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Old 06-24-2012, 09:30 PM   #337
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Hibby, my feeling is AS is small potatoes for Thor. They probably keep it around only for the name recognition. Anybody ever figure out what the AS division is worth? I can't see it being a huge moneymaker for them. Maybe I'm wrong but the economics of production on such a small scale have never impressed me as being something that would be profitable.

Who knows, stranger things have happened.

Who is John Galt?

Dan
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Old 06-24-2012, 09:34 PM   #338
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OK, you lads are on going the right direction, but are off the track.

Airstream will give you the rights to the motorhome division for next to nothing, and you won't even have to "retrain" those workers on the line.

Start fresh with everything.

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Airstream couldn't compete in today's motor home market, and a bunch of trailer guys couldn't either! There are a bunch of well established, old name motorhome manufacturers that are right in the edge right now. Stick to the trailers, where the reputation and iconic design reign supreme!

The only self-sufficient, design/service oriented, properly constructed and cared-for motor home in the market today is Newell Coach, and they START at $1.5 million!!!!
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Old 06-24-2012, 09:45 PM   #339
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You're exactly right RWG. Why was I not seeing that. Thats where a group of very interested professionals who had a true feel for the product would come out on top.
Well built functionality combined with elegance will always trump fence posts. I'm in for 50 grand.

Dan
PS this thread is starting to move to fast for me. We need to set up the live chat area somehow. MODS, how do we do this?
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Old 06-24-2012, 10:19 PM   #340
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Dan -

Started my career in consumer products marketing, spent considerable time in production both in and out of the US, have been a COO (both public and private companies) and division president of a publicly held company plus I've served on boards of private companies including one owned by venture capitalists. Today I'm serving as a non-management board chairman of a privately held company and doing independent production consulting work. I have commented on Airstream's manufacturing operations in another thread: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f483...ml#post1160668 .See post #18. Some day I'll find the time to post my thoughts on the management of its brand equity.

There are a number of ways to value companies. If Airstream is making money and generating strong positive cash flow Thor has little incentive to sell it unless a significant premium can be realized or Thor has an immediate need for the capital a sale would realize. A purchase price representing a significant premium over asset value, or a unreasonable EBITDA multiple, could make the transaction undesirable to potential investors. Private investors typically try to minimize exposure to intangible assets such as the "goodwill" a premium price would put on the balance sheet. Airstream competes in an unattractive highly cyclical industry and would on the surface appear to banks and potential private equity investors to have limited upside potential. A buyout group would have to convince the banks or private equity groups backing the venture there is either significant unrealized cost cutting potential or very high upside volume potential Thor has failed to identify. I doubt a buyout group of Airstream brand enthusiasts would go the deep cost cutting route, or the cost cutting realized by the new owners would be reinvested to offset the cost of quality improvements, so to raise investment capital such a group would have to put a realistic and detailed business plan together for investors showing how sales could be doubled or tripled in a reasonably short period of time while sustaining or increasing margins and cash flow. I do believe there are some brand enhancing volume opportunities Thor is missing but doubling sales in 2-3 years without reducing operating margins would be a tall order.

DW wants me to fully retire and spend time traveling. However, for something fun like this . . .
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Old 06-24-2012, 10:34 PM   #341
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Great idea, Dan. I missed most of the discussion. I was outside trying to get the Thor decal off of my Airstream.
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Old 06-24-2012, 10:39 PM   #342
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Raising money in the capital markets means a business plan like Thor's --all about growth. That is not the firm you want to create.

Raise all the money from enthusiasts, and you can built a small, profitable, luxury brand. There is no need to sell more quantity when it is all about quality.
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Old 06-24-2012, 11:54 PM   #343
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Chuck, thats why I said my post was a what if..... I'm well aware of the brutal business enviornment Thor is operating under in this economy. I think RWG hit the nail on the head though. They're in business to make money. The Boards fiduciary responsibility is to the stockholders not to us, the consumers. The Board sets the course, Bob Wheeler guides the ship.

However, My thoughts were not to start up another corporate entity to rival or outperform Thor. Just a group of guys with I'm seeing a lot of expertise who value a product over quarterly profits. I've spent most of my career in design and in most ways my objectives and goals were much different than anything a corporate Board would have endorsed. I think about products as a pure objective.What is produced and the quality of the product would be my goal. This company would not make much money, if any and many of the investors would lose their cash. The venture capital I would be looking for would come from guys much like yourself. Guys who would pay 50 grand to build a product that was unencumbered by profit motives. If a company promotes a culture of product perfection the profits will follow. Eventually.

As naive as this sounds, I can't respect a corporation where the bottom line is pure profit. Unfortunately most of corporate America functions within this model in order to stay in business. Thor is no exception.

