October 2014
Volume 39 - Number 3


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Industry News
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Carefree RV

October 17, 2014 2975
Thor Motor Coach Participates in Breast Cancer Awareness Month

by Thor Industries, Inc.

Thor Motor Coach raised more than $10,000 in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month last week with all proceeds going to United Cancer Services of Elkhart County. Andy Hygema, TMC Employee, Plant 350 (left). Gina Lowe, owner (middle) of Gigi's Salon and Ashley Armstrong (right).

ELKHART, Ind. - In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Thor Motor Coach (TMC) raised more than $10,000 for United Cancer Services of Elkhart County. TMC partnered with Gina Lowe, owner of Gigi's Salon, and provided pink hair extensions to more than 500 employees at its motorhome manufacturing facilities.

"One of our employees approached us about participating and came up with the idea for the pink hair extensions," said Laurie Hover, Director of Human Resources at Thor Motor Coach. "Our management team quickly got onboard and decided to donate on behalf of our employees. Cancer seems to touch everyone's life in some way. By this simple act, we brought awareness to the cause and financial assistance to Elkhart County cancer patients."

For more information on United Cancer Services of Elkhart County, visit www.elkhartcancer.org.

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October 09, 2014 2966
EverGreen RV Confirms Acquisition of Skyline RV Division

by EverGreen Recreational Vehicles, LLC


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MIDDLEBURY, Ind. -- EverGreen Recreational Vehicles, LLC, announced the purchase of Skyline Recreational Vehicles Division is complete. EverGreen Recreational Vehicles, LLC acquired all of the assets of Skyline's Recreational Vehicle Division.

Chairman of the Board of EverGreen Recreational Vehicles Kelly L. Rose said, "We are very optimistic about the purchase of the RV Division from Skyline. The EverGreen management team, led by our CEO Michael H. Schoeffler, our President and COO Mark A. Boessler, and our General Manager, Don Emahiser, are extremely excited about this purchase and are in the process of assimilating Skyline employees and dealers into the EverGreen family of companies.

"Retaining the talented employees of Skyline RV, as well as solidifying and building strong new relationships with the extensive dealer body of Skyline, is job one for our team.

"All brand names have been retained along with all intellectual property and this will be key to our success as we move forward to blend the two companies with our continuous improvement processes and innovation."

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October 07, 2014 2964
Winnebago Industries Named to Barron's 400 Index

by Winnebago Industries, Inc.


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FOREST CITY, Iowa, -- Winnebago Industries, Inc. (NYSE:WGO), has been named to the Barron's 400 Index in its bi-annual rebalance in September.

"We are honored to be recognized by Barron's for the 400 Index," said Winnebago Chairman, CEO and President Randy Potts. "Winnebago Industries' management team has been doing a great job of consistently growing and improving our business on multiple fronts and we are pleased to be recognized for those efforts."

According to Barron's, this is the 8th time Winnebago Industries has been selected to the index since its inception in 1997. A letter from Barron's stated, "Given that only about 6% of all North American publicly listed companies are selected to the Barron's 400 on the basis of their fundamental soundness, it underscores the overall strength of your company's financial results and its bright prospects as an investment for public shareholders."

The Barron's 400 Index, jointly developed by Barron's and MarketGrader (www.marketgrader.com), is comprised of companies that score highest when evaluated against fundamentals-based criteria as measured by MarketGrader's overall grade across growth, value, profitability and cash flow. For more information about the index and its methodology please refer to www.barrons400.com.

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October 04, 2014 2963
Derald Bontrager Elected RVIA Chairman, New Executive Committee Named

by RVIA

Derald Bontrager, president and CEO of Jayco, Inc., was elected RVIA Chairman of the Board for fiscal year 2015 during the association’s Board of Directors meeting on Sept. 24, 2014 at The St. Regis Aspen Resort in Aspen, CO.

“The Board has elected one of the most well-liked and respected leaders in the RV industry to be the association’s next chairman,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “Derald is a veteran of the RV industry and has been a very engaged member in the association for many years. In that time, his insight and business expertise at Board and committee meetings have been invaluable to the association. I am looking forward to working with him in the coming year.”

Bontrager has served on the RVIA Board and on the Executive Committee since 2009, holding the positions of First Vice Chairman, Second Vice Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer. He has also served as chairman of the Audit Committee and as a member of the Go RVing Coalition, Public & Legislative Affairs Committee, Public Relations Committee, RV Service Training Council, and Strategic Planning Committee.

The RVIA Board of Directors also named other association officers to join Chairman Bontrager on the Executive Committee, including RVIA President Richard Coon; Secretary Kevin Phillips, president of Thetford Corp.; Treasurer Matt Miller, president of Newmar Corp.; Chairman Ex Officio Doug Gaeddert, general manager of Forest River, Inc.; Second Vice Chairman Garry Enyart, director, RV business for Cummins Power Generation; and First Vice Chairman Bob Parish, vice president, manufacturer relations for GE Capital. All officers begin their one-year terms on Oct. 1.

