September 1998


Michigan Paper Reports GM Advised UAW of Pending Motorhome Chassis Business Sale

According to a news story in The Flint (MI) Journal, General Motors (GM) has informed the United Auto Workers (UAW) union that it is close to selling it's Detroit-based motorhome chassis business to an undisclosed buyer. The chassis manufacturing business had been scheduled to move to a Flint plant. The story ran in early August.

The article said, UAW officials told the paper that they were informed by (GM) management that the sale is mostly complete. They did not name the prospective buyer.

By presstime, RV News was unable to confirm the story after checking with sources in Detroit. A survey of several RV manufacturers using the Chevy chassis also turned up little factual information. Lew Howard of National RV told RV News that he had heard the rumor, but had not been able to confirm it.

When we attempted to talk to Jim Brieske, manager of Chevrolet's RV and specialty vehicle department we learned that he was out of town.

RV News did talk to Jerry Mittman, RV and Specialty Vehicle manager at Ford Motor Co., who was surprised at the report. He did say, however, if GM was planning to sell their motorhome chassis business they would be contractually obligated to notify the UAW.

Chinook Sets Land Speed Record for Motorhomes

chinnok.gif (26173 bytes)On August 16,  1998 a stock Chinook motor-home, with only slight modifications, set a new recorded land speed record (sanctioned by the Southern California Racing Association) of 99.776 mph. This record was set at a density altitude of 5,384 feet. Adjusting to sea level the speed would have been 108 mph.

Charles McGhee vice president of sales at Chinook, said, "We are extremely pleased with the results and we have learned a great deal from this project. With a cross wind of 15 mph, the Chinook proved very stable at 100 mph and that was what we wanted to prove -- that a motorhome, if manufactured correctly. and on the right platform, can be extremely safe at any speed.

"We could have gone faster, but the Triton V- 10's computer could not adjust itself to the altitude and we were running with a very rich mixture. Unfortunately, we did not have the electronic equipment to make the necessary adjustments."

Chinook is manufactured by Trailwagons, Inc. located in Yakima, WA

California Drops State Standards Program
Manufacturers, Dealers Work Together in Effort to Eliminate State Inspections

A bill eliminating the California Recreation Vehicle (RV) Standards Program has been passed by the state legislature and was signed into law by Governor Pete Wilson.

The new law, which will become effective on January 1, 1999, requires any new RV manufactured to comply with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.2 Recreation Vehicle Standard if it is to be sold in California. RV manufacturers will now be required to self-certify compliance with more than 500 safety specifications for electrical, plumbing, heating, and fire and life safety established under the ANSI A119.2 standard.

The legislation also eliminates California's inspection program for used RVs, which required RV dealers to arrange for inspections for those used vehicles on their lots that did not display a sticker indicating the unit had been subject to the state's standards inspection program.

RVIA and CalRVDA, which represents the state's RV dealers, began the process of retiring the state's RV standards program earlier this year. The two organizations worked hand-in-hand, jointly attending meetings with the California legislature and appearing at hearings.

"RVIA president Dave Humphreys said, "This legislation eliminates the duplication of vehicle inspections required by the state of California and RVIA. In the long run, it saves money for manufacturers, dealers and taxpayers, without compromising safety for RV consumers."

RVIC Announces Its Position On Texas Legislation House Bill 2382

The Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (RVIC) Indiana's trade association representative of the RV manufacturers, RV dealers, campgrounds, industry service and suppliers, as well as the finance and insurance companies working to serve the interests of each entity and the industry as one; announces a formal position on the Texas Legislation House Bill 2382. It is the position of RVIC that certain regulation regarding the quality of products or service is necessary. RVIC cannot support the extreme versions of the Texas HB 2382. RVIC as a representative of both the RV dealers as well as the RV manufacturers, will not and cannot condone such legislation and recommends that these issues be resolved by professional mediation or arbitration between RV dealers and RV manufacturers.

Fire Strikes Duo-Form Mfg. Complex

In August one of three buildings in the Duo-Form Manufacturing complex in Edwardsburg, MI, was completely destroyed by fire. The company confirmed none of its 75 employees were injured in the fire. Duo-Form is a thermo-former of shower pans, tubs and surrounds to the recreational vehicle industry.

Management estimates that 50 percent of production capacity remains and is in the process of securing additional capacity.

Kwikee Products Acquires Hydra-Slide

Kwikee Products Company, Inc., the recognized leader in the design and manufacturing of steps and leveling systems for the RV industry, is pleased to announce the acquisition of Hydra-Slide Corporation, manufacturers of slide out room assemblies. The purchase was cited as a strategic move to greatly strengthen and expand Kwikee's product offering to the OEM RV market, according to Dan Eckenroad, vice president, sales and marketing.

He said, "The addition of the Hydra-Slide product line to Kwikee's steps, leveling systems, trays, slide assemblies, door hardware, and accessories is a natural extension that takes advantage of Kwikee's manufacturing, marketing, customer service and distribution capabilities.

"Our goal is to design innovative products that maximize the utility of shared system components while utilizing and managing personnel and plant facilities to control costs. Hydra -Slide's products and personnel fit neatly within these parameters.

"Hydra-Slide brings new products to our mix that offer potential component synergy, and a group of talented people with strong industry experience and great ideas."

To make room for Hydra-Slide production, plans are currently under way to construct an addition to Kwikee's facility in Cottage Grove, OR. Completion of the project is scheduled for November.

