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Old 09-04-2003, 07:02 PM   #1
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Insider news from AS rep

This link leads to the other AS forum. It looks like a factory rep made a post of some changes going on at the factory. Go towards the bottom of the page and look for "STREAMER" user name. May be interesting to some.
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Old 09-05-2003, 06:44 AM   #2
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Interesting. I too posted a few comments. I truely hope Streamer is right and that they have some serious stuff in place now. It is a total disgrace what has been happening.

Eric
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Old 09-05-2003, 10:19 AM   #3
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There IS new blood at A/S

I can tell you that what you hear in Streamers comments really rings in my ears. You see the new Director of Quality is a former member of our WBCCI unit. He came from Lockheed in Ft Worth. The way he came to be at Airstream is interesting. Back late last year, he took is '01, Anniversary Edition back to the factory as it had been plagued with a leak in the front skin area. The local dealer had been a complete waste of time (his experience typical of several of our encounters with this dealer). Anyway, the 2 yr warranty was coming close so he decided to see if the factory could/would fix the problem. He also asked to have a few minutes with the new President of A/S. By the time they talked, the factory had gutted the front end of his rig, found the leak, fixed it , and put in new carpet, drapes, sofa as well as new interior wall material that was removed. In his conversation with the new Pres, he laid the quality issues on the line. He told me that the guy slammed his fist down on his desk and stated that he was tired of hearing about the lack of quality. Anyway, that conversation led to a job offer from Airstream, which he accepted. Anyway, I know from talking with Rob, that he clearly is a believer that you have to BUILD quality in from the very beginning. He has been on the job less than six months, but from what others have posted, the '04s are showing improvement, so he is already having an impact.

With the new younger management team in place, lets hope that we have seen the worst and it is all uphill from here.
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Old 09-05-2003, 10:25 AM   #4
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David,

That is probobly the most encouraging news I have seen in regard to the Q/C issue. You never really know if you are getting lip service or not when you hear they hired new staff and are making the commitments, etc. Afterall, the website alone talks about how great it has been and most of us know otherwise.

I am very, very encouraged by what you posted. I may do that 2004 afterall if I can swing it.

Thanks for the inside info......very helpful.

Eric
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Old 09-05-2003, 11:03 AM   #5
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More good news

Did you catch the trade press article regarding how the CCD came to be? Anyway, in that article, Mr Huttle (CH of the board) stated that with the new management team in place to fix the production and quality issues, his next job was to fix the dealer problem. He stated that he clearly understood the missmatch between new buyer expectation and the level of passion and committment typical at most dealers (I can 2nd that). He mentioned that A/S was looking to setup a few A/S-only dealers potentially with A/S diners, and A/S parks. He also mentioned that A/S feels it is on the same track as Harley Davidson, but years behnd it. Harley would not be a bad model to follow.
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Old 09-05-2003, 11:24 AM   #6
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DFW area

David, noticed your in the DFW area. Is there a local group or club around? Have a '67 Tradewind & live in Southlake. Thanks Jim
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Old 09-05-2003, 01:38 PM   #7
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Check you PMs

Jim,
I just sent you a private message regarding the local unit. Hope to hear from you
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Old 09-05-2003, 02:03 PM   #8
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"Harley would not be a bad model to follow."

true, harley makes plenty of money!

unfortunately, with the new popularity of harleys, they turned alot of oldtimers off by forcing mom and pop dealerships out of business. go big or get out!

hard to tell nowadays if your shopping at the GAP or at a harley davidson dealer! parts for bikes older than 5 years are "no longer supported by the factory".

i hope airstream continues to be a viable american company. i also hope older airstream dealers are not forced out of business. once the experiance of older dealers is lost it is gone forever! bikes or trailers.

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Old 09-05-2003, 02:23 PM   #9
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Not all that many dealers left

If you look around, Airstream representation is pretty limited. The meltdown of the RV industry in the 80s and 90s pretty well culled out most of the dealers. In the interim, a few have been brought on board that I suspect will not survive as Airstream upgrades the expectations/requirements of its dealers. The baby boomer market that is currently driving the Airstream resurgence has a higher level of expectations and it is up to Airstream to either meet those expectations or see the market dwindle. This applies to the product as well as the pre/post sales experience. I doubt that Airstream will force dealers out any time soon, but over time, the expectations and requirements of being an Airstream dealer may well rise to levels that some dealers will either fail or have no desire to meet. Change while uncomfortable at times, is like a steam roller, you can either get on board, stand to the side or get squashed standing in front trying to stop it, but the stream roller is going to keep on rolling.
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Old 09-05-2003, 09:01 PM   #10
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Just to add a few comments on the Quality Control issue . . .

We emailed Airstream after our new CCD shakedown trip about the several little things that fell apart/broke/ etc ....

After a couple of days I got a phone call from a customer service person at Airstream. We discussed the QC issues and he told me all about the great new Director of QC that dtbw knows from the WBCCI and how he was setting things right . . .

