RV PRO

December '19

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rv-pro.com December 2019 • RV PRO • 15 Indeed, Northern Lite has East Coast dealerships in Delaware, Florida, Maine, North Carolina and New Hampshire, in addition to Midwest outlets in Ohio, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Donkin says achieving a set number of dealers to retail his company's product is not his primary focus. "We really don't have a target number," he says. "We look for quality dealers and not every RV dealer can be a truck camper dealer. It takes a little more work and we strive hard to find the best fits for us." RVIA Membership Pays Dividends Donkin says he saw immediate benefits to rejoining RVIA this summer. "The shows were a big part of it," he says. "To be able to sell at Hershey, you have to be an RVIA member. You can show, but you can't sell unless you're a member. And the California Show pricing is better if you're an RVIA member." On the other hand, Northern Lite remains a non-subscriber to Statistical Surveys because, with just eight states – Wash- ington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana – reporting truck camper sales, Donkin feels the Left and above: All Northern Lite truck campers are built using a two-piece fiberglass clamshell construction, which offers several benefits, including the elimination of unnecessary seams, a lighter weight and a low center of gravity, meaning it is not top-heavy. The company builds both short-box and long-box models. I n 1989, six months after Northern Lite Mfg. was founded in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, Mac Donkin and a business partner, Lloyd Gartrell, bought into the fledgling truck camper manufacturer that had developed an innovative clamshell fiberglass construction. In 1993, Donkin and Gartrell took over the entire company and moved it to nearby Kelowna. Aside from a foray into building small fiberglass travel trailers, Northern Lite has focused on perfecting the unique clamshell construction, which greatly reduces potential leak points and essentially eliminates the possibility of de-lamination. In February 2014, a fire destroyed the Northern Lite fac- tory. Keith Donkin (son of Mac Donkin) led the rebuilding effort, which culminated in a new factory within a year. It was "tragic at the time, but Keith is such a great entre- preneur; he totally made lemonade, if you know what I mean. Record speed, fabulous job," according to Gordon White, publisher of Truck Camper Magazine. In May 2017, Edmonton, Alberta-based KV Private Equity announced it had acquired the high-end fiberglass truck camper manufacturer for an undisclosed amount. Mac Donkin continued as a director, while Keith Donkin stayed on as general manager while becoming a shareholder. Northern Lite has recorded double-digit growth each of the past three years and regularly ranks among the five largest truck camper manufacturers in North America. "We have probably always been in the top five," Keith Donkin surmises. Online sales listings by RVT.com tend to buttress Donkin's "top five" observation. On Oct. 11, RVT placed Northern Lite fifth in terms of the most new and used truck campers for sale. Northern Lite Overcomes Setbacks, Prospers

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