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Old 02-09-2009, 01:29 PM   #29
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I have an MPA, not an MBA so I'm not an expert about the afternoon drinking habits of the private sector guys. In the current economic climate, however, I don't think anyone is laughing. If they are, they need a sanity check. Airstream aka Thor Industries is taking a beating. The February 3 news release reported a 62 percent drop in sales for the 2nd quarter. For those of you keeping score, that's a 73.3 percent drop in RV sales. That looks particularly ugly when compared to the industry at large.
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Old 02-09-2009, 01:54 PM   #30
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I bet that the president of Airstream and all his managment read the Airforums with their afternoon Martinis, their ass off at us for talking about QC and tell stories about all the bad things they got away with that day.Isn't that your job when your a MBA and run a corp.
Don't kid yourself....there have been and continue to be several Airstream folks out there at nearly every level of the company reading these forums. This is a fact. I can't tell you how I know, just know that they are here and, some of them actively participate in the forums.....and you can see how well this free info has been taken to heart......."and that's all I have to say about that." Owning an Airstream for me has been like a box of chocolates...you never know what you are going to get (and as I said, I've owned two new ones now).

As for contacting the company, Bob is right, I made attempts and about as far as I got was support and supports idea for my corrosion issue was to sand the effected areas ever so slightly and apply clear nail polish to my exterior. Those who have seen this issue or have it know that it's everywhere...which makes the fix suggested somewhat ridiculous. So yes, I have tried to contact the company as have other folks with issues...the standard answer for corrosion is that it's a maint issue and outside of the clever nail polish fix, you are told you are basically out of warranty. I even tried to contact Dave Schumann, all to no avail. They don't really care....they have your money and you can't force them to do anything, so until something changes, no new Airstreams for me and for every person at the campgrounds that exclaim how they love the trailer and might be interested in one, I simply show them the exterior and they then say "how much was this trailer?" The usually walk away looking like deer in headlights....and we all also know how many folks stop by at campgrounds to see our trailers....in an average campground I'd be hard pressed to not have 4-5 couples come to see it.

Thor sells bus lines too, so they may be hit softer than say Fleetwood, but still, I agree, any loss of such a percentage of the RV business will be felt...at this point, it's too little too late...kind of like trying to diffuse a bomb that has already gone off....the QC issues are just gravy at this point.
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Old 02-09-2009, 02:02 PM   #31
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I bet that the president of Airstream and all his managment read the Airforums with their afternoon Martinis.
Jimmini,
I am not sure who at Airstream reads the forums or if they do it over afternoon libations, but I am sure that somebody there is reading the forums.

Last year when a brake line on my '06 went south (see http://www.airforums.com/forums/f439...end-45278.html) I sent a thank you e-mail to Airstream thanking them for helping me get back on the road. Part of the response I received from a customer relations representative was "...I saw your post on the Airforums group this weekend talking about this occurrence..."

Hopefully somebody at the mothership is forwarding these concerns up the chain of command.

Maybe Airstream needs something like a customer advisory board?

I will say that it is disheartening that nobody from Airstream is letting us know they hear us and are taking steps to address our concerns.
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Old 02-09-2009, 02:09 PM   #32
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Jimmini,
."

Hopefully somebody somebody at the mothership is forwarding these concerns up the chain of command.

Maybe Airstream needs something like a customer advisory board?

I will say that it is disheartening that nobody from Airstream is letting us know they hear us and are taking steps to address our concerns.
Well, this is a great idea, however looking at post #11 on this thread, you can see the QC links. The folks I know that are on the forum from the factory told me they've seen these threads. There are clear issues that come year after year. Any info received from these forums clearly hadn't made it to engineering or production, some for several years. The bottom line is that I am afraid to say, it's all boils down to money. It's easier for them to collectively put their heads in the sand and loose customers than it is for them to not follow the old paradigms and pay workers based on number of units built and subtracting warranty work from the pay that is based of units they churn out. My 2003 had about a half dozen to a dozen issues. I only had it for about a year. My 2004 had 19 issues reported on warranty and still about a half dozen have either returned or have come up new.

It really is sad because I really love the trailer and the folks I've had the priv of interacting with at the factory are really a great bunch of folks...I don't blame those folks at all, I blame Thor, Airstream upper mgmt and some of the workers on the line (read not all the workers).

