33 million versus $40.5 million for the comparable period last year.
Thor completes Champion Acquisition
Thor Industries Inc. said in February it had completed
the $11 million cash acquisition of Champion Motor Coach Inc, a subsidiary of Champion
Thor said Champion Motor Coach is profitable and is the
third largest manufacturer of mid-size buses, with sales of about $60 million.
John"Korky" Korleski Passes
RV News has learned that John L. "Korky"
Korleski, of Arlington, TX, passed away in January. Korleski's death was
attributed to Leukemia.
Known as Korky to his friends and associates, he was born
October 23, 1920, in Emmetsburg, IA, and graduated with an engineering degree from Parks
Air College in St. Louis. His contributions to the RV and mobile home industry were many,
including designing and installing the first bathroom for a mobile home. He was employed
by Victor Coaches of Bristol, Indiana, where he was instrumental in manufacturing and
design of possibly the first production line motorhomes. King Farouk, of Egypt, was so
impressed he had Victor Coaches and Korky design and manufacture a motorhome for him.
Korky opened Southwest Mobile Homes in East Texas in the
mid 1950's, but by the early 1660's his desire to improve mobile homes nationally, and
help reduce weight in RV's stirred him to start Kor-Wall Industries. He was the innovator
of honeycomb core and plastic foam walls and floor panel systems for the mobile home,
recreational vehicle, and conventional housing Industries. In 1984 Korky retired as
president of Kor-Wall.
Seven Pioneers Selected to Hall of Fame
The board of directors of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation
has announced the 1998 class of honorees for the RV/MH Hall of Fame. Those selected by the
national review committee and approved by the Foundation's Board are:
Derrick Crandall - ARC, Washington D.C., president
and CEO of American Recreation Coali-tion since 1981, member of President's Commis-sion on
Americans Outdoors 85 - 87, executive vp of the Recreation Roundtable (a group of CEO's of
major recreation related companies), and past vice chairman of the American Society of
Myron Curtis - Curtis Trailers, Portland, OR, RV
Retailer since 1948, designed and built the Curtis Cruiser trailer in the 1950s, began
organizing shows on the west coast in 1958, by 1969 had five RV rental and sales
locations. Active with associations including TCA, RVDA, and local dealer organizations
for over 45 years.
Richard "Dick" Matz - Norcold, Sydney,
OH, Industry supplier since 1966, Key founder and first chairman of RVIA Suppliers
Committee, RVIA Board member 1983 - 1993 (Secretary 1991 - 92) Recipient RVIA
Distinguished Achievement Award - 1990.
Mahlon A. Miller - Newmar, Nappanee, IN, Grew from
1960's cabinet shop to president of Holiday Rambler Co., purchased share of Newmar in
1984. Known as "Father of power slide-outs", holds patent on pull down rock
guard, power awning, and the automatic door stop among others.
John R. "Bob" Riblet - Riblet Products,
Elkhart, IN. Began building trailer frames in 1946 as Riblet Welding which in 1951 became
Riblet Products. Founded Guyco (with Guy Riblet, his father) in 1952 to build galvanized
roofing for the industry. He was a major force in the founding of Quest which developed
plastic plumbing systems and B & B Interiors to develop plastic bath components.
Ralph Scoular - Iseman Corp., Souix Falls, SD.
Twenty-year board member South Dakota MHA. Active in retail sales since 1946, organized
first manufactured Housing show in North Dakota in early 1950's, built and operated
communities and retail centers in 15 states, managed six manufacturing plants and operated
a manufactured housing finance company.
John Wick - Wick Building Systems - Mazomante, WI.
Builder of panelized homes and commercial buildings, and manufactured housing as
Marshfield Homes, Artcraft Homes, and Rollohome. An active member of the Wisconsin MHA for
over 40 years, he has been an industry leader since 1954.
These industry leaders will be inducted into the Hall of
Fame at an industry wide reception and dinner in Elkhart, IN, in August 1998.
The RV/MH Heritage Foundation was organized in 1972 to
recognize individuals for outstanding contributions to the RV and MH industry through the
RV/MH Hall of Fame and to provide a repository for items of industry history through the
RV/MH Library and Museum.
Record Number Turn Out for Northern
Northern Wholesale Supply, Lino Lakes, MN, held its
eleventh annual RV Super Show in January in Bloomington, MN. Northern reported a record
number of dealers and exhibiting suppliers.
