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Old 12-01-2007, 05:51 PM   #1
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National RV Gone?

It looks like that big campground in the sky is filling up fast. I hope there's not others hoping to get there soon:

http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fu...9.cfm#20659629

Jon
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Old 12-02-2007, 06:51 AM   #2
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that's a real shame,at the rate things are going there will soon only be a handful of manufacturers left.
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Old 12-02-2007, 09:23 AM   #3
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Companies that produce "QUALITY" RV's are struggling and or shuting down, and ones that produce quanity not quality are flourishing. It's a real shame that the american people are being brainwashed to accept this way of thinking.
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Old 12-02-2007, 09:41 AM   #4
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Mark
Its the WALMART-ing of another business. Only the large will survive

Price sells, to the masses, where they will need to save money for gas .

There are still manufacturers of coaches which are not price sensitive, but they tend to be diesel pushers with marble, Corian, gold leaf etc.
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Old 12-02-2007, 09:43 AM   #5
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Wow, I just read all of the posts in that thread. A surprise, no, a shame, yes. Just goes to show you what kind of trouble we (this country) are in. Something is going to give.
Also, I had no idea that Fleetwood was in financial trouble. I'm not surprised though. I've looked a many Fleetwood modles over the years and thought that most of them were of sub standard quality.
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Old 12-02-2007, 09:56 AM   #6
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I was just reading Kittys post here about quantity over quality. A few months ago I spoke to the owner of a dealership that sold Sunlines and 2 other brands of coach. We talked a little about the closing of Sunline and he told me the exact problem with Sunline. He told me, loosely quoted. "I sold Sunline trailers for more than 25 years, and they were a great trailer." The only problem was that I, like most dealers, sold more than one brand." "When a customer was looking over the lot and saw a Sunline and a Brand X with the same floor plan, and the Sunline cost $3-$5K more it was hard to sell the Sunline." "I told them that the Sunline was a better built, high end coach, but most of the time they wouldn't see the superiority of the Sunlines quality through the dollar signs in their eyes." "The difference in price wasn't justified to the average buyer, because money is the bottom line."
I guess to each his own, but I know I'd rather pay a little more for something that I think will last and cause less headaches than save a few bucks. Both my Dad and Grandfather always told me; You get what you pay for, and if it's seems to good to be true, it probably is.
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Old 12-02-2007, 01:49 PM   #7
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Happy Camper, you just hit the nail on the head. I had discussed this same situation with my local dealer even before Sunline closed their doors, and he told me the same exact information that you had received. He sold several other brands, as well as Coleman P/Us, and he said many folks are looking for the cheapies, so the Sunlines just sat on the lot for the most part. However, to me, it was well worth the extra investment to purchase a quality product that I knew would be trouble free and most enjoyable for travel and camping. Sunline is still one of the best by far!
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Old 12-03-2007, 10:34 AM   #8
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The day mdfiregal and I bought our Sunline, we had a friend who was working at another dealer show us a trailer (I don't remember the make) that was almost identical in layout to our T-276SR. It was about $5K less and you could tell why. I was sitting on the couch just "listening" as other people looked at the trailer and all you could "hear" was cheap. Squeaks, cabinets that sounded like the doors would snap off if you closed them hard, etc. The final straw was when I stood up and pressed up on the ceiling and the ENTIRE roof moved up at least two inches. Mdfiregal looked over at me, shook her head, and we went straight to the two Sunline dealers and started negotiations..two hours later the rest is history Of course, a year later, Sunline and our dealer are both out of business.
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Old 12-03-2007, 06:14 PM   #9
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Just saw on the NBC news tonight that new RV sales are down about 9-10% for 07 and projected to be down another 5% in 08. Part of the story was that where the RV industry goes, so goes the economy. Apparently the RV industry is a pretty good early indicator of what the overall economy will do.
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Old 12-04-2007, 10:10 AM   #10
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Seems cheap sells. I read that Fleetwood, in my opinion already the builder of some of the worst rv's, is shutting down production in the US and moving it to Mexico. I am sure they will pass on the labor cost savings to the consumer. My wife and I are doing our best to buy only products manufactured in the United States, though it is difficult we are having luck. We even found Christmas ornaments at Walmart of all places made in the US. Now if only I could find a "Made in the USA" label on clothing purchased at two of our favorite sources, Lands End and LL Bean.
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Old 12-05-2007, 06:58 PM   #11
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Indy-Jim,
It's a shame more people couldn't see past the $$$ signs and look for quality. I've been a Sunline fan since I was 5 and my grandparents bought a 1985 T-2250 brand new from Martin's Camper Sales in New Kingstown, PA. They had bought a similar trailer by Fleetwood about 4 months prior, and promptly traded it for the Sunline. They used it for years and sold it when they bought a sail yacht in the early '90's. I hope it's still being used. Lots of fond memories, and I guess it stuck.
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Old 12-06-2007, 07:57 AM   #12
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Very interesting topic. The quality-vs-cost tradeoff is one that every family makes when looking at RVs. The best balance isn't necessary heavy on the quality side. If you're, say, a family starting out in RVing, a cheap, no-frills outfit might be the best choice. Sure, you'll most likely end up doing more maintenance and making more repairs than you would with a better built unit, but that doesn't mean you're not getting your money's worth, especially if you want to keep your RVing habit budget friendly. I can't say our hybrid was particularly well made, but it did the job and didn't break the bank.

