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Old 04-07-2016, 11:52 AM   #617
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Originally Posted by malinois38 View Post
Funny you say that an Airstream should be aluminum. When we were pulling out of JC last week, I asked an employee for a peek at the new fiberglass Airstream. This employees reply was, "What? If its not aluminum, it's not an Airstream! Things that make you go HHMMM...
That employee's spontaneous answer could be very telling. His answer was very direct and specific. Maybe Aistream has acquired Nest Caravan for it's interior components and design.


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Old 04-07-2016, 11:52 AM   #618
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Bowlus Road Chief

Originally Posted by Flht2k View Post
I know this is not inexpensive, but did not know to post
I spent an hour looking at one of these Road Chief's while at Airventure last year. It felt claustrophobic to both my wife and I, and the one on display was right at $135,000. It seemed vastly overpriced for so small a space, and the small windows and peculiar bed arrangement were non-starters for us. YMMV.

We also considered the Oliver before buying our new Airstream, since Oliver is in our "backyard" so to speak. It is well-built, but the interior is quite stark. Maybe that's just a personal preference thing. We kept defaulting back to the Airstream...

Our first choice would have been a FC 23 footer with twin beds -- of course, there is no such thing.


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Old 04-07-2016, 12:35 PM   #619
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I appreciate the new Bowlus Road Chief remaining true to its roots.
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Old 04-07-2016, 12:49 PM   #620
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Originally Posted by Gene View Post
Since Airstream is a wholly owned corporation and Thor makes the real decisions, Wheeler is more like a division director than a "president".
Do you have proof to back up this statement? It sounds like your opinion that design decisions are made by Thor and not Airstream. Everything I ever ever heard suggests that Thor is very "hands off" and allows each division to run itself. There is no way that Thor could be significantly involved in Airstream design decisions. Airstreams are just too different from any other Thor brand to have much crossover beyond using common appliances and other commodity parts. I am not sure there would be significant "economy of scale" cost benefits to purchasing such parts across multiple divisions, but there would be significant logistical and accounting nightmares from trying to do so.
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Old 04-07-2016, 12:57 PM   #621
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Originally Posted by switz View Post
Glad we got one of the last of the 2015 23D International Serenity model. We were able to modify it to our custom needs that the Nest would never fulfill. When I mentally added the accessory parts prices to the Nest base price to make it somewhat comparable to our 23D, the price was considerably north of $40,000 or over half the list price of the newer 23D International models.
We feel similarly about our FC20, and it is SO much more well equipped than the Nest in our opinion.

And to repeat previous comments, if Airstream cannot raise the quality control over its products to a very consistent higher level, the Nest will not succeed IMO.
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Old 04-07-2016, 03:03 PM   #622
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Originally Posted by 66Overlander View Post
Do you have proof to back up this statement? It sounds like your opinion that design decisions are made by Thor and not Airstream. Everything I ever ever heard suggests that Thor is very "hands off" and allows each division to run itself. There is no way that Thor could be significantly involved in Airstream design decisions. Airstreams are just too different from any other Thor brand to have much crossover beyond using common appliances and other commodity parts. I am not sure there would be significant "economy of scale" cost benefits to purchasing such parts across multiple divisions, but there would be significant logistical and accounting nightmares from trying to do so.
The fact that Airstream is a separate corporation may be a historical accident. The Byam family sold the corporation to Beatrice and later when Thor was started, they bought Airstream. But if it is cheaper to consolidate purchasing, accounting, etc., in a central unit, I'm sure Thor would do it. The shell is different, but much of the materials and parts are not. With computers and the internet it is easier than ever to bring together various parts of a business at a central location. I'm sure you've been to Jackson Center. Were you surprised at how few executive offices there were for a business that should be bringing in a gross of more than $75,000,000 per year (Airstream's financials may be in Thor's annual report, but I'm not going to look it up)? Thor's gross was just over $1 B and Thor had 29% revenue growth, much fueled by Airstream's sales and profits. How Thor organizes purchasing, etc., may be in their annual report too, but my proof is based on observation and logic (and lack of time to read reports since I am doing spring Airstream maintenance which includes fixing broken—i.e., cheap—things and poor workmanship).

I doubt Thor sends Wheeler memos about everything, but I am sure he knows cutting costs every way possible is Thor's philosophy. He's been there 11 years now and if he didn't do what they wanted, he'd be somewhere else.

