The RV Podcast's big new this week is the announced $300 million purchase of Tiffin Motorhomes by the giant Thor Industries, which already is the largest RV manufacturer in the world.
The purchase absorbs one of the few remaining independent family-owned RV makers, run by the Tiffin family of Alabama whose luxury motorhomes are known for attention to detail and quality construction.
Thor, which has aggressively been gobbling up numerous RV brands across the country as well as the Hymer RV company in Europe over the past few years, vows that other than accounting procedures, little will be changed as they take over Tiffin.
You can listen to the complete episode of the RV Podcast in the player below. And scroll down this page for shownotes for links and resources about all the things we talk about.
Regarding the Thor buys Tiffin story
Here’s an excerpt released by both companies of an interview between Tiffin’s owner, Bob Tiffin, age 78, and Thor’s CEO Bon Martin discussing the acquisition and what it means.
I’ve met and interviewed both Bob Tiffin and Bon Martin several times over the years I've been covering the RV Lifestyle.
Bob Tiffin is a legend in the industry for his personal attention to his customers. At RV shows, he shakes every hand he can find as folks tour his luxurious coaches, even handing out his direct phone number to those who ask.
Bon Martin is a well-respected industry veteran. I have always found him to be congenial and a straight shooter.
Tiffin Management will stay the same under Thor Ownership
And I take them both at their word that the acquisition will not change the quality or service Tiffin owners have come to expect. Bob Tiffin’s sons and even a grandson are very active in running various elements of the Tiffin company, which is one of the largest employers in the state of Alabama.
Tiffin will continue to be headquartered in Red Bay, AL, where it has been since 1972. They also have some operations in neighboring Mississippi.
“We needed a partner who we could trust would sustain all of those elements and help us grow the business in a manner that is consistent with how we’ve done business at Tiffin for nearly 50 years,” said Bob Tiffin.
“The dealers and customers who love the Tiffin brand will continue to receive the high-quality products they have grown to expect. And I am not going anywhere as I will continue to operate the Tiffin companies as I have with no timeline for change.
“My sons, Van and Tim, as well as my grandson, Leigh, will also continue to have major roles in the Tiffin business. Instead of feeling like I sold a business, I feel like we have aligned with a great company that will enable us to take Tiffin to a new level while maintaining the Tiffin culture and brand integrity that has set us apart from our competitors for years.”
Thor expects Tiffin to add Class B vans and towables
Martin, of Thor, stresses that Tiffin will “operate as stand-alone operating company within the Thor family of companies.”
But Martin sees Tiffin expanding into different RV markets besides its premier models on the Class A motorhome chassis, and more recently, it’s Wayfarer line of Class C coaches.
Martin and Thor want to move into different segments.
“Tiffin currently has no offerings in either the travel trailer or Class B segments,” he said. “Growing the great Tiffin brand name into these segments will be well-received by dealers and consumers alike.”
Now that Thor Buys Tiffin, they become even harder to compete against
So there you go.
The bottom line is Thor promises to keep Tiffin pretty much the same, even expanding. And it will continue to be managed by the Tiffin family and existing senior management team.
But make no mistake. This acquisition makes Thor Industries absolutely the most dominant force in the RV industry.
Their sheer size makes them very difficult to compete against. Thor’s collective buying clout guarantees them priority access and pricing to RV chassis, parts and components needed in the manufacturing process.
Among the most well-known brands Thor now owns are Airstream, Dutchmen, Entera, the Erwin Hymer Group, Heartland Recreational Vehicles, Highland Ridge RV, Jayco, Cruiser RV, Crossroads RVs, Keystone RV, Starcraft and Venture.
Just two weeks ago, Thor’s ToGo subsidiary bought the RVillage social media RV app and website in hopes of furthering it’s goal to be the Facebook of the RV world.
Which all goes to prove, the big just get bigger.
We wish both companies great success.
More RV Podcast News
Here's some other RV News this last week of 2020:
About 34 million fewer Americans to travel this holiday season says AAA
This Friday is Christmas (can you believe it?) and AAA is predicting about 34 million fewer Americans traveling this holiday season because of – you guessed it – COVID-19. Many Americans typically travel Dec. 23 – Jan. 2 for a vacation, but this year AAA is predicting a 29 percent drop from last year. This predicted drop is coming as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges Americans not to travel. Like at Thanksgiving, most who do decide to travel will do so by vehicle. AAA is urging all travelers to plan ahead and know the COVID restrictions on each stop on their route, as COVID-19 regulations vary significantly by state and community.
We saw an interesting story out of Ohio over the weekend about Camping World and Lordstown Motors teaming up to develop battery powered generators for camping trailers and fifth wheels. These new generators would provide quiet, emissions-free power, according to the story. And the partnership also will be working on an electric camping van. To see our list of the best camper vans – or Class B RVs – for 2021 click here.
Most state parks are continuing their first day hikes program New Year's Day, encouraging everyone to start the new year by getting outside and going on a hike. Last week we shared here how Pennsylvania canceled all organized hikes, but elsewhere around the country, it appears the popular hiking program is on, often with organized group walks and other accommodations. To see if a park new you is participating, check here.
While fire risks may not be the first thought for campers this time of year, we saw more than one story last week about extreme fire risks affecting outdoor activities in various areas out west. Texas's Guadalupe Mountains National Park is under restrictions because of an extreme fire risk expected to stay in place until Jan. 4. As always when traveling, we recommend you monitor local emergency weather situations and more. To see our story on helpful apps for any situation – bad weather, finding medical advice and much more – click here
The camping season of 2020 was one of unprecedented numbers, with many national parks and state parks setting records in the number of visitors, including campground use, reports of which we have faithfully shared here. But a story about damage to Colorado's Ice Lakes area of the San Juan Range near Silverton still shocked me. Apparently, so many people visited this delicate alpine tundra area last summer, the damage will take decades to undo. Besides people walking and parking in areas not permitted – which causes damage – people defecated outside and just left it, set campfires in areas not permitted, and even burned historic mining structures, as evidence by the nails left in the burnt remains. To see the report click here.
RV PODCAST INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
Members of our RV Lifestyle community called in their Christmas wishes. We found them very inspiring.
To hear them, move the player head below to about 30:40 into the podcast
RV PODCAST QUESTION OF THE WEEK
This week's question has to do with finding reasonably priced campgrounds for those living on Social Security
You can listen to the complete episode of the RV Podcast in the player below. Move the player head about 24:38 in to hear the question of the week
Do you have a question you’d like us to answer or a comment on the things we’re discussing? If so, we invite you to leave us that question or comment on the special voicemail number we have for the podcast – it’s 586-372-6990. If you are driving and can’t write it down right now, just go to the RV Lifestyle travel blog at rvlifestyle.com and scroll down the page. You’ll see that number prominently posted on the blog.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT
You can listen to the complete episode of the RV Podcast in the player below. Move the player head about 42:00 in to hear Tom and Patti Burkett's off the beaten path report.
PROGRAMMING NOTE for the RV PODCAST
We're taking the next week off. The next episode of the Podcast will be published Jan 6, 2021.
Until then MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!