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Carriage Inc. introduced four new floorplans, including a five-slideout, 36-foot fifth-wheel in the Carri-Lite line, as the high-line towable builder hosted its 2005 New Product Show June 17-20 in St. Charles, Ill.
The gathering at the Pheasant Run Resort & Spa outside of Chicago attracted representatives from approximately 51 of the Millersburg, Ind.-based company’s 125 dealerships, who offered positive feedback on the new line and the company’s direction.
“High-end towables have been very good for us,” said Terry Marshall, owner of Marshall’s RV Center Inc., Canton, Texas, who has been a Carriage dealer since 1987. “I saw a lot of good things in the 2005 line, especially the new five-slide and new decors.”
Kenny Gipson Sr., owner of Ideal RV Center, Mountain Home, Arkansas, noted, “I was a Carriage dealer back in the 1980s and have been back with them for a couple of years. I think it’s the best product for the money on the market.”
According to Carriage management, the company has made some aggressive moves in the past few years as it attempts to broaden its product offerings targeted for full-timers and RVers who favor extended stays. Carriage’s first five-slide XTRM5 fifth-wheel debuted two years ago, followed by the introduction of the “entry level” Compass line in the 2004 model year.
“The Compass has done phenomenal,” reported Dave Lawson, vice president of sales and marketing. “We’re right at 300 units this year. It’s still upscale, but it appeals to our core customers, particularly Boomers, who are just entering the market.”
He added, “Our five-slide in the 2003 line was the single biggest product introduction in the company’s history.”
Lawson’s assessment has been backed up by strong sales as he reported a “25% increase through the first two quarters” over last year. That response has placed chairman/owner Glenn Cushman, who headed up an investment group that purchased Carriage in 1999, in a buying mood.
“My intention when I bought Carriage was to build it up and sell it,” related Cushman, who has a long history in the investment banking sector and owns 82% of Carriage. “But this is the finest company that I’ve been associated with. Now, I’m looking to buy. We’re looking for a quality manufacturer that will help us in the lower-end or feeder market for our other products.”
In addition to the five-slide Carri-Lite CL36SLX, Carriage unveiled new floorplans in its Carriage, Cameo LXI and Compass lines. Carriage’s premier fifth-wheel line, the Royals International, was not on display as it undergoes a facelift, according to Lawson.
“We’re currently working on a project for our New Generation Royals International that will be introduced in the fall,” he said. “It will be a Class A diesel pusher on a fifth-wheel frame. We’re looking at an estimated retail price of $150,000.”
The following offers a breakdown of Carriage’s four new floorplans:
* Carri-Lite CL36SLX: The 36-foot five-slide fifth-wheel offers a sunken living room featuring an updated, high-end Sony entertainment center with the TV built in over the fireplace and two swivel rockers. French doors separate the living room from the rest of the coach, offering a “multi-room effect.” A new side kitchen opens up the cooking area and the bedroom is also spacious with opposing slideouts and an abundance of wardrobe storage. The exterior features new graphics and paint scheme. The unit retails for $72,000 well equipped.
* Carriage CW 378: The 38-foot fifth-wheel features a unique, functional floorplan, set off by an island lavatory that separates the bathroom and bedroom areas. A full-length mirror covers the backside of the vanity and French doors with etched glass further segments the living areas. The kitchen features a side-by-side refrigerator with a water dispenser in the door, built-in dishwasher and an island area with a pull-out pantry. Other features include two wing-back recliners, residential style valances, the “Big Easy” step for entry into the coach and an all-new décor. The new Carriage fifth-wheel retails for $88,000 well equipped.
* Cameo LXI F35SKQ: The 35-foot fifth-wheel, available in both the Compass and Cameo LXI lines, offers a sunken kitchen and Carriage’s Quad slideout floorplan with opposing slides in the kitchen and living areas and in the bedroom. Extra touches include a cabinet with fireplace, wine rack, archway door and an etched glass window between the kitchen and living room to allow TV viewing while preparing a meal or washing dishes. The Compass model retails for $46,100 and the Cameo LXI for $56,700 well equipped.
* Compass F33CKQ: Also available in the Compass and Cameo LXI lines, the unit adds a 33-footer to Carriage’s Quad series. An optional Arizona Sun Room offers a dinette/sofa slideout with four all-glass skylight windows and six floor-to-ceiling windows. Standard items include shaker style cabinetry, brushed nickel accents, three new interior colors including buttermilk, overhead cabinet in the sofa/dinette slide and glass cabinet doors in the kitchen. The Compass model retails for $44,500 and the Cameo LXI for $55,500 well equipped.