One of the nation’s newest RV manufacturers, Potomac RV LLC, Elkhart, Ind., began building “upper entry-level” travel trailers in October and was expected to expand into fifth-wheel production in March, according to Managing Member James E. Johnson.
The company planned to introduce three fifth-wheel floorplans initially, and offer six others by the end of the year.
“Our customer is the experienced and informed second- or third-time buyer – someone who has done their homework. The more homework they do, the more sense a Potomac will make,” said Johnson, a familiar name to RV industry insiders.
Sales Manager Matt McMahon said the company, currently with 30 employees, will initially limit distribution to a small group of dealers.
“We want to go into the right markets with the right dealerships and not oversaturate the market,” McMahon said.
Although a start-up, Potomac’s founders and managers have been in the RV industry for many years.
Johnson worked for 17 years in manufacturing for General Motors North American Truck Operations and for four years, starting in 1993, he was director of corporate quality at Holiday Rambler, now a division of Monaco Coach Corp. In 1997, he became vice president of service operations and director of quality, codes and standards for Damon Motor Coach, Elkhart, Ind.
Johnson left Damon in April 2002 to form Potomac.
McMahon and Director of Manufacturing Irvin J. Kontowsky also are Holiday Rambler veterans and other Potomac executives have extensive experience in the industry.
Potomac RV shipped its first travel trailers in late November from a 33,000-square-foot plant in Elkhart. The company initially offered five single-slideout floorplans in lengths of 26 to 30 feet with a retail base price range of $24,750 to $27,600. Plans call for three double- and triple-slideout fifth-wheel floorplans in lengths of 28 to 35 feet.
“We see the whole industry zeroing in on that length range,” Johnson said. “With two or three slides, you are getting as much square footage and you don’t have to pull a dinosaur down the road with you.”
Potomac towables are built with an all-aluminum unibody superstructure and laminated aluminum sidewalls on a powdered steel frame. “The strength is in the box,” Johnson said. “In a lot of units, the strength is in the cabinets when they are attached to the frame.”
The units are outfitted standard with 15,000-BTu air conditioners, 10-gallon water heaters, heated holding tanks, 18-foot awnings, residential-style plumbing fixtures, porcelain toilets and bathroom sinks and shower skylights.
Potomac offers only six options in the coach, most involving living-room and bedroom furniture.
“RVers are going to find the amenities that they will need or want are standard in the Potomac,” Johnson said.