March '20

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rv-pro.com March 2020 • RV PRO • 73 "It was truly a collaboration for us," Skaggs says. "We sent engineers and design teams to Elkhart to get an idea of what would make their lives easier. We wanted to make sure that not only did our products fit, but what we could do around installa- tion to make it easier. "We sell millions of air conditioners, and we took the tech- nology from our existing products, but we designed them to fit the space and the style and the innovation of an RV unit," he adds. One other important thing that GE Appliances brings to the RV market is its brand name. Skaggs says consumers can rest assured that their RV appliances will be designed by the same engineers and manufactured at the same plants using the same guidelines as its residential products. However, Wechter says he also sees the GE brand as having a definite marketing advantage. While older buyers will appre- ciate the strong presence GE appliances have in their homes, he notes that younger buyers are often attracted to what he calls "brand power." "Brand power really has the ability to connect with them," he says. "They know where they're buying and who they're buying from, but GE gives them a strong brand name and a common message." Appliances Aplenty While the first GE Appliances' air conditioners – in both 13,500- and 15,000-BTU models – were installed in Keystone RV's Passport and Bullet towables in January, GE is ramping up to become standard in more models and to see more of its prod- ucts specified by the OEMs. MWSS's Wechter is particularly enthused about the 12-volt refrigerators and says, "We're starting to sell more refrigerators because of the upgrades in the dealer area of our website." Skaggs sees the refrigerators as a good test for his company's design and engineering teams in the area of energy supply. "When you're off-grid, you want those appliances to last as long as they can without connecting to a power source," he says. "Those are the things we've had to work on. How do you – without sacrificing performance – generate the longest-lasting usage?" While GE manufactures a wide range of other appliances, from cooking options such as cooktops, ranges and microwave ovens, to dishwashers and washers and dryers, Skaggs suggests that the next addition to the company's RV suite may be water heaters. "We're getting back into the water heater market with a $60 million investment in a factory in Camden, S.C.," he says. "We're not initially thinking about making water heaters for the RV market, but long term, as we gain technical and design expertise and some scale, I wouldn't be surprised if we get into manufac- turing water heaters for RVs." Still another area where GE Appliances probably will make its mark in the RV industry is in the arena of smaller appliances that aren't built-in. A good example of a product that's had success in the residential market that would fit well in RVs, Skaggs believes, is a countertop icemaker called the Opal.

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