The QC issues right now are well known by both current and future customers. There is really only one solution, but I remain doubtful that any real attention will be made to address the root cause properly. I mean seriously...roof lockers falling down, leaks, no caulk, extreme caulk, wrappers inside, etc....just no pride in work anymore, even at these price levels. I think an advisory board would be taken as seriously as the president of Airstream reading these threads (and don't think for a second he hasn't, cause I know for a fact he has).
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Old 02-09-2009, 02:14 PM   #33
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Good to hear

GOOD To hear some of you say they read the Air Forums.
Hope they heed some of what they read here.
Sure would hate to see them go under.Set your sights on tomorrow's business by taking a closer look at today.
Then where would I get parts for my good old 1989 Squarestream?
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Old 02-09-2009, 02:15 PM   #34
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GOOD To hear some of you say they read the Air Forums.
Hope they heed some of what they read here.
Sure would hate to see them go under.
Then where would I get parts for my good old 1989 Squarestream?
I'll continue to hold my breath and let you know if I make it to the time that they take any positive or meaningful action.
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Old 02-09-2009, 02:30 PM   #35
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I too have contacted the company over warranty issues, though not corrosion. The common complaints about corrosion and leaks have not been my experience, though I have had a number of other complaints. The dealer refused to fix some things and after writing Thor, I did get a great deal of cooperation from Dave Schumann. So, start with the Thor president. I don't know whether it was my letterhead that made a difference though I have found when I have a problem with a company I usually get what I want. As for the dealer, I have lots of problems with them, but that's another issue.

I don't know whether Airstream management reads the Forums though I am sure they are aware of them. Since they have jobs, I expect they have little time for this. I think it would help for them to monitor the Forum, but they might think of us as a bunch of complainers.

Unless I spent a lot of time with Airstream management (I've not been invited), it would be hard for me to understand their motivations. Are they so wrapped up in the Airstream mystique that they think whatever they do is fine? Are they using Airstream to generate lots of cash to get through the inevitable downturns? Do they think they can get away with weak QC because they have an American design original? Or, are they incompetent? Long ago GM (you could insert others depending on your brand perference—Hudson, Packard, Ford, Chrysler, Willys, etc.) made the best cars and trucks in the US and maybe the world. They got wrapped up in themselves, stopped innovating, QC disappeared, and the rest of the world passed them by. They are so insular they still haven't figured it out. Maybe Airstream is the same, although on a much smaller scale.

Would I buy another new one? Hard for me to say. I've got one. I feel ripped off. Every friend who has seen our Safari loves it. They don't ask me about quality. Sometimes I volunteer something, sometimes not.

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Old 02-09-2009, 02:39 PM   #36
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And let's not kid ourselves. Thor didn't buy Airstream because it's a huge cash cow. In 2007, RV manufacturers shipped over 350,000 RVs to dealers. In 2006, around 390,000 were shipped. Airstream produces what? About 2,000 trailer a year? Even with very good margins, this is not going to make or break a company with Thor's market cap.

The primary motivation for Thor is the ownership of an iconic brand. Traditionally, high end products have larger profit margins... but only if the manufacturer retains the brand cachet. This is hard for a larger company to do with a smaller prestige brand. There are different organizational cultures (and imperatives) for a big "mass market" manufacturer. A brand like Airstream has to be a labor of love for a manufacturer because they just aren't going to turn enough units to justify huge overhead. On the other hand, the entire organization can reap benefits if the brand is properly managed and the "cult of quality" of fostered.
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Old 02-09-2009, 03:02 PM   #37
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Thumbs up It can be done right!!

As some here know we started our Airstream experience with a 63 Safari.
Back in the mid 90's we needed a new fridge. We had a trip planed anyway and we really wanted to see where our old girl was made, the price was right, so we decided to have it done at the Mother-ship. It was a very satisfying experience. Spent most of the afternoon watching the whole operation. Now I can't say for sure, but I think the tech was a real "old timer", took pride in his work and spent valuable time explaining things to us. My guess is he probably started on the line and graduated to the refurb shop. When the trailer was delivered back to it's parking area it was cleaner and in better shape than when the repair started. Right down to the boomerang panel being re-fitted to the door of the new fridge.

One other thing to note, they were very busy at the time doing a huge amount of very expensive repairs. They called them "Bismark's". Hail damage panel repairs from a National Rally in N.D. No problem, we got the same treatment as the big buck's.

Wish it were so...
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Old 02-09-2009, 03:16 PM   #38
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As always, I think Gene has some thoughtful comments. I really don't know what Airstream execs are thinking. I do know that if I were working there and found out someone had put a McDonald's wrapper inside a space, there would be someone's head on a plate (metaphorically speaking).

