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Actuant Reports Record 1Q Sales, Earnings

Diversified manufacturer Actuant Corp. today (Dec. 21) announced record sales and earnings for the company’s fiscal first quarter, despite declines in the Milwaukee, Wis., company’s recreational vehicle subsidiaries. For the quarter, ended Nov. 30, Actuant had net income of $21.3 million compared to $16.9 million the previous year, boosted by acquisitions made in the second and third quarters of fiscal 2005. Revenues rose 42% to $284 million compared to $200 million a year ago. Actuant is parent... Read more

Earthroamer: Brawny Class C Design Takes the Roads Less Traveled

A friendship born at UCLA while they were studying for masters degrees in business eventually led Bill Swails and Michele Connolly to Colorado to build what is arguably one of the most unusual RVs on the market. Production of the high-end EarthRoamer Expedition Vehicle (XV), an all-weather Class C chassis-mount motorhome meant to be fully self-contained like few other RVs, is about to kick into high gear in 2006. The small Colorado company anticipates that a move to a new manufacturing facility in... Read more

Host: Pushing Truck Camper Envelope With Double Slideouts

Dave Hogue and Mark Storch, founders of 4-year-old Host Industries Inc., cut their teeth in the RV industry on the shop floor at Beaver Coaches Inc., a company that their fathers Jim Hogue and Frank Storch founded in 1966. "We both started working on the Beaver assembly line when we were going through high school," said Dave Hogue. "Mark ended up in engineering and worked for Beaver Coaches for a long time. I became general manager of a Safari motorhome division after Safari (SMC Corp.)... Read more

Elkhart Fiver Maker Heartland Heats Up With Growth, New Lines

For a startup company that introduced itself – without product – at the 2003 Louisville Show, fifth-wheel manufacturer Heartland Recreational Vehicle LLC, Elkhart, Ind., has come a long way in a short period of time. With two fifth-wheel brands in production – the high-end Landmark and mid-priced Bighorn – Heartland intends to flesh out its lineup for the 2006 model year with the entry-level Sundance fiver and Cyclone sport utility fifth-wheel (SURV). "We are focusing on what customers... Read more

Three Employees Buy Awning Maker Zip Dee

High-end awning manufacturer Zip Dee Inc., Elk Grove Village, Ill., has been sold to a trio of long-time employees. "It was not an ESOP, but a straight buyout by a group of employees," said former Zip Dee President Bob Miller, son-in-law of Zip Dee's late owner, Henry Duda, who founded the company in 1965. Miller became Zip Dee president upon Duda's death in 1985. New Zip Dee owners are President Jim Webb and vice presidents Ron Mullins and Ursula Kaceynski – all of whom have... Read more

Featherlite Enters the RV Mainstream With SURVs

Aluminum cargo trailer and luxury coach manufacturer Featherlite Inc. moved into the more traditional recreational vehicle segment in April with the debut of the Featherlite SURV, a line of travel trailers and fifth-wheels featuring popular "garages" to haul outdoor equipment. Featherlite, headquartered in Cresco, Iowa, has equipped its specialty aluminum trailers, used by race-car teams, serious hobbyists and horse owners, with customized living features for 15 years. But the new Featherlite... Read more

RVers Vie for Chance to Have Rigs 'Rescued'

Since the July launch of "RV Rescue," an extreme makeover scheduled for next April at The Rally in Daytona Beach, Fla., a steady flow of RVers have been entering the competition to have their rigs renovated. According to a press release, online entries are streaming in at a rate of 40 to 50 per day and the coalition of companies sponsoring the event is seeking additional sponsors. Applicants are also submitting their entries at Camping World stores as the Bowling Green, Ky.-based company... Read more

Lazy Daze Builds Strong Customer Base Through Factory-Direct Approach

When product changes are made at minimotorhome manufacturer Lazy Daze Inc., Montclair, Calif., they are gradual. "Whenever we change things, we are very careful not to disrupt the norm," said Steve Newton, co-owner of Lazy Daze with his father, Ed Newton. "Several years ago we went to two-tone exterior colors, and although it's well-accepted now, a lot of our customers just didn't like it. They said it wasn't ‘Lazy Daze' anymore. So, we are very careful to not... Read more

SunnyBrook RV Focuses on Homegrown Hoosier Quality, Steady Growth

Planned, steady growth since startup 13 years ago has been the aim of the owners of SunnyBrook RV Inc., Middlebury, Ind. “Our goal at that time – and we still have it – was to start a company and have it grow in a controlled way,” said Elvie J. Frey, who founded SunnyBrook in 1992 with partners David Fought, Susan Kalb Yoder and Tom Thornton. “The quality of the units you put out on the market is important. When you have planned growth, you can control the quality of the unit and you can... Read more

Alfa Leisure Gets a Push From Entry Into Diesel

Founded in 1973 almost as a hobby, Alfa Leisure Inc., owned by Johnnie R. Crean, son of retired Fleetwood Industries Inc. founder and CEO John C. Crean, has seen a major growth spurt since 2000 as sales revenue has quadrupled. The growth coincides with Alfa Leisure’s aggressive entry into the Class A diesel segment with the See Ya! motorhome. Johnnie R. Crean acknowledges that in Alfa Leisure’s early days, RV manufacturing wasn’t his highest priority. “Between 1975 and 1989,” he said with... Read more

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