Saturday, December 01, 2007
IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME: NATIONAL RV HAS FINALLY FILED FOR BANKRUPTCY
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Perris, Calif.-based National RV Holdings Inc. announced late Friday (Nov. 30) that the company and its subsidiary, motorhome builder National RV Inc., have filed for bankruptcy.
National RV Holdings closed down operations Friday morning and laid off around 600 employees at its Perris headquarters. In its statement, officials said that “seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is in the best interests of the company, its creditors, stockholders and other interested parties in light of ongoing financial challenges and the inability to adequately fund operations and obligations.”
"We are saddened to let go our excellent employees, especially so close to the holidays, and even more so because National's motorhomes have never been better than they are today,” said Dave Humphreys, who took over as interim CEO in August, replacing Brad Albrechtsen. “After evaluating our options, however, we ultimately determined that seeking protection in bankruptcy was in the best interests of creditors and shareholders."
The firm, which sold its Junction City, Ore.-based Country Coach Inc. subsidiary last February for $38.75 million, has been losing money every year since 2002 totaling more than $80 million. Recently the company's stock was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange because it fell below trading thresholds.
In its most recent quarter, sales were reported down 42%, according to a financial report released in August.
According to a report in the Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif., the company's fate remains uncertain. Kathryn Thompson, an RV industry analyst with Avondale Partners LLC in Nashville, said it's unlikely that another company will want to buy National RV.
"There's a chance that Fleetwood or another company like Thor could just buy certain brands off them," Thompson said. "But at the end of the day, it's too much of a liability to buy the whole company."
She said the news that National RV was closing was not altogether surprising. "What I've been saying for about four years is that if there's a company that could just go out of business, it's National RV," Thompson said. "It's a cash-flow issue for them."
COUNTRY COACH LAYS OFF PART OF ITS WORKFORCE
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Country Coach Inc., Junction City, Ore., this week laid off part of its work force, a move that Vice President Matt Howard described as both “a seasonal and market adjustment.”
“We need to make sure we’re sized properly to stay healthy in a cyclical market,” Howard told Eugene’s Register-Guard on Friday (Nov. 30).
Howard would not disclose how many workers were idled in the layoff, which took place on Monday, the day preceding the opening of RVIA’s 45th Annual National RV Show in Louisville, Ky.
Country Coach is one of Lane County’s largest private employers. The high-end motorhome manufacturer’s work force had more than doubled since 2001, when it had about 769 workers. In June 2006, the company said it had 1,700 workers and was planning to hire 200 more to help build two new motorcoach models.
Howard said the total number employed today by the privately held firm is less than 1,400, but noted the company loses a lot of workers, particularly entry-level employees, through attrition.
Junction City Mayor Dwight Coon said he heard 200 to 300 were laid off. Taryl Perry, executive director of the Junction City-Harrisburg Chamber of Commerce, said one man came in this week and said he was one of 400 workers put out of work.
Both Perry and Coon said the layoffs are unfortunate but not surprising for the economic times. “I feel bad for the employees,” Coon said. “It’s just a reflection of the economy, and layoffs are an unfortunate effect of that. ... (RVs) are high-end, big-ticket items, and I think people are just pulling back a little bit.”
“With the RV industry, they (employment levels) go up and down,” added Perry. “If a business like Country Coach left, that would be devastating. Periodic layoffs, we found, are not uncommon with that kind of industry.”
Howard said the company’s “ultra high-end” models are doing well, but less expensive models are under pressure. “We just need to make sure we stay healthy,” he said.
September retail sales figures from Statistical Surveys Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich., put Country Coach in the No. 9 spot for U.S. Class A diesel sales, with year-to-date market share of 3.1%.
Friday, November 30, 2007
FIRE CONTAINED AT WINNEBAGO FACTORY
FOREST CITY, Iowa - Fire officials say a sprinkler system did its job in helping to contain a fire at the Winnebago Industries complex in Forest City.
The fire broke out Wednesday in a paint area of a building on the sprawling grounds of the motor home manufacturer. The building was evacuated and no one was hurt.
Fire Chief Mark Johnson says the fire could have been much worse if the building didn't have a sprinkler system. Firefighters brought the fire under control before it spread in the building filled with chemicals.
The cause remains under investigation.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
WINNEBAGO 50 YEARS OLD
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Winnebago Industries, celebrating 50 years on the road, displayed its lineup of innovative 2008 Winnebago and Itasca motor homes at the 45th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. Taking center stage were new models offered on the popular 2008 Winnebago Access and recently introduced 2008 Itasca Navion iQ.