So it's easy to see why lower cost units are popular. But this leads to the question: How big a market is there for high-quality campers? Maybe what we're seeing is a natural shakeout of the travel trailer market where less sturdy companies go out of business (business practices being independent of build quality) leaving better run companies picking up the slack. I don't know this for a fact, but it appears that Nash/Artic Fox and Sunnybrook are doing fine and Airstream seems to sell plenty of units. We may be seeing a situation where too many companies are chasing to little money for high build quality.

The most interesting question here is what will happen as a result of the mass retirement of affluent boomers? One would think that this would reverse the argument made here: boomer money should keep high-quality builders afloat. Instead, I'm wondering if these folks will skip travel trailers entirely and choose those huge Class As and converted buses. It may be my imagination, but my impression is that there are more of the really huge rigs on the road than ever before. High fuel prices aren't putting a dent in this trend as far as I can tell.

Of course, if we hit $100 per barrel for oil the rules may change.
Don
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:35 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donreitz
I'm wondering if these folks will skip travel trailers entirely and choose those huge Class As and converted buses. It may be my imagination, but my impression is that there are more of the really huge rigs on the road than ever before. High fuel prices aren't putting a dent in this trend as far as I can tell.
I think you're right, Don. However, from what I see, not many of the older generation travels very much. I think this may change as the boomers start to retire, but right now, the current retirees like to go places and stay a while, say 2-3 months. When they travel, they take it easy and take their time getting places. I'm around a RV resort quite a bit of the summer that has many of these type of RVers around. The park is only open from May 1 to October 31, so they must go south for the winter. Many people I know will take a few weeks to do this. Some will take side trips while in route like going out west or going out east. They usually leave just after Labor Day and take a month or so to travel some. It really makes sense because all the attractions are quite dead since families are tied up with school schedules at that point. Just as Pat & Cindy do, the snowbirds will head to a more southern attraction if the weather gets too cold.

I do believe the fuel prices will have an effect in the long run. Either way, I think people will do more sitting and commuting between locations and nix the long side trips.

Jon
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Old 12-06-2007, 09:25 AM   #14
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I think Chuck has hit the nail on the head. The RV industry goes as the economy goes. The economy is suffering with the housing slump and high fuel prices. If people are losing there houses or the perception is people are losing there houses. People will cut back on there discretionary spending RV, Boats and the like. Plus flying is cheaper than driving, I personally hate the flying experience.

