Attended and RV Show - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-04-2015, 11:16 PM   #1
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Name: Lyle
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Attended and RV Show

Well, I made it to the Fall Metro Detroit RV Show in Novi on Saturday. I've been looking at and comparing fiberglass trailers since last June, but thought I should at least check out what the stick built folks had on offer.

I read up on the "tips" for attending a show. Number one tip seemed to be to decide what you are looking for, then limit your browsing to those items that closely match. Otherwise, you can waste a lot of time, and end up with something beyond what you intended on buying, or spending more than you initially wanted to spend.

My general criteria was under 3500 lb, under 18 ft, probably a single axle trailer. No sliders - don't want the weight, added mechanical complexity, and potential for leaks. No canvas extensions. No fifth wheel or motor home of any class.

While I'm not actually interested in pop-ups, I did include them in what I looked at, just in case something jumped out at me. A-liners were interesting, but the low counters would surely give me a back ache if I tried to do any cooking or dish washing. Plus, I'm not confident a folding trailer would be water tight in the long run without a lot of maintenance.

So I headed into the show, planing on spending most of the day. Little did I know how truly limited the "small" trailer options were, at least present at the show. A couple of Amerilites, a Fox River, and a few others. I did get to check out a couple different models of TABs. One was quite interesting, but for the $18,000 show price, I didn't think I wanted to have to stand out in the rain to cook dinner. A couple RPods were there as well, but, for the price, I wasn't that impressed, plus they had sliders. A few other models of "niche" trailers, but non stole my heart from a Casita, Scamp or Escape. All tolled, I was at the show just about an hour and a half, to see everything I wanted to see.

Seems most manufacturers are missing a substantial segment of buyers. The small trailers definitely had folks looking at them, maybe it was just that they were curious and not actually shopping for possible purchase.

I feel more confident now that a fiberglass trailer is what I will be most happy with, even if they are a bit smaller and a bit more expensive. Now, as long as a great used stick-built doesn't fall in my lap before I find my egg, I've narrowed down my realm of possibilities, my initial choices have been confirmed.
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Old 10-05-2015, 12:36 AM   #2
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I think you have made a wise choice, while stick builts can be nice I have yet to see a stick built any where near the age of our 71 Boler that was in half as good a shape even before we started our complete restoration.
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Old 10-05-2015, 06:03 AM   #3
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We recently got a tour of a White Water Retro that we were very impressed with. Were told it has aluminum framing. It was the 17.7 model and had some neat features.
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Old 10-05-2015, 07:14 AM   #4
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Hi, in the event that you do get a FGRV keep in mind that some adjustments will need to be made to keep water out. I wish somebody would have told me that the AC bolts would have to be tightened up to stop water from coming in ahead of time. Also you have to install a foam seal around the fridge vents to stop water from seeping in and onto the floor. Pulled my hair out trying to find the causes of such things. I am not a RV guru who knows all this stuff, That said, my 16` scamp is just marvelous, Good Luck. Carl
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Old 10-05-2015, 07:41 AM   #5
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LyleB, if you looked at the TAB, you might have talked to my son. He is from Ohio, but was selling those, among other brands, at the show, this past weekend.


He tells me all the time that molded fiberglass trailer owners, or wannabes are brainwashed. Kiddingly, of course. He sells a lot of trailers, but we are his toughest sell.
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Old 10-05-2015, 08:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LyleB View Post
Well, I made it to the Fall Metro Detroit RV Show in Novi on Saturday. I've been looking at and comparing fiberglass trailers since last June, but thought I should at least check out what the stick built folks had on offer.

I read up on the "tips" for attending a show. Number one tip seemed to be to decide what you are looking for, then limit your browsing to those items that closely match. Otherwise, you can waste a lot of time, and end up with something beyond what you intended on buying, or spending more than you initially wanted to spend.

