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Old 12-20-2013, 10:59 AM   #1
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Would you support an Airstream dealer in Kansas City?

Just tossing this out there but if Kansas City had a dealer would you support it? What are the things most important in an Airstream dealership?

Knowledge of the brand
Price
Service before and after
Parts department
Number of new Airstreams on the lot
Location

Lots is people (me included) had to drive a long distance to buy an Airstream and service can also require a long drive adding to the overall cost. If you had a dealer nearby would you support it or continue to make the haul to a bigger dealer with more choices? It's just a thought but there are a lot of Airstreams in the area with no dealer or repair facility close by.
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Old 12-20-2013, 12:36 PM   #2
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Mercedes Benz of Kansas City used to be an Airstream dealer but now are just a Sprinter dealer. Next closest dealer is Springfield or St. Louis. There are probably some Dodge dealers that can service the Sprinter part. MBofKC still services Sprinters.
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Old 12-20-2013, 01:39 PM   #3
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They used to sell the interstates and rumor was they were going to carry the whole line but they aren't listed on Airstream anymore. It just seems crazy a market this size without a dealer?? Did you buy yours from MB?
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Old 12-20-2013, 02:33 PM   #4
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I live just outside of Kansas City and would appreciate having a nearby dealership; however, like most people with more rustic models and enjoyment of the hobby, we can't justify the $??/hour for service. Just my opinion though and I hope someone would eventually.

BTW, a recent news story said a local neighborhood association was trying to ban RVs and the family with a beautiful new AS legally parked were fighting them.

A nice storage facility that didn't charge $130/month would allow me to use (play with) mine more than I do now. My suggestion would be a covered storage/hobby shop with a monthly subscription in the $150/month range.
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Old 12-20-2013, 02:54 PM   #5
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The costs of operation of a dealership are usually covered by the shop & parts and the gravy comes from the profit of sales of units. Thus shop rates around $150 per hour for folks that are hard pressed to tie their shoes let alone have ANY knowledge of Airstreams. I have heard that the service schools are not well attended.
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Old 12-20-2013, 03:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blmitch5 View Post
They used to sell the interstates and rumor was they were going to carry the whole line but they aren't listed on Airstream anymore. It just seems crazy a market this size without a dealer?? Did you buy yours from MB?
Yes, used w/ ~4K miles in Aug 2011

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Originally Posted by Grrrwolf View Post

BTW, a recent news story said a local neighborhood association was trying to ban RVs and the family with a beautiful new AS legally parked were fighting them.
Are you referring to Prairie Village where they are trying to get the law changed? The owner bought the home in PV specifically because they allowed RVs to be stored at a residence.

Do you know what he has parked at his home?
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Old 12-20-2013, 03:40 PM   #7
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Nice rig BTW.
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Old 12-20-2013, 03:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grrrwolf View Post
I live just outside of Kansas City and would appreciate having a nearby dealership; however, like most people with more rustic models and enjoyment of the hobby, we can't justify the $??/hour for service. Just my opinion though and I hope someone would eventually.

BTW, a recent news story said a local neighborhood association was trying to ban RVs and the family with a beautiful new AS legally parked were fighting them.

A nice storage facility that didn't charge $130/month would allow me to use (play with) mine more than I do now. My suggestion would be a covered storage/hobby shop with a monthly subscription in the $150/month range.

I had to have panels replaced after a hail storm but now I'm in covered parking for less than $100 a month. Having a small Bambi is fairly cheap to store.
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Old 12-20-2013, 04:23 PM   #9
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I am fairly sure most places charge by the foot. $130/month sounds reasonable if it was more than just self storage. That price near here is uncovered by the way and in a major flood zone.
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Old 12-20-2013, 07:15 PM   #10
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We are probably near the flood location but it's covered.
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Old 12-21-2013, 07:22 AM   #11
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I also live in an Airstream dealership desert, Atlanta. When we eventually buy new, i would support a local dealer. I would use a local dealer for service items I can't accomplish myself, if I trusted the knowledge and skill of the techs. Both of our trailers are older (1970, & 1997). Presently I am able to do most of the work myself. I would definitely use them as a parts resource. Shipping is killing me!
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Old 12-21-2013, 08:39 AM   #12
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A new Airstream dealership opened in Mesa, AZ in October 2012. The primary business was/is selling "HUGE" used motorhomes before acquiring the Airstream line and the 30+ Airstreams are jammed into one end of the lot like a Rubix cube jig saw puzzle.

They are getting the startup kinks and issues resolved. The Airstream salesman/division manager has considerable experience marketing the Airstream from a prior local dealership that closed and the lead service technician (from the same former dealership) has lots of factory training in his background.

