August '18

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rv-pro.com August 2018 • RV PRO • 35 Cherokee's facility in Topeka, Ind., has grown to three plants covering 300,000 square feet and employing nearly 500 workers. Those workers build Cherokee, Grey Wolf and Wolf Pup travel trailers. In nearby LaGrange, another 300 workers staff a repurposed half-million- square-foot former manufactured housing facility building Arctic Wolf, Alpha Wolf fifth wheels plus Wolf Pack and Vengeance toy haulers. Together, they build the vast majority of travel trailers and fifth wheels that carry the Cherokee brand. Still more travel trailers are built in a former Monaco Beaver/Safari plant in Harris- burg, Ore., for the West Coast market. "The success of Cherokee has come from solid leadership in all areas with very little turnover resulting in hundreds of loyal employees in all departments," says Walczak, who spent 14 years in the industry before joining the Cherokee team. "They have a simple philosophy: 'Do the right things.' It sounds funny, but it is a pleasant alter- native to many other industry acquaintances. There are lots of great products on the market, but it's not good enough to have a good floorplan and look nice. You got to do a lot of great stuff to keep that customer happy." Serving the Market In 2015, Forest River top executives Doug Gaeddert, John Quake and others took an in-depth look at the Cherokee product and the fifth wheel market in general, Walczak says. At that time, Cherokee didn't offer a laminated fifth wheel that retailed in the core of volume sales. Cherokee owners who wanted to trade up after a few years had to go to another brand. To end this void, management decided to launch a laminate division, which would even- tually include Arctic Wolf fifth wheels and Alpha Wolf travel trailers. Cherokee workers celebrate as the 1,000th Arctic Wolf rolls off the assembly line, marking a major milestone for the RV manufacturer. Pictured with company employees in the background are: front row, left to right: (blue shirt) Henry Schwartz, lead sales at The Outpost RV in Middlebury, Ind.; (red shirt) Phaeton Schrock, owner of The Outpost RV; (orange shirt) John Quake, general manager for Forest River's Cherokee towables; and (black shirt) Bryan Walczak, sales manager for Cherokee Arctic Wolf. Now in its second year, the Cherokee Arctic Wolf 265DBH8 floorplan has already become the best-selling Cherokee fifth wheel. Cherokee credits the unit's success to its ability to be towed by lighter trucks and retailing at a favorable price point while maintaining its value proposition. PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHEROKEE RV

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