EDITOR’S NOTE: As Truma North America celebrates its 10th anniversary, President and CEO Gerhard Hundsberger looks back on the company’s first decade in North America.
ELKHART, ind. – In the United States, there is a saying: “Get out of your comfort zone.” That is exactly what we needed to do when we opened the Truma North American headquarters in 2013. After more than six decades of engineering the finest RV systems in Europe, we found that we needed to be adaptable in more ways than one. In Europe, Truma has a strong, well-known reputation with a large, multi-national workforce. In North America, we stepped in as an unknown player with three employees, ready to do whatever was necessary to build our brand and help RV owners have “Simply Better” camping experiences.
Our team was ambitious, talented and confident that North America would embrace Truma systems as Europe had done previously. We didn’t become the European leader in RV systems by accident – Truma products are in a class unto themselves in terms of efficiency and quality. However, success also didn’t happen overnight. It took time and a great deal of effort to build a brand that OEMs and end-users rely on for quality and durability. Based on that experience in Europe, we knew our systems would appeal to high-end RV manufacturers and RV owners in the North American market. We also knew we would need to earn the industry’s trust first.
We did our homework, conducted a market study, and interviewed manufacturers, dealers and end-users. What we found through our research was that there was room and need for a quality supplier. What we heard most frequently was that no matter if an end-user owned a $25,000 travel trailer or a $500,000 motorhome, the appliances were all the same. But people who spend that much money on high-end RVs – and often use their RV year-round – expect high-end systems on board. Those customers want to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle without compromising comfort. We also found that customer service and technical expertise were at the top of the wish list.
Confident we could meet the needs and expectations of the RV owners and manufacturers, we opened our first North American headquarters in 2013 at the “little blue house” on Jackson Blvd in Elkhart, Indiana – the RV Capital of the World. Our first two years focused on building relationships, listening to feedback from manufacturers and end users, and using those conversations to determine how we could be of value. In 2013 and 2014, we developed our first product specifically for the North American Market: the Truma AquaGo.
We saw an opportunity in the market for a tankless, on-demand water heater that worked consistently and reliably. Competitor “instant” water heaters at the time were being recalled due to safety and performance issues. Our engineering team was able to develop solutions for common problems like low water pressure and scalding. Truma AquaGo ensures constant water temperatures at low and high flow rates. A stepless burner control adjusts the heat output based on volume flow and inlet water temperature, and the patented temperature stabilizer minimizes outlet temperature fluctuations to deliver the exact desired water temperature.
We also certified the Truma Combi for sale in the United States and Canada. The Combi is the original two-in-one furnace and water heater and is a European market leader to this day. The AquaGo and Combi quickly became highly sought-after systems and propelled our business forward.
As Truma grew here in North America, we knew it was time to move on from the little blue house. We secured property on County Road 6 – one of Elkhart’s main thoroughfares and conveniently located near the Indiana Toll Road – and opened a new state-of-the-art facility in 2019. The building would not only serve as office and warehouse space but a full-size service center, an Alde heating system pre-assembly facility and a certified climate testing chamber.
We continued to push out of our comfort zone while keeping RV owners in their comfort zones with the introduction of three more product lines: the Truma VarioHeat furnace, Truma Cooler portable refrigerator/freezer and the Truma Aventa rooftop air conditioner. Despite changing economic landscapes, Truma has continued to thrive in North America. We consistently capture market share and grow year-over-year, even with attempts by other companies to offer lesser-quality copies of Truma systems.
Now in 2023, it is remarkable to see how Truma has adapted and evolved over the last 10 years. From a small team in a converted Elkhart Victorian home to more than 70 people spread across the U.S. and Canada. In addition to our Elkhart headquarters, we also have a service center in Lakeland, Florida, mobile technicians in Arizona and Texas, and a growing network of Truma Certified service centers and technicians. This growth would not be possible if not for the hard work and dedication of our team members. Their commitment to being “Simply Better” for Truma, for our customers and for each other has been the key to our success.
It also goes without saying that this milestone would not be possible without the continued support and commitment of our OEM and dealer partners, nor without the trust and loyalty of thousands of RV owners. According to the RV Industry Association, the industry has seen a steady increase in RVs sold over the last 10 years. In this period of prosperity, we have grown together to provide the best outdoor recreation experiences possible. Together, we have been able to reach our goals, yet none of us are comfortable resting on what has been done. There are uncertain times ahead, but for Truma’s part, we are committed to being a steadfast and reliable industry partner. We will continue to research and engineer new ways to increase comfort and value in each RV that has Truma on board. The future promises to be exciting, and we are grateful to be here.
On behalf of everyone at Truma, thank you for a great decade — and cheers to another 10 years of providing “Simply Better” camping experiences.
Gerhard Hundsberger, President and CEO