THOR Buys Tiffin Motorhomes: What Happens Next?

THOR Industries Buys Tiffin Motorhomes

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 Phaeton Motorhome at Jackson Rancheria RV Resort near Jackson, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Newmar Factory Tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.).

Newmar Factory Tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.”

Newmar Factory Tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Newmar Factory Tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Newmar Factory Tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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?

Newmar Dutch Star © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Worth Pondering…

Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all the questions.

—Earl Gary Stevens

Amish Country Heritage Trail

Elkhart County is Amish country and is best experienced along its Heritage Trail, a four season scenic drive

Discover stunning views, historical sites, and Amish heritage along the scenic backroads. Explore country lanes dotted with Amish-owned shops showcasing handcrafted and homemade.

Many of the towns along the Amish Country Heritage Trail date back 150 years or more. Among these are Middlebury, tiny Shipshewana known for a enormous flea market where 1,000 vendors peddle their wares twice a week from May through September, and Goshen. There’s also lovely Nappanee, a bustling community of woodworking shops that has been dubbed one of America’s “Top 10 Small Towns”.

Amish Farm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Due to the Amish lifestyle you can almost believe you’ve stepped back in time a century or more. No utility wires lace farmhouses to poles, women in old-fashioned bonnets and long skirts bend to their task of hoeing gardens, men in 19th-century attire trudge behind horse-drawn plows across wide fields, and the clip-clop of horses’ hooves on country lanes fills the air with staccato rhythms.

Newmar Service Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The Heritage Trail could easily be driven in a few hours, but there are way too many interesting stops for that. We spent a week exploring the area while the warranty issues on our 2019 Dutch Star were addressed at the new state-of-the-art Newmar Service Center in Nappanee.

Amish Acres © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Nappanee is home to numerous woodworking shops, restaurants, antique stores, and Amish Acres, a restored 80-acre Old Order Amish farmstead. The farmstead has been an Amish farm for nearly a century. The historic complex consists of 18 restored buildings including the quaint farmhouse, a pair of log cabins, a smokehouse, and an enormous barn-turned restaurant where meals are served family style with seating for 500.

Nappanee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

But Amish Acres is probably best known for the 402-seat Round Barn Theatre. It occupies a barn built in 1911 that has been transformed into a state-of-the-art theater. The theater is the national home of the musical “Plain and Fancy”, and in rotation, five other musicals are performed here.

Olympia Candy Kitchen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Leaving Nappanee, we drove northeast to Goshen. Admire the classic courthouse in the heart of town. Peek into the bunker-like police booth on the Corner of Main and Lincoln dating back to the days when John Dillinger was the bane of bankers. Don’t miss the Olympic Candy Kitchen, “the sweetest little place in town,” for a soda at the old-fashioned fountain or some handmade chocolates.

The Old Bag Factory © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Built in 1896 the Old Bag Factory is home to producing artists, antiques, specialty shops, and cafes. The historic character of the complex provides a unique and charming setting for the specialty shops it houses.

Das Dutchman Essenhaus © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Following Country Road 22 northeast took us to Middlebury. Our destination, Das Dutchman Essenhaus, is an enormous complex that includes a bakery and a handful of village shops. Leisurely stroll across the colorful campus; discover Indiana’s largest family restaurant which offers both family-style and buffet and menu dining options. 

Amish carriage with horse © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

From Middlebury we headed east on Country Road 16 toward Shipshewana. We shared the road with dozens of black carriages drawn by spirited horses, many of which stop—as we did at Dutch Country Market, Rise ‘n Roll Bakery, and Heritage Ridge Creamery.

Rise ‘n Roll Bakery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Rise ‘n Roll Bakery offered up display cases full of loaves of wheat bread, pies, cookies, and donuts.

Heritage Ridge Creamery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

We watched cheese being made at Heritage Ridge Creamery, then sampled and purchased it at the retail shop.

Shipshewana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Back on the asphalt, we continued southwest to Shipshewana. The small town hosts some million visitors a year for its auctions, theater, history, more than 100 shops offering fine Amish woodwork and food, and twice-a-week Shipshewana Flea Market, the largest of its kind in the Midwest.

Menno-Hof © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

To learn about Amish history, we toured Menno-Hof, also in Shipshewana. Through multi-image presentations, historical environments, and other displays, we traveled back 500 years to the origins of the Amish-Mennonite story.

