The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association commissioned an Economic Impact Study on the RV industry, released on June 7, 2016. The study found that the RV industry contributes about $49.7 billion in economic output or 0.28 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Through its production and distribution linkages, the industry impacts firms in 426 of the 440 sectors of the United States economy.
Nationwide, the industry is responsible for 216,170 jobs, both directly and inderectly, creating an economic impact of $37.5 billion. The full study results, along with each individual state and congressional district's economic impact is available on the website by clicking here .
Mon Jul 18, 2016
Many customers walk through an RV dealership and say to themselves they like the exterior look of Model A, but they’d like the kitchen of Model B, the bathroom of Model C, the bedroom of Model D and the cabinets and flooring of Model E.
Often, the perfect fit RV for the customer is not to be found. They often go with the closest model they can find or settle for something a little below their visionary RV.
In the early 1970s, Space Craft Manufacturing decided there was a market for the company to cater to the dreams and visions of RVers.
Started in 1962 to provide another market for truck campers and flight campers, the company decided about 10 years later to get into the business of custom building for people who would like to take several parts and rooms of various RVs and turn it into their personalized trailer.
At that time, the company’s clientele was made up of carnival workers, showmen and women who needed a larger space to travel with extra bedrooms but could be mobile at the drop of a pin.
So Space Craft Manufacturing re-branded its image and built the large trailers and fifth wheels on semi-truck chassis, giving the buyer a lot of extra room and the personalization to cater to the customer’s every whim and fancy.
Space Craft President Marsha Trautman says the company’s employees are dedicated to thinking outside the box and away from the normal trailer, because sometimes, people don’t want normal; they want unique and they have visions spilling out of their heads.
“We start with a blank piece of paper,” Trautman says. “They come to us because they’re looking for something in particular that they can’t find in another manufacturer. They have a vision in their mind of what they want and need and that’s where we start. That’s the kind of clientele that comes to us, someone who has RV’d and they know what’s important to them.”
The process from vision to completion can take from four to six months at a time, because the employees make sure that each part of the trailer is how the customer is envisioning it. Trautman says even the planning process and the decision making for the customer can take weeks, making sure they get it right on the paper the first time.
The decisions that the customers make come down to everything, even including the type of wood polish on the cabinets, Trautman says, to the type of furniture inside.
The ever-changing idea of what an RV looks like is what appeals to the employees at Space Craft. It’s a way to think about RVing in a different style than they’ve done before, or putting a brand new spin on an old, reliable idea.
“That’s what we do. We think outside the box,” Trautman says. “They (the customers) bring something unique to us and we go in and say ‘This is what we think we can do.’ Then we put it on the paper and ask them if this is what they were looking for. There’s always something that is unique for a customer.”
Based in Concordia, Missouri, near Kansas City, Space Craft manufactures between 12-15 models per year on average. However, this year, the demand for a bigger trailer with different amenities and unique styles has gone up, increasing some of the workload. Trautman says demand is never going to limit what they can do.
“We could see that increasing,” she says. “We could work on two at a time and we have plenty of space to add on if we need it.”
With some trends in the industry headed toward retro trailers, while others go for elaborate designs and new-age technology, the folks at Space Craft feel comfortable in offering a little bit of it all to their customers.