Turning Customers Into Advocates

In an earlier article, Vogel Talks RVing discussed how companies can built customer loyalty. In today’s post we expand on turning customers into advocates providing three examples from our personal experience.

As a customer I want stability—a stable relationship I can count on—and consistency. For these reasons I travel over 650 miles to Midtown RV in Penticton for RV sales and service where 62 percent of their sales are to repeat customers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
As a customer I want stability—a stable relationship I can count on—and consistency. For these reasons I travel over 650 miles to Midtown RV in Penticton for RV sales and service where 62 percent of their sales are to repeat customers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I frequent businesses where I’ve had great experiences and end my relationship with companies that do not resolve my concerns in a timely manner.

To earn and maintain my loyalty as a customer, I expect a business to provide:

  • A quality product that meets my needs or solves my problem
  • Competitive prices
  • Superior customer service
  • These expectations are the basics.

Over the past 15 years, three businesses have earned my trust and commitment:

  • Midtown RV, Penticton, British Columbia (Newmar/Airstream dealer)
  • Competition Chevrolet, Stony Plain, Alberta
  • ABC Muffler & Hitch Shop, Edmonton, Alberta (Demco Towing Products)

These successful businesses empower their staff to make their No. 1 job taking care of the customers.

As a customer I want stability—a stable relationship I can count on—and consistency. For these reasons I travel over 650 miles to Midtown RV in Penticton for RV sales and service where 62 percent of their sales are to repeat customers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
As a customer I want stability—a stable relationship I can count on—and consistency. For these reasons I travel over 650 miles to Midtown RV in Penticton for RV sales and service where 62 percent of their sales are to repeat customers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As a customer I want stability—a stable relationship I can count on—and consistency. For these reasons I travel over 650 miles to Midtown RV in Penticton for RV sales and service where 62 percent of their sales are to repeat customers.

On the flip side, other businesses have failed to provide a consistent quality customer experience and I have taken my business elsewhere. These businesses lost my loyalty. If a business does not provide a quality customer experience, I’m out the door taking my business to the competition.

There are four criteria that businesses should focus on to earn loyalty from a customer. These criteria can be broken into four areas of focus. Businesses that maintain my loyalty likely have these four areas already in place. And as a bonus, have new customers come through their doors from referrals.

Trust—Trust is the first area of focus for building loyal customers. Why would I ever come back to your business if I don’t trust you? This trust is built on actions. If you promise a customer that service on their unit will be completed by Wednesday, yet it takes until Friday to get it done, that customer’s trust is tarnished.

Right to left, George and Kalvin Stayberg, Midtown RV President and Vice-President. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Right to left, George and Kalvin Stayberg, Midtown RV President and Vice-President. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another way to build trust is consistently providing quality service. This may sound like a no-brainer. Why would a dealer not provide quality service? Believe me, it happens too often, way too often. Believe me. Been there, experienced that.

To built this loyalty a business needs to know the customer, who they are, and build a good relationship with them. And do it with a smile.

Commitment—How far out of the way will a business go to please me, the customer? Hopefully, their commitment doesn’t depend on the invoice amount. Every customer must be treated with their lifetime value in mind.

Communication—Timely communication builds customer loyalty and makes for a pleasant customer experience. Quickly responding to customer questions and answering the phone on the first couple of rings is a good business practice. What are your phone hold times like? How difficult is it to talk to a live body?

Conflict Resolution—It is likely that every business will at some point need to resolve an issue or concern with a customer. A business that calmly solves an issue in a fair and reasonable manner is well on the path to retaining the customer’s loyalty.

Our Newmar Dutch Star parked at Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Our Newmar Dutch Star parked at Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Adhering to these four areas will help a business grow their customer base. The principles of trust, commitment , communication, and conflict resolution may seem routine, but businesses that continually observe the basics of creating loyal customers will do just that: create a loyal customer.

Worth Pondering…

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

—Nelson Boswell

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Building Customer Loyalty

People gravitate toward companies because of their products and leave them because of their service.

As a customer I want stability—a stable relationship I can count on—and consistency. For these reasons I travel over 650 miles to Midtown RV in Penticton for RV sales and service where 62 percent of their sales are to repeat customers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
As a customer I want stability—a stable relationship I can count on—and consistency. For these reasons I travel over 650 miles to Midtown RV in Penticton for RV sales and service where 62 percent of their sales are to repeat customers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why is it then that so many companies under invest in this area? Research by Net Promoter Score inventor Fred Reichheld found that a mere five-percent increase in customer retention can boost company profitability by as much as 95 percent.

Most small businesses are keenly aware of the importance of customer retention—often because one lost customer can often make a huge financial impact on the company—and because of their size, they’re able to provide their customers personalized attention.

But what happens when a company begins to grow? How do they scale their customer service to help more people without losing the personal touch?

