November '19

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62 • RV PRO • November 2019 rv-pro.com R V M A N U F A C T U R E R S Roadtrek history, production, his insights into the Class B market, and to get feed- back on some individuals working for the company, Reuer says. "Jeff was very helpful, very open, and told us what he thinks could be improved or should be improved. It was very good starting out for us," Reuer says. "We knew Roadtrek was a great player and a good product but that was about it. We knew about what had happened. It was good to get the inside story from Jeff and it was quite helpful." Plotting Roadtrek's Rebirth There are several parallels between Rapido's revival of the Westfalia brand in Europe and its purchase of the Roadtrek assets. Westfalia, a manufacturer dating from 1932, had success in the past, but ended up in receivership after failure under private equity owners. Rapido Group stepped up in 2010 and bought the German-based company. "As an innovation leader in van con- version, Westfalia is the perfect addition to our product portfolio in the Rapido Group," CEO Pierre Rousseau said at the time. He went on to explain that Westfalia is not only a brand with pres- tige but also a synonym for innovation and quality. "We are very confident we can soon lead the company back to its former strength again." "It was a turnaround case parallel to what we see at Roadtrek," says Reuer, who was chosen to revive the Westfalia brand. "Great name, great product, very good reputation so that makes it a little bit easier to restructure the brand." Under Reuer's leadership, Rapido renovated the Westfalia product line, identified the key markets and rebuilt the dealer network. By the second full business year under Rapido ownership, Westfalia was prof- itable again. "We can apply some of the same systematics to Roadtrek as well without changing the DNA of Roadtrek because that's important to the customer that the brand doesn't change and become something totally new. It should have its own DNA that must remain in the company and the product," he says. Today, Westfalia is part of a strong organization under the umbrella of Rapido, which formed in 1961 and has since utilized a brand creation / acqui- sition strategy to become one of the biggest RV groups in Europe. Rapido is based in Mayenne, France, and employs about 1,500 employees across its var- ious plants in France, Germany, Italy and Great Britain. Rapido remains 100 percent family-run, with Pierre Rous- seau acting as president of the company and his son Nicolas Rousseau acting as deputy general director. Si n c e R a p i d o's a c q u i s i t i o n o f Roadtrek, company executives worked hard to get the new operation up and running while also addressing outstanding issues related to the former company's customers. As part of that, Rapido has worked out a compromise to the warranty issue that had vexed existing Roadtrek owners and dealers when the former company closed in January. Pictured here is the interior of the Roadtrek Haven, built on the Ford Transit chassis. The Haven is a prototype model, so some of the product specs were still being finalized as of Open House Week.

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