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 .
Fri Feb 17, 2017
The recession of 2008-09 hurt many of the RV businesses throughout the United States, causing layoffs, decreases in production and a worrisome attitude about the future of their businesses.
Marathon Coach in Coburg, Oregon was similarly hit. The rough numbers in production lasted through 2011 for the bus conversion manufacturer. But in 2012, the luck turned around and Marathon Coach has been running its route with both arms pumping and no finish line in sight.
“We saw a steep decline obviously when business slowed down to a stop in 2008 and 09 with the economy turning down, so we built the company back up,” Marathon President and Owner Steve Schoellhorn says. “I just think it’s a multi-year story. The customers are going back to normal. The resources are available. I think there was a pent-up demand over a period of years that’s still filtering out now, so the RV market appears to be strong and a lot of people enjoy the lifestyle.
“One factor I hear a lot from our customers a desire to do things domestically rather than internationally. A lot of our customers, it’s common to spend part of the year in a motorcoach and a lot of people are saying ‘Let’s stay in North America until things settle down.’”
Since 2012, Marathon Coach has seen five consecutive years of increased production. In 2017, the company expects another year of more production. By the end of the year, the company expects to four new coaches in the production line, along with all of their current product, as well as 50-60 more employees, according to Assistant Marketing Manager Miki Markovich.
Most of the new employees will come right out of the pool of workers in the state of Oregon, who have RV manufacturing experience, as is the case for many.
“We have found that this area has been a hub for luxury RVs for a long time,” Markovich says. “It’s rich with craftsmen who have been in the industry for a long time or are looking to get back into it.”
The year’s expected revenues are expected to exceed $65 million, which would be another record on top of the records the company continues to top year after year.
Since the company was started in 1983, it has been adding different coaches and trying new things, attempting to meet the customers where they want to be reached, Schoellhorn says. His family bought the company in the early 1990s and has been running it ever since.
“It’s been a really interesting ride,” he says. “We’ve been through any number of market cycles from booming to slight recessions to significant recessions. Our buyers are a little more recession resistant than other parts of the RV Market. The coaches we built today are so much more advanced than they were 20 years ago.
“I would say Marathon’s model of being a big factory direct operation has been one of the keys to success. When our family made the purchase, we made a fundamental decision to ensure customer decisions. We have sales and service at three locations. We are really able to ensure they have the full experience and we have tight, ongoing relationships with our end users that most manufacturers don’t have.”
In the RV industry, where nearly every sector of the market is booming, Marathon has seen a substantial increase in the demand of its coaches as well as in the new users getting into the marketplace.
“There are a lot of new buyers coming in. Approximately half of the coaches, pre-owned and new, that we sold last year, were to new people and new families,” Schoellhorn says. “That’s a pretty high percentage. The other factor is pre-owned bus conversions. Even on the pre-owned side, they are in very good demand. There were comparatively few coaches built from 2008 to 2012, so people that are looking for late model coaches are finding that they’re not out there. That resale value has helped to propel new coach sales.”
Another blessing that Marathon has found is the size of its facility is large enough to accommodate any increase in production for the foreseeable future, Schoellhorn says. There are no plans to expand the facility or add one anywhere else.
Earlier in the fall 2016, Marathon built its milestone coach No. 1,250. The milestone coach featured several new upgrades including the glass on the windows that could turn from clear to opaque with the push of a button.
Additionally, some other upgrades have occurred with several of the other models, including increasing the size of the head room to 89 inches, to cater to the needs of some of the taller customers, Markovich says.
“The returning clients and new clients are looking to upgrade because of whatever new innovations and changes that are going on,” she says. “We’re also seeing quite a few fresh faces joining our family for the first time. It’s been a large influx of more younger families than what people typically think of buying a coach. That’s been exciting.”
Going forward in 2017 and beyond, the company expects to grow and increase the production even more, especially if the current boom level remains about the same.
“I would say we will engage in smart growth,” Schoellhorn says. “We’re still smaller, but we have restructured the company and we’re just as innovative. We’re going to see steady growth over the next several years. We’re privately held, and we’re in a position to grow to maintain the stock price. We’ll grow as the demand allows.”