RV industry's Future

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Ray D

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Joined
Jun 4, 2006
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1,963
Location
Boise, Idaho
The RV industry will change. The market is world-wide, and there are countries that are looking for stuff they can make and export to the U.S. markets. Smaller markets, where they can get a  foorhold, are just fine! I?d like to see Japan do it. Korea would be good. China is competent and looking for markets. They seem to be using the old Japan model, which, obviously, works very well.

Forgive me for telling another one of my stories. I started pretty well, as a young man, 50 years ago. I bought a brand new luxury Ford Fairlane 500, 1962 paid just over $2,000! Lot of money, back then! As I got ready to exit the lot, in my new Ford, I pushed the cigarette lighter to light a celebratory cigarette. Short story, it didn?t work. I turned around and went back in, laughing - Ha Ha, this didn?t work. Thought I?d get a new one, free. Hey, I didn?t have a single mile on that car, yet!

No warranties on cigarette lighters! Two bucks, please. The situation degenerated to a shouting match, and I left without a new lighter. A man looking at a car, in the showroom, came over to confirm what he had just heard and seen. Yep, this is over a cigarette lighter and yep, I got to the street and immediately back onto the lot. He walked out, telling his salesman that he wasn?t gong to buy a Ford. (Gave me an idea, later!)

A nagging rattle bothered me, for several weeks. Ford wouldn?t fix the car. Said I had ?voided? my warrantee, the first day. A friend, a car buff, was riding with me one day. He noticed the rattle and I told him my tale of woe. He started smiling, and after we did whatever it was we were doing, he invited me to his house ?to look for that rattle.?

In his garage, he immediately went for tools and then the driver?s side door. He took the panel part way off, grinning the whole time, and pulled out a Coke bottle! It was fairly well known, at that time that union workers were taking frustration with management out on people who bought Fords. Fairly well known, but I didn?t know that!

When the car was just over three months old, as I was driving down a city street in a business district, I heard a loud explosion in the engine compartment, and smoke rolled out. Turned out that it wasn?t an explosion. As I looked in there, the engine had fallen out! Yep, the engine mounts broke and the engine was down on the axle. The smoke wasn?t smoke, but steam from the fan blade cutting the radiator.

Cops came - called a tow truck - traffic backed up - cops laughing at my car, as they looked into the engine compartment - used car dealer right there. I walked over to the dealer, and sold him the car, then and there - as is - where is, and called a taxi.

All of the big three did that sort of thing, back then. But, it wasn?t the big three that did it to me! It was Ford. As I progressed in business I got a reputation for driving good bargains for acquisitions, and then began getting paid to do that. I passed a million dollars in fleet-car purchases, steered away from Ford, in less than five years. Stayed with it for a long time.

Went to buying foreign cars, for my personal use, and never looked back. Never bought another Ford. When Toyota came out, in the U.S. I went to Japanese cars, finally Subaru, and stayed with them until 96. So did millions of other victims of a renegade industry, here in the U.S.  That industry is only beginning to change, now. But, they are changing. American cars are getting better! There is a punch line, to this!

My most recent purchase was a 1996 Volvo. Stay with me, here. Recently, Ford bought Volvo! My beautiful Butterfly of a car, a Volvo, has transmogrified itself into a caterpillar, a worm, a Ford! ! ! Now what do I do?

The U.S. RV industry will improve, or die and be replaced by Japan or China. Meanwhile, bite the bullet!

Ray D.
 

martinday

Active member
Joined
Jul 20, 2006
Posts
29
Tom,

While I would not call Sea Ray a model factory they have in fact
made some very positive changes in there Brunswick Facilities in Tennessee.
I have spent quite a bit of time studying them here in Knoxville and they have
managed to adapt the model better than some other boat manufactures I have visited. They key for that industry as well as Rv's I suppose is flow and inventory turns but Quality has become something that they are focused more intensely lately. Having owned several Sea Ray's myself I will have to agree that their past performance in Quality has been somewhat lacking. The closest thing I have seen so far in the RV business if Foretravel down in Texas. They seem to have some pretty good quality processes comparative to other places that I have visited. I do have to qualify though that I have only visited three manufacturers I am sure there are some good ones.
 

Tom

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
Posts
50,531
Haven't been to the Knoxville plant, only the Sykes Creek, Fl. plant. Our current SR was built at Palm Coast. Fl. Glad to hear they're making progress in Knoxville. If the U.S. auto industry is anything to go by, they have a long road ahead of them and it will take some staying power.

Detroit almost came to its knees in the late 70's/early 80's and that's what it took to wake them up. It was still many years before any meaningful results were visible in their products. This was a repeat of what I'd previously seen in other industries such as the UK motorcycle industry and consumer electronics. Meanwhile, the Japanese weren't standing still waiting for Detroit to catch up. It's going to take a similar near-death experience for the RV industry to wake up and do anything.

I've only visited a few RV factories, but was not impressed with any of them. Having worked in/around manufacturing plants & visited suppliers around the world for 35+ years, I look beyond the things they try to show you on a factory tour or in their PowerPoint presentations.

Apologies, I don't normally spout off about this stuff here in the forum.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
78,129
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
Mr Gorin can stay in $189 hotel rooms because he travels on a expense account.  I did too, when someone else was paying the tab. Nowadays if we want a motel we stay at a Motel 6 for $40-$60 night, depending on the area. And oddly enough, campground rates tend to be about 50% of that amount and even a bit more for the more upscale places.

