Solitude fifth-wheel by Grand Design

After a solid Florida RV SuperShow, startup manufacturer Grand Design Recreational Vehicles has shipped its first unit — the extended-stay 38-foot Solitude fifth-wheel — to Dandy RV Superstores in Anniston, Ala.

Grand Design, founded in October by industry veterans Don Clark and brothers Ron and Bill Fenech, made its retail debut at the Tampa show in a Lazydays RV Center booth earlier this month at a prominent display that drew a steady stream of consumers throughout the event.

”It was the grand debut of Grand Design,” Clark told RVBUSINESS.com. ”I’m pretty confident that we hit the nail on the head. We’ve got a real winner. It exceeded our expectations (in Tampa) and we had high expectations.”

Middlebury, Ind.-based Grand Design’s first product came together quickly after the three principals’ non-competition agreements expired last year with Thor Industries Inc.

”You have all these ideas in mind and then you have to put them down on paper, and then you’ve got to make sure it works,” Clark said. ”(General Manager) Marc Hauser and our production and engineering staffs did a great job in a short amount of time.”

Clark and both Fenechs specifically attended the Florida show to interface with potential buyers. ”You have a lot of experienced buyers in Tampa,” Clark said. ”They know what they want. All three of us wanted to come here to get some feedback and ideas about improvements we could make to the coach.”

With the early success of the 38-foot Solitude, 35- and 36-foot floorplans will follow quickly with MSRPs that range from the low- to high-$60,000s, depending on equipment.

”Eventually, we will have six or seven Solitude floorplans when we are done,” Clark said.

At the same time, Grand Design has escalated the development of its next two brands which are expected to go into production later this year, Clark reported.