The Ritz Carlton opened in Boston in 1940, and revolutionized hospitality in America by creating a luxury hotel setting. Forty years later, they began to expand, keeping customer experience at the heart of their business by fulfilling not only the expressed but also the unexpressed wishes and needs of their customers. Now, not all of us mortals can deliver wow-factor service like the Ritz. (For $2,000 the hotel will give you a one-day course on how to deliver memorable customer service).

Newmar Factory Tour at the plant in Napannee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Newmar Factory Tour at the plant in Napannee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In today’s world of instant gratification, customers expect problems to be solved quickly and correctly the first time. For customers to remain loyal, they want a personalized experience that makes them feel as though they are a true priority—not just another sale.

If companies don’t provide personalized customer service, they’re setting themselves up for failure. Today’s consumers are more informed, less patient, and more mobile than ever.

Mattersight recently commissioned a study of more than 1,000 consumers and found that that one bad customer experience could stop 70 percent of them from purchasing from that brand again.

Companies that focus on creating hassle-free experiences are on the strongest path to loyalty and retention. As a starting point, this means having a better understanding of buyers, their lifestyles, and how they want to be served.

Rather than focusing on attracting new customers, companies should focus on the value of their existing customers by behaving as if losing a single customer will put them out of business.

Newmar and Nappanee, Indiana, are in the heart of Amish Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Newmar and Nappanee, Indiana, are in the heart of Amish Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is easier to get existing customers to buy more and to help find new customers through their advocacy than it is for a business to try to garner new customers.

Happy customers are all alike: They become advocates—to one degree or another.

Because it’s a lifecycle, nothing ends here; instead, advocates help recruit the next wave of new customers through word of mouth, or on social media—and better yet, they buy more.

Customer advocates are the lifeblood of organizations: They bring new business, provide honest feedback, and speak on behalf of you to anyone that will listen.

Here are my top three tips for turning new customers into advocates:

Be responsive—always be responsive to customers. If you can’t respond immediately, let them know when you will get back to them.

Be accountable—if the product experienced an issue or if the business dropped the ball on a follow up item, take accountability for it.

Midtown RV and Penticton are in the heart of the South Okanagan Wine Country in southern British Columbia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Midtown RV and Penticton are in the heart of the South Okanagan Wine Country in southern British Columbia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Show value early—it’s not enough to just communicate to customers; businesses need to ensure customers are receiving value. If the customer isn’t getting value, determine what steps need to be taken to improve.

What sets a business apart is how they treat their customers. Attractive prices and range of quality products and services attract new customers, but it is only superior customer experience that will retain customers.

With so many companies providing competitive pricing for similar quality products, what sets a business apart is their ability to provide consistent and quality customer service and personalized transactions. This involves understanding the customer’s needs and then finding a way to deliver on those promises every time.

Worth Pondering…

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

—Aristotle

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RVs Rule the Road

Who is driving RV sales and why?

Canyon Vistas RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona
There’s an RV for every family’s budget and needs. Photo above: Canyon Vistas RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re one of the millions of Americans or Canadians planning to head out for a summer road trip, be prepared: RVs rule the road.

With prices ranging from $15,000 to just shy of $1 million, Americans and Canadian consumers have more options than ever when it comes to hitting the open road with a bed in tow.

For the big bucks your RV comes decked out with dual sinks in the master bathroom of a 46,000-pound diesel pusher built on a behemoth bus chassis. The Newmar King Aire also has Sleep Number beds, four flat-screen televisions, and a tablet to remotely manage the climate controls. Oh, and it also has a carbon-fiber steering wheel, and the driver sits in a captain’s chair with a built-in massager.

Canada’s number one Newmar dealer, Midtown RV in the southern Okanagan city of Penticton (British Columbia) sold 6 King Aires during the past 12 months.

“King Aire buyers are people looking for a modern contemporary design with the latest in residential amenities,” said Kalvin Stayberg, Midtown RV Vice-President and part owner.

Class A motorhome: 2015 Newmar King Aire
Class A motorhome: 2015 Newmar King Aire

“They also appreciate that the King Aire couples this modern design with the Newmar Heritage of quality, luxury, and power.”

While the King Aire may be over-the-top extravagant, buyers are demanding the same kinds of countertops and finishes they’re accustomed to having in their homes. Many RVs, for instance, have memory foam beds, tile floors, two bathrooms, and Corian countertops.

Those amenities are driving massive growth in what has been a sagging industry hit hard by a lousy economy and sky-high fuel prices. Last year RV dealers sold about 350,000 vehicles and expect even stronger growth this year. That’s a return to pre-recession levels not seen in nearly a decade.

Bottom-of-the-barrel fuel prices are also helping to drive interest in the RV lifestyle. Packing up the family for a summer vacation is less expensive than flying, especially when airlines with locked-in fuel costs haven’t yet passed along fuel savings to passengers. Camping is also more family-friendly and relaxing.

There’s been strong interest at both ends of the spectrum, from that $1 million King Aire to the 1930s-style teardrop trailers light enough to be towed behind a car and the always-popular Airstream.

