Closing in on its fifth year of operation, Heartland RV LLC has shed its “newcomer” label while also moving beyond its niche in the high-end fifth-wheel market into the highly competitive mainstream trailer sector.
“I think that despite the fact that as of last May we had just 48 months of production, dealers perceive us as being much more than a start-up company,” said Brian Brady, chairman of the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder. “We put that stage behind us and most dealers see Heartland as a robust and well-balanced manufacturer.”
Heartland continued to expand its product offerings last spring with the launch of the aluminum-framed, laminated North Country travel trailer line. The brand complements the stick-and-tin North Trail travel trailer that debuted last year along with a fifth-wheel lineup that sports six lines, including two toy haulers.
Brady said other trailer launches are planned, designed to quickly increase market share – much in the same manner as Heartland’s track record in the fifth-wheel sector.
“I would hope that we can follow up on the travel trailer side with the same type of success we have experienced with our fifth-wheels,” Brady said.
Through June, Heartland ranked No. 3 in terms of market share among fifth-wheel builders highlighted by a 56% increase in unit volume from a year ago. And, as Brady noted, that has been accomplished in a down market.
“In a very competitive industry, which is now under distress, there is a rush to partner with OEM’s that are doing it right,” he said. “We feel we are doing things right.”
The company has rolled out several initiatives to cement relationships with its dealer body, most recently the launch of “FAST-TRACK,” a new web-based warranty, parts and service system. Brady said that the program offered another way for dealers to improve their bottom lines during challenging times.
“When any enterprise loses revenue volume, you look for alternative ways to make money,” he said. “Helping our dealers interface more accurately translates into savings.
“We talk to dealers as investors, understanding they have a variety of alternatives. We show them where they are going to get the biggest gain from their investment. Dealers understand that.”