But he's right about the Palm Beach area - there aren't many campgrounds near the city because the rates they would have to charge to be profitable would be exorbitant by most people's standards. That's pretty much true along the entire Florida Gold Coast. The Florida Keys campgrounds are even higher, but they have a lot of offer the tourist so many are willing to pay the price.
 

Joe Bee

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 12, 2006
Posts
160
I was speaking to a "go fast boat builder in Fla this week and he was discussing composit materials, hollow core walls, decks, cabinets etc for weight savings.? He listed many items and ideas that we in the RV Industry don't think about.? We use marble, slate, iron and upping the HP to 500+.
We need a new paradigm.
? Do you know that the Swiss invented the quartz watch but didn't pattended it because they thought it was a toy??? THAT IS A NEW? PARADIGM.
I need everyone's input into how to save our industry.? Every idea should help or start someone thinking.? I don't want to stop RVing because we became a Polaroid camera or an IBM typewriter.
I am convinced that there are RV Execs who read our forum, (I only hope).? ?They need to read your, mine, our ideas.? ?Cutting price in NOT the answer.? I'm proud to sign my name to this post.
Joe Barack
 

Tom

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
Posts
50,531
Hi Joe,

I'm not sure that composite and lightweight materials are necessarily new or unheard of in the RV industry. The dining table (among other things) in our 1985 Pace Arrow had a styofoam core and thin skin to reduce weight. OTOH counter tops made out of granite or corian would benefit greatly from a composite substitute. Composite floors such as used in large passenger aircraft would also help reduce weight.

BTW cored decks on boats bring their own problems that RVers might not want to hear about.
 

Joe Bee

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 12, 2006
Posts
160
Tom:
Hadn't heard about core deck problems in boats but I'm really trying to get the industry to thinking outside of the box.? ?Since you are the head mama jama, do you think the "big boys" read the Forum?
Joe
 

Tom

Administrator
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Jan 13, 2005
Posts
50,531
Joe,

We used to have reps from a number of manufacturers visit the forum regularly, but they all dropped off one by one as they set up their own web sites. So we haven't had much in the way of manufacturer presence here for a number of years. In any event, I doubt we ever had any senior people here, except in the case of smaller suppliers.
 

motojavaphil

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Posts
673
Location
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Tom, I think you hit it right on the head.  No RV Reps interacting in the forum, insulated themselves with their own websites!  You would think that a forum such as this would be the most fertile ground a maker could come to.  What sells, what doesnt, what do we need to change, what can we improve....the list goes on!  Product improvement, QC and really good ideas need to be put forth.  Look at a new RV and check out some of their interior decorating schemes.  Someone is either in the wheelchair hailing from the century before last or there is some form of drug abuse going on. If I were a designer, an RV Engineer (does such a vocation exist?), a sales person or anything to do with the industry I'd be making my own ideas or stealing them or even both.  I'd drug test my employees, take a hard look at the manufacturing process, quality of materials used and QC the h### out of everything.  I went to a Chevy Dealer looking at their diesels.  The salesman, selling one of their most expensive products, could not tell me how many quarts of oil the motor took, PM schedules, power output or anything.  He did not know much of anything about the unit we looked at.  I asked to look at an SLT and was presented with an LT.  We bought a Toyota for my wife and the salesperson knew almost everything I asked and then some.  Perhaps failure is the most educational tool for our home grown industries..I dont know.  Finally I will say that not all units I have looked at are bad and that there have been some really neat designs.  The cheap units, which constitute the bulk of sales, will influence buyers of the future.  Make them well and they will buy more expensive units in the future, make them poorly and they will never buy again. 
 

Woody

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Joined
Mar 10, 2005
Posts
917
Its not unusual for reps from a given industry to shun criticism from their buying public. Years ago when I was very active on a woodworking forum there would be criticism of tool mfgrs, woodworking pubs, etc.
Most of the reps that perused that forum either ignored the criticism or posted replies that indicated their unwillingness to listen to the people that buy their product. Most started their own websites where criticism was discouraged.

Woody
 

Tom

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
Posts
50,531
Woody,

We certainly saw some of those reactions from manufacturers and vendors when they participated here. Being defensive is, of course, a natural reaction, but it doesn't come across well in the customer satisfaction side of a business.
 

John From Detroit

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Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
27,207
Location
Davison Michigan
Ray D said:
No warranties on cigarette lighters! Two bucks, please. The situation degenerated to a shouting match, and I left without a new lighter. A man looking at a car, in the showroom, came over to confirm what he had just heard and seen. Yep, this is over a cigarette lighter and yep, I got to the street and immediately back onto the lot. He walked out, telling his salesman that he wasn?t gong to buy a Ford. (Gave me an idea, later!)

You cost that dealer way more than 2 bucks that day, Good job.

Your story has a lot to do with why my ride is a Chevy.... I too have driven Fords (though none lately) and had problems which were typical of Fords.  This caused me to look to GM and/or Chrysler, I tend to drive cars into the ground as it were (Till they won't go no more) and not only does it take less time to type Ford than Chevrolet or Chrysler, but it takes less miles to kill the car in my experience.

There is something we all need to know.. "You may have other rights which vary from state to state"  Know what those rights are, this "no warranty after 12 months" is specifically what this sentence addresses.  Most states have rules that make 12 months a joke, 48 months are closer to reality but YOU HAVE TO CHECK cause I have the laws in but one state here, and I'm kind of unclear on them since they were written by a champion discombobulateor (Among other things, one who brings about confusion)
 

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