LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A year ago Ron and Bill Fenech and Don Clark had a poster with a drawing of recreational vehicles on it. That was the extent of their new RV company. On Tuesday, a year later, the partners were busy hosting dealers at their display of RVs that looked very similar to that drawing on the poster.
Grand Design RV was just an idea at last year’s National RV Trade Show. It was an idea that the Fenech brothers and Clark pitched to a group of dealers crowded into a too-small hotel meeting room near the convention center. They received an overwhelming positive response and moved ahead quickly after the show to begin producing fifth wheels in a plant north of Middlebury.
“It was an eight-by-eight (booth) just outside the men’s bathroom,” is how Clark remembers that small space where the partners showed dealers their poster before calling a meeting at the hotel.
At this year’s show, Grand Design has a larger presence.
“It’s a small display, but it’s a display of five units,” Clark said just outside a Solitude fifth wheel. “Last year what was funny was all we had was these placards, these posters of what we thought we were going to build. And it turned out to be spot on of what we actually built, which is the Solitude product line.”
A new model
The formation of Grand Design was not done by RV newbies. The Fenech brothers and Clark built Keystone RV into an industry powerhouse. They sold the company to Thor in 2001 and continued on with the company until 2011. All the partners have more than 25 years of RV industry experience. While starting Grand Design the partners were able to tap into their industry connections and build on their reputations.