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Old 03-09-2009, 10:25 AM   #1
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Fleetwood out of the Trailer Market

Fleetwood exits travel trailer market, will focus on motorhomes > RV Industry News > RV Industry News | News Room
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:33 AM   #2
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I guess that this is to be expected in these times. I'm glad to hear that they are not going completely out of business. When recovery comes, they should be able to slip back into the TT business pretty easily.

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Old 03-09-2009, 10:51 AM   #3
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Well, sadly the handwriting has been on the wall for a few years now. Though the announcement is not shocking, it is sad. I would expect Winnebago to be doing something as well in the near future as well.

It would not be inconceivable that Thor themselves might also take some sort of action. Here is why. Thor currently produces 3 motor home lines, and 7 towable SOB lines and of course the flagship, Airstream. With less demand and duplicating efforts between the 7 towables and 3 motorized lines, it is not unreasonable to see either plant consolidation and/or the loss of the weakest links, particularly if the RV sector does not recover as quickly as folks hope.

As I've said in other posts, RVs, boats and other recreational type items are not a must have items, they are very much discretionary item. Now that the party is over and the hangover begins and may remain for several years, the smart money is on most folks (read not all) being far more cautious on discretionary purchases. Since this economy has created such a massive problem, you may find folks acting like their parent's parents who made it through the Great Depression. This of course does not do well for any company, let alone recreational vehicle builders of any kind.

I would expect many more announcements of this type coming from the various recreational vehicle builders (not limited to campers either). It will get worse before it gets near any better.
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:59 AM   #4
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When recovery comes, they should be able to slip back into the TT business pretty easily.

Brian
I might not fully agree here.

I suppose I would compare this to life. We crawl before we walk and walk before we run. When hurt, we go through a process where we once again have to learn to walk.

Similarly, the mature RV market has already crawled, walked and ran. Now that they have been given several debilitating blows it may be some time before some of them will be able to walk again, if at all. This is also contingent on how well they service both existing customers and yet to be sold trailers that would be under warranty, not to mention dealer support which may simply not be there for any future re-emergence back into the towable market.

It's a slippery slope walking out of a market and then trying to come back in. There may be a lot of once bitten, twice shy type of feelings out there. I would take nothing for granted that loyal customers and dealers would welcome them back with open arms, particularly if they deal with this pullout badly and how companies like Thor, who are a major force to deal with respond to the open space left by other RV builders.

Nature abhors a vacuum.
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Old 03-09-2009, 11:06 AM   #5
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Just thinking about the guy pulling his Fleetwood with his GM truck, he has to be thinking what is next.
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Old 03-09-2009, 11:09 AM   #6
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Just thinking about the guy pulling his Fleetwood with his GM truck, he has to be thinking what is next.
Now think of the guy (or gal) that has a Fleetwood, the GM truck and is recently part of the 8.x% unemployed nationwide right now.....and no one to buy either from him if he (or she) had to dump them.
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Old 03-09-2009, 11:23 AM   #7
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Now think of the guy (or gal) that has a Fleetwood, the GM truck and is recently part of the 8.x% unemployed nationwide right now.....and no one to buy either from him if he (or she) had to dump them.
That is tough.

How long before campgrounds start closing? I am sure many RVers are now parking their units and limiting their trips.

My wife works for Penny’s here in New Orleans and her store has been 10K over plan ever day in the last few weeks they are beating the daylights out of last years numbers. It seems everyone has moved down one level in order to sustain their life style.
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Old 03-09-2009, 11:52 AM   #8
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Once the world economy starts to recover, fuel prices will start to rise again. That could work as a double whammy against the weaker RV manufacturers as it could keep things soft going forward.

Like others have said, there may be a new paradigm required by the RV industry going forward. Even after the recovery starts, I think a lot of folks will be gun shy and will be looking for value and economy in their RV purchases. Since we are talking about SOBs in this thread......I think lighter weight trailers and smaller, less expensive Motor Homes will not be as "looked down upon" in the SOB community in the future. Seems like up to now all SOBer's are supposed to ultimately desire a big motor home or huge 5th wheel trailer. That is something that is avoided in the Vintage AS community (I guess). One would think that there will still be a market for new Airstreams, there are always folks that want something unique. But I would think that more and more, it's hard for a lot of folks to justify the extra cost. Of course, as a used RV I think Airstreams are a good value after the inital depreciation has taken it's toll (not trying to knock Airsteams, I like 'em and hope to own one in the next year or so).

