”I wouldn’t commit to the (Elkhart County RV Open House in September) right now but odds are in favor of us being there,” Tiffin said, adding that it’s pretty much a certainty that Vanleigh product will be available for the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., the first week in December.
”We have a crew of about 10 people now. That’s a number that will be growing steadily,” said Tiffin, whose new company will occupy a 90,000-square-foot plant about 30 miles west of Red Bay, Ala., building a new line of fifth-wheels initially in the 38- to 40-foot range.
Although not associated directly with highly regarded Class A motorhome manufacturer Tiffin Motorhomes Inc. in Red Bay, Tiffin President Bob Tiffin is a co-owner of Vanleigh, as is Leigh Tiffin and his father, Van Tiffin, who remains product development manager for Tiffin Motorhomes.
Most recently, Leigh Tiffin, 26, worked in purchasing for Tiffin Motorhomes.
‘’Vanleigh RV is its own unique company and it’s an entirely different market segment,” Leigh Tiffin said. ”I’ve got big shoes to fill with the name and reputation that Tiffin has made. We understand the expectations will be pretty great. And we welcome that. We want to make sure that when we create a product, we’ve got something that is world class.”
With regard to the new towable company, Tiffin said his grandfather will assume ”more of a chairman-type role while my dad will be very actively involved.”
Tiffin said that Vanleigh initially will have a regional focus. ”At some point we want to be nationwide and in Canada,” Tiffin said. ”For now, we are going to focus on the southeast. That makes the most sense.”
Vanleigh’s factory, formerly the home to a mobile home manufacturer, was purchased from Mississippi’s Tishomingo County with the promise of employing 75 people. ”I expect us to eventually employ more than 75 people,” Tiffin said. ”We currently are still in the early product-development stage. We’d rather grow slowly because our focus will be on quality.”
Vanleigh will target the fifth-wheel market, he maintained, ”because that’s where the bulk of the RV market is.”
”It’s something I approached my dad and granddad with,” he said ”It’s a great market where we can bring a lot of experience into play.”
Because of its distance from the Elkhart County RV manufacturing hub in Indiana, Vanleigh RV will manufacture most of the parts that will go into its fifth-wheels.
”When you are outside Elkhart, you’re almost forced to become vertically integrated,” Tiffin said. ”We will not necessarily do our own chassis, but we will be doing our own woodworking, cabinetry and sidewalls. The whole box will be made here in Burnsville.”