After Labor Day, Riverside, Calif.-based Fleetwood Enterprises takes the next step in its quest to establish itself as the preferred recreational vehicle provider in a market that has seen sales slide and sellers falter.
Fleetwood plans to show off some of its latest models, including the debut of its new Terry LX fifth-wheel trailer line, at its annual dealer meeting, Tuesday through Thursday (Sept. 2-4) at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
The goal, said RV Group President Paul Eskritt, is to educate dealers on some of the features of the company’s newest products.
Eskritt said the dealer meeting is organized as a “thank you” to retailers who carry the Fleetwood brands, but the company will also use the meeting as an opportunity to collect feedback on its ideas.
Mike Green, who owns RV World in Yuma, Ariz., with his father, said Fleetwood has of late been very responsive to dealer suggestions, a contrast to the company’s complacent attitude of a few years ago when sales were robust.
At that time, he said, the company was slow to make changes, to the dismay of some, but is a better listener now, describing today’s sales climate as one of the toughest he seen.
“They have made a tremendous improvement in that department,” said Green, who has missed only a couple of dealer meetings since taking on the brand in 1992. About three-fourths of RV World’s inventory comes from Fleetwood, Green said.
The Terry LX, Eskritt said, has a new price point for Fleetwood of $48,051. He said the company’s fifth-wheels have been priced above and below that point, but had nothing at what he calls the “heart of the market.”
In addition to the Terry LX, dealers will also look at the new Compass and Backpack lightweight trailer lines, which, he said, weigh 750 to 1,000 pounds less than traditionally built models. There will also be a motorhome built on the new Power Bridge chassis.
Eskritt said lightweight materials have gained in importance of late as historically high fuel prices have led drivers to look for more efficient models, which extends to tow vehicles and means RV makers have to accommodate those who don’t have the tow power of yesterday. Some new Backpack and Compass models can be towed by a medium-sized SUV or even a minivan, he said.
Eskritt said that in response to younger buyers, Fleetwood is designing its new products to be more luxurious and “residential,” with features such as cherry wood and convection ovens going into products.
Green said he’s interested in the Terry LX, along with the Compass and Backpack and Power Bridge diesel chassis.
“Right now, I know Fleetwood is rolling out a lot of new, great, competitive products,” he said.
Eskritt said dealers often place orders during the annual meeting, though the focus is more on showing off new products, presenting awards and collecting feedback.
Phil Ingrassia, a spokesman for the National Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), said last week that the total number of RVs sold this year will be around 303,700, down from 353,400 last year.