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Newmar Corp.’s improved focus on mid- to highline gas- and diesel-engine Class A motorhomes provides the explanation for the Nappanee, Ind. company’s dramatic increase in retail sales this year, according to President Dick Parks.
Although Newmar’s retail market share ranking has slipped to No. 5 as a result of Thor Industries Inc.’s recent acquisition of Damon Motor Coach, retail sales of Newmar Class A’s, when gas and diesels are combined, increased 21.7% during the first seven months of this year, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., an independent market research firm.
Newmar’s U.S. dealers in all states except for Hawaii and New Hampshire sold 1,530 of the company’s Class A’s in the first seven months of this year, compared with 1,257 units retailed in the same portion of 2002.
Meanwhile, the total U.S. retail market for Class A’s grew by 7.9% in the first seven months of this year.
Newmar units accounted for 6.4% of the Class A market in the first seven months of this year, versus 5.7% in the same portion of last year.
“If there’s one thing we’ve done the last couple of years its’ to really focus,” said Parks, a former Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. executive who became Newmar’s president in October 2001. “We stopped building the NewAire because it wasn’t really an RV-type product, it was aimed at another market. We discontinued American Star travel trailers. We discontinued the London Aire bus and we stopped building Kountry Aire.
“We tried to focus on what we’re good at and differentiate our products, give people choices, give them different price points they can buy product at and, more importantly, give them the Newmar quality and service that they expect.,” Parks said.
Newmar is one of handful of motorhome manufacturers that owns its own full-body paint plant. Parks said the company, majority-owned by Mahlon Miller, invested $1.2 million to expand its full-body paint capacity, which now totals 14 to 15 units per day.
The 1,000-employee company now is building 17 motorhomes and fifth-wheels per day. Newmar built as many as 20 units per day in 1999.
However, because of emphasis on quality, Parks said, “To go to (building) 18 (units per day), we have to be able to do 18 better than we can do 17.”
Newmar has plans for a variety of factory expansions and upgrades, Parks added.
Newmar has four brands of fifth-wheels, but Statistical Surveys data shows its fifth-wheel retail sales declined 15.7% to 510 units sold in the first seven months of this year.
Although the fifth-wheel retail market, as a whole, grew by 8.8% in the first seven months of this year, the luxury fifth-wheel segment, where Newmar’s brands are positioned, apparently is contracting, Park believes.
“I feel that’s the issue,” he said. “There’s more lower-priced travel trailers and fifth-wheels being sold, but we’ll continue developing fifth-wheel products.”