By SAM HOUSEHOLDER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
A local recreational vehicle start-up company celebrated big milestones Tuesday.
Grand Design RV, of Middlebury, celebrated its 100th unit being built, in addition to the hiring of the company’s 100th employee and the company’s 100th day of delivery to dealerships.
President and co-founder Don Clark addressed employees before a luncheon on the company’s factory floor, thanking them for their hard work and giving them a progress report of the company, as well a history of how it came to be.
Clark and co-founders Bill and Ron Fenech started the company after leaving their positions as brand presidents for Thor Industries. The company began with “a vision” Clark said, being born out of a conversation at a restaurant.
According to Clark, Grand Design is different because of company’s strategy with its product line.
“A lot of companies out there will attack markets five or six dealers at the same price point, but we decided that we would have one dealer in each market that sells our entire line,” he said. Eventually they will have six products at different price points. Currently the company is producing one product line called Solitude.
Bill Fenech said that the company launched on Oct. 1 of last year.
“Louisville (the National RV Trade Show) was really our coming out party,” Clark said.
At that show the company held an informal presentation for dealers, expecting around 30 or 40 dealerships to attend.
“Over 100 dealers ended up showing up,” Clark said.
Since then they have been busy keeping up with dealer demand, while serving their customers with a product the company feels is customer-friendly.
“We’re allowing the retail consumer to design our product,” he said. “If you just listen they’ll tell you what they want and then they’ll vote on it with their checkbooks.”
Addressing employees, Clark laid out the company’s achievements over the short time the company has been around.
“Here’s what you did: 100 units in 100 days, all the same model... one color, built one way, that really can’t happen in our industry, but you’re doing it,” he said.
Clark said the Solitude product has been a top seller in its price segment at nearly every show they have been to, while attracting the best dealers to sell their product.
“We wanted to thank you, our teammates, for what you’re doing with the Solitude line,” Clark said.
The company wants to grow at a healthy pace into its 67-acre, 500,000-square-foot manufacturing space north of Middlebury, Clark said.