The RV world was rocked just 18 months ago when Winnebago Industries purchased luxury RV manufacturer, Newmar. What seemed unthinkable became a reality. Now, what seemed unfathomable has happened as well. THOR Industries, one of the “Big Three” in the RV industry along with Winnebago and Forest River, has purchased Tiffin Motorhomes for $300 million.
Tiffin Motorhomes, operating in Alabama and Mississippi, manufactures a luxurious lineup of gas and diesel Class A Motorhomes including the Allegro Breeze, Allegro Red 340, Allegro Red, Open Road Allegro, Phaeton, Allegro Bus, and Zephyr models. The company also produces a premium Class C product line—The Wayfarer.
Vanleigh RV, operating in Mississippi, produces a line of fifth-wheel towable products, including the Pinecrest, Vilano, and Beacon models.
Additional companies within the acquired Tiffin Group include a window manufacturer (Alabama-based Wynne Enterprises, Inc.), a furniture manufacturer (Alabama-based Roma Enterprises, Inc.), a door manufacturer (Alabama-based Tiffin Door Co., Inc.), a fiberglass supplier (Mississippi-based Water-Way, Inc.), and an RV transport company (Alabama-based Drive-A-Way of Red Bay, Inc.).
THOR Industries is the sole owner of operating subsidiaries that, combined, represent the world’s largest manufacturer of recreational vehicles.
According to a news release, “Tiffin Group will operate as stand-alone operating company within the THOR family of companies. The Tiffin family and the Tiffin Group’s experienced management team will continue to manage their operations just as they and their family have done for the past 49 years.”
For diehard Tiffin Motorhome fans, it’s a bit like finding out your favorite sports star has just been traded to a rival team (remembering the Gretzky trade). Tiffin, long known for quality coaches with a consistently high customer ranking, a great factory service center experience, and brand loyalty, will now fall under the vast THOR umbrella. Devoted Tiffin owners are now left to wonder what happens next.
Will Tiffin Motorhomes Stay in Red Bay, Alabama?
One would assume that Tiffin would remain outside of the Elkhart bubble, at least geographically speaking. How will this acquisition affect pricing, quality control, availability, and delivery times? Will those mecca-like pilgrimages to Red Bay, Alabama for factory service continue?
Much like Newmar customers, Tiffin owners have enjoyed a bit of an elite status. Until their recent roll out of the Wayfarer series of Class C RVs, Tiffin Motorhomes has been known as an upper-end Class A RV manufacturer. Tiffin owners are as devoted to “roughing it smoothly” as they are the brand itself. That confident swagger that comes with driving and owning 40+ feet of quality diesel motorhome carries over into conversation whether sitting around the campfire or in popular RVing forums.
What Happens Next?
Will that confident swagger lose a little of its swag, now that Tiffin Motorhomes is just another THOR brand? Will a vast infusion of cash from THOR Industries take Tiffin to the next level or instead water down the overall brand? Will Tiffin Motorhomes be pressured into building more motorhomes faster, causing quality to suffer? Or will THOR allow a successful business to continue to be successful while fine-tuning sensible cost saving measures? Will Tiffin Motorhomes shine even brighter under THOR or lose its luster?
Time will tell. The jury is still out on how Winnebago’s acquisition of Newmar has affected the quality and innovation of that brand and we can expect the same with this one. The big three just got bigger and Tiffin Motorhome owners are wondering what happens next?
A personal message to Tiffin owners: As a loyal Newmar customer I feel your pain.
Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all the questions.
—Earl Gary Stevens