The combination of Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. and Aero Coach Inc. will become official on Aug. 1 and will create more opportunities for towables dealers, according to Dutchmen executives.
Aero Coach was a separate subsidiary of Thor Industries Inc. until last Oct. 1 when executives at Dutchmen, headquartered in Goshen, Ind., were given responsibility for day-to-day operations at Aero Coach, located in nearby Syracuse, Ind.
Aero Coach was a division of Dutchmen prior to Dutchmen’s acquisition by Thor 10 years ago, and Dutchmen President Rich Florea said, “There were a lot of strong alliances between Dutchmen dealers who sold Aero product. But over the years, some of those partnerships may have eroded or changed, for one reason or another. So, this is a great opportunity for us to rebuild some of those relationships and capitalize on some of the strengths we’ve put together at Dutchmen the last three or four years.”
The addition of Aero Coach provides Dutchmen with several “tremendous” ultra-light products that, for many Dutchmen dealers, “will fill a void that they may have had in the marketplace for a quality, ultra-light product, whether it be a hybrid or a larger fifth-wheel at a weight rating that they, or a customer, are looking for,” said Steve Paul, vice president of sales.
“Anything we can give our dealers to help them expand their presence in the marketplace only helps to grow our partnership with them and make that partnership stronger,” Paul said.
Dutchmen completed, on July 1, a 60,000-square-foot expansion of Aero Coach’s manufacturing facilities in Syracuse and there are no plans to consolidate Dutchmen and Aero Coach production in Goshen, Florea said.
Keeping Aero Coach manufacturing separate from Dutchmen manufacturing is desirable because “a different mindset” is needed for building ultra-lights than for building more mainstream towables, Paul said. “Up here at Dutchmen, competitive price pressures are very, very heavy so price, features and content are major issues. But with the ultra-light products, weight is the major issue. That means, when designing and building products down there (at Aero Coach), we have a tendency to look at them a little differently.
“By keeping the engineering, product development, sales and manufacturing teams separate, then they have the ability to maximize the products for the market that product is intended to hit,” Paul said.