This month’s RV Industry Association’s (RVIA) “Member Spotlight” features Airxcel President and CEO Jeff Rutherford as he discusses his background in manufacturing and business, his experience since joining the team in 2013 and the impact the RV industry has ranged from training and education to efforts on Capitol Hill.
Explain the Structure of Airxcel?
Each one of our businesses operates as a specific division. So, when you think about Coleman-Mach, MAXXAIR, Dicor or Aqua-Hot, name your group, they all operate as separate divisions. Each one of those divisions is a product expert in the category that they’re in. What Airxcel does that’s different from anybody else in the industry is – as we develop or acquire new brands — we keep that brand identity intact.
How Does the Sales Aspect Operate?
When we come to the sales aspect, we do have a sales organization that, at the very top, is holistic and includes all the brands. When you get to the next level, they are actually sold by product experts. For example, Suburban has their brand experts and sales team who are responsible for the proper placement and specification which ensures the customer gets the product that they want. It’s the same thing with Coleman, Dicor, MCD and many others – there’s a bit of collaboration at the very top. But again, once you get to that next level, it goes right back to that area of product experts.
What Does Being a Product Expert Involve?
Well, when I think about our groups, Coleman-Mach has been making RV air conditioning since 1966. Over time, people have retired, and new people have joined the team. But, throughout that time, they have focused only on making RV air conditioners and it is something the business has become reputable for. As you bring a new employee in, whether it is in engineering or sales, they’re immersed in that environment. They have the benefit of history. They also bring in new ideas and new talent. I make the same statement as it relates to Suburban who has been producing propane gas appliances since the 1950s. And again, that’s what they’re known for, that’s what they do. We don’t make air conditioners at the Suburban plant. We don’t make gas appliances at the air conditioning plant. They’re all set up to be product specific.
How Do Your Separate Teams Work in Concert?
When you think about our business, Airxcel is really separated into two groups, an RV group and commercial/industrial group. The commercial/industrial group services the telecom, commercial cooling and multi-tenant housing and has different technical requirements. Using those technical requirements that we have in this group, and bringing those over into the RV group, leverages some of that skill set and talent to make our RV group products that much stronger.
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