In other actions at their meeting, the RVIA Board of Directors:

  • Approved Roadtrek’s request to have Paul Cassidy replace Jim Hammill as their representative on the Board of Directors.
  • Approved extending the “Technician in Training” (TNT) pilot program and beginning work toward full implementation of the effort throughout the United States by the end of calendar year 2017.
  • Selected Arizona as the site for the 2016 Annual Meeting with the event date and location to be determined.

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October 01, 2014 2957
Coach House Celebrates 30th Anniversary

by Coach House, Inc.

VENICE, Fla. — Coach House, Inc., is gearing up to celebrate its 30th year manufacturing recreational vehicles in Venice, Fla.

To mark the anniversary, all 2015 model-year Coach House RVs will bear a custom-designed metallic shield with the “Coach House 30 Years” logo. Special 30th Anniversary letterhead has also been introduced in the corporate office and the 30th Anniversary logo will appear in all Coach House marketing through 2015.

Ruben Gerzeny and his sons David and Steven started Coach House in a small warehouse off the U.S. 41 Bypass in Venice, Fla., in 1985. The Gerzenys, having been involved in selling RVs, believed that there would be increasing demand for smaller, easier-to-drive motorhomes. They began converting Ford, Dodge and Chevy vans into Class B recreational vehicles. The vans’ roofs were removed, replaced with a molded fiberglass top to provide stand-up headroom, and then the vehicles were outfitted with plumbing, electricity, gas, heating, air conditioning, kitchen and bath, water and wastewater tanks, cabinets, beds, sofas and more. From the start, Coach House put an emphasis on careful hand craftsmanship and backed their vehicles with customer support and warranty service available throughout North America.

To distinguish Coach House from the competitors, the Gerzenys developed innovative floor plans and built their vehicles using only the best components. Coach House quickly became one of the most recognized, highest-rated Class B motorhome manufacturers in North America.

In 1996, Coach House moved into a spacious new factory in the Laurel Interchange Business Park, complete with offices, a showroom and campground hookups for visiting customers. With room to expand its horizons, the company developed a new downsized Class C motorhome called the Platinum and brought it to market in 2000. The Platinum starts as a cutaway Ford E-450 truck chassis (cab only), and Coach House manufactures a one-piece hand-laid fiberglass shell, reinforced with carbon fiber, which is mounted to the chassis. Then all the cabinetry and systems are constructed.

In 2007, Coach House introduced a new downsized Class C motorhome, the Platinum II, constructed on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500 chassis. It features a the same sort of one-piece fiberglass shell as the Platinum, while offering greater fuel efficiency, thanks to its Mercedes turbo-diesel engine.

Coach House kicked off its 30th year by introducing the Arriva, an all-new Class B motorhome. Built to the same high standards as the Platinum line, the Arriva brings Coach House full circle, back to its roots as a Class B van converter. Unlike the original Class B Coach House motorhomes, the Sprinter passenger van comes from the manufacturer with a high roof, so there is no need for Coach House to build its own custom top.

In a departure from the industry norm, Coach House motorhomes are sold direct from the factory in Venice, Fla., rather than through a dealer network. Potential customers are given factory tours and have the opportunity to leisurely inspect the RVs on display in the showroom with personal attention from courteous company-trained representatives.

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September 30, 2014 2953
Airstream Announces Major Plant Expansion

by Thor Industries, Inc.

ELKHART, Ind., -- Thor Industries, Inc. (NYSE: THO) today announced a significant expansion of production and office capacity at the Company's Airstream subsidiary in Jackson Center, Ohio. The project will add approximately 94,000 square-feet to Airstream's existing 134,000 square-foot travel trailer plant.

"With the recent strong growth in our markets, momentum and optimism among our dealers and positive outlook for future growth, this expansion will help us achieve our long-term growth objectives," commented Bob Wheeler, Airstream President. "We are also pleased to make this $5.9 million investment in Jackson Center, where our manufacturing base has been located since 1952. Our commitment to the community matches our strong heritage here, as well as our vision of continued growth over the long term."

In fiscal 2014, Airstream reached capacity production levels at its main travel trailer plant, highlighting the need to increase capacity to meet the growing demands for the iconic Airstream trailers. Once completed in May 2015, the new addition to the production facilities will result in an increase in current production capacity of approximately 50% over current levels.

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September 28, 2014 2949
Elkhart-based Skyline shedding RV unit, selling to Evergreen

by Jeff Parrott, The Elkhart Truth


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An embattled longtime Elkhart recreational vehicle and manufactured housing maker is spinning off its underperforming RV division and selling it to a growing upstart.