They are about 15 miles away from our storage unit which beats returning to Los Angeles where I purchased our first Airstream just before this dealership opened.

We ordered our next trailer through them and hope their service department gets better over time with more experience.
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Old 12-21-2013, 08:44 AM   #13
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That's great! I'd love to have one here. 30 Airstreams is a lot of inventory, are they selling?
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Old 12-21-2013, 09:08 AM   #14
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Their initial order of around 30 Airstream trailers in the fall of 2012 were all gone except for a Sterling model by the following summer. Seems they had less than five on the lot during the heat of the summer.

They also acquire used units, refurbish them to a degree, and then sell them on with much larger margins than the new gear. (just like used cars).

I think they initially ordered around 40 for this year and are now continuously ordering units to replace the sold ones so inventory will arrive continuously rather then a lump all at once.

Having a lineup of assigned build slots allows a dealership to change a close in build date to meet a customer's specific requirements in a fairly short time period.

The dealers orders are out into March/April time frame and the beginnings of the model year 2015 build slots.

Less than 5% of production are the three Classic models, so our unit might be the only Classic they will process this model year.
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Old 12-21-2013, 10:22 AM   #15
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Thanks for the info. It sounds like they have a good dealership going. Good to hear.
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Old 06-14-2014, 11:25 AM   #16
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Airstream dealers have been tried several times in the Kansas City area.

Kansas City trailer sales in grandview sold Airstreams in the early 70's to the early to mid 80's. My parents bought their first Airstream from them in 74. My dad got to know the owner pretty good. He said Airstream finally forced them out of business. He said AS required them to keep over a MILLION dollars of PARTS on hand just to keep servicing their brand. They finally got fed up with their BS and quit dealing with them sometime in the late 80's. The owner said after he gave up selling the trailers, Bill Thomas saw to it that no one else in the midwest would sell the classic line. He moved so many classics, that he threatened Airstream that he would cancel his contract with them if another dealer popped up in the surrounding area. As far as I know, he held on to that until the last few years. There were other dealers in the area that sold AS, but they only sold the safari line. Thomas wouldnt let them sell the classic line. About 10, 12 years ago there was a dealer up in liberty that sold safaris. But they only lasted 3 or 4 years.

The problem with Airstream is that they demand too much from their dealers. And unfortunately, it didnt change when they got bought out years ago. Its easier for dealers to fill their lot with a bunch of box trailers from factories that will bend over backwards to put those trailers on their lot.

If AS keeps up with their snobbish attitude, and cutting corners, they will eventually end up pricing themselves out of the market.

Ill get down off my soap box now.

And if you need service done to your trailer, there is a guy in Oklahoma City that is quite a bit cheaper than Bill Thomas. Does awesome work. Great guy to deal with.
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Old 06-14-2014, 11:36 AM   #17
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Walker,
Great info. Thanks for the background.

Has anyone around here been up to the Des Moines dealer? They seem to have a location in Des Moines and the Twin Cities Des Moines about the same drive as Springfield from KC. Just wondering.
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Old 06-14-2014, 12:05 PM   #18
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I havent been to the dealer in Des Moines. I have only been to Bill Thomas, the guy in OK city ( I forget his name) and Springfield. I wasnt the least bit impressed with the service department in Springfield. We took dads trailer 34ft down there to get an estimate for bodywork (hail damage I think). Insurance company needed the estimate before they could proceede with the paperwork. They knew this. They looked it over and said they would need to mail us the paperwork. They never did. Dad kept calling them, they kept promising to drop it in the mail that day and it never came. Finally had to take it to Bill Thomas.

Those guys in Springfield have a good location. They are right off the highway, where all the old timers see them when going to Branson. But if they pull that crap with everyone, they will be another AS dealer who didnt make it.

Like I said. If you need body work done, I highly recomend the guy in OK city. He does awesome work and he is a heck a lot cheaper than Bill Thomas in St Louis.

Dad had work done with him 3 or 4 times. I know last time this guy in OKC was around 800 dollars cheaper than Bill Thomas.
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Old 06-14-2014, 12:51 PM   #19
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As long as AS sells everything they can build, why should they change anything? Jim
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Old 06-14-2014, 01:09 PM   #20
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Airstream sells only to dealers, so the dealers have their financial backsides out in the breeze as their floor plan covers the units after a few months. The multi line dealers end up having sales folks with barely enough knowledge to read the price tag on the unit they are standing next to at the time.

When the local dealership was washing my unit from the road salt coming from the factory, they blew the striping off the unit with the pressure washer.... A comprehensive inventory of Airstream trained mechanics is a pipe dream at most dealerships.

In my experience, just because they hung up an Airstream banner does not mean they know squat about service or the details of the units on their lots from a sales perspective.
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