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Old 10-02-2002, 05:39 PM   #29
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John,
You have a good discussion going. Thanks for starting it. Your point as I understand it, is that because there are so many more older A/S on the road than new, then that must mean the new ones are over priced. The reason there are so many more older TT's out there is because they are built to last and are loved by all. The reason the brand X trailers are less expensive is because they won't last long enough to be on the road 20-30 yrs. from now. I still get more requests to look inside my 73 Safari than any new 5th wheeler pulling into a RV park. Also, I still get the same comment when anyone asks what brand of TT I have: "Oh an Airstream, those are great trailers". Yes new A/S's cost more than my budget can handle, but that's ok, my 29 yr. old trailer is worth several times more than any old brand X as well - If you can still find one on the road.

Larry
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Old 10-02-2002, 09:05 PM   #30
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Ken, great post on the Thor stock. Does the annual report show what percentage of their business has the Airstream name on it? Thor makes a pot load of white trailers too.

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Lee
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Old 10-03-2002, 11:05 AM   #31
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Yes they also make busses - although when I read the report, the bus business was not good.

I'll see if I can find the report and see what percentage is Airstream.
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Old 10-04-2002, 10:13 AM   #32
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John's post brings up the classic discussion of why people buy what they do and why some are willing to pay more than others. The answer is TRUST. They TRUST that the product or service will fulfill their NEEDS, which is also pointed out here... that everyone has different implicit and explict needs, both emotional and technical.

In other words, if a company has the credibility and empathy to satisfy the prospective client's value-based needs, the transactional risk is reduced to the point that the buyer will spend more than they otherwise would have or than may be rational. That's why we have this wonderful confederation of Airstream enthusiasts--- we share at least one of several personal values, be it a love of nature, nostalgia, travel, product and on... that our Airstreams help satisfy.

With regard to build quality, the Airstreams are virtually entirely hand built, shockingly so to me, manufacture in an age where we are used to computer aided tolerances. For those of you that have the opportunity, I stongly encourage you to look at any other predominately hand-built conveyance--Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lotus, etc. and you will be appalled at the "poor" quality of the hand-built exotics, even when compared to our least expensive assembly-line US vehicles, yet they sell every day to people who put up with their eccentricities.

We have a common affinity that comes from a multitude of highly diverse backgrounds and our individually unique frames of reference which is what makes this and other forums and communities, including the WBCCI, great.

Jace
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Old 10-04-2002, 12:24 PM   #33
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One might also consider that the older Airstreams are in some abundance on the road because they are loved and cared for. Much like 55 Chevys, old Corvettes, Harleys as mentioned, classic Porsches,Mustangs and on and on. Look at the number of old GMC motorhomes out there. Still popular and being maintained because of what they are = different.
New motoromes of s.o.b. run as high as $750,000 or more, and still sell. We see Monaco, Bluebird, new Airstreams, Prevost and other high end motorhomes every time we travel.
If you build a quality product, it will sell no matter what the price.
Too bad for those of us (like myself and fellow teachers) who can't swing a new one, but are still so glad to have an old beauty.
Emotions have to be involved when you are speaking about a niche product like the one we all own.
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Old 12-17-2002, 11:47 AM   #34
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Airstream is a first class brand, and price is not the problem - so NO they are not pricing themselves out of the market. People buy $100,000+ motorhomes in quantity (made from cardboard and staples), expensive boats, airplanes... Rolex costs more than Timex.

Airstream's marketing effort is somewhere between bad and nonexistant. Look at the 2003 brochure... the back cover photo is ancient, the rest is not much better. See any Airstream ads lately? Been to an Airstream dealer with a gravel lot, minimal inventory, no enclosed showroom or service bay? Seen Airstream at an RV show? I visited an Airstream dealer inquiring about Airstream, only to have the salesman shove several stick box trailer brochures in my hand!

Airstream is suffering from a death spiral... low volume -> higher per-unit manufacturing costs -> higher prices and cost-cutting -> lower volume still. This killed the light airplane industry, and we may see it kill Airstream. If so, I hope a more aggresive company will pick up the brand and run with it!
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Old 12-17-2002, 12:02 PM   #35
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There are different opinions on this. Most of the really good merchandise out there, with the exception of automobiles, does not get advertised much.
I believe that the problem with Thor is not so much the lack of marketing, but a definite loss of quality for the high prices they ask. On the other hand, if they did a better interior job, then the prices no doubt would be even higher.
Just my opinion.
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Old 12-17-2002, 12:30 PM   #36
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This has been an interesting exchange.....