My general criteria was under 3500 lb, under 18 ft, probably a single axle trailer. No sliders - don't want the weight, added mechanical complexity, and potential for leaks. No canvas extensions. No fifth wheel or motor home of any class.

While I'm not actually interested in pop-ups, I did include them in what I looked at, just in case something jumped out at me. A-liners were interesting, but the low counters would surely give me a back ache if I tried to do any cooking or dish washing. Plus, I'm not confident a folding trailer would be water tight in the long run without a lot of maintenance.

So I headed into the show, planing on spending most of the day. Little did I know how truly limited the "small" trailer options were, at least present at the show. A couple of Amerilites, a Fox River, and a few others. I did get to check out a couple different models of TABs. One was quite interesting, but for the $18,000 show price, I didn't think I wanted to have to stand out in the rain to cook dinner. A couple RPods were there as well, but, for the price, I wasn't that impressed, plus they had sliders. A few other models of "niche" trailers, but non stole my heart from a Casita, Scamp or Escape. All tolled, I was at the show just about an hour and a half, to see everything I wanted to see.

Seems most manufacturers are missing a substantial segment of buyers. The small trailers definitely had folks looking at them, maybe it was just that they were curious and not actually shopping for possible purchase.

I feel more confident now that a fiberglass trailer is what I will be most happy with, even if they are a bit smaller and a bit more expensive. Now, as long as a great used stick-built doesn't fall in my lap before I find my egg, I've narrowed down my realm of possibilities, my initial choices have been confirmed.
Good job of attending such a show and narrowing your choices. We chose wisely in a Scamp for ease of towing and maintenance. I feel the Casitas are nicer inside, more up to date. Scamp has stuck them selves in the 70's and refuses to make significant updates to the interior. Still, we love our Scamp and have made many improvements.
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Old 10-05-2015, 08:49 AM   #7
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This is just my opinion, but until T@B replaces ALL that ABS plastic trim around the outside, I wouldnt touch it with a 10' pole! Fiberglass would be nice . Yes I've seen them, been inside them, and even test-pulled one. Back then, they didnt have the bathroom, but now they do. But they STILL have the plastic trim that's highly known for cracking in the sun at a young age.
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Old 10-05-2015, 09:11 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Terry R. View Post
LyleB, if you looked at the TAB, you might have talked to my son. He is from Ohio, but was selling those, among other brands, at the show, this past weekend.
.
Actually would suggest going over to the TAB owners forum before talking to a salesman!

It would be the best way of determining why the resale pricing on them is what it is.
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Old 10-05-2015, 09:31 AM   #9
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Not recommending a TAB, just stating he sells them. Son does agree molded fiber glass is good stuff. Just can't make a living selling those in Ohio.
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Old 10-05-2015, 09:33 AM   #10
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We looked at one, but it was too low for my wife.
Many were too low inside which drove the selection of the 16' Scamp.

Sent from my SCH-I605 using Fiberglass RV mobile app
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Old 10-05-2015, 09:44 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Terry R. View Post
Not recommending a TAB, just stating he sells them. Son does agree molded fiber glass is good stuff. Just can't make a living selling those in Ohio.
I understand, just thought you might want to ask him about the resale price issue the next time he tells you fiberglass trailer owners are brainwashed.
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Old 10-05-2015, 09:51 AM   #12
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Yep, do that all the time. Of course, if we decide to get rid of the Casita, he wants us to roll it his way.
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Old 10-05-2015, 10:08 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Terry R. View Post
Not recommending a TAB, just stating he sells them. Son does agree molded fiber glass is good stuff. Just can't make a living selling those in Ohio.
Considering the Distribution system of most FGRV builders (none), no one can make a living selling them, even in California. New Bigfoot apparently is attempting to have a few dealers on the west coast, but that doesn't seem to be meeting with much success.



