Martin Set to Take Reins at Thor Industries
“This is a relationship industry. The relationships make it easier when times are good or bad,” Martin told RV PRO. “Many people (within the Thor family) know my cell phone number. I get calls and texts in many hours of the morning and evening. They know if there’s an issue, I’m always open to helping them through it. That’s how our industry works. The RV industry is a unique industry – it’s much more personal than other industries that are out there.”
Martin, currently the RV senior group president of Thor Industries, will take over his new position as president and COO on Aug. 1. He said the presidents of Thor’s lineup of RV companies will continue to report to him and there are no plans to hire a new RV group president.
“I talk to them (the Thor presidents) frequently. I’m based out of Elkhart, Ind., and see them frequently,” he said. “To put somebody in between me and the presidents, I really just don’t feel I need to add that layer with my relationship to the presidents now. In the long term, it may never be a needed position.”
Martin said he will spend the next few months learning about Thor’s bus-building business. He toured a Thor bus factory in Riverside, Calif., on Friday (July 20).
“We have a great group president on the bus side in Andrew Imanse. He’s been on the bus side for many years and has a wealth of knowledge,” Martin said. “I look to lean on him to introduce me to that side of the business and help manage it as he has done for many years.”
In the elevated role as company president, Martin said he will continue pushing Thor companies toward maintaining and strengthening product development and product innovation operations. His other priorities include maintaining and building product quality, dealer relations and customer service.
“It’s basic,” he said. “The company that is going to win is the one with the strongest product, with the best quality at a fair price. And you have the relationship with your customer. That’s something we’ve really fought hard for throughout my whole career here to maintain. It’s best practice that all of our companies are really buying into.
“Not every (Thor) division is on the same level. But there are different insights I can bring to different divisions to help them achieve that,” Martin added.
As president and COO, Martin is in line to eventually succeed company founder and CEO Peter Orthwein. However, Martin thinks that could be many years from happening.
“I don’t think Mr. Orthwein will ever retire. He’s been in town the last year or so more than ever. He’s enjoyed engaging with the operations and we invite it. He shows no signs of slowing,” Martin said. “He’ll always be a big part of the company. He’s one of the founders. He’s a huge part of our board. He’s been wonderful for me. He’s been a great mentor while I take these next steps. Peter will be around for a long time.”
At age 42, Martin has worked his way up from a being a trainee and manufacturers rep for Coachmen in 1993 to leading the largest company in the RV industry 18 years later.
“As I trainee, I did whatever they told me to do,” he said “I drove the tour bus, I did plant tours, I helped dealers, and I worked shows. It’s kind of funny, some of those early relationships from being a trainee at Coachmen are still some of my strongest ties that I have today.
“I look forward to many years doing what I’m doing,” Martin said.