Anyway, wouldn't it be a lot of fun? And I'm sure we could build a much better trailer. I'm talking Aston Martin here. I'll take a DB9.

Dan
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Old 06-25-2012, 01:37 AM   #344
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Maybe Thor is ripe for a takeover by vulture capitalists. I think Thor has low debt and lots of cash. Stock prices may be low because of the weakness of the RV industry.

Organize a limited partnership with a small group of fairly wealthy managing partners and take in limited partners to raise more capital. Start buying stock while the partnership's analysts run down the industry to bring down stock prices more. Work with the executives at Thor to help with a buyout. Promise them big, big payouts when the partnership takes over the corporation. Large consulting fees more than make up for the investments made as you loot the treasury with fees. Once the buyout is complete, start issuing debt to use to pay big dividends to the managing partners and smaller ones to the limited partners. Move production to China where underpaid workers still manage to make a cheap, but mediocre product—after all, no one expects RV's to be reliable.

Eventually the debt overwhelms the company but the partners make more money advising the company through bankruptcy and more reorganization. The result is the partnership makes hundreds of millions on an investments of much less. Or, before bankruptcy becomes evident, take the company public again, sell shares at inflated values, cash in for multimillions in fees and stock sale and go look for another company to loot.

No creativity necessary. Plenty of young lawyers and MBA's need jobs and know how to do the work on this guided by some cynical, older lawyers and MBA's. This looks like a lot easier than being creative in improving the product and making modest amounts of money. I think this outcome is more likely too.

But I'd like to see a wholly different outcome. If I were 20 years younger….

Gene
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Old 06-25-2012, 09:13 AM   #345
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Wow, read the last few pages to catch up...now to take a breath. One has to wonder if Mojave would have hooked an attorney onto his warranty issues, the end result might have been a bit more to his liking. Most states have a consumer advocate that handles warranty / insurance issues at no charge to the public. Caveat Emptor; if our liquid financial situation allowed purchase of a larger AS, we'd do it in a heartbeat. However, right now, my background as an economist tells me to do otherwise... investment options for a potential global crisis trump short term discretionary issues.
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Old 06-25-2012, 09:19 AM   #346
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Wow, read the last few pages to catch up...now to take a breath. One has to wonder if Mojave would have hooked an attorney onto his warranty issues, the end result might have been a bit more to his liking. Most states have a consumer advocate that handles warranty / insurance issues at no charge to the public. Caveat Emptor; if our liquid financial situation allowed purchase of a larger AS, we'd do it in a heartbeat. However, right now, my background as an economist tells me to do otherwise... investment options for a potential global crisis trump short term discretionary issues.
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Old 06-25-2012, 09:39 AM   #347
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We have had great fun with our AS and are still loving it, reading this thread one has to wonder why people don't just sell them and find something else to do, save what sounds like a lot of frustration.
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Old 06-25-2012, 10:24 AM   #348
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Zbug, because misery loves company and some people want all of us to be as miserable as they are. Pretty self centered. Jim
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Old 06-25-2012, 10:39 AM   #349
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Zbug, because misery loves company and some people want all of us to be as miserable as they are. Pretty self centered. Jim
Odd, I don't recall anyone here trying to discourage your optimism about your Airstream. Yet, you add little more to the discussion than to criticize those who have had a different experience.


Who's self-centered? There's a remedy for that.
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:27 AM   #350
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Z and z, I'm not miserable and I have no intention to make either of you miserable or to share in your misery or anger. If this made me mad or I wasn't enjoying the banter I would just unsubscribe from the thread. Is it really that you are escatic with your purchase or have you backed yourself into a defensive corner at all costs. Again, I'm mostly happy with my trailer, but in some areas I've settled. And I don't like that. The design of the rear gaucho, dinette is pathetic. Almost unusable. I will change this. Zig I'm really glad you're happy, but some people are having problems and this thread has gone a long way in showing that Thor and AS are no longer in the travel trailer business. They are merely a corporate conglomerate that manufactures travel trailers as a way to satisfy their shareholders rather than the consumers who buy them. If it were the opposite there would be few quality issues and these issues would be easily taken care of without a drive across the country.

Everytime I think this thread has run it's course something else pops back up. Yesterday I was thinking about a different model where quality and customer service trump profits. I know it would never fly or even roll but I was having fun and I think this discussion has opened up a lot of peoples eyes about corporate culture in general. Your AS is not produced to be the best travel trailer available but to be the most profitable trailer for Thor industries. The bottom line will always prevail.

Gene, I'm looking for some money here.

But then think about what happened at Earthbound.

Dan
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