Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Business

November 29, 2012

Grand Design company a hit at RV show

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Grand Design, a 7-week-old RV company, has been well-received by dealers at the National RV Trade Show.

Grand Design was created by Don Clark and Bill and Ron Fenech, RV industry veterans who created Keystone RV and rocketed to the top of the RV industry with that company before selling it to Thor Industries. The three then held leadership positions with Thor, before leaving those behind in the past year.

“I think it’s great,” said Jim “Dandy” Cooley, president of Dandy RV Superstore in Anniston, Ala.

Cooley and a couple hundred other dealers and RV industry people attended a breakfast Wednesday morning sponsored by Grand Design. At the breakfast the three founders outlined their plans for the new company, and Cooley liked what he heard and from whom he heard it.

“The Fenech boys and Clark are the same kind of human beings,” Cooley said. “They are incredibly high-quality people who separate themselves from the crowd. I am going to be their very first dealer.”

What the trio said was that Grand Design will be located in the former Four Seasons Housing industrial complex on C.R. 2 north of Middlebury. There the company is building a prototype extended-stay fifth-wheel. They expect to begin producing and delivering one unit per day in January.

Prior to the breakfast, the Grand Design team, which includes the founders and Marc Houser, general manager, and Jerry McCarthy, vice president of service operations, spent Monday and Tuesday at a small table on the trade show floor meeting and greeting dealers and old friends in the industry. They drew a constant crowd.

“The whole industry is abuzz about what we are doing,” Clark said during a short break from his meet-and-greet duties. “Everyone is rooting for us.”

At the breakfast the founders outlined how their creative business plan used to move Keystone to the top tier of RV companies will be discarded in this new venture. At Keystone they created “competitive cells” within the company, where one trailer line was competing against others in the company. When Thor purchased Keystone, that model was adopted by other Thor companies, according to Clark, and those companies also grew.

“In a blink of an eye we were a very large, huge corporation,” Clark said of Thor.

But the Keystone founders didn’t want to be in a large company and one by one decided to leave.

Now the model for their new company will be to create products for six segments of the RV market, starting with the “Solitude” fifth-wheel. From there, they will add a mid-size travel trailer and fifth-wheel later in 2013 and then maybe a toy hauler late in the year. But each segment will have just one product under the same Grand Design name.

“We are not going to have sisters or clones,” Clark said.

The new fifth-wheel will have a wide, 101-inch body, a 7,000-pound capacity axle, 40-inch slideouts and three 20-pound LP gas bottles that can be changed out for full ones at gas stations.

The company will also try to address one gripe common among RV dealers — cut-rate pricing on the Internet from a few dealers.

Bill Fenech said the company will enforce minimum pricing standards so Internet pricing wars don’t break out. And some Internet RV dealers won’t be asked to sell the company’s products.

“We are not going to do business with them,” Bill Fenech said, which drew loud applause from the dealers present.

He said dealers do have to have a strong Internet presence because consumers are doing research on the Internet before going to a dealer to shop. But, he said, a line has to be drawn for online discounts.

“We are going to stay away from that class of dealer that is causing problems,” Bill said.

The founders also floated an idea about service that causes RV owners to grumble — the lack of a nationwide service policy.

Ron Fenech said they would like to create a nationwide service policy, where a Grand Design owner could get their unit serviced under warranty at any Grand Design dealer nationwide. He said the model would be based on what the automotive industry does, where, for example, a Ford owner can obtain service at any Ford dealer in the country.

“I think we have to get our arms around this,” Ron said.

Asking for a show of support for such a program the response was about 50-50 among the dealers present.

But overall, the dealer response to Grand Design was positive.

“They are very credible guys, which is hard to find these days,” said Frank Roberts, owner of Longview RV in Windsor Locks, Conn. He has been selling RVs since 1959 and seen RV people and companies come and go.

“We are interested in selling. I have not even seen the product and I’m a buyer, Roberts said.

1
Text Only
Business
  • Economy GDP-3 [Duplicate] U.S. economy heating up First quarter growth hits 4 percent

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • BIZ GN0731 soapy gnome image 02 Soapy Gnome offers sustainable skin-care products GOSHEN — You can smell the fragrant products in the Soapy Gnome shop before you get to the front door. Tucked in a walkdown storefront at East Lincoln Avenue, at 111B, Jenny Frech and her husband Jeremy Friesen recently moved the store to the locati

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • BIZ GN0730 Growing kids daycare image New day care center will open in August GOSHEN — There’s a Main Street in downtown Goshen and now there’s another, shorter Main Street in Goshen. The new road is located inside the new Growing Kids Learning Center.The newly-built center is located at Elkhart Road and C.R. 17. The day care

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Digital Life Review Amazon Phone-9 [Duplicate] Amazon Fire breaks ground for phones NEW YORK — What I find fascinating about Amazon’s Fire phone isn’t the gizmos such as the 3-D imagery or the camera scanner that helps you get more information about products.Rather, I like that Amazon is thinking a lot about how phones ought to work

    July 28, 2014 5 Photos

  • News and South Bend Tribune reach delivery agreement GOSHEN — The Goshen News announced today it has reached an agreement with the South Bend Tribune to have its newspaper carriers deliver the Goshen News in Elkhart, LaGrange and Kosciusko counties. According to Publisher Ron Smith, the agreement will

    July 28, 2014

  • BIZ GN140727 urban gypsy image Crafters open Urban Gypsy & Co in Goshen GOSHEN — A shop filled with colorful and fragrant items along East Lincoln Avenue has become part of the growing arts and artisan culture in the city.Urban Gypsy & Co. is at 111 E. Lincoln Ave.Missy Wrathell, Elkhart, and McKenzie Beiler and Kristin

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • PicPlayPost: App to create dynamic collages If you have a smartphone, you’ve likely seen and used various photo collage apps that allow you to add multiple photos that are then combined into one image collage. There are many to choose from and they all work about the same.PicPlayPost is differ

    July 27, 2014

  • Fast Food Workers Convention-3 [Duplicate] Fast food workers push wage hike CHICAGO — Fast food workers say they’re prepared to escalate their campaign for higher wages and union representation, starting with a national convention in suburban Chicago where more than 1,000 workers are expected to discuss the future of the ef

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Supreme Industries reports improved quarter GOSHEN — Supreme Industries Inc. reported Thursday its second quarter sales and income were up. The company, which makes specialized commercial vehicles, reported its consolidated net sales from continuing operations grew to $71.6 million in the seco

    July 24, 2014

  • Earns General Motors [Duplicate] Recalls cost GM $1.5 billion DETROIT — Recall costs chopped $1.5 billion from General Motors' bottom line in the second quarter, cutting its net income by 85 percent. The automaker, which is in the midst of the worst recall crisis in its history, posted a net profit of $190 mil

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Poll

With military action and tensions escalating between Russia and Ukraine, as well as Israel and Palestine, are you worried that the U.S. and other nations may get drawn into these conflicts?

Yes, it is a great concern of mine
I’m a little worried, but not too much
No, I’m not worried at all
     View Results