Vistabule Introduces ‘Cab Forward’ Teardrop Trailer
Vistabule is a popular ‘Cab Forward’ teardrop trailer

Airstream celebrated a record year in 2014, with sales up 26 percent over 2013 numbers. The retro-glam travel trailer has found new life among an expanded clientele that includes baby boomers.

And smaller, cheaper, mini-trailers, like teardrop trailers, have also resurfaced as appealing options for road-trippers looking to go small.

Also receiving significant interest are “Tiny House” style RVs which some buyers remove from their wheels and use as a cozy home. The wood-sided Tumbleweed Tiny Homes were featured in an earlier post on Vogel Talks RVing.

Many consider small to be the new big. The small-house movement and a conscious move away from a consumptive lifestyle for many millennials.

But it’s not just the smaller and sleeker Airstream and teardrop trailers that are doing well. The whole industry has recently found a new stride. Behemoth motorhomes often with tag axles and travel and fifth wheel trailers—12, 28, 35 feet long—are hitting highways in the strongest numbers in years.

The design of the Cypress Tiny House RV  by Tumbleweed makes use of the most interior space, by incorporating a corner porch and utilizing the extra room as interior space.
The design of the Cypress Tiny House RV by Tumbleweed makes use of the most interior space, by incorporating a corner porch and utilizing the extra room as interior space.

Some 32,045 RVs were shipped from manufacturers to dealerships in February of this year. Compare that to 29,700 in February 2007 and 10,300 in February 2009 when the industry hit rock bottom. The industry projects it will hit its top sales in nearly a decade this year.

Plummeting fuel prices don’t hurt, either, and it’s also worth noting that Baby Boomers—folks between 51 and 69—are retiring in droves. At the same time, however, RV buyers are actually getting a little younger. According to recent report, in 2011, the average age of an RV buyer was 48 years old. The fastest-growing age bracket was 35-54.

Mainstream Class A motorhomes and fifth wheel and travel trailers run anywhere from $10,000 to $600,000 and more. After financial ability, family was the leading factor in the decision to buy an RV. People perceive these vehicles as a way to spend time with family and friends, without the hassle and expense of flights, lodging, and food.

But unless you’re living in your RV full-time, it’s about as discretionary a purchase as one can imagine. It’s a big upfront investment, and that’s before fuel costs, insurance, and license. Buying any RV indicates a high degree of consumer confidence.

The increase in sales of Airstreams and teardrops are merely part of a larger trend. Now that people perceive an improve economy, they’re buying RVs of all stripes.

The success of the RV industry is due in part to the diversity of product that offers something for every income level. You don’t have to be rich to buy a smaller trailer and go camping.

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights
An RV will take you whever you wish to go including Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights

And for those families who want to spend time together while getting back to nature, RVs have an undeniable attraction and is a lifestyle that’s second to none.

Worth Pondering…

The American dream is no longer about home ownership. The American dream is that people want to travel and see America by RV.

—Andy Heck, co-owner Alpin Haus to Greg Gerber, RV Daily Report

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KA-PING! What Was That Sound?

KA-PING! What was that sound?

Our Newmar Dutch Star parked at Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Our Newmar Dutch Star parked at Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A stone had been thrown from a medium sized car as it accelerated and merged onto the interstate in front of our motor coach on I-5 in central California. Not an extra loud ping as the rock hit our one-piece windshield and not our first rock chip. And NOT a big deal.

We’ve had small windshield chips before and knew the basics of that.

No crater and no cracks spreading out in all directions.

No need to panic, turn to social media, or contact our insurance company.

If I had turned to social media I’m sure the feedback would run the gamut ranging from Holy Cannolli! to use clear nail polish or bubble gum it.

Later in the day we pulled into big-rig friendly, Durango RV Resort, a 5-star park located on the Sacramento River in Red Bluff.

Most sites are pull-through 70-90 feet in length and 30-35 feet wide. In addition there are 11 riverfront sites and 21 water-feature spaces (fountains); these sites have utilities on both sides of the concrete pads enabling fifth wheels and travel trailer to back onto the sites and motorhomes to drive forward maximizing the view and water features. In addition, there are a number of buddy sites.

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

The park is well laid out and designed. Utilities including 20/30/50-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV (63 channels) and centrally located. Interior roads are paved, pads are concrete. A beautiful RV resort with friendly and courteous staff. We would return in a heartbeat. But I digress.

We woke up in the morning of April 1—and it was no April Fool’s joke—to a crack in the middle of the windshield two to three feet across. We didn’t think too much about it when the rock hit the windshield the previous day as a car accelerated to merge onto the interstate. The brutally rough California freeways may have may it worse. In the whole scheme of things it’s not the worst thing that could happen.

Windshields really are amazing things. They must meet US DOT standards to withstand an incident like this, and hold up in one piece until you can get them replaced. Windshields are required to be made of safety glass comprised of two pieces of glass with a laminated plastic layer in between that keeps everything held together.

