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Forest River Inc. intends to recapture this year the No. 2 spot that it held in the combined travel trailer/fifth-wheel market prior to Thor Industries Inc.’s acquisition of Keystone RV Co. last November, according to Pete Liegl, Forest River’s president and founder.
“I plan on being No. 2 (in the combined travel trailer/fifth-wheel segment) this year,” Liegl said. “There’s some players that aren’t being as aggressive. But maybe, now’s the time to be aggressive?”
Prior to Thor’s acquisition of Keystone last Nov. 9, Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. was No. 1 in terms of retail market share in the combined travel trailer/fifth-wheel category, followed by Forest River at No. 2, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. data.
Until the Keystone acquisition, Thor was No. 3 and Keystone was No. 4. But the Keystone acquisition catapulted Thor into the No. 1 position by a wide margin, resulting in Forest River slipping to No. 3.
Thor had a 25.9% share of the retail market for travel trailers and fifth-wheels during 2001, compared with 15% for Fleetwood and 13.1% for Forest River, Statistical Surveys reports.
Liegl described the decision by Thor Chairman Wade Thompson to buy Keystone as “a stroke of genius,” although he said that Forest River will rely primarily on “internally generated growth,” instead of acquisitions. Forest River’s recent acquisitions, which involved companies outside of the RV industry, “have been small,” Liegl added.
Forest River will begin production soon in Oregon of its Wildcat series of “smaller, laminated travel trailers and fifth-wheels” in an effort to capture more market share in the segment, Liegl said. Currently, Wildcat units only are built in Indiana and Forest River expanded its plant in Oregon to allow for more output.
The company also plans to build a new factory in Indiana this year to produce a hybrid travel/cargo trailer called the Work & Play, he added.