Fri Apr 12, 2019
Author: RV News Staff
Stromberg Carlson began 2019 with the installation of new manufacturing equipment and plans to close it out this fall with some product introductions. The RV industry supplier also plans to keep a closer eye on inventory throughout the year, favoring inventory turns over margins.
“We want to focus more on turns this year and that’s not always what we have done,” says President Bob Brammer.
Brammer says he isn’t sure if the RV industry is in the early stages of a recession, or if it is just rightsizing after some strong years. Either way, he says it’s time to exert some caution.
“If the industry forecasts are accurate, we will have an awesome year, but it’s still time to control the inventory more than we have done the past few years, he says. “Sometimes a little lower margin and higher turns is the way to go.”
The industry grew rapidly over the past three years, Brammer says, and current conditions might be just a leveling out, but nevertheless, he’s focusing more on inventory turns this year, striving for two or three more turns in 2019.
Brammer says Stromberg Carlson has grown tremendously since the last recession and the company hasn’t forgotten the lessons learned from that experience.
“What is interesting right now is there are dealers stealing market share from other dealers and distributors grabbing market share from other distributors,” he says.
The company installed some heavy capital equipment in December and began running it in January, including new injection molding machines. These include some over-molding machines. The company’s popular Dura Grip product is made with an over-mold on a plastic substrate.
Not many RV industry suppliers use robotics in their manufacturing processes, but Stromberg Carlson recently joined the ranks of those that do. During the manufacturing process, a robot picks up parts, brings them to the inspection, and unloads them for the operator. Brammer says he is pleased with how the system performs.
“There’s never a hiccup in timing and the nice thing about it is that it run uninterrupted, even during breaks and lunches,” Brammer says.
Some of his company’s recent innovations—the Dura Grip and the Hitching Post—have flown off the shelves and sold well at trade shows, Brammer says. Many of the company’s traditional products have also sold well.
More innovations are on the way this fall. Brammer says it’s too soon to reveal details, but some are in the company’s current product categories and a couple are in completely new areas. He says Stromberg Carlson approaches product development from both in-house original ideas and from requests from retail customers. Sometimes, the company licenses products from inventors.
Brammer predicts May, June and July will be busy months for the industry and overall, he expects Stromberg Carlson will have another profitable year.