August '20

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48 • RV PRO • August 2020 rv-pro.com Just a year shy of its 50th anniversary, the RV awnings manufacturer remains forward-looking – introducing a range of new products later this year and planning for a future when RVs may look notably different than the ones being produced today. By K. Schipper C arefree of Colorado will officially c e l e b r a t e i t s 5 0 t h a n n i ve r s a r y next year. And, while some companies might be content to rest on their laurels, Carefree officials say they are busy building on the legacy of founder Gene Upton, the man who introduced the first truly automatic rollup awning for RVs back in 1971. Today, the company remains com- mitted to bringing the newest innova- tions to market, in large part by paying close attention to customer feedback while always focusing on how to improve what it's offering, according to Elden Wood, who was recently promoted to company president. And, while the market has changed markedly over that time – including awnings largely moving from an after- market add-on item to an OEM must- have, there's one constant. Says Traci DeYoung, customer sales and service manager, "This is a culture of continuous improvement; it's the core of everything we do every day." Mass Manufacturing, Custom Products Wood puts it slightly differently, although he agrees that much of Care- free's success comes from its emphasis on product innovation. "It's a bit of an oxymoron, but we pride ourselves on being a mass manufacturer of custom products," he says. "This is very, very difficult to accomplish – and Carefree does it quite well." Carefree of Colorado Golden Times for PHOTOS OF CAREFREE FACILITY BY TRAVIS PRYOR/ PRODUCT PHOTOS COURTESY OF CAREFREE OF COLORADO RV O E F O C U S

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