November '19

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86 • RV PRO • November 2019 rv-pro.com O R I G I N A L E Q U I P M E N T line, are manufactured in Jonesboro. They are thinner, and constructed without a sub- strate. The products are rolled into coils and shipped to OEMs, which uncoil it, apply a substrate and line their walls with it. "Aside from our new Filon Max product, which we are very excited about, we are a company that is very dedicated to the RV industry," Cheney says. "My whole organization is focused on RVs. We are direct sale, so we don't depend on third-party representation or distri- bution. We have a dedicated sales force located right in the market. We also have application engineers and technical sup- port based in Elkhart County and are able to support our customers. This also differentiates us from our competitors that do not have local support." Crane's raw material supply chain is primarily in the U.S., eliminating the concern with long lead times that some manufacturers have. The company buys raw materials in bulk. Cheney says current business conditions have not affected raw materials sourcing, nor Crane's finished goods supply chain. " We haven't been significantly affected by tariffs or threat of tariffs, but we have been indirectly affected by the tariffs effects on others and we have absorbed a lot of that cost, and have had to pass along a little bit of it," he says. "Sourcing our raw materials domestically has helped keep the impact from being huge, but the impact is certainly there." Crane operates the only continuous coil lines currently operating in the U.S. for the RV market, which Cheney says not only instills pride in making U.S.- made products, but also provides supply chain flexibility. "We have had a close relationship with our partners for decades. Our technical team and our sales team contact our cus- tomers on a regular basis. Our application engineers audit facilities using our products to be sure that their process settings are at an acceptable level. This is something our OEMs have asked for, and appreciate us doing, just to be sure that they are not missing anything in their process that might cause problems down the road." Getting Closer to End Users Crane Composites personnel attended the Pennsylvania RV & Camping Show in Hershey, Pa., in September as part of the company's new initiative to forge closer relationships with end users. Another objective is to learn about anything new related to RV exteriors. "Obviously we have great relationships with OEMs," Cheney says. "We didn't have a booth at Hershey, but we were able to talk to people at all levels with our key partners there. It helps us to get out in the market and talk to dealers directly, some of the end users directly, just to find out what people are seeing in the market. We are trying to get a better handle on what's going on in the market." Hershey was the first big show Cheney has attended as part of the fact-finding mission, following several regional shows in the Chicagoland area. Crane staff mem- bers also have visited dealers around the country to take their pulse on trends. Cheney says dealer visits have been especially insightful, as dealers remain optimistic even amidst signs the RV market is slowing down. "They are more optimistic than I expected, based on the numbers we are seeing from wholesale shipments and retail registrations," he says. "We've heard of cer- tain pockets around the country that are gaining benefits. For example, in Texas, the oil industry has driven some demand for RVs, at least among dealers we spoke to. The dealers we spoke to in Pennsylvania say they are getting a good demand from the pipeline and fracking industries." Customer Service Manager Tracy Nevarez (left) and National Sales Manager Nancy Rapp are pictured standing in front of long sheets of Crane sidewall material. Crane says its supply chain is primarily located in the U.S., eliminating the potential for long lead times associated with sourcing materials from overseas.

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