...which I picked up on for the first time. I knew a little bit about trailers and coaches, having owned one of each over the years. My wife and I had our minds set on a new 30+ foot Holiday Rambler TT, which appeared favorable in construction and design to most of the other TT's on the market. Pricier yes, but better built. And then? We had the opportunity to see an older Airstream owned by some casual acquaintances. I can't quite explain it, but don't have to for you folks who own Airstreams. The Holiday Rambler was beautiful in the way a room at a Four Seasons hotel is beautiful. However, the Airstream just seemed like "us" for some reason. We found the right one and couldn't be happier, even with the periodic cost and maintenance associated with a vehicle 16-17 years old. While I would hate to see Thor Industries or the Airstream manufacturing capability go away, it really doesn't matter to me personally - unless parts became totally unavailable. This trailer is the last one I will ever buy regardless of whatever financial ability I have or will have down through the years. No message from me, other than a reminder to be thankful for what you/we have. Happy holidays, folks.

Joe
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Old 12-17-2002, 01:01 PM   #37
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Good comments Joe. We forum folk sure do appreciate what we have, which is why we spend so much time trying to improve, maintain, and enjoy!! You have a great and safe holiday as well.
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Old 12-17-2002, 02:25 PM   #38
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I don't think so Tim!

When I was at the factory, several weeks ago, the guide stated that they were going to up production from 15 to 20 trailers a week. Thor Industries stock is doing quite well. Doesn't sound like they are pricing themselves out of the market to me!
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Old 12-17-2002, 05:19 PM   #39
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/start soapbox

15 or 20 trailers a week, less holidays, model year changeovers... this is a trickle. Probably doesn't even cover the loss of totaled trailers out in the fleet. They have no buying power purchasing 40 axles, 40 aluminum propane cylinders, 20 "Safari" badges... Thor's profitability comes from their other lines, and that is both the salvation (profits to keep it going) and the threat (why bother when we have other more profitable lines) to Airstream.

If we lost Airstream as a vendor we would lose factory support, parts availability, the option of buying a new trailer ever in the future, and the option for the next generation to buy a new Airstream.

I experienced all this in the light aircraft industry and it's not pretty. Parts prices go stratospheric and availability becomes nill, flying airframes get parted out shrinking the fleet further, a shrinking fleet supports a smaller repair and aftermarket infrastructure, insurance rates rise to meet sky high repair costs... the economics become ridiculous. I eventually sold my planes and fly Northwest!

Thor must increase the volume of Airstreams it sells. The baby boomers are approaching retriement, their product quality is 95%, the pricing is not yet way out of line, but their marketing and channel is awful. Upper end products still market aggresively to compete for consumers time and dollars - like Mercedes, Lexus, Rolex, Nordstoms, Gulfstream jets. Thor has an opportunity for Airstream to thrive or die.

/end soapbox
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Old 12-17-2002, 05:48 PM   #40
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Buying power

You are looking way too close. A buying contract would be 6 months to a year at a time and would be thousands of axles, cylinders, etc. That is big business for any supplier.

Secondly, all the other Thor lines contribute to the supplier relationship. A supplier who is going to provide 20,000 axles for another Thor product isn't going to pin Thor to the wall on their flagship product. Suppliers will come crawwling on their bellies for the kind of market Thor provides.

My previous trailer, a TrailManor was made in a factory that produced about 1 1/2 units a week. They thrived. They now have a brand new factory that produces perhaps a half-dozen a week and they are still growing.

TrailManor is also a pricy product in their arena and they are doing very well. Like Airstream, they have a hook; i.e. a special product that has no direct equal in the market.

BTW: Both my old Scamp and my old TrailManor had precidsely the same Dexter axles as my new International. Their axles differed only in specific load rating and offset.
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Old 12-17-2002, 05:50 PM   #41
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I think Airsteam prices for new ones is very high,
I also think $30,000 pick-up trucks are very high.

I live in an old wooden 800sq house. house value Zero, land value $350,000 , I think that is very high ( but I am on the right side of that one)

If I sold my house and went full timing (not likely) them $40-$50K for an Airstream "home" would not be that bad,

But as a Toy its alot of $$$ to use very little.

I think Airstream could have a bigger "image" if they were to advertise towards the baby boomers who always wanted one...

There will always be a place for "NEW" , some people can afford it or will only buy "NEW"

This is good for people like me because in a few years, there will be used ones to buy.
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Old 12-17-2002, 07:57 PM   #42
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So many of the AS parts are unique.. even the suppliers can't get economies of scale.

Today's expensive new Airstreams become tomorrows used ones... I hope they thrive!
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