National RV Inc., a subsidiary of National RV Holdings Inc. (NHRV), debuted the redesigned Dolphin gas-powered Class A motorhome and other 2006 products during the Perris, Calif., motorhome manufacturer’s annual Dealer Days Conference June 16-17 in San Diego. The meeting, attended by about 150 people, was held at the Sheraton Harbor Island on San Diego’s waterfront.
However, President Brad Albrechtsen said cementing National RV’s relationship with its dealers was the most important aspect of meeting.
“I wanted each and every dealer to leave our event feeling better about the direction of National RV because they were involved in shaping the company,” Albrechtsen said. “We put a lot of focus on the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Dealer Satisfaction index. Historically, we have not performed well in that survey.
“During the last 18 months, we’ve tried to understand what our dealers’ frustrations and concerns were, and we’ve tried to address them.”
After product debuts on the first night of the conference, day two featured breakout sessions on sales and marketing, warranty, parts and service and product development and engineering. National RV, at the same time, held a special session with dealers and the company’s executive staff.
“This meeting was really about sitting down in each of these areas and reviewing with them what we have accomplished, where we are and where we are headed,” Albrechtsen said. “It purposely wasn’t an event that had a lot of hype or pomp. It was a setting for two-way communication. Our dealers expressed that they had seen notable improvement.”
In that meeting, Albrechtsen dealt with concerns on the part of some dealers regarding the company’s financial health following a delay in parent NRHV filing its 2004 earnings report with the SEC when restating its third quarter 2004 results. “We are a strong company and we are growing with little or no debt,” he said. “We have a net worth of approximately $100 million, about $200 million in assets with less than $20 million in debt. We are sound and we are fine.”
During the sales and marketing breakout executives reviewed performance benchmarks for both National RV and its dealers. “Dealers are looking for something different in a manufacturer,” said Joe McDermott, vice president of sales and marketing. “We offer large exclusive territories, we don’t clone our products and we focus on full line dealers. We don’t want to split up our dealers to handle different price segments.”
Also announced during the meeting was that National, effective July 1, would increase the markup on its warranty parts from 15% to 30%.
Company executives, meanwhile, said they began to reposition many of National RV’s products into more competitive price categories beginning last fall with the reintroduction of the upscale Tradewinds and Islander diesel pushers at the 2004 Louisville Show after a hiatus for two model years.
“Basically, there is a fundamental shift in the market going on,” McDermott said. “Consumers have moved into price points where we didn’t compete. Low-end diesel and gas are selling now where they weren’t selling that well a year ago.”
National RV’s mainstream 2006 Dolphin gas-powered Class A motorhome was redesigned with new front and rear caps, ergonomically designed padded vinyl dashboards and improved cockpit window visibility.
“This is the first major restyling of the Dolphin since 2001, and from an engineering standpoint, the first significant change since 1993,” McDermott said. “Some fundamental changes have occurred in design and somewhat in construction.”
The new gas-powered Dolphin, built standard on a 22,000-pound GVWR Ford Super Duty chassis with a 362-hp Triton V10 engine, is available in lengths of 32 to 37 feet with three double- and one triple-slideout floorplans for a suggested retail price of $118,000.
Also new for 2006:
* Partial paint on the lower portion of the coach, padded vinyl ceilings and a 30-inch entryway door in the 2006 Sea Breeze Class A gas-powered motorhome series. The Sea Breeze is built on a Ford Super Duty F53 chassis.
* A quad-slide floorplan in the Tradewinds diesel pusher motorhome. Reintroduced at last year’s Louisville Show, Tradewinds features two three-slideout and two four-slideout floorplans, all in 40-foot lengths. Built on 32,000-pound GVWR Freightliner XC raised rail chassis with 400-hp Cummins ISL turbocharged diesel engines, Tradewinds features interior ceiling heights of 85 1/4” and retro automotive-style dashes for a base price of $240,000.