Henry Ford actually started using this style of glass for windshield as early as 1919 when ordinary glass windshields were causing needless deaths from glass fragments.

Insurance policies can vary widely. You may have windshield coverage on your RV insurance policy. For some, it’s an add-on rider, for others it’s included at zero deductible with comprehensive coverage as mandated by state law. Check with your agent or company to know and understand your coverage.

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

If you’re a Florida resident and have a Florida policy with comprehensive coverage, here’s a bonus for you: State law mandates that there is no deductible applied to windshield repairs or replacements. The replacement won’t cost you anything but time!

Glass replacement can range in cost depending upon the shape, size, and availability of the windshield. Total cost of replacement might be less than your deductible, if it applies, and not worth filing. For others, it may be well worth filing a claim.

There was no need to alter our travel plans as we were staying several days at the delightful Durango RV Resort.

We started coordinating the windshield replacement by contacting our insurance company and Midtown RV, our Newmar dealer in Penticton, British Columbia, where we had previously booked a service appointment.

We opted to file through our insurance company, as we knew the windshield replacement cost would exceed our $2,500 deductible.

Midtown RV, Newmar and Airstream dealer in Penticton, British Columbia  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Midtown RV, Newmar and Airstream dealer in Penticton, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We had Midtown RV order the windshield replacement and set us up with an appointment at nearby Sunshine Glass and Mirror to coincide with our service appointment.

Sunshine Glass has many years experience replacing motorhome windshields and understands that RV glass is not the same as passenger vehicle auto glass and is treated differently. We have used them on several previous occasions and found their service to be prompt and efficient. Following the replacement we are advised not to extend the hydraulic jacks or drive the motorhome until the following day. It’s okay to extend the slides.

The following day we’re on the road again.

Worth Pondering…

The only aspect of our travels that is interesting to others is disaster.

—Martha Gellman

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Airstream Interstate Remains Top Selling Class B Motorhome

Jackson Center, Ohio-based Airstream announced the brand’s popular Interstate is the top selling Class B diesel motorhome in the U.S. for the third year in a row, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. Brand Market Share Report, which details total sales of diesel and gas class B models.

Airstream Interstate exterior
Airstream Interstate exterior

In 2014, Airstream Interstate unit sales increased 30.2 percent over 2013—nearly 8 percent higher than the overall B Van segment growth which was up 22.8 percent year over year. The Interstate now has 33.7 percent market share of the diesel class B segment.

“The momentum we have seen over the past three years is incredible,” said Airstream CEO and President Bob Wheeler, in a company news release.

“The collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and Airstream combines the best of two iconic and luxurious brands.”

The Airstream Interstate motorhome continues the tradition of extraordinary design and handcrafted quality that has made Airstream the leader in luxury RVs for 83 years. It serves as a fuel-efficient, luxurious and safe way for travelers to explore the open road and includes nearly 50 “Best in Class” features, enhancements, and a renewed commitment to safety and refined luxury.

The Interstate has a starting MSRP of $149,031.

“Interstate continues to lead sales for all Mercedes-Benz Sprinter-based platform models in the class B diesel space,” said Justin Humphreys, VP of Sales for Airstream.

Airstream Interstate interior
Airstream Interstate interior

“In fact, when looking at the market scope data from Stat Surveys, our Interstate van sold 76 percent more than the top class B gas model. Considering our premium position, this success is extraordinary and is a testament to both industry-leading luxury features combined with the industry’s best dealers.”

Airstream had a record-setting 2014, making it the best-selling year in the company’s 83-year history, and the third year of record sales in a row. The demand for Airstream’s design-driven products led to the company’s largest backlog in more than 30 years and plant expansions for both its van and travel trailer production facilities.

The Airstream Interstate is available in three models: Interstate Lounge XLT (starting at $151,736), Interstate Grand Tour XLT (starting at $151,736), and Interstate Lounge (starting at $149,031)

A fourth touring coach from Airstream, the Autobahn starting at ($134,906), is a luxury van, perfect for corporate travelers who place a premium on productivity, or for family road trippers in search of comfort and relaxation.

Airstream Interstate exterior
Airstream Interstate exterior

Your Airstream dealer in Western Canada is Midtown RV in the heart of the beautiful Okanagan Valley in Penticton.

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Winnebago Industries, Inc

Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries, Inc., “The Most Recognized Name In Motor Homes”, is a leading U.S. manufacturer of recreation vehicles, which are used primarily in leisure travel and outdoor recreation activities.

The Company builds quality motorhomes, travel trailers, and fifth wheel products under the Winnebago, Itasca, Era, SunnyBrook, and Metro brand names.

Winnebago Industries has received the Quality Circle Award from the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association every year since the award’s inception in 1996.

