RV PRO

January '21

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38 • RV PRO • January 2021 rv-pro.com "They will continue to work at their Idaho location and the management will remain in place," Metzler says. "It's a great com- pany and they have a great team." Relationship-based Business The acquisition also is expected to boost Winegard's telecom market share in the RV industry, which, according to James Witty, director of sales of Winegard's RV OEM division, has already seen a dramatic jump in recent years. "When I took over as director of sales about three years ago, our market share was 36 percent. It's currently about 84 percent," says Witty, who works out of the Winegard Innovation Center in Elkhart, Ind. Witty credits that rapid doubling of business with a change in thinking. "We changed our overall philosophy, our sales strategy, and how we're going to operate day-to-day," he says. "When I came on-board, one thing I noticed is we didn't really have a plan in place. Now we do, and it has three parts: we have a daily call cycle for the reps and our auditors go out daily to do audits; we handle all issues the same day; and we've created relationships with higher-level management, including product managers, general managers, vice presidents and presidents, so we could sell business." As Witty points out, the RV industry is, in large part, a relationship-based business, "and it's important to have those relationships." Another change to existing philosophy was to include OEMs in initial product development discussions, rather than simply pushing products. "We thought a better concept was to develop a new idea for a product, then visit the OEMs and have them give us their input," he says. "We have an advantage at Winegard in that we're an engineering-based company, so we can take these ideas and create something new." As an example, Witty cited the need expressed by OEM reps for Wi-Fi 4G, "so we came out with a Wi-Fi 4G prep that tied into our Connect 2.0." The Connect 2.0 links to nationwide 4G LTE for uninterrupted in-motion and stationary coverage for mobile devices, 'smart' TVs, gaming systems and computers. "Another area where OEMs expressed concern was on the number of rooftop accessories," Witty adds. "They said, 'We don't want two domes on the roof.' So, we developed an Air 360 Plus (an amplified omnidirectional VHF/UHF and FM antenna) that combined the antennas and prep into the sub-base of an Air 360." Witty also subscribes part of the company's recent growth to its status as an American manufacturer. "During this tough time with the COVID-19 coronavirus, we haven't had any backlog items because everything's manufactured in the United States," he says. "We just purchase a few parts over- seas, like our boards – but even those are soldered in the U.S. So, we haven't had any issues with not being able to provide products to OEMs in a timely manner." RV-centric Virtual Assistant Debuting Soon While new products are displayed throughout the Winegard Innovation Center in Elkhart, Ind., perhaps the most impressive Marvin Metzler, Winegard senior director of business development for mobile products, is pictured in the company's Elkhart office next to some of the company's wireless products. Metzler touts Winegard's acquisition of WiFiRanger as a move that significantly expands the company's expertise in the rapidly evolving software side of wireless technology. WiFiRanger's Sky Pro product is pictured below. PHOTO BY BRUCE HAMPSON

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