Yoder’s Popcorn © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

We continued 4 miles south along Indiana Highway 5, stopping at Yoder’s Popcorn, for popcorn the way you remember it. Try their renowned Tiny Tender Popcorn. Then it’s back to our condo-on-wheels at the Newmar Service Center in Nappanee.

Worth Pondering…

The Amish are islands of sanity in a whirlpool of change.

—Nancy Sleeth, Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life

Tips for Finding the Perfect RV Model and Floor Plan

Here is how to find the perfect RV model for YOU

If you are a first time RV shopper, you might be surprised—and a little overwhelmed—at how many options there are out there! Once you have settled on the type of RV you are looking for (travel trailer, fifth wheel, motorhome), you’ll still have to decide the size and floor plan that will best suit your needs.

There is something for everyone out there. Here are our top 10 tips for finding the perfect RV model FOR YOU.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star Class A motorhome at Ambassador RV Park, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Know Your Numbers

Research your tow capacity and payload capacity if you are purchasing a towable. Use your VIN to get the specs directly from the vehicle manufacturer. If you are buying a motorhome, check the weight of any vehicle you plan to tow behind the RV. Purchasing an RV that doesn’t work with your current vehicle situation can be expensive and unsafe.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star Class A motorhome bedroom with king bed © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How Many Dedicated Beds Do You Need?

Check for RV floor plans that offer a dedicated bed for everyone who will be sleeping in the rig most of the time. Having to make up the dinette or pull out the sleeper sofa every night soon becomes a drag and a frustrating chore. Families with children will be happy to find bunk models in select models. Other models offer a Murphy bed floor plan option.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star Class A motorhome kitchen area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Full Bath, Wet Bath, or No Bath?

Some RVers love having their own private bathroom no matter where they travel. Others are fine with the idea of using campground comfort stations. Since this is an important part of the RV experience, you will want to think this one through carefully.

Many smaller RV offer wet baths, bathrooms without a separate stall for the shower. Think hard about whether this will be a deal breaker for you.

Boondocking at Anza-Borrego State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Will You Boondock?

If you plan to boondock (dispersed camping in places without hookups), search for RVs with larger fresh water, gray water, and black tanks. Other attractive features for folks looking to get off the grid are on-board generators and solar panels.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star Class A motorhome kitchen with electric refrigerator and microwave © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Consider How You Plan To Live Inside the RV

There’s no right way to camp. Some people are shopping for an RV with a clean bathroom and comfortable beds that will keep them warm and cozy at night. Other campers are seeking a smaller version of their sticks and bricks house, with all the creature comforts of home. Think about how you want to live in the RV, and make sure the floor plan will support that dream.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star Class A motorhome living room and dining area (doubles as work station) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What Cooking Arrangements Best Suit Your Camping Lifestyle?

Some people use their RV kitchens on a daily basis, and other people always eat out. If the RV kitchen is a major draw for you, check for storage, counter space, refrigerator size, and oven availability. If you love to cook in the open air, check out outdoor kitchen options.

Fifth wheel trailer at Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Will You Work Out of the RV?

The ability to work remotely leads numerous people to check out the RV lifestyle. If you’re planning to work on the road, make sure you choose a floor plan with a built-in desk or space for a mobile office.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star Class A motorhome connected to city utilities © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where Will All the “Stuff” Go?

Storage capacity varies between models and floor plans. Consider the items you want to pack. From the big stuff like bikes, kayaks, and golf clubs, to the smaller things like clothes, linens and towels, food, and kitchen supplies. Imagine where all your stuff will go.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star Class A motorhome at Gila Bend KOA, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kitchen and Bathroom Access in Travel Mode

One of the benefits of RV travel is being able to use the bathroom and prepare lunch in the RV kitchen while at rest stops. Make sure you can access everything you will need without extending the slides. Can you access the bathroom, open the refrigerator, and get into the bedroom? Ask the salesperson to bring in the slides for you to check.

Take your time and have fun with this part of the RV shopping experience. There are so many great RVs out there right now, so make sure to find the perfect one for you.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star Class A motorhome at Midtown RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the interests of full disclosure, we currently own a 2019 Dutch Star diesel pusher. This is our fifth Newmar motorhome and Midtown RV in Penticton, British Columbia, is our trusted dealer. Yes, great customer service matters.

Worth Pondering…

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.

