Forest River Inc.’s West Coast Operations is expecting between 150-200 dealership personnel to attend its upcoming West Coast Open House, set for Aug. 18-20 at its manufacturing plant in Harrisburg, Ore.
Paul Eskritt, a general manager for Forest River, said the company would have as many as 100 units displayed during the three-day open house – mostly towables built by Forest River’s West Coast Operations located in Oregon and California along with a number of other towables and motorhomes produced by factories located in Indiana. While the focus will be on conducting business as dealers place orders with Forest River sales personnel, the event will also feature catered meals and a casual atmosphere – a scenario reminiscent of the larger open house in Elkhart, Ind., about a month later.
“This will be our fourth year now and it was really set up because we have a number of West Coast dealers that can’t get to the Indiana expo,” Eskritt said. “So this is an opportunity to give our dealers some form of an open house so we can build relationships, thank them for their business, introduce our new product and, of course, take orders.”
This will be the first year the West Coast Open House will be at the 16-acre Harrisburg location and its 180,000-square-foot facility, which Forest River acquired in July 2014. The plant, which builds Forest River’s Cherokee and Vibe products, had been closed for several months when its then-owner, Allied Specialty Vehicles, decided to exit the small towable trailer market. Allied bought the plant the previous year from Navistar Inc., which in turn had acquired it from Monaco Coach Corp. in 2009.
Forest River has been expanding its West Coast Operations as of late, which includes the Harrisburg and Dallas plants in Oregon, as well as the recent acquisition of a facility in Hemet, Calif., to go along with the Rialto, Calif., site.
Ty Miller, general manager overseeing the California facilities, said the expansion was necessary in order to “meet demand and better serve our dealers.” He added that the West Coast Open House also is designed to strengthen relationships with the company’s dealer body.
“We like the dealers to come through our factories and meet the people who build their product along with our service team and management,” Eskritt added. “It’s really a great opportunity and it’s kind of fun when they come here because they know quite a few of the folks already.”
Eskritt said the goal for every West Coast Open House is to “write enough orders to get our plant through the winter, and we’ve been very successful at that for the last few years.”
“Because the industry has been so incredible over the last five years, it has stressed the industry supply chain from dealers to RV manufacturers to suppliers,” Eskritt explained, noting that special programs are in place offering incentives for dealers to take delivery during the fall and winter. “Additionally, the industry is experiencing more year-round retail activity than ever before. To accommodate the growth and ensure supply can meet demand, dealers are buying product well in advance of the selling season. As a result, this is a win-win for the industry as dealers who participate in our fall program ensure they will have inventory in time for retail customers while, at the same time, it reduces the risk of RV manufacturers and suppliers not being able to meet demand during the peak of the retail selling season.”