Gulf Stream Coach
In today's business environment, especially the RV industry, it’s hard to find a 35-year old company that still operates under the same ownership, never mind the same family. Gulf Stream Coach just happens to be one of those exceptions.
Gulf Stream Coach started back in 1983 by Jim Shea Sr. We learn some of the obstacles the company went through getting started back in those early years of the RV industry. They started with a small seven-man crew who designed and built two motorhomes and one travel trailer in a matter of weeks in time for the big Notre Dame RV Show in South Bend, Indiana. Needless to say, the units were a hit with RV dealers attending the show and as the old saying goes, ‘The company hasn’t looked back since’.
Located in Nappanee, Indiana, Gulf Stream Coach is now run by Jim’s son, Dan Shea. It’s large sprawling facility now employs a few hundred people, many who have been there for over 20-years, and one that’s been their since the first day 35- years ago.
We had an opportunity to talk with Scott Pullin, one of the company's original seven man team and now Vice President of Operations. Scott filled us in on the challenges the team faced getting started and how the company has progressed since then.
We had a chance to tour the motorized RV production lines and actually see how they build the Conquest Class C and BT Cruiser motorhomes which include a lot of hidden features you can’t see once the floors and wall are in place. Check it all out on this week’s show.
Carefree of Colorado
As the saying goes, “You’re not camping until the awning comes out’, which we know is really true. Just ask any RVer. There’s something about being under that awning that adds a lot of comfort to the RVing experience and Carefree Of Colorado takes that very fact very seriously. The company has over 30-patents related to RV awnings and that is one of the reasons they are the industry leader in RV awning innovation.
Another reason that Carefree is in the forefront of this industry is that awnings and awning accessories are their only business and not just a department of some large corporation. That impressed us.
We got the opportunity to get an inside look at what goes into making Carefree awnings. There’s a lot more to making an awning than I thought. First off, it begins with the material or fabric. There are various types of vinyl and acrylics in various weights. Then there are the various colors and patterns available to customers. Then there are options for LED lights and the list goes on and on. Then there are the various models you can select from with each one filling a specific need.
We were impressed with the operations involved in making an awning, some of which we couldn’t show because… remember those patents the company holds? Well some involve special machines and operations that competitors are still trying to figure out.
So we’ll let it go at that. But what we do show you will give you a good idea of what goes into building Carefree awnings.
RV Education 101
This week Mark and Dawn Polk from RV Education 101 show us why living on 30-amps involves a little planning and self discipline.
Being out in an RV is not quite like being at home where having 50-amps and running a toaster and air conditioner is not problem. But once you know the rules and maybe after a few trips to the circuit breaker, you’ll get the hang of it. And once you do….. you won’t even think about it again. Check out Mark and Dawn's tips and suggestions. You’ll save yourself a lot of aggravation. After all, isn’t that why we like learning from the pros?
New Horizons RV
Most RV companies manufacture numerous models of trailers and motorhomes, which are available through RV dealers throughout the country. In most cases, each model will have a couple of floor plans to select from, and most likely, interior color and trim. And the same goes for the exterior, you can select from two or three different color trim or decals and that’s about it.
It’s like buying a new house. You can buy a new house in a development that offers a few models to choose from and trim them out the way you want. Yes, you have a new house, but, it’s the same house your closest 100 neighbors have also.
So what happens when you want a custom built home? You go to a contractor that specializes in building custom homes and you get exactly what you want. The same goes for RVs. If you want an RV built to your needs and specifications, you go to a custom RV manufacturer.
When it comes to 5th wheel trailers one company has set the standard for years and that is New Horizons RV. This family owned company located in Junction City, Kansas has been building custom 5th wheel trailers for over 25 years.
Jeff Johnston paid a visit to New Horizons and met with Cole Brokenicky, co-owner of the company, and got a good inside look at the production facility. He even got a first ever look at a new model under construction that will be the company’s first ever semi-custom 5th wheel created to
fill the gap and price point between industry mass-produced 5th wheels, and the company’s full custom built models.
As you see in the show, you still get the same quality components and construction as the top of the line customs get, but with pre-selected floor plans and interior appointments. Look at it this way, say you can’t afford a custom built Bentley automobile, but you can afford the same Bentley with fewer custom options. Aside from you, who knows the difference? Now you can own a New Horizons 5th wheel trailer that won’t bust your budget.
Aqua-Kem 50th Anniversary
So, how many products do you know of that have been around for 50 years and have held the #1 title for all 50 years? I can’t think of one, but that is just what Thetford’s Aqua-Kem has done. This year marks the 50th year Aqua-Kem has been on the market and for all 50 years it has been the most trusted holding tank deodorant ever.
We went to Michigan to Thetford’s headquarters and production facility to learn a little more about Aqua-Kem and find out how the product has changed over the 50 years. And how they have stayed ahead of the competition all this time.
While we were there we had an opportunity to meet some of the dedicated team of workers that make Aqua-Kem and even had a little fun with them as they celebrated the 50-year occasion. We also got a chance to check out Aqua-Kem's newest offering call “Shotz”. You will see and hear a lot more about Shotz in the next few months, but check out the show and see for yourself.
By the way, how has Aqua-Kem changed since it was created 50 years ago? Simple… it hasn’t.
RV Education 101
With over 60% of RVers traveling with pets, our friends Mark and Dawn Polk at RV Education 101 give us some tips you should know when traveling and RVing with Pets.