June '21

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24 • RV PRO • June 2021 rv-pro.com go to the bathroom, jump up, get a snack or whatever, versus pulling a trailer." Happe said that he believes the status of the RV industry is leading to great opportunity. "Obviously, things are probably as red hot as we've ever seen," he said. "We believe retail demand and momentum is carrying into 2021 in a meaningful way. Combine that with the lagging inventory the dealers have across the industry and there is a tre- mendous wholesale shipment opportunity for the OEMs that we're all trying to realize. "Our commitment to our dealers in that regard is that we'll try to produce as many products as we can, given what the supply chain allows us to build, but we will not sacrifice quality and reliability and durability and product safety," he added. "That is a part of our brands promise." Dealer Consolidation One of the trends affecting the industry currently is the increasing rate of dealer consolidation. At the Newmar dealer event, one independent dealer expressed concern about this trend. The dealer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he has concerns of not being able to obtain units for his dealership because the "big guys" might get them first. Happe addressed the topic of dealer acquisition head-on. "I think dealer consolidation has been and will be a reality in the industry," he said. "OEMs and dealers must navigate the implica- tions of that. Whether it's an individual dealer location or whether it's a group dealer, our standards for what we jointly need to deliver to the customer really don't change. Our message is the same: We're going to give you the highest-quality product and take care of the customers who invest their savings into those products." Happe said that it all comes down to the relationship aspect within the dealer network. "I think the good thing about Winnebago Industries and our brands is that we have healthy relationships with our dealer net- works, and our channel partners can navi- gate through those consolidation circumstances and arrive at an outcome that's mutually beneficial." Miller addressed RV allocations per dealership, which was a topic that came up during the company's dealer event. He said Newmar will be taking orders from dealers, but knowing the status of the industry and its supply chain, the RV manufacturer will allocate a certain number of units based on individual dealer orders. "I think this is the first year we've had where we had an allo- cation," he said. "But we base it on what the allocation should be in six months. We've been working hard, and we're trying to be as fair to every dealer as possible. If a dealer has one small store in Nebraska versus the dealer that has five large markets, we're trying to be fair and make sure that they have adequate inventory coming their way to be profitable." Miller added, "We're trying to get everybody product, knowing that we probably have limited supplies to meet demand (due to the supply chain)." Winnebago's Five-Year Plan Happe became the CEO of Winnebago back in 2016. At that time, he was charged by the company's board of directors with setting a new direction for the RV manufacturer. Happe reflected on what business professionals would call a five-year plan. "It's just a year now that we're nearing the back end of the pan- demic. We're excited about continuing to invest in this business and giving the resources it needs to continue to grow profitably and take care of dealers and customers in the future," he said. "I think we're a different company today than we were five years ago – a stronger company today than five years ago. And it's been a combination of the opportunities to add some special brands with Newmar and Grand Design and Chris-Craft in the marine business," he added. "But I also think it's committing to a standard of excellence across the company and adding resources, human capital, and technology, so our business processes can be stronger and more competitive in the future. "I think our story is evolving in a positive way," he concluded. "We genuinely feel like we have a lot of runway in the future to be a meaningful player in the outdoor industry, and certainly in the RV industry, which is, and will be, our core business for many decades." "There are a lot of new customers coming into the industry that are not as learned in camping and in these units. There is an opportunity for training and customer service." – Newmar President Matt Miller Transwest RV's James Paredes (right) and a Newmar rep prepare themselves for a full day of activities during Newmar's two-day dealer event in April.

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