Of course after going through this tough period, worrying about my job and my wifes job (like many other folks), I have been spending time looking a excel spreadsheets figuring out a plan to get debt free (everything including the house) over the next 5 or 6 years. I have decided that the piece of mind of not having debt may be more enjoyable than an new pickup/car/etc. Heck if I wanted/needed to I could camp in the Jayco for another 10 years or so, it's paid off and that's a nice thing! I have never been in over my head and could bail out of all of my debt and buy a smaller house for cash if I had to right now.

I wonder how many folks there are out there like me that might not be ready to spend their way to find life's satisfaction in the future and how that will impact the economy and in turn the RV industry? But then again, we are American's and we have always wanted bigger and better. What the heck, I still have my Airstream dream that is part of my plan even when working on paying off the house. But it's a want to have, not need to have.

I guess time will tell. Sorry if I got off topic.
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Old 03-09-2009, 12:04 PM   #9
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That is tough.

How long before campgrounds start closing? I am sure many RVers are now parking their units and limiting their trips. ...
I can't provide a full answer on this, but can give you an interesting observation.

In addition to running the RV park, I also build websites for other businesses and not-for-profits and do the Internet marketing. Among other things, I do monthly site statistics, including both a full report (computer generated) and a manual summary for the clients. Two sites are particularly interesting in this regard: A local realty company here in Angel Fire and the NM Assn of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

And the results of these reports could not be more different for the last year. Prior to this time, both were finding steadily climbing numbers from month to month and year to year for that month.

But a year ago, a trend began to emerge: While the realty site's visitation numbers began to level off and then to fall, the association's numbers continued to climb.

The most recent month, February, was pretty revealing: The realty site's visitations were down by over 50% over a year ago for the same month whereas the association's site visitation was up again over the same period.

This is not to say that the rate of upward climb has always been the same for the association; I suspect that the rate of ascent has slowed somewhat. However, because I haven't checked this -- and because my gut feelings for expected findings have been so dramatically wrong in the past -- I would not place any money on this kind of trend.

Ok, so much for what I can ascertain.


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Old 03-09-2009, 12:05 PM   #10
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Both Jim and Soyboy bring up very good points.

Like Soyboy, I too have been spreadsheet happy lately. Even though I have no indicators that my or my wife's job could disappear, the reality is that either could at any time. Look at the the folks who also had no indication, walked into work one day and, well you know how the story goes-- same story many of the Fleetwood towable employees saw today.

I participated in that thread that asked how we'd weather this storm (assuming without a job loss). I trimmed a few hundred bucks out of my monthlies as a result.

I think you both are right on about the lion's share of the market shifting to value over excess or creature comforts. IMHO, a number of Fleetwood's offerings were value driven. They sold just about every tier from what I understand. Now that they are out, be it short term or long term, the dynamics have been set. As has been pointed out here and in the news wires--Penny's, Target, Wally World and the likes are all doing ok. Others, not so well. This will without question trickle down to disctretionary spending. Many of the stores I mentioned are for mostly non-discretionary items (toothpaste, paper towels, etc). Most things Fleetwood, Thor and Winnie sell are not.
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Old 03-09-2009, 12:07 PM   #11
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This looks like the TT's and 5er's that fell under the Fleetwood umbrella.

Travel Trailers & 5th Wheels : Fleetwood RV

In the 60's my dad was a Mallard dealer back when Mallard was owned by "Mallard". Hard to believe they are done.
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Old 03-09-2009, 12:12 PM   #12
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This looks like the TT's and 5er's that fell under the Fleetwood umbrella.

Travel Trailers & 5th Wheels : Fleetwood RV

In the 60's my dad was a Mallard dealer back when Mallard was owned by "Mallard". Hard to believe they are done.

You know, I knew Fleetwood made many different types of towables, but until I clicked the link Road Ruler provided, my God, that is a LOT of lines going away....17 by my count (including toy haulers).

...and more importantly where do you think all these folks that built these 17 models are going to go........most I would think might be at the unemployment lines as you read this.
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Old 03-09-2009, 12:34 PM   #13
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Former Fleetwood Employee

At one time Fleetwood had all of the components for sustained growth. Then over the years they changed their internal policies. Changed for the worse.

They also expanded products, and models.

They changed management. People entered the company without little knowledge of the industry. This coupled with almost their entire management team retiring at the same time. The knowledge and backbone of the company was removed.

Not underestimate the retirement of Johnny Crean from the company.

It is understandable that in troubled times, that Fleetwood is a troubled manufacturer.
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Old 03-09-2009, 02:13 PM   #14
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From this, there are positives and negitives. The negitives are that this is a setback for Fleetwood, and that Im sure people are losing their jobs. However, the positives are that maybe this company can still survive this hard times. I also hope it helps Airstream sales.
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