—John Ruskin

Buying an RV

Take your time, do your homework, talk to owners of similar models, and locate a good reputable dealer who stands behind his products and provides quality service

We’ve been cooped up for months. Now, we are contending with summer sans festivals, fairs, sporting events, and concerts. Pent-up and ready to pop, we’re in desperate need of a vacation.

Alas, planning a vacation during a pandemic is like marching through a sandy beach in 6-inch stilettos. Aside from health concerns, there are travel restrictions, crowds, closures, mandatory quarantines, mask requirements, and confined capsules otherwise known as airplanes to contend with which may be why many are opting for the open road aboard a rolling abode.

7 Feathers Casino RV Park, Canyonville, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With so many models, brands, sizes, and amenities to choose from, it can be difficult to know which RV is right for you and your family. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or upgrading your unit, this article will help guide you through the process of purchasing an RV.

Columbia River RV Park, Portland, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What to Consider When Buying an RV

There are 5 major factors to nail down before you can really start looking to buy an RV.

Seabreeze RV Park, Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Budget

How much do you have to spend on your RV?

Will you be financing your RV?

How much are you willing to spend on fuel, maintenance, and insurance costs?

Do you want to buy a new or pre-owned RV?

Leaf Verde RV Park, Buckeye, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Use

How often and for how long do you plan to use your RV?

What type of camping will you be doing? Weekend warrior or long-term? State and national park campgrounds or RV resorts?

Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Size

How many people do you need to sleep?

How much storage do you require?

Will campsites you plan to use accept your vehicle length?

Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Towing

What size of rig are you comfortable driving or towing?

What is the tow rating of your tow vehicle? You’ll want to stay well within this limit or consider upgrading your tow vehicle.

Will you tow a car behind your motorhome (4-wheels down or dolly)?

Pala Casino RV Resort, Pala, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Features

What features are necessities?

What features are nice-to-haves?

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where to Buy an RV

Regardless of where you live in the US or Canada, there are many options for purchasing a new or pre-owned RV.

Gulf Coast RV Resort, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. RV Shows

Each year, recreational vehicle associations and RV dealers put on RV shows throughout the United States and Canada. The largest consumer RV Shows take place in Tampa, Florida in January, Hershey, Pennsylvania in September, and Pomona, California in October. At these shows you will find hundreds of RVs for sale and booths packed with RV accessories.

With many RV dealers in one place, you can check out the hundreds of RV models of all different types and sizes. There is something for every budget.

The Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. RV dealers

If you missed the RV shows, weren’t ready to buy, or plan to special order a unit, dealers are a great option. They’ll have a selection of new and pre-owned RVs. Different dealerships carry different brands and models of RVs and they may offer different incentives. It’s a good idea to check a few different dealerships out, especially if you’re not certain on which RV you want.

Rain Spirit RV Park, Cottonwood, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Private Sales

If you’re looking for a pre-owned RV, check out what is available in private sales. Be aware, though, that you may be buying someone else’s problem. A vehicle inspection is recommended.

Distant Drums RV Resort, Camp Verde, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Advice on Buying an RV

Always do your research on the brand, model, and seller. Not all manufacturers and RV dealers are created equal.

Don’t be afraid to walk away if a seller makes you feel uncomfortable or is showing you units above your price range or not what you really want.

Best of luck with your buying journey and your next adventures!

Moving from the old to the new at Midtown RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the interests of full disclosure, we currently own a 2019 Dutch Star diesel pusher. This is our fifth Newmar motorhome and Midtown RV in Penticton, British Columbia, is our trusted dealer.

Worth Pondering…

Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.

—Gloria Steinem

Taking Delivery of Our New Motorhome

2019 Dutch Star arrived

The pre-delivery inspection (PDI) and systems check completed by our dealer, we took delivery of our 2019 Dutch Star 3717 on Tuesday, November 27.

Everything looked pretty good. The new coach is well appointed with polished porcelain tile floors that extend into each slideout, full hardwood (wicker glazed maple) window treatments, carved feature ceiling, Bose Solo 5 Soundbar sound system, retractable 49-inch Sony TV, two recliners with reading lights, computer desk dinette combo with free standing hidden-leaf table, KIB backlit switch plates for interior lighting, Whirlpool two-piece stacking washer and drier, king bed, driver side power window, under-step shoe storage, and keyless entry.