Cavco Industries Announces Interest in Transaction With Skyline Corporation
PHOENIX, -- Cavco Industries, Inc. (Nasdaq:CVCO) announced its interest in a potential acquisition of Skyline Corporation, a publicly-traded company, at a significant market premium. Over the past several weeks, Cavco has attempted to open a dialogue with the board of directors of Skyline through a series of formal communications, one of which is attached as an exhibit to this release. Cavco has suggested that it would be in the best interest of Skyline shareholders for its board to discuss the various proposals by Cavco to improve shareholder value, including a purchase by Cavco of all outstanding shares of Skyline at an attractive premium to current market prices. Skyline did not respond to any of Cavco's attempts over an approximately 30 day period to engage in a productive dialogue, which included a series of letters addressed to Skyline's board of directors, phone calls to Skyline's longest serving board member and former CEO, and Joseph Stegmayer, President and CEO of Cavco, attending Skyline's annual meeting of shareholders in an effort to discuss the matter with any of Skyline's directors who would be open to exploring options for maximizing shareholder value. After Cavco sent two additional written communications addressed to Skyline's board of directors, one of which asked Skyline to respond within one week to simply schedule a time for preliminary discussions between the companies, Cavco received a letter on September 25, 2014, from Skyline's lead director stating without further explanation that the board would not be able to respond to Cavco's request within the requested time frame.
Skyline Corp. is selling its RV business to Middlebury-based Evergreen RV, the companies announced Friday, Sept. 26. Skyline will continue to make manufactured housing.

“I am very excited to be acquiring the RV division from Skyline,” Kelly Rose, Evergreen RV’s chairman of the board, said in a press release. “Mr. Art Decio has been a longtime friend of mine and a person who I hold in the highest esteem and respect.”

The move comes as Skyline recently announced that an independent audit found substantial doubt that the company could continue operating with its heavy losses and declining capital, and despite Skyline’s vow to turn things around with a yet-to-be-announced plan that included the release of three new RV brands for 2015 at last week’s RV Open House Week. Skyline has lost more than $129.5 million over the past eight years, and hasn’t turned a profit since 2006.

Skyline has focused more heavily on manufactured housing than RVs in recent years. Of its $191.7 million in net sales for the current fiscal year, $145.9 million — or 76 percent — came from manufactured housing, while $45.9 million (the other 24 percent) was derived from RVs. Total net sales were down 29 percent from 2010’s $136.2 million, when the MH/RV ratio was 66 percent to 34 percent.

But the company’s manufactured housing sales from January through June were up 53 percent compared to that period a year ago, in an industry whose sales only grew by 7 percent during that time.

Skyline founder Decio is still the publicly traded company’s largest shareholder with 17 percent of the stock.

Skyline has signed a letter of interest in the sale, but both companies have yet to negotiate and execute terms of the deal.

A publicly traded company’s board of directors must approve such a sale, said Dan Smogor, partner at Elkhart-based accounting firm Kruggel Lawton, speaking generally and not specifically about the Skyline-Evergreen deal.

Evergreen rose from the ashes of the Great Recession. Industry veterans Rose and Mike Schoeffler funded the startup in late 2008, assembling executives from other companies that closed during the crisis. The company last year was the fastest-growing of the industry’s 15 largest manufacturers, according to Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Statistical Surveys Inc.

Rose said the company will try to retain all of the employees at Skyline’s last remaining RV plant in Bristol.

“Obviously the most important issues that face us immediately are retaining the very loyal employees of Skyline as well as solidifying and building on the tremendous dealer body that has partnered with Skyline over the decades,” Rose said.

It’s not the first time Rose has given new life to competitors who’ve struggled. In late 2011 Evergreen hired executives from the recently closed Carriage Inc. to launch its new high-end fifth wheel division, Lifestyle Luxury RV.

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September 21, 2014 2947

'An absolute tremendous success'

RVIA official: RV open house worth a billion in sales

by Jim Meenan South Bend Tribune

This is an aerial view of the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart during last week’s RV open house. (Photo provided/LIPPERT COMPONENTS)


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ELKHART, Ind., -- From sold-out hotel rooms to massive sales of RVs, the annual RV Open House keeps getting better and better.

The show ended Thursday with most participants headed out of town by Friday. More than 4,000 visitors, mostly dealers, came to the Elkhart County area last week for the open house, where 2015 models were on display at manufacturing sites as well as at the RV/MH Hall of Fame. The three largest manufacturers -- Thor Industries, Forest River and Jayco -- all participated. Bob Martin, Thor CEO and president, said last week that Thor had its largest pre-registration ever for the show.

All hotel rooms were sold out in Elkhart last week, said Diana Lawson, executive director of the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau, including 1,400 rooms off exit 92 of the Toll Road. "It affected every hospitality business in the city and probably around the region," Lawson said. "It was an absolute tremendous success that continues to grow year after year after year."