Making its debut at Louisville was the 2008 Winnebago Access 31J. This double-slide Class C motor home offers plenty of sleeping accommodations with bunk beds and a queen bed in the rear, as well as a dinette and sofa/bed up front.
“The 2008 Winnebago Access is one of our most popular motor homes,” said Winnebago Industries’ Vice President of Sales and Marketing Roger Martin. “We’ve taken this already successful motor home and added bunk beds which are a huge hit with families – especially children. The 31J also allows you to have three TVs for optimum viewing throughout the coach. We’re sure this is going to be a hit in the market place.”
The 2008 Winnebago Access also added to its exterior design with optional, lower valance paint for a striking, new look.
Introduced earlier this year, the 2008 Itasca Navion iQ featured the new, highly anticipated 24DL floorplan in Louisville. The new 24DL features a rear slideout that extends the queen bed. This floorplan also offers innovative bench seats and a table behind the cab that combine for a unique cross-coach sleeping space.
“The Itasca Navion iQ rides on the Dodge Sprinter chassis and is unique in the marketplace,” said Martin. “With the introduction of the new 24DL floorplan, this product has become even more distinctive.”
Additional highlights introduced in Louisville include more paint than ever before, added to both the Winnebago and Itasca brand lines. The highly popular Winnebago View and Itasca Navion, built on the Dodge Sprinter chassis, as well as Class A Winnebago Sightseer and Itasca Sunova product lines introduced full body paint for a dynamic exterior look.
Several floorplans were shown for the first time, like the totally redesigned 2008 Winnebago Journey and Itasca Meridian 37G. The 37G is a side aisle floorplan with rear wardrobe and storage cabinet extending for a great bedroom area. A large, angled shower and private toilet area are also features of this floorplan.
“Winnebago Industries is proud of our 50 year history, and we look forward to the future by continuing to introduce quality, innovative products specifically designed for RVers,” said Martin.
FREEDOM ROADS DEALERSHIPS TO BE EXCLUSIVE SALES FOR FEATHERLITE
SANFORD, Fla. - FreedomRoads/Camping World and Featherlite Coaches, Inc. today announced a new exclusive sales and marketing relationship that appoints FreedomRoads/Camping World, the nation's largest RV retailer, as the exclusive nationwide retailer of Featherlite Luxury Coaches. The parties expect sales and service operations to begin at certain FreedomRoads/Camping World sales and service centers in mid-December.
"We are very excited to announce this new relationship with FreedomRoads/Camping World because it gives current and prospective customers of Featherlite Coaches' luxury motor coaches access to sales and service centers throughout the United States," said Conrad Clement, CEO of Featherlite Coaches, Inc. "As we roll out this new relationship, the first Camping World stores to receive training for its sales personnel and qualified service technicians from Featherlite Coaches' personnel, and to have Featherlite Luxury Coaches in stock, will be San Diego, CA, Statesville, NC, Mesa (Phoenix), AZ, Indianapolis, Ind., Stewartville (Rochester), Minn. and Sanford, Fla.," said Clement.
In the later part of 2008 and beyond, it is anticipated that Featherlite Coaches' sales and service will be available through FreedomRoads/Camping World stores in Las Vegas, NV, Chicago, IL, Portland, OR, Denver, CO and Salt Lake City, UT, as well as other strategic stores throughout the United States.
"This exclusive sales and marketing relationship with Featherlite Coaches presents a great opportunity for FreedomRoads and Camping World, as we now offer our customers access to recreational vehicles at every price point in the market," said Marcus Lemonis, Chairman and CEO of FreeomRoads & Camping World. "We are excited to have this opportunity to sell luxury motor coaches manufactured by the undisputed market leader in the premium luxury motor coach segment."
Featherlite Coaches, Inc. will continue to manufacture the highest quality state of the art Prevost coaches in the industry at its manufacturing facility in Sanford, Fla. "We are excited to have this new relationship with FreedomRoads/Camping World and to be able to take Featherlite and the bus conversion industry to the next level of customer service," said Jim Wooley, President and COO of Featherlite Coaches, Inc. "Both Featherlite Coaches, Inc. and FreedomRoads/Camping World hope that all of Featherlite Coaches' sales and marketing personnel will be able to join the sales and marketing staff at FreedomRoads/Camping World to continue their wonderful effort in marketing and selling our great luxury motor coaches."
“Our commitment to this venture is to have Featherlite Coaches secure and hold a clear position as the market share leader in the bus conversion market. We will in short order look to double the annual volume through a trade up program or the capture of customers by creating a unique value proposition unavailable from anyone else,” said Lemonis.
