A record 180 dealerships were represented during the 40th Annual Jayco Dealer Homecoming July 20-23 held at the Orange County Convention Center & The Peabody Hotel in Orlando, Fla.
Despite the difficult economic environment for the RV industry this summer – or perhaps because of it – more than 500 representatives from those 180 dealerships attended the four-day meeting where 2009 product was introduced and management shared strategies and goals.
“Dealers were very positive, very upbeat but realistic,” said Sid Johnson, director of marketing for Jayco Inc. “Within the sales staff, we had an unstated goal of trying to write at least as many orders as we did last year at the dealer meeting, knowing it might be tough to accomplish. The sales staff has until July 31 but it looks like we will come real close to those numbers.”
Management hopes to maintain the momentum created during its record-setting year in 2007 as the privately held company based in Middlebury, Ind., reported retail sales last year of just over $800 million.
“Jayco’s retail sales this year are running at the rate of 94% of last year’s levels,” Derald Bontrager, president and COO, related to the dealer body. “During the most recent three months, Jayco shipped 9,169 units to dealers throughout North America but during the same period, our dealers sold 12,577 units at retail. That means that more than 3,000 units were reduced from your collective inventories during the months of April, May and June.”
Amid the departure of several manufacturers from the landscape, Jayco continues to “encourage dealers to examine their operations and own situation and see if there is any possibility of exclusive arrangements,” Johnson said. About 25% of Jayco’s 342 dealers already handle Jayco products exclusively, he said.
As part of its 2009 product rollout, Jayco said it had developed at least 10 new models since the last model change in mid-May. Between now and the Louisville Show, Jayco also will introduce at least 17 new additional products.
New motorized entries unveiled in Orlando include:
• The Insignia Class A motorhome is Jayco’s re-entry into the Class A motorhome business, a result of its purchase of some of the assets of Travel Supreme Inc. earlier this year. The Insignia will be available in four floorplans, two each in the 40-foot and 42-foot lengths, with MSRP’s in the $240,000 to $250,000 range.
• Jayco’s new high-end Embark Class C motorhome built on 33,000-pound GVWR Freightliner M2 mid-sized chassis. Priced at an upscale niche unlike any C-body Jayco has produced to date, Embark retails from $215,286.
On the towable side, Jayco said it plans to push its Octane ZX toy hauler to fill the vacuum that has developed in this market this summer with the demise of a few major competitors in this segment, said Jim Jacobs, vice president of sales and marketing.
“We believe we can capitalize on this opportunity with the development of new travel trailer and fifth-wheel models. And with manufacturing facilities in Middlebury and Twin Falls (Idaho), we are uniquely situated to produce products closer to the (Western) markets,” he said.
The company also instituted several changes on its popular Jay Feather lightweight travel trailer line. The Jay Feather was moved it into the Eagle line and is now being branded as the Eagle Super Lite. MSRP for this unit starts at $24,000. The larger Eagle travel trailers will retail for up to $33,900.
In addition, Jayco’s top-line Designer fifth-wheel series has been “rebuilt from the ground up to be more competitive than ever,” according to Paul Gardner, product manager.
Approximately 350 dealers and their families and 30 Jayco employees will be spending 11 days in October in Australia and New Zealand on Jayco’s 40th anniversary trip. It was announced that the company’s trip in 2009 will be a cruise down the Danube.
The company also recognized 95 dealers with Gold Circle Dealer Awards, representative of outstanding performance.