Keystone RV Co.’s sales are “booming” at the 52nd Annual California RV Show, under way in Pomona, although Keystone President Ron Fenech admits there are places in the country where sales of towable RVs have softened.
“In general, there are many markets where retail slowed down in September, but, generally speaking, things are still solid,” Fenech said. “And out West, for example, at the Pomona show, it’s booming.”
Attendance at the Pomona show, sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), is up dramatically over last year, according to Fenech. And Keystone’s sales increases at the show have been “staggeringly huge” for all of its brands represented at the event, which began last Friday (Oct. 15) and ends Sunday (Oct. 24).
Fenech admitted he did not have an explanation for why sales of towables were soft in some regions of the country, but strong in others.
“The excuses that you can make where it’s soft are the same excuses you could be making in the markets where it’s strong,” he said. “I do believe some of the negative press that’s been out there the last couple of months that because of the election it gives people an excuse not to buy right now.
“But, clearly, we at Keystone are optimistic about what’s going on and that’s why we continue to expand the way that we are,” he continued. “We feel, even if there’s a short-term slow-down some places, it’s probably being caused primarily by the election and the negative press, and by next February or so, things will pick up again.”
By all indications, Keystone is the largest manufacturer of travel trailers and fifth-wheels in the industry. It will record around $1 billion in sales revenue this calendar year, which means Keystone accounts for about half of parent company Thor Industries Inc.’s RV-related sales revenue.
During Thor’s fiscal year 2004, which ended July 31, RV-related sales totaled $1.97 billion.
Recently, Keystone announced plans to build two more factories on its complex in Goshen. The $13 million project includes a new, 60,000-square-foot plant for producing Keystone’s Raptor-brand highline, toy-hauler fifth-wheel. Currently, that factory is scheduled to go into operation in spring.
Keystone also is building a new, 60,000-square-foot lamination facility, which is scheduled for completion in late spring.
Additionally, the company is in the process of opening a new plant for production the new Cambridge highline fifth-wheel.
“This is the biggest expansion we’ve ever had in terms of dollars,” Fenech said. “It is good for the dealers. This past year it’s been hard keeping up with all the orders, so we are continuing to grow to keep up with demand.
“People have been asking me: ‘As you expand, does your risk also expand?’ I think it’s a very good question. However, from our point of view, not expanding is even riskier.
“We have successful products, and the market, generally, is expanding, and we need to be in a position to get products to our dealers in a timely manner,” Fenech said. “We’re a solidly profitable company and we’re paying cash as we’re expanding. It’s a good business move, it’s a good fiscal move for the company and, more than anything, it’s the right move for our dealers.”