And that's just half of the story.

The other half is what one official calls a bigger sales effect than the long-running RV show in Louisville, Ky.

"In 2 ½ days we at least did a billion dollars worth of business," Doug Gaeddert, outgoing chairman of the board of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association and a group general manager at Forest River, said Friday, speaking for the industry as a whole. "We had to be in that billion dollar range easily. There's no question there are more units and more sales written in this 2 ½ day period than by far anything else."

Part of the reason is the show's timing, which benefits the industry in other ways, too.

A fall show where orders can be placed is much more advantageous for dealers, Gaeddert said, because orders placed in September will arrive on time for January dealer shows. Orders placed in November are generally not ready for the January RV shows.

Orders placed now also help keep workers busy making RVs throughout the entire year. And approximately 83 percent of all RVs in America are made in the Elkhart County area.

In the past, manufacturing might slow down as winter approaches. The industry has become less seasonal because of the Internet and its ability to showcase products, Gaeddert said. "There are other factors but absolutely this (fall show) levels out the production at high levels during the fall and winter and it benefits the entire industry and community," he said.

In his mind, the fall open houses work for everyone, even the Louisville show, a thought that's been echoed by other industry leaders. "It's a win-win for everybody to have this event at this time and then have the Louisville show at its time," he said.

It's definitely a win-win for Elkhart and Elkhart County, Lawson said. It kept the hospitality industry busy even though Notre Dame was off this weekend.

"It is first class," Lawson added. "It's a great impression for the industry. It's a great impression for the city of Elkhart and Elkhart County. I just don't know what they would do any better and create more of an impact on the entire community.

"It's definitely the No. 1 biggest event for the city of Elkhart."

Source: South Bend Tribune, Sunday, September 21, 2014

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September 17, 2014 2943
Thor's Keystone Subsidiary Building New Plant In Goshen

by Thor Industries, Inc.

ELKHART, Ind., Sept. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Thor Industries, Inc. (NYSE:THO) announced that its Keystone subsidiary has begun construction on a new plant for travel trailer production adjacent to its existing complex in Goshen, Indiana.

"As a leader in the towable RV industry, we see continued growth opportunities in our core markets," commented Matt Zimmerman, Keystone President. "Our investment in this new plant will allow us to expand travel trailer production and better serve our dealer partners. Our dealers are committed to Keystone and optimistic regarding the future of our market, providing us with the confidence to make a sizable investment of nearly $6 million in the new plant and related equipment. This additional capacity presents us with an opportunity to expand our product breadth and better meet the needs of our dealers and consumers with the high quality features and value they have come to expect from Keystone."

Keystone's new 120,000 square-foot travel trailer plant is the latest addition to a sprawling Keystone campus in Goshen, Indiana. With this expansion program, Keystone expects to increase overall travel trailer production capacity, allowing the Company to better meet the continued growth in demand for towable RVs.

Zimmerman added, "Keystone is growing in a big way. It's imperative that we continue to invest in our infrastructure to support that growth. Supplying product in a timely manner is critical for our dealers. This new investment will enable us to continue to deliver in a big way."

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September 17, 2014 2939
Thor Announces Expansion Projects At Heartland

by Thor Industries, Inc.

ELKHART, Ind., -- Thor Industries, Inc. (NYSE: THO) announced several projects to expand production and office space at its Heartland subsidiary in Elkhart. The projects include the purchase and renovation of an existing office building, expansion of a plant dedicated to production of lightweight travel trailers, expansion of a production facility to produce Toy Haulers, the renovation and dedication of a single facility to the production of destination trailers and the purchase and renovation of a building for a new service center.

"Heartland has made great strides in growing our sales and enhancing our market position to the point where we need to make an investment in infrastructure to support our future growth," commented Chris Hermon, Heartland President. "In total, we are planning to invest nearly $8 million in new or renovated facilities to take better care of our dealer partners and retail consumers, at both the front end with enhanced production and the back end with superior service after the sale. We are truly excited with this expansion program as it will allow us to not only meet the needs of dealers and consumers but also exceed their expectations."

Heartland's expansion program includes a new dedicated facility to build lightweight travel trailers with greater efficiency and even higher quality standards. The Company also renovated another facility to house the production of its #1 selling toy hauler. Heartland announced that it would begin producing destination trailers in a dedicated facility with year round production, illustrating its leadership in that unique market. Finally, Heartland is improving its service capabilities with the addition of 15 service bays to meet the needs of retail customers, as well as a new service lounge to enhance the customer experience.

With its focus on products that are growing fastest in the market, Heartland expects to increase overall production capacity by nearly 20%, while adding approximately 85 jobs in Elkhart.

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