AFFINITY GROUP REORGANIZES ITSELF
“Affinity has listened to its advertisers and partners,” said Mike Schneider, CEO of Affinity. “We are structuring Affinity’s vast services and resources so they are easier to understand and so that we can provide better access to the many marketing channels we have to reach the diverse market of outdoor enthusiasts.”
Under the new strategy, Affinity businesses will operate under four new groups – Affinity Media, Affinity Clubs, Affinity Events and Affinity Ventures. The new format will enable existing and potential partners and advertisers additional access to multiple Affinity channels and touch points.
Affinity Media – Man agi ng all of the company’s business and consumer publications, e-commerce and complementing Web sites. Leading RV and camping publications include MotorHome, Trailer Life, Highways, Woodall’s Camping Life, and RV Business. Powersports and boating publications include Rider, American Rider, ATV Magazine, ATV Sport, SnowGoer, Powersports Business, Boating Industry, Trailer Boats, Watercraft World, Bass & Walleye Boats and Powerboat. High volume Web sites include RV.net and RVSearch.com.
Affinity Clubs – Catering to 1.5 million club members including the Good Sam Club, Coast to Coast Resorts, Camp Club USA and Golf Club International.
Affinity Events – Encompassing 35-plus consumer shows held annually across the country, including retail events for RVs, boats, home & garden, motorcycles, snowmobiles and ice fishing.
Affinity Ventures – Overseeing joint venture partnerships, including relationships with GMAC Insurance and Barclays Bank.
Affinity also unwrapped its new corporate logo that includes a new tagline, “Recreation in Motion,” developed to project the company’s image as a positive force moving forward to help the growth of the entire outdoor recreation market. Affinity’s new vision has the company striving to be America ’s champion for the fun, freedom and adventure of recreation in motion.
The new corporate structure also calls for the elimination of the long-held corporate names and logos of California-based TL Enterprises Inc. and Minnesota-based Ehlert Publishing Group Inc.
According to the RVIA, RV ownership is growing faster than the population with nearly one in 12 U.S. vehicle owning households now owning an RV – an estimated 8 million vehicles. Statistics and studies conducted by the RVIA also suggest the growth rates in the RV marketplace are likely to continue in the long term – with the number of RV owning households rising to 8.5 percent by 2010.
“Demand for RVs will continue to grow during the next decade, due to favorable population trends and purchase intentions,” reports Gary LaBella, vice president and chief marketing officer for RVIA. “With the increasing growth of the RV market, RVIA is thrilled to see a company with the reach of Affinity doing everything it can to meet the needs of this dynamic niche market.”
Affinity, www.affinitygroup.com, is the nation’s largest provider of outdoor clubs, media and events that service the safety, security, comfort and convenience needs of the North American recreational vehicle (RV) and outdoor enthusiast market. By providing information, insights, and resources, the company champions the fun, freedom, and adventure of recreation in motion. The company works to enhance its customers’ recreational experiences and build the communities that share and promote their fun and adventurous lifestyles.
Affinity is organized into four different business units – Affinity Media, Affinity Clubs, Affinity Events and Affinity Ventures. Their corporate headquarters are located in Ventura , Calif. Subsidiary operations and divisions can be found at multiple locations throughout the United States .
Monday, November 26, 2007
A LIST OF RECALLS FROM THE NHTSA
Monday, November 26, 2007
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued recall notices for the following products related to the recreational vehicle industry:
193 (2006) Coachmen Aurora motorhomes. The spare tire carrier assembly mounted under the rear of the unit is the incorrect model to properly support the spare tire.
97 (2007-2008) Country Coach Allure motorhomes equipped with Atwood sealed burner ranges. The range and slide-in burner tubes leading from the gas manifold to the burner heads had a depression or “kink” in the exterior bend restricting proper air flow and gas mixture leading to a possible carbon monoxide leak.
45 (2008) Country Coach Inspire motorhomes equipped with Caterpillar C9 diesel engines. A fuel pump failure will dilute the engine oil with fuel and may cause the turbocharger to fail and cause the loss of throttle control without warning.
15 (2007-2008) MPV motorhomes built on Prevost chassis equipped with Bendix SR-& spring brake modulating valves. The internal rubber check valve may leak, causing a delay in the application of the spring brakes to park the vehicle after the operator pulls the dash valve button, which could cause a delay or failure in applying the parking brakes.
133 (2007-2008) Fleetwood Bounder and Pace Arrow motorhomes, whose slideout room may activate while traveling due to water shorting out the electronic control relay for the slideout room control mechanism.
