Just since the beginning of April, Monaco Coach Corp. has seen “some positive retail momentum building on dealer lots,” John Nepute, the company’s president, said during a conference call with investment analysts on Thursday (April 24).
Nepute pointed out that Monaco’s Class A motorhome retail sales were up only 4% as of the end of March compared to the same period last year, but by April 24 that figure had climbed to 10 percent.
“It’s quite a jump,” said Nepute, who assumed the increase was the result of consumers postponing purchases for a few weeks to await the outcome of the war in Iraq.
However, Nepute said, “We’re still seeing some reluctance on dealers’ parts in terms of taking (ordering) units.”
Monaco also introduced much of its 2004 diesel-pusher lineup during the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) rally in Pomona, Calif., a month ago, so, Nepute conceded, “It’ll be more arduous” to get dealers to order the company’s 2003 models.
The remainder of Monaco’s 2004 models will be introduced at its national dealer meeting in Las Vegas June 24-26.
Many dealers continue to be close to their inventory finance borrowing limits, Nepute said.
Because Monaco accumulated an excess amount of unsold units in March, the company laid off 850 of its 5,900 employees and reduced its production rate 20% earlier this month. The company also closed all of factories during the week of April 7-11.
“We feel we have made the difficult employee decisions that were necessary at current sales levels,” said Kay Toolson, chairman and CEO.
Currently, Monaco is “seeing a little bit better sales at the very high end of our business,” he said, which means its plant in Coburg, Ore., most likely will remain on a five-day work week through June 30. However, the company’s other factories in Indiana and Oregon “will probably take some additional Fridays off.” The production scheduling decisions will be made on a week-to-week basis, Nepute added.