Taking delivery of our 2019 Newmar Dutch Star © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Distinctive kitchen features include Whirlpool 19.7 residential-style refrigerator, Whirlpool stainless steel convection microwave with three-burner recessed gas cooktop, gas oven, pull-out pantry shelves, and galley extension with large double stainless steel sink, additional work space, and storage.

Taking delivery of our 2019 Newmar Dutch Star; moving from the old to the new © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Our keyless entry system allows for entry into the coach without the use of a key. It requires the use of a remote control or correct code to unlock the door. Our coach also has power-locking baggage doors.

Taking delivery of our 2019 Newmar Dutch Star; moving from the old to the new © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Last spring we put in a custom order for a new motor coach with our trusty dealer, Midtown RV in Penticton, British Columbia. This is our fifth Newmar motorhome and the third purchased from Midtown.

Taking delivery of our 2019 Newmar Dutch Star; the interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The same length and a somewhat similar floor plan to our current 2012 model. This is the longest we’ve owned an RV since we started our snowbird lifestyle 22 years ago. We figured that if we were going to get a new diesel pusher now was the time due to our age and the fact that our extended warranty had elapsed and we required an outlay of $10,000-$15,000 for new tires and batteries and several upgrades I wanted including WiFi Ranger. Expected delivery was early October. Several factory delays and we finally took possession of our new coach.

Taking delivery of our 2019 Newmar Dutch Star; the interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An option we included in our custom order, the WiFi Ranger is a wireless router that creates our own private Wi-Fi network in the coach while simultaneously connecting to and boosting Wi-Fi hotspots.

There are also multiple outlets for keeping electronics powered up and even wireless charging pads next to both the driver and passenger seats.

Taking delivery of our 2019 Newmar Dutch Star; the interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A Dometic cooler is located on a pull-out tray in a basement bin. Electronically controlled, it can be used for both heating and cooling. It can be a freezer, or it can be a beer fridge. It can be whatever you want it to be.

Taking delivery of our 2019 Newmar Dutch Star; the interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A second door leads to open space for storage, while a third contains an even bigger storage space; this one includes a sliding drawer, offering easy access to items that would otherwise have to be pushed far out of arm’s reach. A fourth door opens to shelves and a pegboard; an actual replacement for a typical tool shed.

Taking delivery of our 2019 Newmar Dutch Star; the interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Built on a Freightliner XCR chassis and 450 HP Cummins diesel engine with 1,250 ft. lb. of torque, a test drive determined that the coach is a pleasure to drive. Features like Newmar’s Comfort Drive Steering allows for easy maneuverability with just a light grip on the wheel. You simply steer the coach like you would any other vehicle, and adjust the dial on the dash to suit your preference for steering effort. I prefer a higher setting which takes much of the movement out of the wheel especially on windy days.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Ambassador RV Resort in Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition, our Dutch Star is supported by Newmar’s ultra-durable STAR Foundation for a quieter ride.

A half-day-plus customer walk-through helped familiarize us with the coach and component parts.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Angel Lake RV Park in Wells, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Our coach is equipped with the Oasis hydronic heating system. This system uses a “boiler” and a pump to heat and recirculate hot fluid through a series of convectors placed throughout the unit. The Oasis system uses two different sources for heat, the diesel burner and the electric heating element. The diesel burner is the primary and most efficient heat source with an output of 50,000 BTUs. The Oasis system provides the coach with hot water on demand and furnace heat.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Los Vegas RV Resort in Los Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Our coach is also equipped with radiant floor heat that uses a heat mat placed between the tile and the floor structure. A controller regulates the temperature and the timed heat cycles depending on the control setting—low, medium, and high. We find the low setting more than adequate for our comfort level. The floor heat operates on 120 volt AC power.

