Are Stick Built Small RVs going to kill fiberglass RVs? - Page 7 - Fiberglass RV

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Old 02-19-2016, 05:21 PM   #85
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Originally Posted by MarkyVasquez View Post
"You can have the best product in the world, but if nobody knows about it, what good is it?"
The Austin RV Expo, one of the biggest in Texas, is happening this weekend. I was looking at the pictures on Facebook and in one of them is the 17 foot Bigfoot and the Bigfoot Camper from Canada.
It's a shame Casita wasn't there. Their factory is only about 150 miles away.

I wonder if Bigfoot the manufacturer was displaying the trailer at the show or if it was a local dealer with a nice Bigfoot trailer in their inventory showing the trailer at the show?

As far as advertising and showing your product to potential customers when your current production is already sold out can cut both ways.

GREAT for people to see your product.

BAD for those that want to buy your product.

One of the best ways I know to piss off a new to your market potential customer is to show them an item/product that they cannot purchase at any price OR have that customer put down a deposit to order your product and then wait a LONG time for delivery of that product!

Until the big 3 egg trailer manufacturer's have excess capacity or are ready to make a huge change their business model to manufacture in stock inventory to sell through RV dealer's they are smart to stay away from industry and retail RV trade shows.

Just my opinion!

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Old 02-19-2016, 07:23 PM   #86
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I also agree that most "shows" I've attended are dealers, not the manufacturer, per se.

I've only toured the Scamp and Casita facilities. The Casita facility is very small and quite cramped. It is an incredibly tiny affair compared to the any of the mega groups like Forest River. One might ask to interview the controlling persons at Casita to get more information about their business model and future plans for expansion, if any such plans exist. There's nothing to indicate that Casita is driven to expand through increased advertising.

In Scamp's case, they continually remind people that there's is a small family run business. They fall under a certain business classification in having less than X number of employees, let's say 50. They make a good living for both the workers and the family, ie the Evelands.

Unlike a Skyline Corp or Forest River, the Evelands small family business is rooted in small town America, where the employees and owners seem to value family, church, small town friendships and eating down the road at the little hokey cafe'. In other words? A lifestyle choice and lifestyle values.

Scamp can only produce 450 units per year. That's it. They're pushed to their limits with sales, all of which are pre-sold for the next 7 months. They simply cannot or will not expand their business. This may not be a business vision that others can appreciate or understand but this is what the Evelands are doing from all appearances.

I'm not at all sure anything we say here on this or any other interweb forum is going to influence their decision. Pretty sure these possible expansion versus the "do what we do best" decision has been discussed in their family discussions, as one would expect. As outsiders, all we can discern is that they, the Evelands, are quite content with the current situation which simply doesn't require them to advertise heavily nor expand their current business model through attending RV shows around the country.

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Old 02-19-2016, 08:24 PM   #87
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Molded fiberglass trailers are a niche market. Historically, it's much easier to build trailers than to successfully market them. The archives are littered with orphaned trailers, starting with Cloud, Boler, and Burro.

Eveland's recognizes that there are economies of scale. They are as large as they can be without significant re-investment, and with an unstable market (as the RV market always is) there's no reason to expand past their current facilities when they may not have the same size market after an expansion. We live in precarious financial times.

It's not reasonable to expect these small manufacturers to have the resources to expand their production, and it doesn't make good business sense for them to do it unless they can't keep up with production for more than a couple of years. As someone said above, the Escape orders were keeping them busy, but the backlog didn't really start until the disparity in the US dollar vs. the CAD dollar. Will that trend continue? Should Escape expand based on a few months of heavy orders? I don't think that makes good business sense. They'll sell as many trailers as they can produce in their current facilities.

About ten years ago, I looked into resurrecting Burro and manufacturing them here. The logistics of just-in-time supplying of parts and the prices of off-the-shelf components for the trailers were staggeringly high in the quantities I'd have needed to buy them in compared to what Forest River or Heartland or Skyline buys them.

