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Editor’s Note: This is the first in a new series by Chief Executive, “Masters of Manufacturing,” featuring Thor Industries Inc. CEO Bob Martin. The series is presented in partnership with The Indiana Economic Development Corp. Each month, the publication will share insights and ideas from innovative, growth-minded manufacturing CEOs from across the nation as they navigate this tricky time in history.

Thor Industries CEO Bob Martin is just coming off the recreational-vehicle industry’s biggest annual exhibition, and the RVX show in Salt Lake City earlier this month underscored two major ways in which the business that Thor leads is changing.

Overall RV sales are leveling off after a decade-long boom, posing challenges to Martin and his counterparts that they haven’t faced since the industry debacle during the Great Recession. And the marketing targets for brands such as Thor’s Airstream, Keystone, Integra and Jayco vehicles are becoming broader, especially embracing the millennial generation that has become key to the industry’s future.

“Retail [sales] haven’t been incredible” recently, Martin told Chief Executive. “So we’re managing inventory and production in a cautious way. Dealers are feeling this year can be a flat year, which still would be very good. For ten years our industry has been on a growth spurt.

“So we see a little slowing – we’re not looking at a major falloff, just kind of a slowing. And dealers are trying to stay healthy by getting their inventories in line.”

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