ELKHART – Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC — like Thor Industries and Jayco have done in recent weeks — announced Tuesday it will be hiring hundreds of production workers to handle a backlog of orders.
At Southern RV in Virginia, owner John Patterson said Heartland has been offering purchasing incentives to dealers. These incentives coupled with the low inventory on many RV lots and an increase in the number of people looking to buy, encouraged him and other dealers to order units from Heartland.
“With the backlog and the holidays, if you don’t order before December or January, you’re not going to get it,” Patterson said, noting he has been assured he will have products in time for his January, February and March shows.
Terry Frazer, owner of Terry Frazer’s RV in Iowa, said Heartland is not doing anything unusual since many RV makers are enticing dealers with special bargains. Conversely customers are not being lured to sales lots by these incentives but rather they are coming because they are gaining confidence in the economy.
As they visit RV dealers, the customers are buying what they consider to be the best product. Heartland, Frazer said, is “hitting the right market” with both product designs that appeal to customers and price points at which buyers have an easier time securing loans.
Moreover, Frazer said, Heartland may be gaining marketshare because of a misstep by Keystone RV. When Keystone laid off workers and slowed production, the Iowa businessman began having to wait six months for deliveries of the Cougar brand fifth wheel. Heartland, on the other hand, was able to ship its competing model, Sundance, in a month which turned Frazer into a “well satisfied” customer.
Based on his experience, Frazer believes Keystone “overreacted” by cutting too much and may have lost business.
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