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Old 05-08-2008, 10:50 AM   #1
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Hi all. I DID introduce myself on the new members page first. About ten minutes ago. I know its crass to start off with a big post and a hard question but I'm on edge and over excited about all this. I've already avoided major pitfalls with impulsive buying and am not going to make that mistake. Too many horror stories.

Been thinking of taking the plunge for a toyhauler. Not cause I really need a toybox (although I have some toys and might actually haul them around) but I need the open space for work related reasons ie office/studio. I very may well end up a full timer in this rig as well.

Fifth wheel, under 40 feet, like slides, willing to go 1 1/2 ton hauler, will use rig full time although won't be on the road all that much until retirement (which may never come the way things are going). Single.

By way of intro:
I'm in construction management and am a serious if mostly amateur photographer. I want to set up a BIG photo printer and framing table in my new rig.

This is something I've been mulling over for a couple years. I've been doing serious research for 6 months or so. Have reams of info filed. I can afford a good rig although I certainly don't need luxury froo froo. I like austere design as far as home decor is concerned and dusting is not one of my strengths.

I'm looking at Peterson, Newmar, Carriage (still some cargo units around new and used) as the top drawer builders. And Ameri-Camp and K-Z as good mid-market producers. I realize I may have to go custom to really get what I need ( no froo froo, much less furniture, etc) Not that I've ruled out the other manufacturers but these are the ones I know a little about so far. Though I have the skills to build one of these things if I had the drive/desire and know I can fix any problems .... I have other things to do and don't like fooling with problems. I really want a solid product I can rely on. I especially don't want to deal with frozen AC units or leaking pipes where one has to tear out under-belly coverings or floors.

BUT ... my main concern is fear of orphanage. I'm aware of most of the bankruptcies in the industry in the past year or so. I would like opinions from the knowledgeable folks around here. Are the big guys like Fleetwood and Heartland the only ones with staying power due to large size and their deep ability to retract and lay off while keeping their cores alive? Or will the long-time premium houses like Peterson and New Horizons due to small size and deep customer loyalty make it through this?

This? (no I'm not deeply doom and gloom) We are obviously in a major correction and it will be significant. We propped ourselves up for too long when we should have allowed the market to rule ... not pols and bankers. A lot of RV manufacture is 'cottage industry' and many many of these houses do not have the depth to weather a long market correction. Nor should they. Poor business practices need to be rewarded with failure and some weeding out is a good thing. Not good for workers but there is no way around that. The good ones will be the first to be rehired.

I know about restructuring and market upheavals. My family lost their business this decade due to China and an unwillingness to vertically integrate as did most of our competitors (the ones that are still alive anyway). The distaff side in a related business is developing relationships with chinese suppliers and they spend a lot of time in China. So far they are making money but it is tough tough tough. This company puts the fabric in many of your rigs.

Anyway ..... sorry for long post. Who do you think is 'safe'? I realize its all conjecture as even the best business can decide to cash out and get out of the rat race.



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Old 05-08-2008, 10:50 AM   #2
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Hi all. I DID introduce myself on the new members page first. About ten minutes ago. I know its crass to start off with a big post and a hard question but I'm on edge and over excited about all this. I've already avoided major pitfalls with impulsive buying and am not going to make that mistake. Too many horror stories.

Been thinking of taking the plunge for a toyhauler. Not cause I really need a toybox (although I have some toys and might actually haul them around) but I need the open space for work related reasons ie office/studio. I very may well end up a full timer in this rig as well.

Fifth wheel, under 40 feet, like slides, willing to go 1 1/2 ton hauler, will use rig full time although won't be on the road all that much until retirement (which may never come the way things are going). Single.

By way of intro:
I'm in construction management and am a serious if mostly amateur photographer. I want to set up a BIG photo printer and framing table in my new rig.

This is something I've been mulling over for a couple years. I've been doing serious research for 6 months or so. Have reams of info filed. I can afford a good rig although I certainly don't need luxury froo froo. I like austere design as far as home decor is concerned and dusting is not one of my strengths.