The show has a unique format with suppliers exhibiting in
individual suites and dealers follo wing a
schedule that allows them to meet with each supplier at a specific time.
John Perron, sales and marketing manager for Northern,
said, "Both the dealers and the suppliers feel this is a great show format that gives
the dealer the opportunity to meet practically one-on-one with the supplier in a very
informative and relaxed atmosphere."
Highlights of the show included technical and sales
Dallas/Ft. Worth RV Dealers Organize
Industry's First Regional Dealer Advertising Group
The Dallas and Ft. Worth Texas Recreational Vehicle
Association chapters along with Wheeler Advertising have formed the industry's first
regional advertising dealer association.
Patterned after the regional automotive advertising
associations, the North Texas RV Dealers group will put approximately $200,000 into
television advertising starting January, 1998, according to Kevin White, Ft. Worth chapter
president and Tommy Watters Jr., Dallas chapter president.
White said, "It will tie-in with the GoRVing
national campaign. We're going to promote the RV lifestyle, its advantages over boating
and camping in tents and other recreational choices consumers make. Our target is the
Participating dealers must contribute at least $500 a
month to have their dealership's name appear in the commercials and receive appropriate
identification materials signifying their dealership as a member. According to Watters,
this program will increase consumer credibility.
The more money a dealer contributes, the more times their
dealership name will appear. "Most dealers," Watters said, "have committed
to spending $1000 to $1500 monthly."
Buying Group Announced By RV/Marine
Partnering has hit the RV business, as the Recreational
Dealer Exchange Company, or Redex, recently initiated its buying group. According to Paul
Skogebo (Robert Crist & Co.), president of Redex, the buying group, which is managed
by Wheeler Marketing Services, allows Redex members to purchase items in bulk, and
therefore at a lower price, From batteries to credit cards, from health insurance
to advertising, Redex members are able to buy items with the purchasing power of a large
Skogebo said "It's very exciting to have the buying
group active. It will allow our members to be more cost efficient, which will both lower
prices and increase profits. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved."
Redex members, whose combined yearly sales exceed
$450,000,000, are surveyed to find out which items are a priority to their dealership, and
the group agrees on what to buy. Wheeler Marketing Services then negotiates on behalf of
the group to purchase the goods and services.
Ron Wheeler, owner of Wheeler Marketing Services, said,
"Many negotiations are currently underway, and they will allow for single point
invoicing through Recreational Dealers Accep-tance Company (RDAC), Redex's sister finance
company. The central invoicing is very important to vendors. It simplifies the buying
process because negotiations and billing only take place between two parties. Individual
invoices are distributed to separate dealerships by Redex, not the vendor."
Started two years ago, by the late Bill Gorman of Gorman
Planning and members of the 007 Focus Group, Redex is comprised of over 20 dealerships
throughout the U.S. and Canada, Toge-ther with the Newcourt Financial Company, it formed
RDAC's primary purpose is to loan money to Redex members
to finance their vehicle inventory.
RVCare Launches International Dealer
Forty-eight RV dealerships have formed a coalition to
enhance their competitiveness. Patterned after retail cooperatives in other industries,
the group will create buying and marketing advantages for its dealer shareholders under
the name, the RVCare Network of Dealerships, according to John Thompson, CEO.
Thompson said, "These dealerships form a network
that is geared to provide superior buying and service experiences plus better values for
its customers. At its current level, the group provides RV owners a choice of over 70
service locations throughout the US and Canada. Buyers of RVs and accessories also benefit
from trading with retailers who have a history of taking good care of customers. Our goal
is 200 networked facilities by 1999.
"As a buying group, RVCare uses the power of
the collective to purchase all types of goods and services for its owners. The strategy is
to pass these purchasing savings along to dealer members, allowing them to improve
profitability and achieve retail pricing parity with mass merchandisers."
RV industry veterans John Thompson and Lee FitzGerald
have been appointed CEO and COO, respectively. Thompson is a former vice president of
Affinity Group, and FitzGerald was the president of Venture Out, a chain of California
RVCare is based in California and can be contacted
Tekonsha's Parent Company Target of
Tekonsha's Parent Company Echlin Inc., (NYSE: ECH)
confirmed that it is the target of a hostile takeover by SPX Corporation, a competitor.
SPX is calling for a shareholder meeting to oust the current board of directors.
