When crowds swarm Open House Week next month in Elkhart, Ind., one significant manufacturer will be absent. And it’s not for lack of trying.
For years, Northwood Mfg. has carved a name for itself among RVers in the Pacific Northwest, nearby states, and Canada. It’s that rugged terrain where the manufacturer of such critical successes like the Arctic or Desert Fox and Nash have gained in popularity, and where it’s proliferated a niche RV family of all-season explorers.
“One thing we feel we do a very good job on is making a coach truly four seasons,” said Donald Cochran, Northwood’s national sales director.
As a West Coast mainstay, it’s easy for the industry to overlook the big changes coming to Northwood’s 2018 product line.
“Like most manufacturers, we upgrade our product throughout the year. But for 2018 we did add some things that we call ‘Absolute Northwood,’” said Cochran. That means its carried throughout the manufacturer’s lines.
All units, for instance, now feature a 20-watt solar panel standard, as well as an exterior solar port on the sidewall.
This year, Northwood is introducing two new Nash floorplans: the bunkhouse 29S and bunkhouse 26N. Exterior speakers are now a standard for all Nash towables. The standard features include being generator-ready, a 10-gallon water heater, which come in clutch for dry camping.
“It’s something you’d have in a coach where you’re going to spend some time out, and maybe not have plugins.”
Additional changes can be seen on the Arctic Fox, which now comes standard with a 10-cubic-foot refrigerator.
Scroll down for some photos of the 2018 lineup courtesy of Northwood Mfg.
The manufacturer, in the mountains in La Grande, Ore., employs about 300 people who work together to ship 3,200-plus units a year. Remarkably, unlike many others, Northwood manufactures its own chassis.
“We want to ensure the durability of that chassis,” said Cochran. “It’s not an easy thing. Cost-wise, it can be a little bit more expensive, but we can ensure the quality.”
As a testament to the strength of Northwood products, the manufacturer third-party tests all components of the RV including the chassis. “We hold up the rugged durability we promote in our products.”
After all, Northwood products are said to have a higher resale value due to that attention to detail. The other aspect is the company’s pre-delivery inspections that occur at a separate location for each unit.
The success has led to Northwood’s current consideration of a new facility to handle the demand.
“We’re six months out on product demand right now,” said Cochran. And that bears its own set of challenges.
“We’re not a large manufacturer. So, we make our name on the quality of our product and the way we build it. That’s what we want to ensure,” concluded Cochran. “If we don’t, we become like everybody else. I can’t make a Thor product compete with Thor. I can only make a Northwood product that can be out there standing on its own merits.”