With Boston as its setting, Airstream Inc. officials told their dealer base that the company is looking to “start a revolution” designed to bring about a customer experience that’s unparalleled in any industry.
Buoyed by a record attendance from the 65-some dealerships that retail its product, Airstream’s annual dealer meeting was to conclude today (May 16) after a three-day run at the Sheraton in downtown Boston, which also included presentations by Bob Martin, president and CEO of Airstream parent company Thor Industries Inc., as well as National RV Dealers Association (RVDA) President Phil Ingrassia and James Ashurst, senior vice president of communications and marketing for the RV Industry Association (RVIA).
During the event, Airstream management covered the enhancements to its 5-Rivet dealer standards program, along with an update on the progress of its new 700,000-square-foot production facility back in Jackson Center, Ohio, and a rundown of the company’s multi-pronged marketing initiatives and dealer support opportunities. Airstream also unveiled its 2020 lineup of travel trailers and Class B and C motorhomes, including the introduction of the Caravele, a high-end sister line to its single-axle Bambi towable brand.
Pointing to the production expansion and noting that the company enjoyed a record year in 2018 — 7.3% year-over-year overall growth in sales despite an 11-unit, year-over-year drop in Touring Coach sales that was attributed to chassis supply chain issues — Airstream President and CEO Bob Wheeler said the manufacturer’s growth wouldn’t be possible without its dealer partners.
“We recognize that the success of Airstream begins with the success of you, the dealers,” he told the audience, adding that Airstream has grown from about 200 employees less than 10 years ago to nearly 1,000 today.
Wheeler also emphasized that the industry’s current slowdown does not diminish Airstream’s bold outlook on the long-term growth potential for both the RV lifestyle in general and Airstream in particular. Foundational economic factors remain favorable, he said, pointing out the company has an 81-year perspective at looking at the industry’s ups and downs.
“Slowdowns can be uncomfortable, but they can also be a blessing in disguise,” said Wheeler, relating that Airstream is using the time to plan for the future by transitioning from a product-centric company to one equally focused on both products and service.
Toward that end, Wheeler and several Airstream executives outlined a number of initiatives designed to position the manufacturer — in concert with its dealer partners — for a future in which customer expectations of quality, service, and corporate social responsibility will exceed anything anyone has experienced thus far.
“We’re trying to disrupt an industry that really needs a disruption,” pointed out Justin Humphreys, Airstream’s chief operating officer.