Among a number of fresh features, floorplans and innovations, Newmar Corp. introduced its new STAR Foundation Thursday (May 7) during the second of its three-day dealer event at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn.
Billed as “Newmar & You: Blazing a New Trail,” the conference attracted all but five of the Nappanee, Ind.-based manufacturer’s dealer network. The meetings were to continue today, culminating with Newmar handing out dealer awards at a ceremony tonight.
The several hundred dealer principals, assorted management and spouses in attendance were the first to learn of Newmar’s new STAR Foundation.
STAR, which stands for Strong True And Robust, is a new steel superstructure welded onto the chassis that’s designed to provide the support necessary for today’s component-laden full-wall slides, in addition to significantly improving the motorhome’s structural integrity and drivability. Officials reported that the feature will be standard on all diesel pusher models with the exception of the King Aire, which is built on a different chassis system.
Developed over the last 16 months by Newmar Vice President of Engineering Ron Stichter and his team, STAR resembles a truss system that the company says will better level the floors, straighten the chassis rails and redistribute the stress that would otherwise be absorbed by the chassis.
“At some point, with all the full-wall slides, all the multiple slides, less carpet, more tile and more weight, and the stress being put on a foundation that’s 20 years old, we were starting to approach a point where it could exceed what the platform could take — especially if we were to do any more innovating and add more to a coach,” said John Sammut, Newmar vice president of sales and marketing. “Ron Stichter and his team have done a wonderful job of not only coming up with the design, but actually making it to where our manufacturing process can create that substructure and integrate it into the production line.”
In other news, Newmar announced that the UltraSteer passive steering tag axle from Gaffney, S.C.-based Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) is now standard on all Newmar diesel products featuring a supplemental axle. Additionally, Newmar debuted a fully tiled flush floor slideout system, being dubbed “More Floor,” developed in partnership with Moscow, Iowa-based HWH Corp.
Those announcements – along with other changes for 2016, including 59% of the floorplans, 73% of its dÃ©cor options and 100% of its exterior graphics and colors – are the result of Newmar’s commitment to constant innovation, said Matt Miller, president of the family-owned company.
“You have to look at your product every year and say, “˜How are we, next year, going to do something that’s better than the product we have out there today,'” Miller explained. “Now, you can do that yourself, or you can let your competitor do it to you. We prefer to look at our product and do it to ourselves. So you kind of have to have the mindset of, “˜I’m going to make next year’s product so much better that it’s going to make obsolete last year’s product.’ That has to be your mindset. Otherwise, it’s a very competitive industry – everyone’s copying everybody – and you start falling behind.”
Sammut added that 2014 was an excellent growth year for Newmar. Citing Statistical Surveys Inc., he said that while the overall Class A market was up 15% in 2014, Newmar was up 46%. And, only looking at diesel products, the market was only up 5% while Newmar’s diesel lineup improved 64%. As a result, Newmar increased its market share from 7.7% to 12.2%.
“This market is too unforgiving to stand still and expect to maintain volume or market share. If you don’t one-up yourself, someone else is going to one-up you, so we may as well do it ourselves,” Sammut said.