Echlin confirmed in response to SPX Corpor-ation's
unsolicited takeover proposal and consistent with its fiduciary responsibilities, its
board of directors will review the SPX proposal in due course.
Echlin stated that share owners need not take any action
at this time with respect to the proposal, and requested they await the recommendation of
Echlin is also the parent company of two other RV
industry companies, The Bargman Co. and AccuPower.
RV America On Line Enhances Internet
Service for RV Dealers
RV America On Line® has added two new programs to add
value to the RV dealer web sites it hosts on the Internet.
Dan Holt, CEO, Web Site Management, Inc., told RV News,
"We are now offering the Coast Distribution On Line Catalog free to dealers on our
web hosting service. In the past there was a set up charge and a monthly service fee for
the on line catalog, but in an effort to provide more value for our hosting service we
decided to offer it free to dealers that use our hosting services for their Internet
RV America works with Coast Distribution to offer the on
line catalog to dealers that would like to sell aftermarket parts and accessories through
their web sites.
According to Holt, the other program is a new Pre-Owned
Inventory Management Module that allows dealers to manage their used inventory on line. It
creates a searchable data-base on the dealer's Internet site where customers can browse
the inventory or search for a specific brand or model. Holt said, "This is a real
enhancement to a dealer's site since the inventory can be updated on a moments notice, so
it can be as current as the dealer wants it to be. In addition, dealers can upload
specific pictures of the used RV to give to customer a view of the actual RV they are
RV America is a service of Web Site Management, Inc., a
sister company of RV News and RV Technician magazines.
Avalon RV's Bill Stewart Real Hero
Bill Stewart, parts and service manager at Avalon RV and
Marine in OH, recently performed a heroic act and saved a customer from what could have
been a very serious injury.
A customer had come in for service and was showing
Stewart what he needed done on the RV. He had climbed to the top of the RV and Stewart was
standing on the ladder when the customer stumbled and fell head first toward the ground.
Instinctively, Stewart leaped from the ladder and caught the man's head in his right hand
and both men fell to the ground. Even though Stewart suffered a broken leg during his
heroic leap, he is credited for saving the older man from a catastrophic injury or worse.
The customer was unharmed although shaken up and very appreciative of Stewart's quick
thinking and action.
When RV News spoke to Stewart, he said, "I'm
just glad I was there."
SMC Reports Improvement in
SMC Corporation (NASDAQ: SMCC) reported its results for
the fourth quarter of 1997. For the period ended December 31, 1997, net sales remained
consistent with 1996 at $52.4 million, compared to $53.0 million for the fourth quarter of
1996. Net income increased significantly to $1.7 million up from the $1.1 million loss
reported from the same period last year which included the impact of a $2.4 million
restructuring charge. 1997 fourth quarter earnings per share were 27¢ on 6.3 million
shares outstanding, compared to a loss of 17¢ per share, on 6.7 million shares
outstanding reported for the fourth quarter of 1996.
For the year ended Dec. 31, 1997, net sales were $203.0
million, up from 1996 revenues of $200.8 million. 1997 year-to-date income was $4.3
million, up from $3.6 million reported in 1996. Year-to-date earnings per share were 65¢
compared to 54¢ per share reported in 1996.
Jay L. Howard, SMC's president, said, "Our better
than expected improvement in earnings for the 4th quarter were the result of the
aggressive reorganization actions that we initiated over the past 6 months. SMC's backlog
is strong as we head into the winter show season. We are experiencing strong demand across
our entire product line with particular strength in our newly introduced Panther and
"A newcomer to our product line is the Renegade.
This entry, priced at around $100,000, is an affordable entry level alternative in the
luxury Class A category. The Renegade is the first Class A unit to be manufactured out of
our Harney Coach Works facility. The Renegade line will be sold through a separate newly
established dealer network and should provide SMC with excellent sales growth
opportunities into 1998.'"
Jayco Picks ARI for Dealer
ARI Network Services, Inc. (NASDAQ/ NMS:ARIS), a provider
of Internet-enabled electronic commerce services, has been awarded its second significant
contract to provide Trade-Route dealer communications software and other products to
Earlier, Coachmen Recreational Vehicle Co. picked ARI to
provide dealer communication software.
