Elkhart Countys R.V. industry on display at 20 open houses for dealers

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. -- About 20 manufacturers in the R.V. Industry are debuting their 2012 models for thousands of dealers in Elkhart County.
The C.E.O. of Forest River, Pete Liegel, told ABC 57 news he started the trend four years ago to give dealers the chance to look at the product sooner than the popular Louisville show.
“Louisville is in early December and by the time you get product, it’s January, so the show season has already started. So, we found that dealers like this because they can order stuff, especially if it’s a new dealer, and become familiar with the product,” said Liegel.
Dealers told ABC 57 they like having the chance to come to the R.V. capitol of the world to check out models from dozens of lines.
“This is the one chance to see all of the product in one place to where we can make an intelligent decision, looking at things side by side,” said Allen Libbe, with CCRV in Corpus Christi, Texas. “It gives us a chance to actually see things hands on, actually talk to the manufacturers, reps, and engineers, and all of the people that actually make the product, to see things from a different angle.”
Dave Pierce, a dealer from Oklahoma, said he’s been selling product by Forest River for decades, and said the open houses are great for both sides.
“When we come up to something like this, they always have specials and deals and things that we can get as a dealer that maybe we can’t get at other times because if they can do a lot of volume this week, it’s to their benefit, and yet it’s to our benefit,” said Pierce. “So we come up here and buy a lot of products that we’re going to be selling next spring.”
The fall and early winter months are primarily known as the slow season for the R.V. industry.
Manufacturers for Thor Industries, Inc. also kicked off their open houses Tuesday.
Don Emahiser, the President of CrossRoads RV, which is owned by Thor Industries, said now is the time to grab the attention and interest from dealers.
“They’re excited, they like what they see, and they like the changes that are coming. Innovation moves this industry and it’s moving really fast. All of us at Thor are doing what we can to stay in front because competition is tough,” Emahiser said.
Emahiser said the summer started out strong, but didn’t end as robust as everyone had expected.
“The success of this show is going to determine jobs just as much as anything else does,” said Emahiser. “We’re hoping for the best, and we’re trying to have a big show here so that we can keep people employed, and keep production running.”
Liegel said even though the slower season is approaching, he is confident in Forest River’s success, but could not speak for the entire industry.
“Hopefully everybody has a good life going forward, but I know we will keep moving forward,” Liegel said. “With the orders we have, with the enthusiasm from the dealers, I know what our next month’s going to do, all the way until spring because we got the orders in house, but I can’t speak for the competition.”
Forest River and Thor Industries, Inc., are the two largest manufacturers of R.V.s in the world.

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