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Old 10-05-2015, 02:33 PM   #14
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Considering the Distribution system of most FGRV builders (none), no one can make a living selling them, even in California. New Bigfoot apparently is attempting to have a few dealers on the west coast, but that doesn't seem to be meeting with much success.
The above comment is basing on ????

Escape is a FGRV builder on the West Coast and their production schedule is sold out for more than a year. They did for a short time sell through a dealer but went to direct sales a years again and appear to be making a good living at it.

Bigfoot is the other FGRV builder on the West Coast and they have used RV dealers both in Canada and the US for many, many years - both under old and the new management.

Bigfoot was the only FGRV builder at a recent RV show I attended and they did not appear to be short on interested parties. Bigfoot's are not known as an economical trailer & while at the show I asked how they were doing these days and it was mentioned that sales/orders for them going into the US had picked up once again due as the poor state of the Canadian dollar. The lower valued Canadian dollar has helped make them attractive in the US market once again - which was not the case in recent years while the Canadian dollar was on par or higher value than the US dollar.

The lower Canadian dollar value of the past 6/10 months is also one of the big reason's Escapes are flying off the shelves as fast as they can make them as well.
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Old 10-05-2015, 03:39 PM   #15
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Carol, I think you missed the context of Bob's statement. He was referring to the fact that retail salespeople can't make a living selling molded fiberglass trailers. Because there aren't any (other than the sales staff at the manufacturer). And I'm pretty sure he meant that as a good thing.
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Old 10-05-2015, 03:49 PM   #16
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Carol, I think you missed the context of Bob's statement. He was referring to the fact that salespeople can't make a living selling molded fiberglass trailers. Because there aren't any (other than the sales staff at the manufacturer). And I believe he meant that as a good thing.
Thanks Jon, I did understand the comment re sales staff not making a real good living at selling trailers but not sure I took his whole comments out of contest as he made the comments in regards to Bigfoots "that doesn't seem to be meeting with much success." which is why I question him on it as to what he based that comment on. They have always sold through a large network of dealers. Then again maybe I did!
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Old 10-05-2015, 04:05 PM   #17
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I understood that part to reflect the fact that Bigfoot only has a small handful of dealers in the US, and there hasn't been much growth in recent years. Glad to hear that may be changing.

In any case, if I wanted to make a living selling molded fiberglass trailers (one of the few products I think I could embrace selling), my job prospects are pretty limited.
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Old 10-05-2015, 04:29 PM   #18
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I think I was misunderstood.


I was suggesting that RV Dealerships Sales peeps could not make a living selling FGRV's because they would be substantially overpriced in the RV marketplace and would offer little incentive for sales. In the United States, the dealer profit margins needed would made them horrendously expensive, with an MSRP at least 50% more than most current factory prices to cover shipping, inventory costs, warranty costs, and profits.


And BigFoot has just 1 dealer in the entire state of California, and only 8 in the entire country. As of today they collectively have an on-line advertised inventory of 5 slide-in campers and 4 trailers in the entire country and the dealer in Boise, ID seems to have as much inventory as all other dealers combined.


BigFoot calls then Factory Outlets, not dealerships, and most advertise that they sell with an 8-12 week lead time, so they don't have up front investment with inventory, and they can work on a commission per sale. But most RV buyers want immediate gratification when they commit to that kind of expense, not 8-12 weeks delivery promises. One dealer seems to be using Canadian prices and is using the current currency exchange difference as a bargaining tool.


And it's not just cost, the L.A. Airstream dealer advertised that they have more than 100 units on the lot, and a much smaller Airstream dealer in Corona, CA, about 45 miles from LA, has at least 15 the lot. "See it today, buy it today and take it home tomorrow" is the sales model that sells, delivery in 2-3 months doesn't.


The owner of my local RV dealership, with three locations, about 100 employees, and several hundred RV's on his lots, would love to sell FGRV's, but there just isn't the profit margins necessary to stay in business selling FGRV's, as compared to sticky's. And minimal profit margins vs the existing sticky sales model, are why I made the comment that dealers can't make a living selling them.


