Cikira RV LLC, the Elkhart, Ind.-based maker of the lightweight Classic Cruiser travel trailer, is completing its first year of production on target with its original business plan, the company’s management tells RV Business.
With a current staff of 25, Cikira builds a retro-looking trailer in 13- through 18-foot lengths in a 16,000-square-foot, leased facility at a current rate of about three units a day. And the fledgling firm is carrying a six-week backlog of orders, according to Ray Belcher, managing partner.
Cikira, which incorporated in March 2005 and launched production last June, has exceeded first-year estimates in unit sales and dealer body growth by 10%, Belcher said. The company has approximately 80 dealers, including 12 in Canada where the product’s light weight — some models weigh in at less than 2,000 pounds — and narrow design (all units have exterior widths of 84 inches) are most appealing, Belcher noted. However, the company is in a holding pattern on signing new dealers until it can increase capacity, he said.
“In a strange way, the fuel crisis has helped us quite a bit,” said Belcher, a 28-year RV industry veteran. “Years back, light weight didn’t have much interest. With fuel like it is now, eight out of 10 dealers want to see what we have. The marketplace has shifted quite a bit to light weight product.”
Cikira’s Classic Cruisers, retailing for $9,500 to $15,000, feature laminated fiberglass sidewalls with aluminum superstructures, felt-backed vinyl roofs, plug-in wire harnesses, flexible thermoplastic gas lines and Uponor Plumb Pex plumbing systems. The 18-foot CCB model, housing a dinette and permanent front bed, is the company’s most popular product and represents 65% of unit sales, Belcher said.
“We see these units being sold to retired couples that have been RVers,” explained Belcher. “They know what they’re looking for. Others buy these as second units. They may leave their larger RV on a lake and use this on short trips.”
Alan Carter, owner of Carter Associates Inc., a Burr Oak, Mich.-based auto supplier, is the majority owner of Cikira RV. The other owner is Cindy Johnson, general manager of the company. The name Cikira, meanwhile, is a composite of the first names of some of the company’s first employees.