Against the backdrop of the cavernous Louisiana Superdome, Jayco Inc. rolled out its 2006 model year during the company’s Annual Homecoming Meeting along with a new JayPlus program that offers a roster of “profit-building” services to its dealer body.
“We had 50 RVs set up on the floor of the Superdome and a beautiful stage area,” said Director of Marketing Sid Johnson of the July 11-13 event in New Orleans, which drew the largest contingent in company history with 510 people representing 170 dealers in attendance. “It was a great venue and the display area for the meeting really was impressive.”
Johnson added that dealers were equally impressed with the Middlebury, Ind., company’s performance over the past year.
“This year Jayco will build nearly 33,000 units, representing a 60% increase over our production of two years ago,” said Derald Bontrager, president and COO of the privately held firm.
Bontrager stressed the impact of improved production efficiencies and the addition of a new towable plant in Twin Falls, Idaho, which allowed the company to stay in step with consumer demand, and dealers’ orders.
“We promised that we would expand with the market and we have done just that,” he said. “Our Twin Falls facility is now fully operational and is the first in what we hope will be additional expansion projects in response to customer demand.”
He added, “The noteworthy part about our growth is that we have accomplished it with the same number of assembly lines.”
The Jay Flight series of lightweight towables continues to be the bellwether product for Jayco. “Jay Flight is the number one selling line of towables in North America,” said Bontrager, citing data from Statistical Surveys Inc.
However, the Jay Flight fifth-wheel line has lagged behind travel trailer sales, which prompted the company to revamp the lineup with new floorplans, features and option packages that specifically target owners of 1/2 ton trucks.
“The 1/2 ton pickup truck dominates the tow vehicle landscape,” said Paul Gardner, product development manager. “The Jay Flight fifth-wheel now has the right look, the right price and the right weight to dominate this important segment.”
Jayco introduced four new fifth-wheel models, all featuring aluminum frame and fiberglass-sidewall construction and ranging in length from 24 to 28 feet with base MSRP’s running from $22,643 to $24,050.
Another strong seller has been the Seneca HD line of Class C motorhomes, introduced last fall. The diesel-powered C-bodies are built on mid-size Chevrolet Kodiak cutaway chassis, featuring an Allison 1000 five-speed transmission and a 300-hp Duramax 6600 V8 Turbo Diesel engine.
For 2006, Jayco added the Seneca ZX Class C SURV to the line. The 35-foot toy hauler, with a base MSRP of $135,714, is equipped with an industrial-strength power lift tailgate with a capacity up to 1,600 pounds. Amenities include a large refrigerator, range and microwave, raised panel cabinets and residential-style doors, decorator fabrics and interior appointments as well as stylish touches like a Howard Miller clock and surround sound home theater system.
In addition to new product rollouts, Jayco extended the meeting’s theme of “One Vision…One Team” with the introduction of the company’s JayPlus program.
“The scope of JayPlus is designed to provide Jayco dealers with services that they may have difficulty obtaining on their own and be less expensive because of our collective purchasing power,” said Jim Jacobs, vice president of sales and marketing. “We believe these programs and services will give Jayco and its dealers the competitive advantage so imperative in today’s marketplace.”
Johnson defined JayPlus as a three-pronged program that includes:
• Financial services: Jayco is offering an entire menu of financial services such as wholesale financing through GE Capital, retail financing plans, personal finance and private banking, along with dealer and retail insurance. The company also is launching a private label extended warranty program.
• Facility services: Jayco is working with an architectural firm to provide elevations and architectural renderings for dealers that are remodeling or building new facilities. Related services include a new Jayco signage program and a coordinated initiative with R. L. Polk that provides location analysis to identify potential customers and where they live.
• Marketing services: Jayco has developed a full slate of programs, including direct mail and newspaper inserts, to help dealers market and advertise Jayco products.
“This is an attempt to make 2+2 equal more than four,” Johnson said. “If we band together then the collective benefit will be greater than the sum of the parts.”