Many times I have mentioned my interest in BigFoot trailers, I want a 17' for myself and just tried to buy two different ones in the month that I was in Washington and Canada (excuse me, British Columbia)


With the current cost of manufacturing keeping prices where they are, I just don't see new FGRV's being regular items on dealer lots. Improvements in sales & production volume will help bring that down, but, for the most part, it just isn't there in FGRV's, at least not yet.....


And at the last two annual RV shows in Pomona, CA, claimed to be the largest in the United States, the total number of FGRV's mfg's represented? Zero.



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Old 10-05-2015, 05:20 PM   #19
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I think I was misunderstood.


I was suggesting that RV Dealerships Sales peeps could not make a living selling FGRV's because they would be substantially overpriced in the RV marketplace and would offer little incentive for sales. In the United States, the dealer profit margins needed would made them horrendously expensive, with an MSRP at least 50% more than most current factory prices to cover shipping, inventory costs, warranty costs, and profits.

And BigFoot has just 1 dealer in the entire state of California, and only 8 in the entire country. As of today they collectively have an on-line advertised inventory of 5 slide-in campers and 4 trailers in the entire country and the dealer in Boise, ID seems to have as much inventory as all other dealers combined.


BigFoot calls then Factory Outlets, not dealerships, and most advertise that they sell with an 8-12 week lead time, so they don't have up front investment with inventory, and they can work on a commission per sale. But most RV buyers want immediate gratification when they commit to that kind of expense, not 8-12 weeks delivery promises. One dealer seems to be using Canadian prices and is using the current currency exchange difference as a bargaining tool.



.
My question in regards to your original statement made about Bigfoot was that in reading your statement, you appeared to be suggesting that they were not doing well with the sales approach in the US that they have set up? Which made me question what you know Bob that suggest this? Sales or production numbers over the past 4/5 years since they started manufacturing the trailers again?

Without knowing the actual sales numbers I am not sure anyone can say how well they may or may not be doing with their approach.

Bigfoot is not the big scale operation Airstream is, so I am not sure they make a good comparison. Bigfoot only has sales outlets located in 9 states, which I suspect are strategically located so that someone interesting in seeing one does not have to drive clear across the country as someone looking at some other brand of Fiberglass trailer might need to do if they wish to see a brand spanking unused one would have to do. Heck they do not even have a sales centre in all the provinces in the Country in which they operate.

Not surprised that they are quoting Canadian prices either - after all it is a Canadian company & the trailers are made in Canada - so highlighting the current currency favourable exchange to US buyers is not a bad thing

I do not think that immediate gratification is that big of an issue for someone who had decided they want a particular make of trailer either. One only has to look at the fact that a very popular fiberglass trailer manufacture is months and months out in del'v times currently. BTW our local Airstream dealer is currently quoting 3 months out for a new trailer del'v as well & they are trying hard to convince Canadian buyers they have done some kind of hedge scheme on the current US exchange rate to make them believe they really are not paying 25% more than they would have had they purchased the same trailer last year! LOL Its called cross border shopping and it goes both ways
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Old 10-05-2015, 06:46 PM   #20
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My comment about the manufacturers missing a large segment of the buying market was about how few small, what I consider reasonable sized, trailers they offer. At least how few they actually promote.

Earlier during the summer, I did stop at a large RV dealer and, again, only spent about an hour looking at the very few small trailers they had on their lot. Of those, there were two basic floor plans - bunk beds, or permanent bed and dinette - no matter the manufacturer. Perhaps you could special order something, but I didn't bother to talk with a salesperson, and none of them approached me, they seemed more interested in following the folks around who were checking out the Class As or other motor homes.

Just an observation. Probably similar to Ford's terrible decision to stop selling small, reasonable sized pick-ups in the US. The big ones are more profitable, so those of us who want small, be danged - we'll take what they want to sell us.
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