And the coach is all clean again © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Our coach is also equipped with a fresh water tank auto fill which is enabled at the monitor panel touchscreen inside the coach. The touchscreen further indicates the fresh, gray, and black water and LP gas level in 5 percent increments along with the chassis and house batteries charge.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Our coach is as beautiful on the outside as it is comfortable inside. We really like the colors of the Cobblestone exterior with the varied shades of silver gray and charcoal. Between 12 and 16 gallons of paint are used on each model. Several types of primer are applied, followed by a base coat, color for graphics, and a final clear coat. Finally, a Diamond Shield Paint Protector is utilized in areas of the coach most susceptible to bugs and rock chips. Stainless steel trim on baggage doors and kick panel at entrance door complete the look.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Los Quintas RV Resort in Yuma, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other features include transfer switch with energy management system, surge protection, 50-foot 50-amp power cord with rewind wheel, and power water hose reel.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Gila Bend KOA in Gila Bend, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Living in an RV—whether it’s part-time or full-time—isn’t about the places you can go. It’s about the journey, not the destination. Nothing beats the experience of driving down the road in a motor coach! You’re elevated, and you get to take it all in—a panoramic view.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Casa Grande RV Resort in Casa Grande, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Dutch Star itself is available in 12 different floor plans, with four cabinetry finish options, three exterior paint choices, and three interior color schemes, which encompass the furniture, fabric, flooring, and countertop choices. There is also a handicap model available, which is accessible with a lift and ramp.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Grand Canyon Railway RV Park in Williams, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A manufacturer of Class A motorhomes, Newmar has chosen to lead rather than follow and deliver a high level of craftsmanship, innovation, and customer support. Newmar was founded in 1968 for one simple reason: to build a better RV.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at iRwins RV Park in Valemont, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

NEWMAR: When You Know The Difference

Worth Pondering…

We chose an RV and RV lifestyle that’s right for us.

4 Key Tips for Purchasing a New RV

Buying a new recreational vehicle is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make, so it should come as no surprise that choosing the right one is no small decision

Maybe you’ll be joining the 1.3 million Americans who live in their RV fulltime or perhaps you’re a snowbird escaping the frigid cold and snow of another northern winter, or you’re a millennial looking to use less space and collect experiences over material possessions.

Regardless of the way you plan to use your recreational vehicle, electing to spend quality time with the ones you love while discovering our two great countries is an exciting step that will lead you on countless adventures, helping to create a lifetime of memories you’ll cherish forever.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star Diesel Class A motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Just like modern automobiles, today’s RVs are a long way from the campers of old. Many come designed and equipped to feel like home, because for many, this is home.

To hit the open road with minimal setbacks, you need information on the most important aspects of purchasing your new RV.

Class A gas motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Whether you are considering the interior features, high-tech amenities like Wi-Fi and charging stations or the amount of available interior and basement storage—even the quality of the paint finish—it all matters, but the process of deciding what’s right for you does not have to be overwhelming.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star motorhome with modern interior features and high-tech amenities © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

When contemplating the purchase of an RV, take your time, do your homework, talk to owners of similar models, attend RV shows, and locate a good reputable dealer who stands behind his products and provides quality service.

Best of all, there is an RV for just about every budget and every family. It just takes some time to find it.

Fifth-wheel trailer © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Whether you are new to the RV lifestyle or a seasoned veteran, the following information can help you navigate the most important aspects of making your dream of owning an all-new recreational vehicle a reality.

Selecting an RV is a Big Decision—Do Your Research

Pop-up trailer © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

When it comes to researching your new RV purchase, the last thing you want to be is hasty. It is important to take your time while considering your budget, wants and needs, future travel plans, and any other items you feel are important in making your decision, such as safety, quality, and reliability.

The Differences between Gas, Diesel, and Luxury Diesel RVs

Luxury Class A motorhome diesel pusher © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

One of the primary aspects involved in selecting a new RV is making a decision on the type of RV you need.

The debate between gas vs. diesel motorhome engines has fueled many hours of debate within the RV community. It can be difficult knowing which way to go. There is no right or wrong option, just advantages and disadvantages worth considering.

Travel trailer © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Not All RV Manufacturers Are Created Equal

Not all RV manufacturers are created equal © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Once you are able to determine much of what you want in an RV, you can begin to research the manufacturers and decide which company you will trust to build your new recreational vehicle.

Take Your Time When Taking Delivery

Considerable time should be scheduled when taking delivery of your new rig and when moving from the old to the new © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Taking delivery of your just-built RV can be an incredibly exciting experience for you, your family—even a handful of your friends.

Ensure all moving parts are functional and you fully understand the operation of your new rig BEFORE driving it off your dealer’s lot © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

No matter if your brand-new RV was purchased off the lot or you special ordered it from the factory, it is essential that you plan to take considerable time examining your RV before you drive off on any road trips or adventures.

Conclusion

Take adequate time in the purchasing and delivery process of a new rig © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Take the time to ensure everything on your new RV is in working order and all of your questions have been answered. You’ll be glad you did.