I think there my be something else at play here also. Not all cheaper items are cheaper quality. I am a violinist and you can buy a chinnese violin for 2000.00 that plays and sounds like a 10000.00 european model. It isnt all junk. Granted there is a ton of junk coming from overseas. People dont expect things to last as long. Let me you give you an example. We all remember the the old rotary phones, they lasted forever. But we get rid of our cell phones every couple of years. It is cheaper to buy a new one in most cases that it is to fix .
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Old 12-06-2007, 10:29 AM   #15
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Good points from the two of you. I'm wondering, however, if the closure of higher quality camper builders isn't so much a consequence of a cyclical economy as it's a result of the demographic fact of boomers with money retiring in large numbers. That is, the loss of customers for Sunline and others isn't just part of a general economic decline translating to fewer RV sales but also a fundamental shift in the industry away from relatively expensive Sunline-type units and toward more opulent RVs. With a shrinking customer base, larger companies with more resources like Artic Fox/Nash and Sunnybrook could survive while smaller companies like Sunline would not.

Boomers as a cohort have a definite influence on the economy and this influence changes as the boomers age. Ten years ago you saw relatively few advertisements with older characters in them. Nor were ads for drugs--especially those to treat problems of older age--very prevalent. That's changed as boomers spend more of their money on drugs and other items associated with growing older (cell phones with large screens, walk-in bathtubs and lots of other things). Why shouldn't boomer tastes have an influence on the RV industry?

This may be way too heavy for a Thursday afternoon.
Don
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Old 12-06-2007, 11:44 AM   #16
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All of these previous postings are very relevant. We camp extensively in a campground North of Richmond, Indiana, and on holiday weekends, the campground fills up totally. We sit and watch folks pull in to camp and it seems that the younger crowd goes for the pop-ups and other less expenxive types of units (I won't use the word cheap), and a lot of older folks pull in with these humongous, outfitted to the hilt Class A's, complete with pretty expensive toads. The folks in the middle of these classes tend to go for higher quality travel travel trailers and 5th wheels. Those notations, however, are not scribed in stone since there are exceptions to all thinking. I talked to my RV dealer some time ago in regard to how the sale of Class A's would be affected due to the gasoline cost situation and he stated that anyone that can afford one of the "castle on wheels" class A's certainly would not be concerned about gas prices. I had to agree on that one. It may take some time for all this to shake out to see how the future of the RV industry survives. As for us, we are really glad we bought the Sunlines when we did and are going to enjoy every mile we cover in our '04 model.
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Old 12-06-2007, 06:17 PM   #17
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Comparing Sunline to Sunnybrook isn't the best example out there. Sunnybrook has two lines of lower priced units. They have the entry level Sunset Creek, and the middle of the road Brookside unit. My wife an I almost ordered a Brookside fiver before we found the Sunline. They offer a wider variety of product line for the different customer bases. My favorite local dealer (where I bought the T-295SR) Kennedy RV and Powersports offers the Sunnybrook line. I know the majority of the trailers they have in stock in the Sunnybrook brand are the Sunset Creeks. Also Northwoods RV, makers of Nash, and Artic Fox have closed their East Coast plant in the past few months. They are only producing RVs in California. Kennedy used to also carry the Nash line but due to high shipping costs to get the units from CA they have dropped the line like most other East Coast dealers. I'm not an economic analyst or anything, but I'm beginning to see a trend. Sunline did try to breach the cheaper market for a few years with the Sole' line of trailers. Come to mention it I haven't seen any sections devoted the the Sole' owners, or even seen any trace of an owner here. Jon, how long did they manufacture the Sole'. I remember looking at one in around 2003 at Martin's Camper Sales. Very bland, cheap looking thing, no offence to anyone who owns one. We almost traded the 2053 on a T-2753SR then, but it wasn't in the budget at the time, so we bought the ill fated Airstream instead.
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Old 12-06-2007, 09:54 PM   #18
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Lowell,

They produced the Sole in the 2004 and 2005 model years. I think they soon realized that people were rebelling at how they looked, so I'm guessing they renamed the model "S Series" for the 2006 model year. I think they basically kept the interior the same, but they made the exterior look very very similar to the Solaris line. What started out as a great idea by the old owners (but it did need a little tweeking), quickly got ruined by the new owners. Also, I think Sunline might have been a little ahead of their time with the Sole model. If they built that same coach, with a few more "ammenities", as a lightweight aluminum framed coach today, it could be direct competition with the Sunset Creek.

Jon
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Past Sunlines: '97 T-2653 #5089, '94 T-2251, '86 T-1550, '94 T-2363, '98 T-270SR
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