Haulmark Industries Specializes in Class C RVs 'on Steroids'

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January 18, 2006 by   - () Leave a Comment

Although Haulmark Industries Inc. motorhomes are categorized as Class C motorhomes — or "minimotorhomes" in RV industry parlance — there's not much that's "mini" about them.
"We sometimes refer to them as Class C's on steroids," jokes Tony Monda, director of marketing for Bristol, Ind.-based Haulmark, a subsidiary of specialty trailer manufacturer Universal Trailer Corp., Cincinnati, Ohio.
While Haulmark's meat-and-potatoes product lines are trailers large and small built for the specialty enclosed trailer market, including the automobile racing sector, Haulmark since 2001 has manufactured innovative Class C motorhomes on big extended Class 7 and Class 8 commercial truck chassis with towing capacities up to 40,000 pounds.
"Each of these vehicles is commercial grade," Monda said. "That means that each one exceeds by a wide amount the RV industry norm in terms of delivering performance in challenging environments. Unlike our RV siblings, these coaches are exposed to different duty cycles and environments. Our customers will use our coaches 35,000 to 75,000 miles a year during a racing season."
Not that Haulmark isn't valued among more traditional motorhome owners. "We get some moms and dads, but that's usually the guy who has driven a tractor-trailer his whole life who says that a diesel pusher motorhome's engine is in the wrong spot."
Haulmark's parent company — privately owned Universal Trailer Corp., the largest manufacturer of specialty trailers in North America — also maintains a presence in the "recreational vehicle" business by manufacturing all-aluminum, mid-priced Exiss and high-end Sooner equestrian and livestock trailers.
Haulmark does none of that. Haulmark produces everything from small 4×8-foot cargo trailers up to 53-foot two-level "stackers" designed for the automobile racing crowd that sell for upwards of $100,000.
With regard to motorized products, Monda reports, Haulmark is in the midst of modifying its marketing strategy toward the more traditional motorized RV owner.
"Right now, our competition is Class C manufacturers who build like vehicles," Monda said. "But we are in the process of repositioning ourselves to market to the Class A buyer. There's a segment of the RV market that wants a commercial grade front-end diesel engine. They aren't comfortable having the motor in back and having to have someone climb through their bedroom to work on it."
Monda said what differentiates Haulmark Class C motorhomes from the competition — and from many Class A's — is durability. The drive-train in Haulmark minimotorhomes, he noted, features a 650,000-mile warranty.
The physical transition toward the more traditional RV market has been occurring for several years. "We've migrated from what used to be the racer's package with dark wood and leather into something that the wife can walk in and like," Monda said. "In the past, it was a guys' market. We've gotten a little smarter and realized that a lot of guys travel with their wives. So we've lightened things up a bit. That's a transition that has been in progress for the last couple of years."
Haulmark specialty trailers are sold by a network of about 400 dealers with 21 of them offering Haulmark motorized products. "When you are looking at applications typical to the RV industry, you don't need a dealer in every city," Monda said. "As we move into other market segments, we will need to grow our motorized dealer base."
Besides the racing industry, Haulmark motorhomes — and some specialty trailers — are used by ABC, NBC and ESPN as mobile production studios. ABC, Monda said, hauls the electronic gear needed to produce the yellow first-down line on football telecasts in a Haulmark Mc-1 and Exiss trailer. "They have to synchronize every camera and they do it all with computers that are in the trailer."

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