Whether you’re just beginning to consider the purchase of a new RV or are anxiously waiting to take delivery, remember to take your time and enjoy the opportunity to learn. An informed purchase is almost always a wise one. The more you know, the more confident you’ll be throughout the entire process.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

In the interests of full disclosure, we currently own a 2019 Dutch Star diesel pusher. This is our fifth Newmar motorhome and Midtown RV in Penticton, British Columbia, is our trusted dealer.

Worth Pondering…

Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.

—Gloria Steinem

How to Choose the Right RV and the Right RV Dealership?

Your first step in purchasing an RV is to ask yourself what you would like to do in your recreational vehicle

Recreational vehicles are a great way to see the country and allow owners the freedom to travel.

They are great for weekends and extended vacations, but they are a major investment. And purchasing an RV is considerably more complicated than buying a car.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star Class A motorhome at Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Your first step in purchasing an RV is to ask yourself what you would like to do in your trailer or motorhome. Do you plan to use it for family trips to a nearby lake or for extended travel across the country? Or as a second home in the winter and travel south to a Sunbelt state where it’s sunny, warm, and without snow? Perhaps you’re thinking of selling your home and living full-time in an RV.

Laredo fifth-wheel trailer by Keystone RV at Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

What sizes and styles do you prefer? Will you buy a new or pre-owned RV?

The more time you plan to spend in your RV, the more carefully you need to consider your purchase. There’s no right way to camp. Some people are shopping for an RV with a clean bathroom and comfortable beds that will keep them warm and cozy at night. Other campers are seeking a smaller version of their sticks and bricks house, with all the creature comforts of home. Will everyone be able to eat a meal, play a board game, or watch a movie? Think about how you want to live in the RV, and make sure the floor plan will support that dream.

Coachmen Apex travel trailer at Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

If you are a first time RV shopper, you might be surprised—and a little overwhelmed—at how many options there are out there. Once you have settled on the type of RV you are looking for (travel trailer, fifth wheel, motorhome), you’ll still have to decide the size and floor plan that will suit you best.

Thor Motor Coach Tuscany Class A motorhome at The Motorcoach Resort, Chandler, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

While you’re trying to determine how you want to use your RV, do some homework. Use the Internet to browse RV brands and styles. Be aware that all manufacturers are not created equal.

If your friends or neighbors own an RV talk with them about their vehicle and their experiences.  Look through the interior; examine various options so you can understand what is available.

Thor Motor Coach Hurricane Class A motorhome at Gila Bend KOA, Gila Bend Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

A key factor is size. If you are only planning to use it sporadically, then size might not be an issue. But if you plan on living out of the vehicle for extended periods of time, then a larger RV may be more comfortable. Be aware that some older campgrounds and RV parks have restrictions on size.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star with interior features that include a computer desk, pull-out dining table, and recliners with foot rests © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Additional features can make your ride enjoyable. Choose items that would make your trip as comfortable as possible.

Every RV is a bit different than the next, and some options will be more important to you than others. That’s why it’s important to have a list of “must haves” vs. “nice to haves” before you even start looking. Here are a few features that may or may not be on your list depending on your RV lifestyle:

  • Large awning
  • Outdoor TV
  • Power and automated systems for stabilizing jacks and levelers
  • Smart technology to power mobile devices
2019 Newmar Dutch Star Class A motorhome at Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Once you become more acquainted with the marketplace, start visiting RV dealers. After all your research, you should be better prepared to speak with the salespeople clearly and confidently.

One of the greatest benefits of RV travel is being able to use the bathroom and have lunch in our RV kitchen while at rest stops. If this is also important to you, make sure you can access everything you will need even with the slides in. Can you access the bathroom, open the refrigerator, and get into the bedroom? Ask the salesperson to bring in the slides for you to make sure the travel mode will work for you and your family.

Outback travel trailer by Keystone at Quinta Oasis RV Resort, Yuma, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Most dealers have an on-site service department. Most RV repairs are specialized and different from regular vehicles.

Like all vehicles, RVs need maintenance and repairs from time to time. When you need to repair or maintain your vehicle, it is essential that you deal with professionals. You will need experienced and excellent customer service. Be aware that all dealers are not created equal.

From the old to the new at Midtown RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

After all, your RV is an enormous investment. Don’t trust it to just anyone.

In the interests of full disclosure, we currently own a 2019 Dutch Star diesel pusher. This is our fifth Newmar motorhome and Midtown RV in Penticton, British Columbia, is our trusted dealer. Yes, great customer service matters.