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Old 04-08-2016, 09:41 AM   #623
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We have spent a lot to upgrade our two Airstreams to the place they should have been given there very high starting price. And the prior post stating Airstream buys the bottom model of most components seems correct. Another $5 buys a transfer switch with a replaceable mechanical relay vs the solid state relay that fails regularly let alone the plastic drawer and door catches they sell as exact replacements for more than the proper brass ball catches.

We will keep what we have and hope for no major incidents because the replacement insurance would acquire, in my opinion, a lower quality built unit than what we have now.
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Old 04-08-2016, 10:38 AM   #624
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FYI the Nest site does not have much detail on it at this point:

Hmmm . . .
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Old 04-08-2016, 10:56 AM   #625
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Airstream's Importance to Thor

Perhaps it would be helpful to provide some facts regarding Airstream's ownership from the corporation's SEC filings and other public documents.

First - Airstream has a corporate office which provides certain defined centralized functions and support decentralized operating units. In the company's most recent SEC Form 10Q filing (second quarter fiscal 2016, dated 3/5/16), purchasing is not listed as a central function: "Our business model includes decentralized operating units, and we compensate operating management with a combination of cash and restricted stock units, based primarily upon the profitability of the business unit which they manage. Our corporate staff provides financial management, insurance, legal, human resource, risk management and internal audit functions. Senior corporate management interacts regularly with operating management to assure that corporate objectives are understood and are monitored appropriately." Since purchasing is not listed as a central corporate function, it can be inferred the decentralized operating units make purchasing decisions independent of the corporate office. Most companies with centralized procurement make a point in financial filings of touting the savings realized from consolidated buying power.

Second -- Thor does not publicly state sales by brand so the importance of Airstream to the total business cannot be quantified. Thor does report sales by segments which it defines as "towables" and "motorized". With respect to sales, the Thor SEC Form 10K for the fiscal year ending July 15, 2015 attributes over half of its revenue growth to recent acquisitions: "Consolidated net sales for fiscal 2015 increased $481,363, or 13.7%, compared to fiscal 2014. The fiscal 2015 acquisitions of CRV/DRV and Postle, coupled with the fiscal 2014 acquisition of KZ, which had twelve months of operations in fiscal 2015 as compared to three months in fiscal 2014 from the date of acquisition, accounted for $258,885 of the $481,363 increase."

Looking at the more recent 3/5/2016 10Q filing with the SEC, Thor's statement about declining unit prices in the travel trailer segment suggests acquisitions and improved performance of lower to mid-priced products are contributing much more to its growth than premium priced brands such as Airstream: "The decrease in the overall net price per unit with in the travel trailer product lines of 3.3% is primarily due to product mix, as sales in the current period include a higher concentration of entry-level to mid-level product lines as compared to the prior year period, which is partially attributable to recent acquisitions."

There is a hint in the most recent 10Q report that Airstream's premium priced class B units are contributing to growth in the motorized segment: "Within the Class B product line, the increase in the overall net price per unit of 5.2% is due to a greater concentration of sales of higher priced models and net price increases." One can infer Airstream's Interstate line is a major contributor to Thor's higher priced Class B products since its price points are high relative to other Thor Class B offerings. However, Thor also mentions a shift in motorized unit sales in its other brands from diesel to lower price gas models as being a significant factor for its motorhome sales: "The decrease in the overall net price per unit within the Class A product line of 4.8% is primarily due to a shift in the concentration of sales from the generally larger and more expensive diesel units to the more moderately priced gas units compared to a year ago." Since Airstream does not market Class A motorhomes, the brand is not a factor in the growth of lower priced priced gasoline units.

One other hint about Thor's overall motorized segment sales growth appears in this statement by Thor CEO Bob Martin about a planned expansion of motorhome manufacturing capacity in a recent 3/21/16 press release: "With strong demand from dealers and consumers for Thor Motor Coach's Class C brands in particular, we have an immediate need for the additional production capacity." It is noteworthy Airstream does not currently manufacture Class C motorhomes so Airstream sales are not driving this manufacturing expansion.

While specific information about Airstream dollar sales volume is not released by Thor, occasionally there are news releases providing percentage increases in sales for the Airstream brand. A September 22, 2015 article in the Dayton Business Journal stated that Airstream sales for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2015 were "up 18.3% for the fourth quarter." An article in the March 13, 2015 issue of RV Business touted Airstream's Interstate becoming the #1 selling Class B motorhome: "In 2014, Airstream Interstate unit sales increased 30.2% over 2013, nearly 8% higher than the overall B-van segment growth which was up 22.8% year-over-year. The Interstate now has a 33.7% market share of the diesel class B segment."