Postal Address: P.O. Box 152, Forest City, IA 50436

Street Address: 605 West Crystal Lake Road, Forest City, IA 50436

Phone: (641) 585-3535

Winnebago Website: gowinnebago.com

Itasca Website: goitasca.com

goLife Website: www.winnebagolife.com

Worth Pondering…

Airstream Song

Sometimes I wish I lived in airstream homemade curtains
Lived just like a gypsy.
Break a heart, roll out of town
Cause gypsies never get tied down
—Lyrics by Miranda Lambert, Natalie Nicole Hemby, Natalie Hemby, Miranda Lambert; sung by Miranda Lamber

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Motorhome Driving Is Easier With Comfort Drive

For many, getting behind the wheel of a motorhome isn’t the pleasurable experience it should be.

Comfort Drive-logo-horz
Comfort Drive creates the ultimate combination of advanced technology and intelligent design.

Maneuvering in and out of tight spaces can be a chore, while maintaining control at highway speeds—especially in the midst of a crosswind—can be downright difficult.

Several years ago, the engineers at Nappanee, Indiana-based Newmar Corp decided to change all of that. The result was one of the biggest steering breakthroughs the RV industry has ever seen—Newmar Comfort Drive Steering System.

What is Comfort Drive?

Comfort Drive Steering is an intelligent steering system that decreases driver fatigue often associated with operating a typical diesel pusher over long distances. It also aids a driver to maintain a straight path by compensating for cross-winds and crowns in the road.

Comfort Drive creates a positive on-center feel which reduces parking efforts and improves reversibility when backing up a motorhome.

With Comfort Drive, you’ll exert less effort turning the wheel when you drive, back up, and turn. This advanced technology responds to your steering—then makes your driving experience easier.

2015 King Aire 4553 Florence Interior and Sable Maple Cabinetry
2015 King Aire 4553 Florence Interior and Sable Maple Cabinetry

Comfort Drive removes friction from the steering process so you steer with a light grip, making long trips less tiring. It makes your motorcoach handle more like a car with a self-straightening wheel and lane change sensor adjustments that make it easy to stay in a lane once you’ve committed to it, even at high speeds.

With Comfort Drive you can fine-tune the system’s resistance and responsiveness with a touch of the adjustable Comfort Drive controls right on the dash.

Enhanced Comfort

2015 LondonAire Front
2015 LondonAire Front

By actively adapting to your steering inputs while eliminating friction, Comfort Drive lets you steer with a light grip that won’t leave you feeling sore and fatigued after a long trip.

With Comfort Drive, you’ll exert less effort turning thanks to a self-straightening wheel that makes parking and navigating tight spaces easy.

Experience Comfort Drive for Yourself

Newmar first introduced the Comfort Drive Steering System on its 2007 Luxury products.

Comfort Drive is now available throughout the entire Newmar diesel and luxury line, which includes:

  • Ventana LE
  • Ventana
  • Dutch Star
  • Mountain Aire
  • London Aire
  • Essex
  • King Aire

Test drive Comfort Drive today and experience the Newmar Difference for yourself.

Your Western Canada Newmar dealer is Midtown RV in the sunny Southern Okanagan community of Penticton.

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Newmar Corp

NEWMAR: When You Know The Difference

Newmar Corp image001Established in 1968 Newmar is an innovator and leader in the RV manufacturing industry and recognized for its excellence in quality.

Newmar Corp is privately owned and has a dealer network that spans across the United States and Canada.

Newmar Corp is located at 355 N. Delaware Street, Nappanee, Indiana.

Newmar Corp currently manufactures Class A gas motorhomes (Bay Star Sport, Bay Star, and Canyon Star), Class A diesel motorhomes (Ventana LE, Ventana, and Dutch Star), and luxury Class A diesel motorhomes (Mountain Aire, London Aire, Essex, and King Aire).

Address: 355 N. Delaware Street, PO Box 30, Nappanee, Indiana 46550-0030

Phone: (800) 860-0086

Website: www.newmarcorp.com

Worth Pondering…
In every thought and action, think excellence.

—Byrd Bagget

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Birth of Airstream & Wally Byam

From its humble beginnings, Airstream, manufacturer of the iconic “silver bullet” travel trailer, has become an American icon. But, how did this successful company come about?

Wally Byam pulls his '30s Airstream in a promo.
Wally Byam pulls his ’30s Airstream in a promo.

The history of Airstream is intertwined with the journey of the man who made it all possible—Wally Byam.

A self-made man, Byam was born on July 4, 1896. His love of traveling was deeply engraved upon him throughout extensive travels with his grandfather. During this time, Byam also worked as a shepherd and lived in a two-wheeled shepherd’s cart.

His humble beginnings were by no means a reflection of the successful future that lay ahead, as well as the attention his designs would garner from not only the North American and European public, but also celebrities that include Hollywood star Matthew McConaughey.

Byam decided to step foot into the world of motorhomes because he felt inspired to build his own travel trailer. His first endeavor consisted of writing an article, including plans on how to build a travel trailer for under $100, a mode of new transport, which received considerable attention.

Another factor in Byam’s success was developments in the U.S. during the 1920s. Americans were developing an interest in traveling on the improved road system. With this boom in holiday travel, Byam seized the opportunity by selling his sets of plans for five dollars each. He also started building trailers in his back yard in Los Angeles.

Create only memories with an Airstream
Create only memories with an Airstream

Surviving the big crash of 1926, a year later Byam had abandoned his previous career of advertising and publishing to concentrate on being a full-time builder of Masonite travel trailers and the Airstream Company was subsequently incorporated in 1931.

It was five years later, on 17 January 1936, that the Airstream Trailer Co. released the Clipper and the brand, Airstream, was placed onto the map. The Clipper was of similar design to the Road Chief, a trailer previously designed by former aircraft designer, Hawley Bowlus. However, the Clipper had one distinct difference—the door was positioned on the side.

Able to sleep four comfortably, the Clipper boasted an advanced insulation and ventilation system—unheard of at the time—and sold for $1,200. Despite being of premium price, people bought the Clipper in droves and the subsequent deluge of orders proved to be somewhat problematic.

However, owing to the popularity of the Clipper, Airstream managed to survive the effect of the Great Depression and flourished, whereas the additional 400 plus travel trailer manufacturers became doomed.

Upon America’s involvement in World War II, the price of materials required for travel trailers skyrocketed and leisure travel waned. Airstream closed its doors temporarily and Byam concentrated his efforts on aluminum fabricating in the aircraft industry.

Airstream 3370040def3bede4
Find your next adventure in an Airsteram!

In 1948, following the end of the war, the economy bounced back, as did recreational travel. Byam reopened Airstream and business began to boom. Four years later, the company set up a production facility in Ohio to cater for the eastern market and the Californian factory previously set up was moved to larger facilities to cope with greater demand.

In 1956, Byam traveled to Europe in a Gold Anodized trailer, towed by a Cadillac. It was a successful publicity stunt that saw people take note of the Airstream. Sadly, however, Byam developed a brain tumor six years later and died. The Airstream brand, however, has not.

The luxury recreational vehicle, now owned by Thor Industries, flourishes today with renewed vigor. Due to the increasing popularity of the “silver bullet” trailers numerous Airstream-only RV parks have developed over the years for WBCCI (Wally Byam Caravan Club International) rallies and other Airstream enthusiasts. Scattered throughout the U.S. from Texas to Minnesota (Minnesota Airstream Park), Washington to Florida, and Pennsylvania to Georgia, Airstream owners are welcomed with attractive camping rates.

Airstream Interstate Class B motorhome exterior
Airstream Interstate Class B motorhome exterior

It’s not just those of us who appreciate the Airstream mystique that have benefited, though. In 1969, following their return from the Moon, the crew of Apollo 11 were quarantined in an airtight Airstream trailer for fear they had also brought back lunar pathogens with them. NASA still incorporates the Airstream into the running of their facilities today and has aptly dubbed the model they use, the Airstream Excella, the Astrovan.

The next time an Airstream zooms by, spare a thought for Wally Byam, the man who started it all. Then head to your nearest Airstream dealer to check out the latest iconic “silver bullet” trailers and the top selling Class B motorhome, the Airstream Interstate.

Worth Pondering…

I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band,
I saw a needle that winked its eye.
But I think I will have seen everything
When I see an Airstream fly.

—music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington, in Dumbo

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Airstream Announces List of Top Dealers

Jackson Center, Ohio-based Airstream announced its top U.S. dealer rankings based on retail units sold between May 2013 and May 2014 during the company’s dealer meeting in Charleston, South Carolina.

Airstream 44813a1b04afd132Airstream’s “Top Dealer” winner, Colonial Airstream, is a family owned dealership and leads retail sales in both the touring coach and travel trailer classes.

Based in Lakewood, New Jersey, Colonial has dedicated sales staff for Airstream that provides industry leading sales support and exceptional service after the sale.

Airstream awarded the “Top Dealer Group” for multiple locations to Adventures Northwest, with locations in Boise, Idaho; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, California; and Seattle, Washington. Airstream Adventures Northwest is a an Airstream exclusive dealer offering both sales and service.

“We currently have the strongest dealer body we have had in many years from top to bottom,” said Airstream President and CEO Bob Wheeler, in a company news release.

“And it gives us great pleasure to honor these top performers. They epitomize what it takes to top the list: passion, focus, and a commitment to customer satisfaction.”

In the past three years, Airstream has taken a retail-focused approach to its dealer channel focusing on tools and training that will help make their dealer partners successful.

Airstream 3370040def3bede4“This retail focus continues to drive success as the 10th largest retail dealer five years ago would only be the 26th largest dealer in this year’s ranking,” said Wheeler.

“The success is a real tribute to the commitment Airstream dealers have made over the past three years.”

In early 2014, Wheeler attributed the brand’s committed dealer network to Airstream’s record-breaking 2013 sales, which placed production levels at a nearly all-time high. The demand for Airstream’s design-driven products led to the largest backlog the company experienced in more than 30 years.

Other recognized leaders include:

Top 10 Airstream dealers ranked by travel trailer retail units sold:

Colonial Airstream – Lakewood, New Jersey

Bay Area Airstream Adventures – Fairfield, California

Airstream Adventures Northwest – Gladstone, Oregon

Airstream Adventures Northwest – Covington, California

Airstream Interstate Class B motorhome exterior
Airstream Interstate Class B motorhome exterior

Airstream Los Angeles – San Gabriel, California

Camper Clinic II – Buda, Texas

Windish RV – Lakewood, Colorado

Airstream Orange County – Westminster, California

Airstream Adventures Northwest- Nampa, California

Toscano RV – Los Banos, California

Top 10 Airstream Dealers ranked by touring coach retail units sold:

Colonial Airstream – Lakewood, New Jersey

Camper Clinic II – Buda, Texas

Tied for 3rd – North Trail RV, Fort Myers, Florida, and Vogt RV, Fort Worth, Texas

Tied for 5th – Bay Area Airstream Adventures, Fairfield, California, and Schumacher, Phoenix, Arizona

Tied for 7th – Arbogast RV, Troy, Ohio, Airstream Los Angeles–San Gabriel, California, and

Airstream Adventures Northwest–Gladstone, Oregon

Tied for 10th – Airstream Adventures Northwest, Covington, California, and Airstream Orange County, Westminster, California

In addition to the recognition of the top selling dealerships, Airstream also honored dealers for service and parts excellence, including:

Service Excellence: Airstream Adventures Northwest–Gladstone, Oregon, and Airstream of Spokane

Top Parts Dealer: Out of doors Mart

In Western Canada your Airstream dealer is Midtown RV, located in the beautiful Okanagan Valley of British Columbia.

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Airstream

Airstream-logo-newAirstream, maker of the iconic “silver bullet” travel trailer, is the oldest recreational vehicle manufacturer in North America.

Following founder Wally Byam’s credo, “Let’s not make changes, let’s only make improvements” Airstream has remained a timeless classic.

A division of Thor Industries, Airstream is based in Jackson Center, Ohio.

Address: 419 West Pike Street, P.O. Box 629, Jackson Center, OH 45334-0629

Phone: (877) 596-6111 (toll free)

Website: airstream.com

Worth Pondering…

I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band, I saw a needle that winked its eye. But I think I will have seen everything When I see an Airstream fly.

—music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington, in Dumbo

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Newmar Recognizes Outstanding Customer Service

Nappanee, Indiana-based Newmar Corporation announced the names of its dealers being recognized for providing excellent customer service during the past year.

Mahlon Miller, left, is the founder of Newmar Corp. He has been named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the History of the RV Industry” by RV Business Magazine. With him is Matthew Miller, president of the company.
Mahlon Miller, left, is the founder of Newmar Corp. He has been named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the History of the RV Industry” by RV Business Magazine. With him is Matthew Miller, president of the company.

The Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) Award is presented to dealers who scored in a predetermined percentile based on results from customer surveys.

Fourteen Newmar dealers earned this coveted award by providing excellent customer service to Newmar customers receiving warranty work, according to a company news release.

The 2013 award winners include:

Ansley RV, Duncansville, Pennsylvania (repeat winner)

Beckley’s Camping Center, Thurmont, Maryland

Buddy Gregg Motorhomes, Knoxville, Tennessee (repeat winner)

Coachlight RV Sales Inc., Carthage, Missouri (repeat winner)

Dick Gore’s RV World, Jacksonville, Florida (repeat winner)

Freedom RV, Tucson, Arizona (repeat winner)

Guaranty RV Center, Junction City, Oregon

Independence RV Sales & Service, Winter Garden, Florida (repeat winner)

Midtown RV LTD, Penticton, British Columbia (repeat winner)

Midtown RV President, George Stayberg, and son Kalvin © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Midtown RV President, George Stayberg, and son Kalvin © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Midway Motor Homes Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan (repeat winner)

Mount Comfort RV, Greenfield, Indiana (repeat winner)

Steinbring Motorcoach, Garfield, Minnesota (repeat winner)

Tom Johnson Camping Center, Marion, North Carolina (repeat winner)

VR St-Cyr, St. Mathieu De Beloeil, Quebec

“Newmar feels this award is important because we value how our mutual customers are treated and that the service experience is a positive one,” said Matt Utley, Newmar’s vice president of service operations.

“Newmar is pleased with the customer support provided by our dealer partners. As confirmed by their customers, the dealers earning this award possess a strong commitment of customer satisfaction that permeates through their entire organization. We are proud of their achievements.”

Four dealers this year also earned the Mahlon Miller Service Excellence Award. Miller is the founder of Newmar and the award in his name recognizes those dealerships that most embody the spirit of customer service, said Utley.

This elite group of winners includes:

Ansley RV, Duncansville, Pennsylvania

Coachlight RV Sales Inc., Carthage, Missouri

Guaranty RV Center, Junction City, Oregon

Steinbring Motorcoach, Garfield, Minnesota

Midtown RV has received the Newmar Customer Service Award for the past eleven years from 2003 to 2013. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Midtown RV has received the Newmar Customer Service Award for the past eleven years from 2003 to 2013. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are no repeat winners of the Mahlon Miller Service Excellence Award.

“Mr. Miller and the entire Miller family have a passion for customers,” Utley added.

“Through his guidance and leadership, customer service will be forever engrained into the fabric of Newmar.”

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Newmar Corporation

NEWMAR: When You Know The Difference

Newmar Corp image001Established in 1968 Newmar is an innovator and leader in the RV manufacturing industry and recognized for its excellence in quality.

Newmar Corp is privately owned and has a dealer network that spans across the United States and Canada.

Newmar Corp is located at 355 N. Delaware Street, Nappanee, Indiana.

Newmar Corp currently manufactures Class A gas motorhomes (Bay Star Sport, Bay Star, and Canyon Star), Class A diesel motorhomes (Ventana LE, Ventana, and Dutch Star), and luxury Class A diesel motorhomes (Mountain Aire, Essex, and King Aire).

Address: 355 N. Delaware Street, PO Box 30, Nappanee, Indiana 46550-0030

Phone: (800) 860-0086

Website: www.newmarcorp.com

Worth Pondering…

In every thought and action, think excellence.

—Byrd Bagget

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Newmar Introduces VIP Delivery

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

Newmar Corp image001At the same time, because of the amount of premium technology and long list of features you’ll find on your brand new motor coach—from the flush-mount entertainment center on the Canyon Star to the Sony S-Pad tablet in the King Aire—you may feel a bit overwhelmed the first time you step inside, even if you consider yourself to be an experienced RVer.

That’s why Newmar has created what they call VIP Delivery, according to a company news story.

With VIP Delivery, you’ll get to know your Newmar inside and out, so you can begin enjoying every aspect of your new motorhome before you hit the road.

What is VIP Delivery?

Newmar_vipVIP Delivery is a program available to anyone taking delivery of a Newmar motor coach. Once their expert team is finished building your new RV and every box on their seven-page pre-delivery inspection packet has been checked, you’ll be invited to the factory headquarters in Nappanee, Indiana to spend a week getting comfortable with your new motorhome.

From the day you arrive, you’ll be assigned to an experienced technician who will guide you every step of the way, helping you learn everything you need to know and more to get the most out of your Newmar motor coach.

At night, you’ll be able to take your motorhome outside and park in Newmar’s well-appointed full-service campground to spend some quality time with your vehicle. In the morning, your Newmar technician will answer any and all questions that may have arisen overnight.

Anything that exists and functions within your newly-built motor coach can be explained in as much detail as you’d like, right before your eyes. From the electronics and appliances to the furniture and fixtures—even the engine and chassis—Newmar will make sure you depart from the factory knowing just how to operate and enjoy every aspect of your new coach.

What about after I leave?

Newmar-factory-toursOnce you’ve left to begin enjoying life in your new motorhome, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re protected by a dependable warranty that’s accompanied by the highest level of owner service and support in the industry.

Newmar takes pride in the fact that they treat their customers like family. They look to build a relationship with each and every Newmar owner by providing direct support 24 hours a day 7 days a week. They pledge to take ownership of any issue you may have with your coach right from the start, so that your problem may be solved quickly—no finger pointing, no blame shifting.

Newmar will even let you inside their service facility to see the work being done on your RV firsthand.

It’s all a part of The Newmar Difference.

Midtown RV, located in the heart of British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley, is Canada’s number one dealer in sales and service.

2014 Newmar King Aire luxury motor coach
2014 Newmar King Aire luxury motor coach

To locate your nearest Newmar dealer, click here.

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Newmar Corp.

NEWMAR: When You Know The Difference

Established in 1968 Newmar is an innovator and leader in the RV manufacturing industry and recognized for its excellence in quality.

Newmar Corp is privately owned and has a dealer network that spans across the United States and Canada.

Newmar Corp is located at 355 N. Delaware Street, Nappanee, Indiana.

Newmar Corp currently manufactures Class A gas motorhomes (Bay Star Sport, Bay Star, and Canyon Star), Class A diesel motorhomes (Ventana LE, Ventana, and Dutch Star), and luxury Class A diesel motorhomes (Mountain Aire, Essex, and King Aire).

Address: 355 N. Delaware Street, PO Box 30, Nappanee, IN 46550-0030

Phone: (800) 860-0086

Website: newmarcorp.com

Worth Pondering…

In every thought and action, think excellence.

—Byrd Bagget

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