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Old 06-08-2010, 07:09 PM   #1
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Question Why so many Brands/Models?

Just curious as to why some manufacturers have numerous models and/or brands. When I was looking @ the Forest River website before buying my 2106, there Flagstaff & Rockwood models are identical other than graphics. Is the interior content different? Comparing floorplans they would appear to be the same.

Thor has 7 divisions selling towables, 23 brands under the Keystone banner alone. Forest River has 19 (counting the forums) brands of TTs & 5ers. Critics chastised GM for having too many divisions/brands, so why so many RV brands?

I posted elsewhere & some that it was to FR's advantage to be able to have 2 different brands in a location. Well aren't they competing against each other, just like Chev & Pontiac dealers would? IMO, all it does is drive the profit margin down when people shop around.
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Old 06-08-2010, 07:48 PM   #2
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My personal idea about this is so that manufacturers can get around "dealer exclusivity" within a certain radius. So give it a different brand name and so what if the dealers are a mile apart.
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Old 06-08-2010, 10:12 PM   #3
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Old 06-08-2010, 10:18 PM   #4
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The manufacturers produce similar models with different names so their dealers can have "exclusive rights" in an area for a brand. Change the name and graphics and they can have multiple dealers in the same market selling essentially the same trailer. If you live in an area with dealers selling the various brands, you can generally play one against the other to get a better deal.
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:12 PM   #5
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The manufacturers produce similar models with different names so their dealers can have "exclusive rights" in an area for a brand. Change the name and graphics and they can have multiple dealers in the same market selling essentially the same trailer. If you live in an area with dealers selling the various brands, you can generally play one against the other to get a better deal.
Great business model if the dealer giving the best prices can still make enough money to stay afloat.

Apparently this is why in GM's dealer network "reorganisation" up here in Canada, more of the dealers were cut in cities or towns that had both Buick/Pontiac/GMC (one network) & Chev (the other network) dealerships rather than locations that had only 1 dealership. They wanted to increase the individual dealer's margins & stop people playing 2 or more dealers off each other.
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:27 PM   #6
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You have to remember that the trailer manufacturers learned from the car people. They don't manufacture much, they assemble a group of parts, frame and axles from somewhere, refer, ac, water tanks (hot, cold, black, gray), stove, furnace, sinks, toilet, etc. All made by someone else. The more we can get out, the more we can sell. If two dealer's 10 miles apart have the same unit, then let them get business by service, price, special sales, etc. It's better for us and them to force them to be a better dealer, and the manufacturer doesn't have to do anything.

The down side is, 10 miles from me I have a dealer that sells Forrest River, but not the Work and Play that I have. Forces me to drive 25 miles one way for anything I want, as he claims he can't even get the parts. That's just his loss of ANY of my potential business. Bad dealer, I don't think so, someone on here bought a unit from him and gave nothing but praise. May be he just didn't like my looks, not everyone does. Unfortunately, many are also like car dealers, if you don't want what is on the lot, they don't have time for you. Their choice, their loss.
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Old 06-09-2010, 12:33 AM   #7
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I think another factor is the recent industry expansion and then the consolidation. For a few years there anyone (literally anyone) could get approved for $50K to buy anything...

They actually had a term called a NIJA loan for a home loan (No Income, No Job, no Assets). So many RV companies expanded like mad. They had literally millions of potential new customers that didn't even own a tent.

Then the banks & wall street went TILT and the free / stupid money dried up.
Now everything seems to be consolidating, but since most RVs are made of similar materials with similar features, the folks like Forest River are buying the brand names and dealer access.
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Old 06-09-2010, 01:09 AM   #8
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Now everything seems to be consolidating, but since most RVs are made of similar materials with similar features, the folks like Forest River are buying the brand names and dealer access.
As has been posted, that the RV manufacturers are "assemblers" of outside supplied (not outsourced as they probably never built the components in the 1st place) parts, do you see the companies that have weathered the bad economy to rationalise their brands and or dealer networks?
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Old 06-09-2010, 08:41 AM   #9
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As has been posted, that the RV manufacturers are "assemblers" of outside supplied (not outsourced as they probably never built the components in the 1st place) parts, do you see the companies that have weathered the bad economy to rationalise their brands and or dealer networks?
I really have no expertise in this area, but I can guess!

My guess:

It would seem that they would want to keep the brands & dealers in the short run. If they were car companies I would say that they kill the brands, but RV's are marketed in a completely different way. When was the last time you saw an RV commercial on TV pitching a certain brand...

So long run.. I dunno.. Maybe keep them and reduce the difference to decals so they keep manufacturing costs low.

It's all a wild guess. But I figure you'll have your answer when interest rates go back up and someone with excellent credit/income is paying 12% on car/RV/home loans.
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Old 06-15-2010, 10:38 PM   #10
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I have worked with dealer management systems for a decade or so - these are accounting/inventory systems for auto, motorcycle, motorsport and rv dealerships.

In general, RV manufacturers are still in the dark ages - most, if not all manufacturers have not adopted modern technology. The few that have have been very slow at best. It is still very much a Model-T type of assembly line. They have not widely adopted microfiche for part, let alone computerized lookup and exploded assembly views. Look at FR's web sites: there is not 1 phone number, address or contact me button - this is VERY early 20th century thinking.

Most of this stuff is only sold in North America, where gas is still very cheap and vehicles sold can pull them. The rest of the planet is not going to embrace RVing as we know anytime soon, probably never. There will never be a global market for RVs - well, in my humble opinion.

The car dealership multi-brand model has served the RV biz well. But the new GM, Ford and Chrysler have been forced to change - it no longer worked with the global economy. Olds, Pontiac, Hummer, Mercury, Plymouth and the list will grow - all had to vanish.

The RVW model is shaking the foundation of the RV industry: high volume, low margin. If more of them start opening, as their customer base gets younger and more computer literate - the FRs of this world will be forced to change - but it will be a while.

My 2 cents (Canadian cents that is...)

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