Winnebago Industries Inc. now dominates the Class C motorhome segment, but Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. President and CEO Ed Caudill believes Fleetwood needs to re-gain some of the Class C market share it lost in recent years.
And in order to build more Class C’s, Caudill believes Fleetwood should open production facilities in the “heartland” in order to better serve markets east of the Rockies.
“We need to get a stronger position in building Class C’s in the Midwest or the near East somewhere,” Caudill said during a recent interview with RVBUSINESS.COM. “We’re basically a West Coast company in Class C’s. We have about 20% of the market out there (West Coast), but we’re under 5% in the East, so, we’ve got some work to do there.”
Fleetwood still owns a Class C motorhome assembly plant in Chico, Calif., but Fleetwood is allowing economic development officials in Chico to search for a tenant for that idle property, because Caudill believes too much of Fleetwood’s RV manufacturing capacity is along the West Coast.
(R-Vision Inc., parent of Warsaw, Ind.-based Trail-Lite, had considered leasing the former Fleetwood Class C plant, but eventually declined late last year, according to Chico officials.)
During the first 10 months of 2002, the most current data available, Winnebago dominated Class C’s with a 26.1% share of the retail market, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., an independent market research firm.
Fleetwood has fallen to No. 5 in Class C’s with a 10.1% share of the retail market during the first 10 months of last year.
Thor Industries Inc. is No. 2 in Class C’s with a 16.5% retail market share during the first 10 months of 2002.
Meanwhile, Fleetwood regained the No. 1 position in terms of retail market share in Class A motorhomes during 2002, according to Statistical Surveys. Fleetwood had 20.6% of the retail market for Class A’s, including gas and diesel engine units, during the first 10 months of 2002. Winnebago was No. 2 with 18.4%
Fleetwood also is looking to add more Class A motorhome production capacity, once again, in the heartland of the nation, Caudill said.
Fleetwood closed several RV and manufactured home assembly plants during the last two and a half years when it was losing money and market share. But Fleetwood owns the real estate where its idle plants are located, so it will look to re-opening mothballed factories first before building new facilities, Caudill added.