1,908 (2007) Fleetwood Folding Trailer Sequoia, Avalon, Cheyene and (2007-2008) Arcadia, Niagara, Saratoga, Williamsburg, Bayside, Utah, Santa Fe and Sun Valley trailers, whose power roof systems generate excessive amounts of impact torque if the power lift is operated with a 30-amp power cord plugged into a 110-volt AC power source (with or without a battery). This could cause damage to the trailer’s life system.
263 (2008) Forest River Wildwood and Salem trailer trailers for failing to abide by tire and rim label requirements.
983 (2007) Keystone RV Passport and (2008) Freedom Light travel trailers. The liquid propane (LP) supply hose for the outside range is connected too close to the range. In certain wind conditions, the heat from the range burner may cause the hose to melt.
317 (2007-2008) Keystone RV Big Sky fifth-wheel trailers. When pressure is applied to the towel bar installed on the glass shower door, the edge of the bar may break the glass.
An undetermined amount of (1993-1994) National RV Class A motorhomes built on Ford chassis. The speed control deactivation switch may, under certain conditions, leak internally and then overheat, smoke or burn.
1,150 (2006-2008) National RV Surf Side, Dolphin and Dolphin LX motorhomes, whose front and rear side marker lights were not installed, reducing a vehicle’s visibility.
10 (2007-2008) Trail-Lite B-Plus, (2007) Trail-Lite Class C and (2008) Town & Country Touring Sedan motorhomes built on GM chassis. The anti-lock brake system (ABS) is programmed incorrectly. When the brakes are applied, the stop lamps will illuminate. When the brake pedal is released and the stop lamps are no longer illuminated, the rear brakes may still be applied.
1,014 (2007-2008) Starcraft folding camping trailers equipped with a power winch unit, Model P55000 by Carefree of Colorado, which, while the trailer top is being lifted, can experience a winch cable shaft break.
12 (2006) Travel Supreme motorhomes equipped with a Suburban glass top sealed burner range or slide-in cook top. A threaded connector on the tube between the burner valve and the burner may not have been fully tightened during the manufacturing process, causing a possible gas leak when the burner is turned on.
27 (2008) Viking Sport folding camping trailers equipped with a power winch unit, Model P55000 by Carefree of Colorado. Under certain circumstances, while the trailer top is being lifted, the winch cable shaft can break.
645 (2007-2008) Winnebago Itasca Suncruiser and (2006-2008) Ellipse motorhomes, whose rear and rear side red reflectors are located above the 60-inch height limit.
Several manufacturers, whose vehicles are equipped with two-door refrigerators from Dometic Corp., may have refrigerators with defects in boiler tubes as part of an ongoing recall.
Several manufacturers, whose vehicles were equipped with a driver seat built by Villa International, which fail to comply with federal seating system requirements because the lower slide rails of the driver seat air suspension can fail.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
VALUCRAFT / BC10 9999
VALUCRAFT / BC8 9999
Manufacturer : AUTOZONE PARTS, INC.
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number : 07E096000 Mfr's Report Date : NOV 08, 2007
Component: ELECTRICAL SYSTEM:BATTERY:CABLES
Potential Number Of Units Affected : 90000
CERTAIN VALUCRAFT 8 AND 10 GAUGE BOOSTER CABLES IMPORTED AND SOLD BY AUTOZONE AS AFTERMARKET EQUIPMENT USED TO JUMP START AUTOMOBILES AND OTHER MOTORIZED EQUIPMENT INCLUDING MOTORCYCLES, ATVS, BOATS, AND LAWN EQUIPMENT HAVING DISCHARGED BATTERIES. THESE BATTERY CABLES ARE EITHER STAMPED 8GA OR 10GA. SOME OF THESE CABLES WERE ASSEMBLED INCORRECTLY. ON ONE OF THE CABLES, THE RED CLAMP WAS ATTACHED TO THE NEGATIVE SIDE AND THE BLACK CLAMP WAS ATTACHED TO THE POSITIVE SIDE. THIS MAY RESULT IN REVERSE POLARITY.
REVERSE POLARITY HAS THE POTENTIAL TO CAUSE DAMAGE TO THE VEHICLE BATTERY AS WELL AS PROPERTY DAMAGE AND PERSONAL INJURY. A VEHICLE'S BATTERY MAY BURST UNDER THESE CONDITIONS.
AUTOZONE WILL OFFER A FULL REFUND OR REPLACEMENT FOR THE AFFECTED BOOSTER CABLES. THE RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN DURING NOVEMBER 2007.
CUSTOMERS MAY CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION'S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY: 1-800-424-9153); OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV.