The main message Airstream Inc. leadership had for the 53 dealers attending their 2015 National Dealer Meeting in Seattle was this: business is hot, the short to mid-term outlook is for stable growth, so let’s switch our stance from looking over our shoulders at the recession and begin to focus on how we can invest in a forward-facing way.
“After a long period where we were reluctant to hire in the hangover to the recession, we made the conscious effort last year to put that behind us,” said CEO Bob Wheeler. “Let’s hire people we need, quit holding ourselves back, let’s invest in the facilities we need to set ourselves up for the next wave of growth and to support the dealers in every aspect.”
Airstream, a subsidiary of Thor Industries based in Jackson Center, Ohio, reported that retail sales were up 29% year-over-year in the last 12 months, with wholesale sales up 10%. That’s on the heels of two years of all-time record sales.
In September 2014, Airstream began a nearly $6 million, 92,000 square foot expansion of their facilities, the largest expansion since 1972. They also hired 70 new employees to bring the head count to 527 and will be immediately hiring 40 more with plans to hire another 50 over the course of the next year. The new facilities includes three rain booths, 16,000 square feet of office space and an employee fitness center. They are currently in the process of moving into the new facilities.
“Every trailer or motorhome that dealers buy puts people to work in Jackson Center,” he said. “So we want dealers to know the ripple effect of what they do. The town of Jackson Center has never been happier.”
Other speakers at the meeting included Airstream’s vice president of sales, Justin Humphreys, Mollie Hansen, the vice president of marketing, and Vice President of Product Development and Engineering McKay Featherstone. Phil Ingrassia, president of the RV Dealers Association (RVDA), and Mac Bryan, vice president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) also addressed the dealer group.