I don't care what good you make or service you provide. You never want a customer to feel "ripped off," particularly if you are selling a high end, discretionary luxury good. In the Internet era, word-of-mouth is more critical than ever before. Customer discontent moves much faster and further than it ever has.

Airstream is missing a key opportunity by not providing high end customer care using these forums. This is a great venue for applying the oil of quality to some squeaky wheels. For the record, I'm not one. Based on our preferences, we bought a vintage coach. Thus far, I am very pleased. I would rather spend $50,000 chasing my own RV-engineering tail than spend $50,000 and have a dealer or manufacturer tell me... it's your problem, not ours. Hey, buying a '67 Overlander... it's all my problem.

Frankly, if Airstream QC was really working right, they would be here and visible.
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Old 02-09-2009, 03:34 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by hampstead38 View Post
And let's not kid ourselves. Thor didn't buy Airstream because it's a huge cash cow. In 2007, RV manufacturers shipped over 350,000 RVs to dealers. In 2006, around 390,000 were shipped. Airstream produces what? About 2,000 trailer a year? Even with very good margins, this is not going to make or break a company with Thor's market cap.

The primary motivation for Thor is the ownership of an iconic brand. Traditionally, high end products have larger profit margins... but only if the manufacturer retains the brand cachet. This is hard for a larger company to do with a smaller prestige brand. There are different organizational cultures (and imperatives) for a big "mass market" manufacturer. A brand like Airstream has to be a labor of love for a manufacturer because they just aren't going to turn enough units to justify huge overhead. On the other hand, the entire organization can reap benefits if the brand is properly managed and the "cult of quality" of fostered.
Hampstead38,

Your history is a little confused. Thor did not buy Airstream after they owned many RV manufacturers, Thor started in 1979 with the purchase of Airstream from Beatrice Foods. It was the income from Airstream which allowed them to purchase many other brands and become the largest manufacturer of towables in the US.

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Old 02-09-2009, 03:59 PM   #40
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I stand corrected... but regardless of who bought whom, the issue at hand is quality issues concerning Airstream. Perhaps the acquisition of all these "other brands" diluted the attention Thor was giving Airstream. As Gene aptly noted, unless there's someone with "inside baseball" knowledge, we are all just freewheeling as to why Airstream is having QC issues. I won't speak for anyone else, but threads like those on the filiform corrosion influenced me to think "vintage" rather than new. My wife and I have been blessed enough to where we could have gone either way. Our decision was one that put $0 in Thor Industries pocket.

By the way, the "wiki" on Thor Industries.
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:25 PM   #41
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Although I mentioned my dealer problem in passing in my last post, I didn't want to muddy up that post.

So, a new post. The dealer only acted on a number of warranty claims when told to by the factory. In replacing the rain gutter over a window, they didn't bother to install 2/3 of the rivets—just empty holes were left. They backed our Safari into the tongue of another trailer and put a hole in it. They fixed that, although they owe me some decal. There's a crease about 6" long in one side of the trailer.

Since we picked it up on a day it was pouring, I didn't notice the crease. About a week later, I did see it and when I was polishing the trailer a couple of days later, I discovered the missing rivets. I didn't tell the dealer about this because I was so angry. I can excuse one mistake, but this was too much. I did inform the factory of some of the problems.

This happened last summer. Still angry, but not as much, I e-mailed the dealer service dep't about these problems about 3 weeks ago. No response. Last week I followed up; no response. Now I will have to alert the dealer management about their service dept. I have no intention of getting anything else fixed there, especially since I am going to Jackson Center in May.

Others on this Forum complain about dealers. Some drive 1,000 or more miles to buy at one of the reputable dealers—there don't seem to be many good ones. Imagine how many sales are lost because Airstream doesn't have a good dealer network. If someone asks me about buying one, I'll tell them my experience. I will point out the other dealer in Colorado ignored us when we wan tried to talk to a salesman. The salesman we did talk to seemed to be willing to tell us any lie to sell a trailer. How many people will buy a new trailer when they have to drive 500 or 1,000 miles and then have to fight to get their warranty honored?

This also relates to QC. We drive Toyotas and few things ever break. If their dealers are awful it doesn't matter so much. But when a company's frontline representatives lie to you and their service dep't is run by people who damage your trailer or refuse to fix things that are warranteed, how many sales are lost?

Gene
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:36 PM   #42
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My fantasy is that for a new model year Airstream issues a press release that says what has changed for that year. I would settle for simple things like a decent 3 stage converter that wouldn't shorten the life of expensive AGMs. But I am confident that for 2010 the Parallax 7355 single stage converter will still be there.
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