Worth Pondering…

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.

—John Ruskin

Improving the RV Purchase and Repurchase Experience

How RV dealers can foster lasting relationships

In an earlier post I discussed the results of a recent survey of 3,000 consumers engaged in the recreational vehicle buying process from 2017-2018. Conducted by AVALA, a Rollick Company these results are included in their whitepaper, “The Recreation Shopping Experience: Why Customers Buy and How to Ensure They Buy From You.”

The study concluded with suggestions on how RV dealers can improve both the purchase and repurchase experience.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Distant Drums RV Resort in Camp Verde, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

For dealers to set themselves apart from the rest of the RV industry, it is imperative they optimize consumer engagement with their brand.

Areas of focus that will move the needle in their favor include pricing clarity.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Gila Bend KOA in Gila Bend, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

According to a study by Paul W. Farris, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5-20 percent. And according to Bain and Company, returning customers spend an average of 67 percent more than first-time customers.

All the new customers in the world don’t matter if dealers don’t retain the ones they already have. To keep customers coming back RV dealers should follow up with them. Thank them, provide them with great service and continue to grow the relationship. Use a post-purchase/delivery satisfaction survey.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Casa Grande RV Resort in Casa Grande, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

A proper delivery process makes for happy customers and is a key for developing a lasting relationship. This requires having in place qualified technicians to complete a walk through with the purchasing customers and full-service guest spots to allow an appropriate amount of time to learn about their new RV. Some highly technical units can take a few days of training.

With some RV dealers, you’re unlikely to speak with anyone unless you’re contacting them with a complaint. This is not the way lasting relationships are fostered.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

There is opportunity to sell the same consumer multiple products, and the goal is to make sure it is your products they repurchase, which is a joint effort between the dealer and the manufacturer. In fact, the data indicates that if a consumer leaves a dealer because of dissatisfaction with their service, they may also leave the brand.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Grand Canyon Railway RV Resort in Williams, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

It’s an oft-quoted statistic that acquiring new customers costs six to seven times more than retaining existing ones. The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that 68 percent of customers leave because they’re upset with the treatment they’ve received. That’s why offering fast, helpful customer service is critical to retaining customers. Not to mention that happy customers and word of mouth can also be some of the most effective drivers for new business.

Often the key to growing your company isn’t just getting new customers, but keeping the older ones.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Las Vegas RV Resort in Las Vegas, Nevad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Most recreation products are discretionary, or not a “need” product. Any friction the consumer may experience reduces the opportunity of a sale. Both the manufacturer and the dealer do better when they focus on great customer service and working together. 

An RV is no small purchase, and the best dealers and manufacturers are run by those who understand what it takes to create a lifelong customer. A connection like this is the result of a total dedication to transparency, integrity, and responsiveness.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Ambassador RV Resort in Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

If you have a problem, those involved in the manufacturing and sales process have a problem that must be handled with honesty and an emphasis on making things right, right away. If you get the feeling that one of dealers and/or manufacturers you’re considering might not react this way, move on.

And remember that not all manufacturers are created equal and not all dealers are created equal. Before you sign on the dotted line you owe it to yourself to get the facts and become an educated buyer.

Moving from the old to the new at Midtown RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

In the interests of full disclosure, we currently own a 2019 Dutch Star diesel pusher. This is our fifth Newmar motorhome and Midtown RV in Penticton, British Columbia, is our trusted dealer.

In a recent conversation with Kalvin Stayberg of Midtown RV, he indicated that repeat customers account for about 60 percent of their total Newmar sales. Yes, great customer service matters.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…

Here is a simple but powerful rule: always give people more than they expect to get.

—Nelson Boswell

The RV Purchase Experience

How RV dealers can better engage the consumer

If you are a first time RV shopper, you might be surprised—and a little overwhelmed—at the vast number of options available.

Once you have decided on the type of recreational vehicle (travel trailer, fifth wheel, motorhome), you’ll need to consider the length and floor plan that best suits your needs.

Moving from the old to the new motorhome. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

There is something for everyone out there and dealers to sell you the RV that is the best fit for your needs.

AVALA, a Rollick Company, recently released the results of their recent survey of 3,000 consumers engaged in the recreational vehicle buying process from 2017-2018.

These results are included in their whitepaper, “The Recreation Shopping Experience: Why Customers Buy and How to Ensure They Buy From You.”