There are a LOT of considerations in such a volatile market. I decided not to dip my toe. My hat is off to Tammy and Reese at Escape, Jim Palmer at EggCamper and the owners of all of the new startups we've seen in the past ten years. They're taking a huge personal risk, and I admire them.
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Old 02-19-2016, 09:31 PM   #88
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Y’all got me thinking…

How do people gather information and shop today… Oh yeah… the internet!

So, I tried the search query “lightweight camping trailers” in three different search engines and here’s what I found on the first page of search results:
Google: Scamp, LivinLite, Starcraft, Lance, Eggcamper, Jayco, Casita
Yahoo: LivinLite, Scamp, Casita, Weiscraft, Parkliner
Bing: LivinLite, Scamp, Casita, Weiscraft

On the whole, molded fiberglass manufacturers seem pretty well represented. Of course the websites vary in quality, but if I were a molded fiberglass manufacturer, I think that's where I'd put my limited marketing dollars.

The key word in your search is "lightweight." How may people looking for an RV type that in? Lightweight class A motorhome, lightweight 5th wheel. And when you go to the shows which ones on your list do you see? Do people go to the Auto show to see cars not displayed there? Do they go to the Consumer Electronics Show to see something that is not there? Also how many people are willing to travel 100 miles or more to knock on some strangers door to see if they like their trailer.
Case and point. I went to the Casita showroom and they didn't have the 13ft Patriot. I was told it didn't sell. Guess what is one of Scamps best sellers. The 13ft!
Go into any other RV forum and ask about a Scamp or Casita and see the response you get. Ask what is the best lightweight trailer and see the response. Next time you go camping ask the person that has been camping all his life what is the best RV.
Both dealers and manufactures are at the RV shows.
The Internet is the information highway, but the problem with the Internet is you get 100,000 hits. After going through the first 100 pages who are you going to believe? In your search you got Scamp, Living light, Starcraft, Lance, Eggcamper, Jayco and Casita. For someone who doesn't know about fiberglass what do you think they're going to buy. They call Casita in March and are told it'll be ready by late August, the end of camping season. They also find out it only has one year of warranty. They go to a show talk to the Jayco rep and find out it theirs has a two year warranty. What do you think they are going to buy?
Like Donna said we agree to disagree. I own an FGRV. When I take it out, most of the RV community at the campsites don't know anything about it.

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Old 02-20-2016, 03:37 AM   #89
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I suppose it comes down to profitability. I have an in law who's family owns a 50 man machining company, third generation, father still alive. The son, and father, refuse to grow the company. Their sales are word of mouth only. Even through the recession and current economic situation, they remain very profitable.

Check out this site for an interesting review of the Casita company:

Casita Travel Trailers - Lots of RV in a Tiny Package

And here is another company that manufactures fiberglass travel trailers (very expensive) as a way to even out the business cycle for their fiberglass bathtub manufacturing facility:

Oliver Travel Trailer:

Oliver Travel Trailers | Fiberglass Travel Trailers

Oliver Fiberglass Products was formed by James and Evon Oliver in December of 1995. Since that time OFP has produced products such as the Oliver Travel Trailers, Safe Step© Walk-in Tubs and Showers, Bathaid© Walk-in Tubs, and Secure Spa© Tubs. We strive daily to not only ensure that our products are made with the highest standards possible, but also to find new innovative products that we can bring to our customers.

Another interesting little company:
Kermit Chair Company | The Original Touring Chair | Motorcycle Camping Chair

I talked to the owner of the company. He was ready to sell out or close down and retire. His son wants to expand, so he put up this website. Expensive, but the chair fits in the aisle of the Casita. We have two, and sit in the aisle to watch TV.

My point is that if the current operation is profitable, and the next step up requires a great deal of capital and goes beyond the comfort level (and managerial sophistication) of the owners, the owners may not want the aggravation and uncertainty that expansion and growth bring.
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Old 02-20-2016, 03:53 AM   #90
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We bought a new Honda CRV last fall. We started out wanting Honda's new HRV. If you are unfamiliar with it, it is because they don't run many ads for it. No need. Honda couldn't keep up with the demand. Dealers couldn't get them and when they did they were already sold. The local dealer offered to put us on his list. There were at least a dozen ahead of us. A sellers market. We bought the CRV instead.

