Gulf Stream Coach Inc.'s Yellowstone brand is re-entering the Class A motorhome market with four units intended to attract current owners of Yellowstone towables and Class C minimotorhomes.
"We want to give Yellowstone owners a chance to move up in a brand they like and they know," says Claude Donati, Gulf Stream's national sales and marketing manager for motorized products.
Gulf Stream, with headquarters in Nappanee, Ind., last built a Class A motorhome carrying the Yellowstone name in 1996 when it discontinued the Yellowstone Country Club after three years.
"The conditions are better now," Donati explains. "The market has changed and, internally, we are better prepared for the Class A market than we were five years ago."
Gulf Stream acquired the Yellowstone brand, a pioneer RV line first manufactured in 1945, following the 1990 bankruptcy of Elkhart, Ind.-based Vyquest Inc.
Gulf Stream reintroduced the brand with travel and fifth-wheel trailers and minimotorhomes carrying the Yellowstone Capri, Yellowstone Sport and Yellowstone Country Club names.
In line with the introduction of the Yellowstone Class A motorhome, the Capri brand of travel trailers and fifth-wheels also has been redesigned for a more upscale appeal, according to Tim Hoffman, Gulf Stream's national sales manager for luxury towables.
"Our idea was to take the Capri to the higher end," Hoffman says.
Two Yellowstone entry-level Class A 34- and 35-foot single-slideout models will feature the Spartan Summit, 22,000-pound, gross vehicle weight rated (gvwr) chassis with a Cummins 260 ISB turbocharged diesel engine and a 5-speed Allison T1000 transmission and full air-ride suspension.
The more upscale 36-foot single-slideout and 38-foot double-slideout models will feature the Spartan Mountain Master 31,000-gvwr C-channel chassis with a Cummins 330-horsepower 8.3-liter turbocharged diesel engine. The unit will boasts an Allison MD3060 6-speed transmission and independent front suspension.
Common features among the four models include welded tubular steel subfloor truss and floor framing; vacuum-bonded laminated floors, sidewalls and roof; Weyerhaeuser Structurwood Virtually Seamless floor decking; natural oak cabinetry; and solid-surface countertops.
Donati says manufacturers like Gulf Stream are vertically expanding brands because they recognize it is easier to sell an existing customer on an upgrade than it is to find a new customer.
"We want to hold on to the customers that we have in the food chain," Donati continues. "You are going to see more and more of that among manufacturers. Identifying repeat business is very important.
"We are not concerned with the customer who buys one Yellowstone and moves on. We want the industrial customer, the one who will stay with the product line — people who are going to buy seven or eight units in their lifetime."
And while Yellowstone is offering entry-level units, "Our bread and butter is going to be the heavy-horsepower buyer," Donati says. "We think that is where our opportunity is."