August '18

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Page 43 of 104

rv-pro.com August 2018 • RV PRO • 39 some more thoughtful marketing. The market in Canada's most populous province has been stagnant in part because too many dealers were taking on larger fifth wheels and disdaining the smaller models, according to Walczak. Through April 30, Cherokee travel trailers were solidly in second place in Canada, but Cherokee fifth wheels – although recording triple-digit year-over-year market share growth – were in seventh place. To be fair, the entire towables market in Canada was flat. Through April 30, all fifth wheel sales in Canada were off by about 1 percent, while overall towable sales were off by 2 percent, according to Statistical Surveys. The 30 percent exchange rate on U.S.-made, high-end fifth wheels may be pricing this segment out of reach of many RVers. "We're turning that around," Walczak says, noting Cherokee's 253.8 percent market share growth in April. "You'll see that in the Canadian stats – especially for fifth wheels. The Arctic Wolf could be changing the entire market." Cherokee also is making some inroads in the West Coast market. Today, the Oregon plant produces 10 different floorplans. That is a fraction of the 50 Cherokee floorplans built at Indiana plants, but it's a start, Walczak says. Hitting the Mark Statistical Surveys data shows mid- priced fivers (identified here as units retailing for between $40,000 and $65,000) are gaining traction, making up 54 percent of the market through April 30, up from 48 per- cent in 2017. Stat Surveys data also shows that while all fifth wheel sales were up nearly 9 percent through April 30, the mid-range price point market was up 18 percent for that same time period. Cherokee fifth wheels fall below the mid-price point that RV PRO somewhat arbitrarily established for this story. Additionally, Cher- okee products all retail below the next four top-selling Forest River brands. Cherokee is an entry-level product – a detail the com- pany uses in its promotions, Walczak notes. "One of our stories is entry-level pricing with high-end features," he says. "It's one way we sell our product. The only thing entry level is our pricing. Lev- eling systems, taller slides and residential refrigerators haven't been done in an entry-level product, so that really builds the value of our products." Hitting the target market is always an OEM's goal, but it will become especially important next year, as fifth wheel shipments are projected to slow their rate of growth from the past few years (see Figure 2 on page 36).

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