Unlike trailers, motor vehicles being far more complex really require local dealerships. If you could travel a few thousand miles and save 20-30% over going to a dealer, would you? And if one company were to do business that way, they all would just to stay competitive. I would suggest that the current factory direct model for fiberglass trailers is what keeps the current manufacturers in business. If Forrest River could compete they would. Raz
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Old 02-20-2016, 06:08 AM   #91
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I really like the fact that Scamp/Casita/Bigfoot/etc are remaining relatively small companies. They've grown to what they consider to be as profitable and fulfilling of company as they desire to have, and are content to continue at this level.

One of my pet peeves in our system of economics is the publicly traded companies that demand constant growth, for growth's sake, in order to keep the board happy. How many companies go out of business because they get over-extended to meet this growth demand? How many companies get bought up and become "conglomerates" because of this constant demand for growth and diversification?

I LOVE the examples of companies that grow to an acceptable level, then just worry about maintaining quality and customer base while making everyone a decent living. I admire their restraint and lack of artificial "need" for constant growth.
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Old 02-20-2016, 06:20 AM   #92
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Well said, Lyle.
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Old 02-20-2016, 06:49 AM   #93
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Are Stick Built Small RVs going to kill fiberglass RVs?

Originally Posted by MarkyVasquez View Post
The key word in your search is "lightweight." How may people looking for an RV type that in? ...
It is, and I think it likely they would. That was the point of this thread- whether a "new-and-improved" crop of small, lightweight, non-molded trailers sold using the traditional marketing model are going to drive the direct-sale molded manufacturers out of business.

You said that people looking for small, lightweight trailers will not be aware of the molded options because they do not market at RV shows. You said that molded fiberglass manufacturers will not be able to attract new customers because they are unaware they exist.

I was trying to point out that because of the internet, more people than ever will know they exist. Anyone who does the simplest web search for a lightweight camping trailer will be connected to several molded fiberglass manufacturers.

Whether they will end up buying one because of the difficulty of getting a look at one and the long production backlogs is a separate issue. But through many upswings and downturns in the economy, enough are making the effort to keep the market segment humming along at a small but fairly stable pace.

You are correct in noting that the molded fiberglass path is littered with failed companies. That tells me two things. First, it's not as easy to make and market molded fiberglass trailers as some assume. It is a more complex, hazardous, and labor-intensive process than conventional RV construction. Second, one should not lightly dismiss the business strategy of those who are succeeding.
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Old 02-20-2016, 09:20 AM   #94
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Originally Posted by Rzrbrn View Post
Another interesting little company:
Kermit Chair Company | The Original Touring Chair | Motorcycle Camping Chair

I talked to the owner of the company. He was ready to sell out or close down and retire. His son wants to expand, so he put up this website. Expensive, but the chair fits in the aisle of the Casita. We have two, and sit in the aisle to watch TV.
We have had a couple of these chairs for about 4 years now. They are fantastic. They pack small for stowing, are well designed and comfortable (no sagging at all) and are build very well. They are the only chairs we take in the trailer with us, they have been used a lot in our backyard, have been to many music festivals (as without the leg extensions, are festival height), and they have seen many nights of use on canoe trips. Though not as pretty as they once were, they are still in excellent condition.
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Old 02-22-2016, 04:07 PM   #95
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I received another PM today from Helio RV. The stuff they use to join the FG panels is ITW Plexus "Fiberglass Fusion" Adhesives. According to ITW's fact sheet,
"> Plexus Fiberglass Fusion™ Adhesives:
n Chemically cross-link composites at the
molecular level, producing bonds so strong
that the composites will delaminate before
the bonds fail
The PM included these links:
and Plexus - Structural Adhesives

This stuff sounds pretty strong! Since there is a good amount of overlap between the panels (they aren't just butting the ends together) and the adhesive isn't being exposed to direct sunlight, I can appreciate their view that the joints should be as strong or stronger than the rest of their molded 3/16" thick panels.

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Old 02-22-2016, 04:21 PM   #96
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They just don't make fiberglass trailers like they used to.

I for one am VERY GLAD!!!

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