The old and the new at our RV dealer © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Four major themes were explored in the survey: Brand consideration and switching, dealer follow-up, satisfaction drivers, and why people leave the market.

While the results of the survey are intended to assist dealers in their sales process, it also holds interest for the RV consumer.

According to the study, 81.2 percent of respondents seriously consider purchasing other brands, 43.1 percent of dealers suggested other brands, and 67.6 percent of respondents purchased the brand they originally inquired about. 

It was an easy decision not to change brands when we decided to upgrade to a new model. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Somewhere along the purchase process, consumers are being persuaded to switch brands. One reason for this is the dealers’ goal to sell the consumer the product that best fits their needs, not necessarily the brand they initially inquired about.

According to the data, the RV buyer took an average of 198 days to make a purchase. This is a long purchase cycle that begins with the initial contact at a dealership. There are many nurture opportunities within that time span.

However, only 57.5 percent of dealers continued to follow up after their initial contact with a potential buyer. And, on average dealers only followed up once with RV consumers following the initial contact.

Inside the new coach © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The survey showed that consumers were mostly satisfied with their RV dealer experience in all areas except for price. Price is a challenging topic because it can change over time and due to customization can be difficult to determine a final cost to the consumer.

The survey results suggested that dealers can do a better job of communicating an accurate price early in the relationship so that consumers begin the purchase process with reasonable expectations. Providing an accurate price at the beginning of the process helps the consumer build trust in the dealer and have reasonable expectations. This trust creates brand and customer loyalty.

At Las Vegas RV Resort out new coach is clean again © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Areas where customers reported satisfaction included facility cleanliness, product knowledge, staff timeliness and communication, availability to answer questions, and product availability.

The survey found the number one reason consumers decide to no longer purchase a recreational vehicle or to purchase a different brand is because of price. The second most common reason is because they found another brand that better meets their needs.

The snowbird lifestyle at Gila Bend KOA © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

On a scale of 1 to 5,  5 being the highest, consumers reported that when purchasing a recreational vehicle, the experience ranked a 3.2—about the same as their experience shopping in similar industries (like automotive). This still leaves plenty of room for improvement.

An RV is no small purchase, and the best dealers and manufacturers are run by those who understand what it takes to create a lifelong customer. A connection like this is the result of a total dedication to transparency, integrity, and responsiveness.

You are only as good as you make your customers feel. If you make your customers feel special you will stand out above the crowd.

The snowbird lifestyle at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

In the interests of full disclosure, we currently own a 2019 Dutch Star diesel pusher. This is our fifth Newmar motorhome and Midtown RV in Penticton, British Columbia, is our trusted dealer. Yes, great customer service matters.

Worth Pondering…

Without a customer, you don’t have a business—all you have is a hobby.

—Don Peppers

What’s Next Is Almost Here

Newmar to Introduce Super C at RVX

RVX: The RV Experience, launching March 12-14, 2019 in Salt Lake City, will be the industry’s biggest event, designed to spark consumer interest in the RV lifestyle shared by millions of Americans by unveiling the latest products, celebrating innovation, and providing inspiration and education to dealers to drive RV businesses forward.

RVX will be the official “Kick-off to Camping Season” that will showcase the industry’s newest and best-selling products to dealers and consumers back home. This is NOT a consumer show, but a show that will highlight the products coming to market in the spring.

Newmar recently announced that it will unveil its first Super C model at RVX at 2 p.m. ET on March 13 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The manufacturer reported that the unit has been in research and development for the past two years.

The new 2020 Super Star will be live-streamed from the Newmar display.

The Super C RV will feature both a full air-ride cab and a full-wall slide-out.

Debuting at RVX 2019 is one of two models that not only represent the first we’ve ever built, but the first and only RVs in their class to feature both a full air-cab and a full-wall slideout. Don’t miss your chance to see it live on March 13 at 12 pm MST / 2 pm EST!

The RV Industry Association is the national trade association representing RV manufacturers and their component parts suppliers who together build more than 98 percent of all RVs produced in the U.S., and approximately 60 percent of RVs produced worldwide.

A manufacturer of Class A motorhomes, Newmar has chosen to lead rather than follow and deliver a high level of craftsmanship, innovation, and customer support. Newmar was founded in 1968 for one simple reason: to build a better RV.

NEWMAR: When You Know The Difference

Worth Pondering…

We chose an RV and RV lifestyle that’s right for us.