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 .
Thu Aug 11, 2016
In early 2015, as real estate professionals, Mohsin Saeed and Mahmood Almayah went to visit the former Chalet, Inc. building that had been out of business for about one year.
They were there to appraise the property, look at the building and see what it could close on.
When they arrived, they saw one complete unit, 11 partially built units and other RV-related equipment that was lying unused.
On a whim, Saeed and Almayah decided to get into the RV industry, buy the business and revive a company that had been manufacturing A-frame trailers for 30 years.
“We looked at each other and I thought ‘I think we’d rather do that than real estate,’” Saeed says. “Three weeks into looking at it, we said ‘Forget it, let’s buy it.’ We bought the assets and everything from them, the inventory and the building. We started figuring out how to make the units. Now we’re doing regular manufacturing.”
The two friends invited a third friend, Brett Kienitz, to serve as the general manager and the three began their journey into the RV industry, learning the trends, the contacts and the business side of RVs.
Even though the three didn’t know a lot about the industry, they certainly weren’t novices when it came to camping.
“We’ve been camping our whole life,” Saeed says. “We’ve been in that half of it for years. Brett worked for a furniture and door manufacturing company. He left all of that and did automotive electrical stuff. He was an electrician by trade. Me and Mahmood, we’ve been in manufacturing in a different role for years. We’ve all done a bunch of contractor work and building houses doesn’t scare us. We thought why don’t we build them on wheels?”
Re-starting a company that had been dormant for a year has its own challenges. While Chalet in the past had built travel trailers and fifth wheels along with its A-frame trailers, the new company is focusing entirely on its A-frames for the time being. In that case, the company only has around 20 employees compared to around 50 in the previous regime.
Working with previous dealers also can present their own challenges, attempting to re-gain the business of those they had worked with before. But Saeed says they’ve been blessed with a few advantages.
“We had a couple advantages. The original owner who had sold it still lives in the area. We could pick his brain whenever we needed it,” Saeed says. “And he’s still on good terms with the dealers on the west coast. Albany (Oregon) is a small town. The employees were still unemployed and we could bring them back in and find out which ones worked with our style of management and culture. And we’re starting to expand our dealers and trying to go east.”
Chalet offers three types of A-frame trailers – the lightweight trailer, which measures at 12 feet, 9 inches; the classic trailer, coming in at 16 feet, 6 inches; and the XL trailer, which is 18 feet, 7 inches.
The campers are built on powder coated steel frames, which provide a sturdy foundation and years of rust protection, according to the company website. The lightweight design allows for easy towing and storage and fuel efficiency, while providing a generous eight feet of head space in each of the trailers.
From real estate to RV manufacturing in a little more than a few months, Chalet is well on its way to being another RV manufacturer spreading its wings across the states.