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With Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles Inc. quickly recovering from an Oct. 1 fire that destroyed most of a Wakarusa, Ind., factory that it was moving into, the small northern Indiana company next week will introduce the Quicksilver 2.0 all-aluminum folding camping trailer at the 46th Annual National RV Trade Show Dec. 2-4 in Louisville, Ky.
As previously reported, company personnel were able to save the Quicksilver jigs, and Livin’ Lite was able to move production into the empty part of a nearby building. The company’s 16 employees were back assembling trailers within a week. RVBusiness recently spoke with Livin’ Lite President Scott Tuttle about the fire and the company’s ultra-lightweight market.

RVB: Extraordinary time for a fire, just as you were moving from the facilities in which you launched Livin’ Lite six years ago. What caused it?
Tuttle: It was an electrical fire that started in the attic of the building, which had been empty for a long time. We had just completed a move from Goshen (Ind.) – literally that day. We were planning to organize everything the next day.
Almost everything burned – every tool, every machine, every rack. We were able to grab the welding equipment and some other stuff. We had no finished goods inside, which was fortunate.
RVB: You sure got things going again quickly.
Tuttle: Yes, the next morning we were on the phone with our suppliers and figuring out what to do. Our welders were back welding two days later, and campers were being finished a week later.
RVB: So, now that you’re back up and running we hear you’ll be displaying new product at Louisville. What will you be showing at the national show?
Tuttle: We will be showing our full line of Quicksilver automotive campers. Each one of them can be pulled with a small automobile such as a Honda Civic or even a Prius hybrid.
They are super ultra-lightweight. We go from a 200-pound 2.0, up to the Quicksilver 10.0, which weighs 1,000 pounds.
RVB: It looks like you’re in the right place at the right time, productwise.
Tuttle: Absolutely. We have a lot of dealers reporting that they see the value now in trying to carry something they can sell to passenger car owners and minivan owners who normally wouldn’t have a reason to stop by their dealerships.
RVB: You were making this type of product before the current economic malaise hit.
Tuttle: We started five years ago. We were a little ahead of the times. We literally had dealers who said `Why? Why did you go to a coach with no wood? Why did you build a coach that was so light?’
They were just used to models that cost more money, are made out of wood and weigh much more.
They were thinking about truck owners. We were trying to tell them that the car owners were coming. They didn’t get it. Today, they get it.
There was a market for today’s young family – even five years ago. They couldn’t afford the $18,000 popups that the RV industry was offering them. We knew there was a market for a popup in the $5,000-$7,000 range for the new consumers – Generation X, Generation Y. And they want quality. They don’t want something that is going to rot out. So, we built Quicksilver completely wood-free knowing that today’s consumers see the quality of it.
RVB: Give some examples weightwise and sizewise about your products.
Tuttle: Our five-footer is 500 pounds. It’s a 5-foot box. It’s a model 5.0 that opens up to 10 feet. It sleeps four people, has a dinette, a storage cabinet and some other storage in it, and it retails for $4,800.
Our eight-footer is 800 pounds. It opens up to 16 feet of living space and you can still tow it, obviously, with anything. And it retails for $5,800.
RVB: So, you’re marketing a towable that could actually be mated with a Honda Civic?
Tuttle: All day long. And here’s something else. Five years ago you couldn’t get a hitch for a VW Beetle. But today, there are three companies lined up to make hitches for every car.
RVB: And you think this is the way of the future?
Tuttle: I think it’s the way of the future for young families getting into the RV industry and getting into the camping lifestyle.
I don’t think we are going to replace a lot of things on RV dealers’ lots. But dealers should expand their horizons a little bit.
All those cars that drove by their dealerships every day that never even thought about stopping in have a reason to now.