Monaco Coach Sets New Records
Monaco Coach Corp. (NASDAQ: MCCO) released its 1997
year-end results, stating operating income grew 46.1% compared with proforma 1996 results,
on a 20.9 percent increase in sales. The company also reported fourth quarter earnings,
reporting operating income up 37.0% as compared to the same period of 1996, on a 27.6%
increase in sales.
For the twelve months ended January 3, 1998, net sales
for Monaco Coach totaled $441.9 million. Gross profit and operating income for this period
were $59.5 million and $22.6 million. Net income and earnings per share were $12.4 million
For the three months ended January 3, 1998, net sales for
Monaco Coach totaled $121.1 million. Gross profit and operating income were $16.1 million
and $6.5 million, respectively. Net income and earnings per share were $3.8 million and 67
cents, respectively. Gross margin was 13.3% for the quarter.
Kay L. Toolson, Monaco chairman and CEO, said, "In
1997, our company initiated several steps designed to place us in a position for continued
growth. The move into our new 667,000 square foot facility in Wakarusa was completed
swiftly and smoothly. We are preparing to add a third production line there to meet demand
for our recently introduced Diplomat motorhome and to allow for new product
The Company plans to introduce two new gasoline powered
motorhomes in the second and third quarters of 1998.
On-the-Road Newspaper Celebrates 10
Years of "Dashtop Publishing"
For ten years, roving editor Chuck Woodbury has roamed
the American West in search of stories about the people and places along his path. In
January, the 50-year-old publisher of Out West, "The Newspaper That
Roams," kicked off a year-long celebration of a decade of nomadic publishing with a
special 10th anniversary issue.
Woodbury's original idea was to drift the West in a small
motorhome gathering stories, and then return home to print them. "I thought it would
be a hobby," he said. But a flood of early media attention sent circulation soaring
to 10,000 and unleashed Woodbury on his dream life as a "dashtop publisher."
He produces most of Out West while on month-long road
trips in the 11 western states in a 24-foot motorhome equipped as a newsroom. He carries
along a laptop computer, scanner, laser printer, cellular phone, cameras, and everything
else he needs to produce a newspaper but the printing press. "I'd need a few big rig
trucks for that," he said.
In ten years, Woodbury figures he's written a million
words, snapped 15,000 photos, and driven 200,000 miles. And, he said, "I still leave
on each trip as excited as on the first."
Coast Distribution to Create On Line
Catalog for Marine Dealers' Internet Sites
Coast Distribution is in the process of developing an On
Line Parts and Accessory Catalog which will be available through individual marine dealer
web sites. According to Jeff Wannamaker, president of Coast, Coast will once again work
with Web Site Management to develop a web site for marine dealers, similar to the service
Web Site Management has for RV dealers on RV America On Line®.
Dan Holt, CEO, Web Site Management, Inc., said, "Our
partnering with Coast on the RV on line catalog has proved very beneficial to RV parts and
accessory dealers, and we're pleased that Coast has asked us to develop a new web site for
Marine dealers in order to bring the new marine catalog to the industry.
Shasta Donates RV for Children's
20-ft. Shasta travel trailer will be given away during a raffle on June 1, 1998 to benefit
Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis, IN. The trailer was donated by Shasta
Industries in conjunction with Coachmen Industries and Michiana Easy Livin' Country RV
Sales both in Elkhart, IN. Pictured: (left to right) Jim Baxter, vice president of
marketing for Coachmen Industries; Bob Adasiak, president of Shasta Industries; Jennifer
Presley, Riley Hospital's Telethon Office assistant director; Dave Switalski, SAM'S Club
Fleetwood Completes $287.5 Million
Fleetwood Ent., Inc. (NYSE: FLE), reported that it has
completed a private placement of $287.5 million of convertible trust preferred securities
by way of a subsidiary trust. The sole asset of the trust will be Fleetwood Enterprises,
Inc. convertible subordinated debentures due 2028. The preferred securities will be
entitled to quarterly cash distributions at an annual rate of 6.0% of the $50 liquidation
preference and convertible into Common stock of Fleetwood at the rate of 1.02627 shares of
Common stock for each preferred security (equivalent to a conversion price of $48.72 per
share of Common stock). The company will apply $176.9 million of the proceeds of the
preferred securities to purchase 5.2 million shares of Fleetwood Common stock from John C.
Crean, Fleetwood's founder and retired chairman of the board. The remaining net proceeds
will be used for general corporate purposes, which may include funding a portion of the
Company's capital commitment to its participation in the manufactured housing retail