Riding a three-year run marked by record sales and incremental market share gains, Jayco Inc. introduced its 2007 product edition to a receptive dealer body at the company’s Annual Homecoming Meeting at the Rio in Las Vegas, Nev.
“Jayco seems to be hitting on all cylinders right now,” noted Steve Richardson, owner of Richardson RV Center, Riverside, Calif. “The market is changing so quickly that it’s more difficult than ever for OEM’s to track the pulse at the retail level. Jayco has been able to stay ahead of the curve.”
The high-energy, upscale backdrop at the Rio attracted representatives from around 193 dealerships to the July 10-12 event while also providing a 55,000-square-foot exhibit area capable of displaying 53 units – the most in the 26-year history of the Middlebury, Ind., builder’s annual dealer meeting.
Packaged under the theme “We’re Just Getting Started,” Jayco executives recounted recent accomplishments, including 18 straight months of record shipments. But the company also shed light on future strategies for growth along with progressive additions to its JayPlus program, introduced at last year’s gathering offering its dealer base a roster of “profit building” financial, facility and marketing services.
The centerpiece for the event was Jayco’s new product rollout featuring 15 new floorplans, all introduced since the company’s model change in mid-May.
“Over the next six months, there will be at least 14 additional new products introduced,” said President and COO Derald Bontrager. “These new models span the entire product offering of our lineup from camping trailers to Class C motorhomes.”
Among the new products on display was the 33DS Greyhawk Class C motorhome built on Chevrolet Kodiak C5500 gas chassis offering a 19,500-pound GVWR and mated with a Vortec 8.1 liter, 325-hp engine. “The gas platform allowed us to go to 33 feet, which is the longest unit in the Greyhawk line,” said Paul Gardner, product development manager, noting the company was implementing a revamp on the company’s entire Class C line over the next year.
Other Greyhawk features include new front caps, a side-aisle bath floorplan – creating a private bathroom area – pass-through storage with a full basement, high-gloss gelcoat sidewalls, awning covers on the slideout and hydraulic leveling jacks. The 33DS Greyhawk retails for $95,571.
Jayco’s ’07 lineup also exhibited the company’s focus on the sport utility recreational vehicle (SURV) sector with an expanded lineup featuring the all-new Recon ZX fifth-wheel series, which replaces the company’s Talon brand, and the Octane ZX travel trailer line. Highlights include:
* Octane ZX: The wood-framed, aluminum-sided entry-level line ranges from 19 to 26 feet with MSRP’s starting at $22,143. The exterior features “extreme” graphics, chrome rims, aluminum wheel wells, fueling station with 25-gallon gas tank, and standard outside speakers. The large cargo area is equipped with a 6-foot, 6-inch ramp with a 2,500 carrying capacity. Interior features include two decors -– asphalt and sand – and an electronics package with a “Kicker” sound system and built-in I-Pod connectors. Electric bunk beds are optional.
* Recon ZX: The upscale fifth-wheel toy hauler line, built with aluminum framing and gelcoat sidewalls, is currently offered in two double-slideout floorplans – the 36-foot 36V and 37-foot 37T retailing for $49,286 and $46,429, respectively. Jayco also will be coming out with a 37-foot triple-slideout model. Standard features include a 12-foot cargo bay with 5,000-pound carrying capacity and fiberglass anti-skid material, steel overhead storage and a diamond plate transition ramp. The living area features a sofa and U-dinette ensemble with a 32-inch, flat-screen TV, and also offers the same electronic package as the Octane ZX.
According to Director of Marketing Sid Johnson, the new product rollout represents an extension of Jayco’s strategy to differentiate its product while keying in on competitive price points and active market segments.
“The best way for us to demonstrate that we are focused on our core business is to design, build and market good products that have wide customer appeal,” he said.
But in addition to building distinctive, saleable products, the company also re-confirmed its commitment to building long-term relationships with its dealers. During the meeting, the firm outlined several new dynamics to the JayPlus lineup, including: partnering with E-Health to provide group health insurance; introduction of a certified pre-owned program; new extended warranty products, such as road hazard and appearance protection; and partnerships with Priority One in the U.S and LMG in Canada for F&I assistance.
“We are now offering 16 strategic partnerships with our dealers,” said Jim Jacobs, vice president of sales and marketing. “By using the strength of our dealer network, we’re able to obtain products and services at a better price. It increases the value of our relationship.”
In line with that philosophy, Jayco introduced a written dealer sales and service agreement during the meeting.
“As part of our overall effort to add value to our relationship with you, we will shortly be asking each of you to execute a written dealer sales and service Agreement,” Bontrager said. “This new dealer agreement includes exclusive sales territory provisions as well as dealer-friendly succession and ownership transfer procedures. It clearly spells out the responsibilities of both Jayco and the dealer and it has a unique section which calls for Jayco to provide each dealer with a regular, written evaluation of the dealer’s performance in the assigned market area.”
Jayco also updated attendees on its western operations based in Twin Falls, Idaho. In October 2004, Jayco finalized the leasing of a 154,000-square-foot facility to produce Jay Flight travel trailers, which went into operation in March of 2005. In June, Jayco purchased 176 acres in Twin Falls offering rail access and plans to build a 135,000-square-foot production plant.
“We’re going to break ground as early as this fall,” Bontrager said in an interview with RV Business. “In the near term, we’ll expand Jay Flight production and add the Octane toy hauler. Over the long-term, we’re looking at adding another plant while also using around 100 acres to build industrial subdivisions for suppliers.”
Other product highlights from the meeting included:
* Bunkhouse floorplan: The 345BHS Eagle fifth-wheel showcased a bunkhouse layout available in several different model lines, including the Jay Flight series. The 37-foot triple-slideout Eagle fiver, retailing for $39,857, features foldaway bunks creating a children’s entertainment area along with the J-Cube futon sofa. The area also offers a Maxi-Stor door with outside access that can be used for a storage area when the bunks are raised.
* Class C Innovation: In addition to several new models and floorplans introduced in Las Vegas, including a new Seneca ZX Class C toy hauler built on the Kodiak chassis, Jayco outlined a new minimotorhome series currently in the works. The new aerodynamic Melbourne Class C motorhome line, offered in four floorplans ranging in length from 27 to 29 feet with one to three slideouts, will be available in September.