He said that they currently have quality inspections of all the systems in each and every model as it comes out of the factory before sending to the dealers - the water, electric, appliances, gas is all thoroughly gone over to make sure it works and is safe. He said they were now implementing further inspection of the fit and finish of the interior furnishings due to the many concerns they have been getting from new owners. . . .

I also asked him about any plans Airstream might have for farming the factory work to overseas labor and he said there were definitely no plans for that, it was all staying in the US; in fact they had just finished refurbishing the Ohio plant extensively and had put a lot of money into it . . .
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Old 09-05-2003, 10:53 PM   #11
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....all that public relations spin is great and all....but how about the poor folks that bought into the A/S lifestyle in the late 90's and in the last 3 years....only to find out the hard way that their beloved A/S is somewhat "cheesey"....if anything, what does Airstream owe them after all the warranty is expired?....or are they just skrued?...thank God I didn't buy that NEW 2001 $56,000 Airstream in Columbus Ohio last year ...I would have but the salesman turned me off saying they couldn't convert it to all electric...so I walked away.Now I have an old '77 beater-which I have re-made into a trailer like I want.....geof-near Cincinnati
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Old 09-06-2003, 05:53 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mrs Silverback


...He said that they currently have quality inspections of all the systems in each and every model
as it comes out of the factory before sending to the dealers - the water, electric, appliances, gas is all thoroughly gone over to make sure it works and is safe. He said they were now implementing further inspection of the fit and finish of the interior furnishings due to the many concerns they have been getting from new owners. . . .
What a waste, increased end cost and doomed business plan.
To create a high quality end product, pride and excellence in workmanship needs to be executed flawlessly during production.
Weak links need to be identified and eliminated. After 30 years in the service industry, I always have put quality first.

A few month ago, I ordered a body panel, which was dropped shipped ship to me from Airstream.
When I went to pick it up from the shippers terminal, I demanded to inspect it prior to paying the $113.- freight charges.
It was:
1. the wrong panel
2. shoved in a thin cardboard box
3. wrapped in very thin foam
4. damaged
I refused the shipment. Later I found out that Airstream instructed the shipper to discard of the $550.- panel locally.
As the head of quality control I would walk over and fire the manager of shipping.

For the Airstream Rep lurker, a new sign to hang on your walls:

QUALITY DOES NOT COST, IT PAYS
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Old 09-06-2003, 06:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
What a waste, increased end cost and doomed business plan.
To create a high quality end product, pride and excellence in workmanship needs to be executed flawlessly during production.
How right you are. I watched the auto industry (really heavy trucks) go through this. 20-40 people in a department assembling. This could be anything from correctly installing the part to reaming holes, beating, twisting, etc. to make it fit. An inspector then looked at the parts the people had put on, then 2 mechanics fixed what had not been put together right. That is pre-80's corporate think.

Inland Andy claims the problem is a shortage of craftsmen, but that is an excuse not be a problem. A lot of what Airstream purchases is assemblies, the cabinetry can be produced with relatively cheap CNC machinery. If it is formed/shaped so it goes together properly, that is how it will be assembled. If individuals (or suppliers) can't reach the level of quality that Airstream desires, they can be dealt with. But it doesn't make sense to add the expense of more inspection and more repair (and the possibility of damage during repair) to a business in these times.

John
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Old 09-06-2003, 06:49 AM   #14
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Our company(we are a national roofing contractor) has a program called TQM total quality management. Which encompasses 4 main principles. It is one of the major reasons we are still in business in today's market. The company has been in business since the early 50's. The four principles are really very simple: Meet the Requirements,both of the customer and our company. Know what is wanted before begining work! Error-Free Work (If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when are you going to have time to do it over?), MANAGE BY PREVENTION! causing errors not to happen by investing time and money in planning and training every person involved in all phases of the project.MEASURE ALL PROJECTS by the COST of Quality kind of like, "momma ain't happy ain't nobody happy"

We aren't perfect, and our jobs aren't perfect, but we got to be one of the top 15 companies nationally by concentrating on QUALITY not volume. And it is reinforced on a daily, weekly,monthly and yearly basis. If you don't like the way company works you are free to look elsewhere for work, and that includes VP's as well as field people. An believe me they aren't afraid to get rid of anybody that isn't adhereing to company standards. As far as the shortage of craftsmens, guess what...it is called lack of training! Craftsmen cannot be created overnight! It takes years of learning and doing to become a craftsmen. Skilled labor costs, and a lot of companies aren't willing to pay for skilled labor, or they think they can hire one or two "Craftsmen" and a bunch of laborers and turn out a quality product. I don't believe it works that way. Anytime you put quality at the end of the requirement list you are getting what you ask for. Most companies today, see it as Profit, Production, Quality. See where quality ends up...at the end of the list. Small wonder all it gets is lip service. I have no idea how many units AS churns out a year, but I bet if they would cut production by about 5% and put the additional time back into QC they would discover that the profits would remain the same or would increase! Quality should be job one for everyone! from the ditch digger, to the garbage man, to the women or men cooking dinner, to CEO's of worldwide corporations, to the people at AS Ok I'll get off my soapbox now.

Aaron
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