And So It Begins.
Seventy-one RVs and a park home sat in waiting this morning in Hall D of the Music City Center Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the Jayco Dealer Homecoming for 2017. Each trailer and motorhome is polished and opened inside. Every feature is turned on, every storage door and toy-hauler patio opened up. Sales representatives, all dressed in the same blue polo shirt with a Jayco logo emblazened over the heart, sit at their tables in the middle of the room as product developers and executives, also in blue, stand pensively, picking at each perceived but imperceptible mote of dirt.
Dealers slowly arrived. The doors were supposed to be closed until 8 a.m. sharp, but there is no reason to make attendees wait, and the first to arrive are able to enter the convention hall at 7:45. The new-car smell permeates the air.
The day began strong, although quiet and calm. The first dealers with meetings started ordering their stock of 2018 Jayco models almost immediately. Dealers with the first appointments were given a personalized tours of the models. No one seemed to be in a rush, but almost everyone was placing orders.
Meanwhile, dealars with later appointments bided their time browsing the aisles of RVs, poking their heads through the doors and pacing into and out of the featured floorplans.
The overhead music was more in line with Hollywood and California surfing than with Nashville and the country music scene.
"This is the most number of attendees we have ever had for the dealer homecoming event," Jayco Marketing Manager Renee Jones says.
One dealer said that they had ordered many of the 2018 models without ever having seen them, and this show gave them the first opportunity to see what they have already purchased.
"This Talon here," he says, "I think will sell easily at this price point. I'm really happy."
More Buzz About Space
The greatest buzz on the show floor was the pursuit of space. One dealer said, "Space, space, there is so much more space." Wherever the RV designers supplied more cabinets inside and lockers on the exterior, dealers were quick to take notes.
The grill on a positionable gate mounted on the side of a Seismic Fifth Wheel toy hauler was also popular with purchasing dealers, at least as a novelty.
Jayco is pushing the front windshield on North Point, Greyhawk and White Hawk trailers, and the over-cab windshield on the Greyhawk Prestige and Melbourne Prestige models. One Jayco sales representative has taken to thumping his fist as hard as he can on the White Hawk windshield as a demonstration of its strength, the sound of his fist against the glass occasionally wafting throughout the large room, undercutting the sounds of the Beach Boys.
Nic Martin is director of product development for Jayco motorized division. He explained that the Melbourne Prestige is designed as a Super C with type A motorhome amenities.
"We wanted to capture the market of Rvers who are stepping down from Class A motor coaches but who want the same features that they have become used to," Martin says. He said that there is an unrealized market in those consumers stepping down from bigger units.
The Freightliner S2RV Chassis
Jayco has introduced the S2RV chassis from Freightliner to replace the use of regular heavy-truck chassis. The differences from a traditional truck chassis include a Cummins 360hp diesel enging instead of a 340 hp engine, a 100-gallon "between the rails" tank instead of two tanks mounted on opposing sides that needed balanced loads, a larger windshield and ergonomic dashboard to increase driver line of sight and reduce blind spots, and the 10-gallon diesel fuel exhaust tank is moved forward to a place under the cab, to provide more space for storage lockers.
The S2RV is used on the Seneca model. The finished model sits across the aisle from the bare chassis display, to give a clear demonstration of just how the chassis makes a difference in RG design.
The Eclipse Approaches
The solar eclipse is only minutes away and still the attendees mill about inside the convention center hall. Jayco has provided eclipse glasses, almost impossible to find outside among the throngs of tourists lining the streets and roofs, awaiting the moment of totality. Jones says she heard reports that Nashville swelled by more than 1.5 million visitors just for the eclipse.
Finally, as the moon's position first blocked the sun's disc, dealers flowed to the exit, eager not to miss the once-in-a-lifetime event.
Later this evening, Jayco will present its opening ceremonies, keynote presentation and awards ceremonies for top dealers.