Brian Brady may want his Elkhart, Ind.-based Heartland Recreational Vehicles to operate under the radar. But, according to a recent article in the South Bend Tribune, the 1-year-old company’s stature may soon dramatically increase, given its accomplishments and plans for the future.
Heartland recently took possession of a 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, giving its manufacturing operations four buildings and a total of 100,000 square feet. The company has now rolled out its second product line – a lower-priced fifth wheel to complement its existing higher-end Landmark fifth wheel. Two more products are scheduled for launch in the spring.
Heartland, which employed fewer than 25 when it first started manufacturing operations last February, now has 75 employees. That could double again, according to Brady, the company’s CEO and president and one of its five founders.
So what does Brady think about his company’s rapid growth? “In my mind,” Brady told the South Bend Tribune, “we haven’t done a darn thing worth writing about. We’ve got a long, long, long way to go before we can be where I want to be.”
Founded a year ago by industry veterans Brady, Scott Tuttle, Douglas Lantz, Tim Hoffman and John Rhymer, Heartland has carved a small – and Brady emphasizes the word “small” – niche in the fifth-wheel market with its Landmark model. In trying to decide where their company could best enter the highly competitive RV industry, the five settled on manufacturing a high-end fifth wheel.
“I think it’s a question of candidly evaluating what we can do and we cannot do,” said Brady, a former president and CEO of Damon Corp. in Elkhart. “We didn’t think our chances were so good in the entry level.”
But the company felt it would be successful because, as Brady said, among high-end fifth-wheel products, “We felt the market was being underserved.” With the Landmark, Heartland unveiled a highly functional product that featured, among other things, built-in shelves and cabinets, significant storage space and Corian countertops.
Brady won’t reveal production figures, but says that Heartland has recorded $25 million in annualized sales, and growth apparently is ongoing. Heartland recently purchased 7 1/2 acres of land next to the 50,000-square-foot former Palm Aire factory it now owns.
The company unveiled its newest product at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville. That fifth-wheel product, Brady said, will cost 30 percent of the $55,000 to $60,000 price tag attached to the Landmark. With two additional products on the way by spring, “We intend to be extremely aggressive in the area of market development.”
So with all this growth planned, one might expect Brady to enjoy Heartland’s early success. Not exactly.
“I think there is a difference between being pleased and satisfied,” he said. “In no way are we satisfied. We have to continue to grow the business.”