|October 2003||Volume 29 - Number 3|
Cover Story Page 2
Claude Donati, vice president of sales and marketing for the motorized division, highlighted some of the areas that have led to this success when he said, "One of our strengths is our management style. Brian and Dan are actively involved in every aspect of the business and are on the front line everyday."
We saw this first hand during our visit to the Nappanee, Indiana complex that was once the site of an old sauerkraut factory. The so-called corporate office is a complex of several Fairmont manufactured housing buildings, and that includes the clubhouse at the company-owned recreational complex. No fancy brick and mortar here, no outlandish corporate suites, and no pretentiousness about who they are and what they do.
Donati noted, "We are lean from manufacturing to management. The company truly believes in re-investing their profits back into the company and stress continual improvement in everything we do. I think we are a fierce competitor in the RV industry today. Our aggressive product development allows us to produce profitable designs that are catching everybody’s attention.
“We look at the business year in two cycles. You have the Louisville to June cycle where you are producing what you introduced at the show, and then you have the June to Louisville cycle where you can make product improvements and introduce some new products based on consumer demand.
“Take the BT Cruiser for example, it’s one of our most successful new product introductions and it went from concept to production in just six weeks. It was conceived in Pomona and shown in Louisville six weeks later."
Gulf Stream RV was one of the first RV manufacturers to embrace lean manufacturing concepts that significantly improved product quality through just-in-time delivery of materials required for each new RV, and produced zero obsolescence on the manufacturing floor. Shea said, "JIT allows us to change something at the drop of a hat. Our systems encourage innovative product development and we tend to lead the industry in creativity and design. It’s nice to see other companies adapting some of our ideas and playing catch-up with Gulf Stream. We know what it’s like; we were in that position for many years."
Brian notes, "We were real quiet the first
twenty years, but that’s changing now.
Sometimes we were our worst enemy because we
didn’t take the time to make sure that our dealers
and the industry knew the real story about
Gulf Stream. We have the same entrepreneurial
spirit as our dealers and think the same way
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