Certainly remarks by Bob Wheeler and other Airstream executives suggest Airstream's business is enjoying record sales and sales of the Class B Interstate are particularly strong. The recent investment in expansion of the Airstream factory suggests Thor perceives Airstream's recent growth trajectory will continue for some time. It may or may not be noteworthy that Thor does not play up the sales of Airstream, or its other major brands, in its financial statements, press releases and presentations to the investment community.

It is also noteworthy that as of today (April 8, 2016) Thor has not issued a corporate press release, or SEC filing Form 8K, regarding the Nest acquisition by Airstream. The federal government requires "significant" financial events to be formally announced. The most recent (3/21/16) Form 8K SEC filing and press release (mentioned above) announced an expansion of motorhome manufacturing capacity. If the purchase of Nest Caravans were considered to have material impact on the operating results of the corporation, federal securities regulations require the filing of a Form 8-K. Recent filings (and absence of filings) suggest the Class C motorhome expansion is considered important by Thor corporate leaders. The Nest Caravans purchase is not.

At the corporate level Thor is managing a large portfolio of operating units and brands. While we owners of Airstreams think of the brand as the jewel of Thor's portfolio corporate management, in its public announcements, seems to have no favorites. It may be that Airstream, despite its recent strong growth, is a minor factor in a large corporation with annual sales of over $4 billion. Thor's public financial statements with their strong focus on growth from acquisitions and product segments in which Airstream does not compete suggest corporate leaders view factors other than the Airstream brand as the major contributors to the overall company's growth and profitability.
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Old 04-08-2016, 11:20 AM   #626
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Ok latest rumor direct from Airstream marketing. I am currently in the Keys attending the Florida State Rally. This morning we had a visit and question and answer period with an Airstream marketing representative.
#1. The NEST might be a stand alone brand. Production will start in 1.5 to 2 years. Possibly to be marketed and branded as "NEST by Airstream".
#2. There is another new top secret model being officially announced in a couple months. He would answer no questions about it. Period, tight lipped after his one small teaser.

Just a little more information to feed the speculation rumor mill.
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:13 PM   #627
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There are many traditional style Airstream fans

Most already have an aluminum model. The ( Two ? ) new models are not about what they have, like, want or think.

Consider the different type of folks that camp.

#1 Folks that their Airstream IS their hobby, who spend a lot of time in their camper while camping, and maybe even driveway camp.

#2 Folks that just go to campgrounds.

#3 Folks that road trip.

#4 Folks that park their camper in one spot all summer.

#5 Folks that boon dock.

#6 Folks that go to National and State parks.

#7 Folks that use the camper for events, festivals, races, or rodeos

#8 Folks that use it while doing outdoor activities, fishing, hunting, hiking

#9 Folks that want a dry warm place to camp, and don't want to deal with tents

#10 Folks that don't have a lot of money or a big tow vehicle.

#11 Folks that use it for some or all of the above.

So there is a reason Airstream doesn't just make your model, even though you are SO happy with it.( Obviously.) There is a reason why some of us own several campers. The traditional style Airstream is VERY cool, but it is old technology that Wally was familiar with……way back when.

My point is there is a market for small, light, and inexpensive trailers. Whether we think that is a REAL Airstream or not doesn't matter.

I have a 20' Argosy, and an open utility trailer. If I had the money, I would want a Basecamp, Scamp, and perhaps a 34 footer. I think it's cool that Airstream is diversifying. Problem is Airstream can't or won't make anything affordable to a younger market.
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:46 PM   #628
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Originally Posted by mandolindave View Post
I think it's cool that Airstream is diversifying. Problem is Airstream can't or won't make anything affordable to a younger market.
I totally agree. We got into the Airstream lifestyle in 2008. While I bought my 25' Safari 3 years old, I had the original sticker. Years later when I calculated an equivalent FC replacement at current prices, it seems to me the retail climbs about 5%+ per year. While the US economy has had its ups and downs since 2008, the average inflation rate (from one source I found) has been about 1.7%. On or about 2008 it seemed Airstream came out with the "Sport" which was supposed to be affordable. If I recall correctly, at the time the 16' could be had in the mid to high twenties. Look where it is now... mid to high 40's. Airstream's "affordability" is relative and only momentary if their pricing continues to out-pace inflation.
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Old 04-08-2016, 01:10 PM   #629
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Old 04-08-2016, 05:45 PM   #630
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Florida 55 - greatly appreciate your taking the time to research and interpret the publicly available information of Thor and Airstream, adding facts to this line of discussion. Best, Joe

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