James stressed that the RV maker will continue to produce its other product lines, such as Aspen Trail, Kodiak, Aerolite, Coleman and Denali, in addition to providing warranty support for the discontinued line.
“Dutchmen (Mfg.) has grown significantly in recent years, and a couple of our other brands were outpacing the Dutchmen brand specifically,” he said in explaining the decision to end production of Dutchmen-labeled products. “So we decided to put laser focus on our other two stick-and-tin product lines, those being Aspen Trail and Coleman.”
Due to the popularity of the company’s other stick-and-tin lines, many Dutchmen dealers said they don’t foresee a problem with Dutchmen’s decision, which the company announced in a letter to dealers.
Carpenter Campers owner Mark Carpenter said sales for Aspen Trail campers are as good as ever at his Pensacola, Fla.-based dealership.
“(Aspen Trail) is a great product, they’ve had it dialed in,” he said. “They made a great trailer when they had the right people running it.”
Dutchmen dealer Charlie Counts, owner of Bourbon RV Center in Bourbon, Mo., isn’t sure if the move will affect his bottom line, but he’s grown attached to the Dutchmen trailer line, which began in 1988.
“As a Dutchmen dealer, I’m kind of sad to see them drop that name,” Counts said. “They’ve been selling Dutchmen for many years, so we actually do get people coming here just to look at Dutchmen.”
In 2013, Thor consolidated some Dutchmen and Keystone management when Matt Zimmerman, president of Thor’s Keystone operations, began leading Dutchmen, filling the position vacated by Cam Boyer, who joined Grand Design. At the same time, Keystone General Manager Aram Koltookian became Dutchmen executive vice president. Koltookian now is COO with Thor’s K-Z RV division.
Today, the companies benefit from some mutual resources, such as the merged parts and service warehouse and accounting department, James said. He added that although the senior leadership is the same in some areas, the Thor divisions maintain separate service teams and design and development departments.
But the closer integration of the two companies is something that Chris Lambert, general sales manager at Milford, Del.-based Delmarva RV Center, wouldn’t mind seeing grow stronger.
“I think (integrating the two) is actually a better thing,” he said. “It’s going to help. Keystone has better warranty, better parts ‑ it’s just easier to deal with.”