I'm looking at Peterson, Newmar, Carriage (still some cargo units around new and used) as the top drawer builders. And Ameri-Camp and K-Z as good mid-market producers. I realize I may have to go custom to really get what I need ( no froo froo, much less furniture, etc) Not that I've ruled out the other manufacturers but these are the ones I know a little about so far. Though I have the skills to build one of these things if I had the drive/desire and know I can fix any problems .... I have other things to do and don't like fooling with problems. I really want a solid product I can rely on. I especially don't want to deal with frozen AC units or leaking pipes where one has to tear out under-belly coverings or floors.

BUT ... my main concern is fear of orphanage. I'm aware of most of the bankruptcies in the industry in the past year or so. I would like opinions from the knowledgeable folks around here. Are the big guys like Fleetwood and Heartland the only ones with staying power due to large size and their deep ability to retract and lay off while keeping their cores alive? Or will the long-time premium houses like Peterson and New Horizons due to small size and deep customer loyalty make it through this?

This? (no I'm not deeply doom and gloom) We are obviously in a major correction and it will be significant. We propped ourselves up for too long when we should have allowed the market to rule ... not pols and bankers. A lot of RV manufacture is 'cottage industry' and many many of these houses do not have the depth to weather a long market correction. Nor should they. Poor business practices need to be rewarded with failure and some weeding out is a good thing. Not good for workers but there is no way around that. The good ones will be the first to be rehired.

I know about restructuring and market upheavals. My family lost their business this decade due to China and an unwillingness to vertically integrate as did most of our competitors (the ones that are still alive anyway). The distaff side in a related business is developing relationships with chinese suppliers and they spend a lot of time in China. So far they are making money but it is tough tough tough. This company puts the fabric in many of your rigs.

Anyway ..... sorry for long post. Who do you think is 'safe'? I realize its all conjecture as even the best business can decide to cash out and get out of the rat race.



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Old 05-08-2008, 03:02 PM   #3
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Newmar is a family owned company. They have no debt and pay cash for everything. Every coach they make has an owner (dealer or retail customer). In other words they ship everything they make. The Miller family is very consertive and operates Newmar the same way. Newmar should be around for the long term.

They will also customize a toy hauler to a much greater extent than other manufacturers.
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Old 05-08-2008, 03:10 PM   #4
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Jayco is another privately-held company that's been around since the 60s. They always operated debt-free and had enough free cash to pick up Travel Supreme's facilities when they went under a short time ago.

You mentioned Heartland - they're actually a newcomer in the RV business.
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Old 05-08-2008, 03:28 PM   #5
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ThanksGaryKD and Madame Boomer.

Another thing I'm wrestling with is the stupendous savings one can achieve due to inventory sitting on lots all over the country vs getting exactly what I need from a company like New Horizons that will do anything you like but are not trading like a dealer needing to get rid of inventory.

There are some very nice fivers sitting around that would meet 90% of my needs at $20k discounts. But I'd have to do some remodeling and/or end up buying stuff I really don't need like elec beds in top of the cargo area. The chance to customize is very tempting. I could cut out all the froo froo (cloth valences, furniture I don't care for, overdone cabinetry etc) in a special order but man .... the cost ... the cost.
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Old 05-08-2008, 05:14 PM   #6
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Settling for what is on the lot and then changing it to meet your needs vs. ordering what you want is someting all of us struggle with. Once you get your requirements down on paper, consider sitting down with your manufacturer(s) of choice (via a dealer?) and see what they will do and at what price. Only then can you compare the value of buying off the lot or ordering what you want.

Whatever you decide, this is a long term purchase. Make sure the floor plan is what meets your requirements.
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Old 05-08-2008, 06:26 PM   #7
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Thanks Gary. Good advice.
Lucky for me my needs floorplaln wise are simple. Open and minimalistic. The important things to my mind are construction quality and mechanicals.
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Old 05-09-2008, 06:56 AM   #8
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I would not be too concerned about orphaning. You aren't going to get much help from the trailer manufacturer anyway once the rig is delivered and the vast majority of the components come from third parties anyway.

For your wants and needs I would definitely go the custom route with somebody like New Horizons.
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Old 05-10-2008, 09:18 PM   #9
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You might also consider Arctic Fox - actually Desert Fox. Again, they are a family owned business and usually have everything they make sold to customers or dealers. They will also work with you on a semi custom rig.
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