Small RV Makers Report Great Open House

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ELKHART, Ind. – Forest River and Thor Industries are the two heavyweights of Elkhart Open House Week, with those manufacturers projected to do upwards of $1 billion in sales, but several small RV makers reported they also had a great show.

“We sold everything we brought with us by noon Tuesday,” said Dustin Johns, Travel Lite president. For the entire event, Travel Lite sold double the number of units of any prior Open House, Johns added. While the RV maker saw strong demand for all of its products, dealer interest in Travel Lite’s new, lightweight Falcon travel trailer was particularly strong, he said.

Jerry Sell, general manager for Riverside Travel Trailer, was equally pleased with the dealer response at his exhibit.

“As of Monday afternoon, we outdid all of last year” for sales at Open House, he said. Overall, sales were three times larger at this year’s event compared to last year, Sell added, attributing the increase in large part to dealers’ strong embrace of the RV maker’s lineup of RPM toy haulers.

Allan Reaping, director of sales and marketing for Columbia Northwest, said sales of the of RV maker’s Aliner and Somerset pop-up campers at this year’s Open House surpassed last year’s numbers by “a wide margin.” Dealers were particularly impressed with the new interior décor packages on all 2017 models, he said.

Meanwhile, Lance Camper also reported good foot traffic and sales, even though the RV maker’s exhibit, located near the intersection of State Road 19 and County Road 6, was some distance away from the main RV exhibiting areas. National Sales Manager Gary Conley said the RV maker’s new model 2375 rear living room travel trailer was a hit with dealers.

California-based Lance may consider a different location for next year’s show, as the popular Chubby Trout restaurant, which is next-door to this year’s location, is expected to move north onto Cassopolis Street by then.

Business was also solid for Chinook RV, even though the Class B motorhome maker was something of a last-minute participant and so wasn’t able to give dealers advance notice that it would be exhibiting.

“Dealer response has been great,” said John Chelist, general manager for Las Vegas-based Chinook. “Life’s good.”


Bradley Worrell

Bradley Worrell is the editor of RV PRO Magazine.

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