June '21

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18 • RV PRO • June 2021 rv-pro.com their customers. With that in mind, Gulf Stream has battled to hold wholesale price increases to its dealers to between 6.5 and 7 percent on its 2021 models, according to Sarvari. PDI Facility Yields Great ROI About five years ago, Gulf Stream management cre- ated its own, independent PDI department by converting a 40,000-square-foot production facility into a PDI facility. The new department was designed to be independent of the manufacturing department, making it one of the first in the industry to be structured around those lines, according to Shea and Savari. "We conduct extensive quality inspections of the product prior to shipment, which has greatly reduced the time and expense incurred by dealers and the adjustments they have to make before the unit is retail sold," Savari says. "It's been a tremendous return on investment for both us and our dealer partners. It's helped us reduce warranty costs and improve the dealer satisfaction and retail consumers' satisfaction. When we set this up, we said the most important thing for this PDI department is – because they have the say whether a unit can ship or not – that they would not have any management ties to our production facilities. So, they are truly independent of manufacturing." Dealers are taking notice. "I have sold Gulf Stream products consistently since 1992 and I would say over the past five years the product has greatly improved and comes in with few things we have to do to it," says Brett Parris, owner of Parris RV in Utah. Shea notes that the PDI department also creates "a large amount of data for us to feed back to the plants that mon- itor and help to resolve issues quickly. That's something we really honed in on over the years – focusing on collecting data and making decisions based on the data and improving our products, whether it's data from our warranty department, from dealer deliveries or manufacturing service." Gulf Stream Optimistic on Year Ahead What's in store for Gulf Stream in 2021? "For 2021, we're going to see dealers wanting more choices," Sarvari predicts. "We know the situation of our backlog. In our crystal ball, it's going to be a great 2021. "We will see a substantial increase in business. We've been strategizing ways to maximize our production facilities while maintaining high quality levels and we plan on doing that through the rest of 2021," he adds. "We've been meeting and discussing strategically with our suppliers their ability to deliver the components and materials. Just the way retail has been going, I think it will continue. (Given) the velocity of these retail sales that the dealers have seen, they will con- tinue to see a shortage of product and this will relay to tight demand and motivated buyers, so it will be a very good year for dealers and manufacturers." http://rvpro.link/uieky http://rvpro.link/8gony http://rvpro.link/g3uvf Read more about Gulf Stream: Gulf Stream's Independent Thinking In an RV market that has increasingly become dominated by corporate entities, Gulf Stream touts its independence. "As an independent, debt-free, privately held family business, Gulf Stream Coach doesn't have to satisfy legions of shareholders, loan officers, and other financiers like the corporate RV behemoths do. That means that customer satisfaction is truly paramount to us at Gulf Stream Coach," the company states on its website. Chairman Dan Shea expounded on that philosophy in his interview with RV PRO. "I think the family-owned business helps in a lot of cases, and I think it is easier for us to attract and retain employees that may be fed up with the corporate environment somewhere else. That helped us to increase our production level last year," says Shea, son of company founder and RV/MH Hall of Fame member James Shea, Sr. Company President and CEO Phil Sarvari adds to Shea's point of being a family-run RV company without multiple layers of management, saying, "We're both here every day. We take calls from owners of dealerships. We listen and we respond. We don't have to wait for next month's board meeting to make a decision. We're very flexible." That really appeals to dealers such as Brett Parris, owner of Parris RV in Utah. "One of the most unique things is the accessibility to Phil and Dan," he says. At other manufacturers, "You don't usually go right to the top to talk with somebody. This is a family-run business that pays attention to dealers," he adds. "That's a positive." Sarvari adds, "We have a centralized customer service department. That means whether you have a motorhome, a luxury travel trailer or a conventional trailer, when you call in and ask for a part, you're talking to one person. When you call in about a warranty claim, you're talking to one person. You're not getting passed around. In our customer service department, we have people who have been with us 15, 18, 20 years, which is unheard of in this business." – By Steve Bibler

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