Duncan Systems, Inc.  Breaks Ground for New Facility 

duncan.gif (20240 bytes)Pictured are (l-r) Ralph Duncan, founder, Ron Duncan, chairman of the board; Ron Dole, secretary/treasurer; Rick Mulanix, president. Also in the front are: (far left) Jim Stout, Lake City Bank; (second from R) J. C. Schrock, DJ Construction and (far right) Don Shaum, Sr., Mid-States Construction.

In July employees of Duncan Systems, Inc. (DSI), took part in a ground breaking ceremony for their new 52,000 square-foot building project. The complex will contain an expanded customer service call center, administrative offices and additional warehouse space. The new facility is being constructed on an adjacent 10 acre site, just across from their current building. DSI's total warehouse space will exceed 100,000 sq ft at the completion of the project.

Duncan Systems also operates distribution sites in Oregon and Nevada, with as many as six more regional sites planned to open in the next year. Duncan expects the new facility to be completed in November

Rick Mulanix, president of DSI, said, "We're looking forward to moving into our new quarters and spreading out a little bit. We've doubled our workforce just since February, and this building project marks our fourth expansion this year."

According to Mulanix, DSI has grown from the original three owner/employees to a staff of over 70. More than 30 employees have been added in 1998 alone. Their most notable statistic is that they have been able to nearly double their sales for each of the past five years.

Duncan Systems is the nation's largest supplier of replacement windshields and side glass, serving the recreational vehicle, conversion van, bus and truck industries.

Go RVing Coalition Wraps Up Successful Second Cycle of National Ad Campaign

The second cycle of the Go RVing Coalition's "Recreation Vehicles. Wherever You Go, You're Always At Home" national advertising campaign concluded in July as the last of the print insertions ran in national consumer magazines.

Through its six-month 1998 run, the campaign promoted RVing to the target market of baby boomers during the spring and summer selling season through commercials on national and cable network television as well as the print ads.

With an expanded media schedule and more than $5 million spent on media buys, the effort created more than one billion consumer impressions among baby boomers.

It also generated 51,000 calls to the toll-free hotline promoted in the ads, bringing the two-year total to more than 100,000 requests for the "getting started" video.

Based on information volunteered by callers to the hotline, the campaign is effectively hitting the target market. Forty-eight percent of callers are within the baby-boomer target and 73 percent have never owned an RV.

Coast Scores Second Quarter |
Sales And Earnings Increase

The Coast Distribution System (Amex: CRV) reported revenue for the second quarter ended June 30, 1998 increased 11% to $46.2 million, as compared to $41.6 million for the second quarter of 1997. For the six months, sales increased 10% to $84.6 million as compared to $76.8 million for the same period in 1997.

Net earnings for the second quarter of 1998 were $1,052,000, or $.20 per diluted share, as compared to a loss of $51,000 or $0.01 per diluted share, in 1997. For the six months ended June 30, 1998, the company earned $1,660,000, or $0.31 per diluted share, as compared to a loss of $143,000, or $0.03 per diluted share, for the same period in 1997.

"Coast's sales of recreational vehicle products increased 9% during the first six months of 1998 as compared to last year,'' said Thomas R. McGuire, chairman and chief executive officer at Coast. ``These increases were particularly strong in the Midwest, Southeast and throughout Canada. In addition, we were able to post strong margin growth in both our RV and marine businesses, while holding our costs in line."

Holiday Rambler Division of Monaco Sets New Wholesale Orders Record

Monaco Coach Corporation (Nasdaq: MCCO) says that its Holiday Rambler Division received a record 1,231 wholesale orders at its annual   Dealer Congress held in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 27-29. At the event, Holiday Rambler retail dealers were given an opportunity to preview the 1999 model line and place orders.

Jim Sheldon, Monaco Coach Corporation Indiana chief operating officer and Holiday Rambler Division president, said, "We set a goal to reach 500 orders for towable products and 500 orders for motorized products, and I'm happy to report that we more than reached that goal."

Winnebago Enters Licensing Agreement With Sun-Lite

Winnebago Industries, Inc. (NYSE: WGO), has a new licensing agreement that will further the company's goal of expanding the well-known Winnebago brand name beyond traditional motorhomes in the RV category. Sun-Lite, Inc., a truck camper manufacturer, has entered into the agreement with Winnebago.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sun-Lite Inc. will design, manufacture and market the new line of folding and hard side truck campers. The product line will be distributed by Sun-Lite through RV dealers in the United States and Canada. All production will be done at Sun-Lite's facilities in Elkhart, IN.

"Good Morning Texas" Embarks On Summer RV Tour

Holiday World of Dallas in Mesquite, TX, along with Coachmen Recreational Vehicle Company and Wheeler Advertising in Arlington, TX, joined forces with WFAA's number-one local morning television show, Good Morning Texas, for the show's first-ever "Summer Fun RV Tour." Throughout the summer, Good Morning Texas will be using a Santara Class A motorhome, courtesy of Coachmen and Holiday World of Dallas, to travel across North Texas and conduct live segments from the RV.

Good Morning Texas kicked off the tour in June by broadcasting the entire hour-long show in front of three Coachmen RVs. Holiday World of Dallas salesperson Peter Orlando took viewers through a tour of the RVs during the show. In exchange for the use of the motorhome, WFAA is giving Holiday World of Dallas 10-second banner advertisements during the show, and is promoting the show in all time slots. The RV tour will bring thousands of dollars worth of free air time to both Coachmen and Holiday World of Dallas.



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