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Coachmen Industries Inc. Chairman and CEO Claire Skinner was recently interviewed live by CNBC anchor Liz Claman concerning sales, growth in the RV industry, stock values and the cost of gasoline.
The following is a transcript of the interview:
Claman: OK, how much of your sales have been spiced up lately?
Skinner: Well through the third quarter, which ended in September, our total company sales were up 28.9 percent. And, in the RV segment of the business, we’re up 34 percent.
Claman: Boy, that is enviable. Unbelievable. What is really driving this notable growth?
Skinner: Well, in recreational vehicles I think you have primarily the demographics of the drivers, with a supporting role by the economy. And right now, in terms of the demographics, we have very strong aging factors and discretionary dollars primarily driven by the Baby Boomers. But in addition to that there are really strong psychosociographic issues that are hitting the hot buttons of Americans right now.
Claman: OK. What does that mean?
Skinner: Well, I`m talking about the kind of things that RVs bring to people that are really important to them right now. They love freedom. They love flexibility. They want to go out and see this great country of ours. They want to spend a lot of free time with friends and family. And there is really nothing better that appeals to all of these buttons than RV travel. And the last one is of course they want to do all of these things in a manner that is minimally costly and it has a maximum avoidance of hassle.
Claman: Minimum cost. And I`m so interested to hear you say that because all we`ve seen with gasoline prices is that they go higher and higher. I mean they are certainly pulling back the past couple of weeks. But with gasoline around $2 a gallon, wouldn`t that put a brake on sales. I mean, how tightly linked are your sales to crude oil fluctuations, if at all?
Skinner: Historically, the price of fuel has not had any significant impact on either the purchase of RVs or the use of them as long as there is general confidence in the availability of fuel. Because RVs are still a very affordable way of traveling, when compared to the other alternatives. For example, if you take a 200-mile trip in a motorhome, that say averages 10 miles per gallon, and the cost of fuel goes up as much as a dollar, that means that your costs have gone up just $20. Which is really insignificant with other forms of travel, plus your cost of hotels and cost of food. Which in an RV you`re able to take with you.
Claman: You know, here is what concerns me. That is all very good and it sounds, it sounds like it certainly has been beneficial. But your stock is not exactly reflecting this. It`s still more than $3 below the 52-week high of $20.19. The bears are shorting 11 percent of your float. What aren`t you selling to Wall Street as far as your message?
Skinner: Well, I think that Wall Street is at this point taking a bit of a wait-and-see attitude. It is well-known that there was somewhat of a lull in retail activity in the last couple months. And dealer inventories have been rising. So there`s been a lot of publication, a lot of talk about is there going to be a lull in overall growth in the RV industry.