The Future of RVing from RVIA 2017 – Live from Louisville

Nate: Hi, folks. This is Nate with RVing Planet.

Mark: And Mark with

Nate: And we were here at the 2017 Louisville RV Show to show you what’s new in the RV industry.

Mark: It’s pretty neat that these manufacturers are bringing all the stuff out here.

Nate: Oh, yeah, there’s a crazy amount of awesome products here. And the RV manufacturers are really bringing the best that they have out to the floor.

Mark: Now I was just reading that in September they had a record year in sales. And you know what? All these people are buying RVs and going out and discovering this great country. And as a result the manufacturers are really up in their game, the competition is pretty fierce, and so they are really developing both nice products and interesting new ideas.

You know what I’ve found interesting?

Nate: What’s that, Mark?


Mark: It’s all these units that are going off grid now here.

Nate: Right, like the ones that are using lithium-ion batteries and solar panels and they’re not even using a generator.

Mark: I know. There’s a company here. Let’s go take a look at it.

Nate: Yeah, let’s go take a look.

Mark: And that company is Xantrex, so we swung by their booth to learn more about their product.

Steve Carlson: The whole idea of what we’ve put together here is for the Class B van market generators are really disliked in the market. So they may be too noisy, they vibrate, lots of maintenance. So what we’ve come up with is to replace the generator we have a large lithium battery, battery management system, a secondary alternator and a big inverter charger.

So the inverter charger can run the entire codes, the air conditioning, and everything. Our whole idea is that our inverter can handle the air conditioning which is the biggest thing and that most of the customers are concerned about. And to be able to run about eight to ten hours per day with air conditioning in a standard hot summer day.

So the biggest thing with lithium is treating it carefully. So we spent years putting together a system that will treat the lithium properly, cells within the lithium battery are always being balanced, always being protected from extreme temperatures, and that sort of things.

And the biggest obviously with the secondary alternator the engine becomes your backup generator. So if you’ve drained your battery, you basically start your vehicle and it’ll recharge the battery very quickly, like an hour and a half. So it’s very quick, high amperage during the engine idle time.

We also have a very large charger on our inverter. So if you plugged in to shore power it also recharges very quickly.

Mark: That was pretty cool, where do you think we should go next?

Nate: I don’t know, I mean, like he said if everything’s powered by electric we could be off the grid, and I mean we could power a stove.

Mark: Well, speaking of.

Nate: Oh, hey. Hi, my name is Nate.

Mike Williams: Nate. Mike. Nice to meet you.

Mark: Mark. Nice to meet you.

Mike Williams: Nice to meet you too, Mark.

Nate: Tell us about these stoves.

Mark: Kenyon stoves are grills powered by electric. So instead of having to carry around propane, charcoal or some other gas to burn these can run off the electric system within your unit. And where this comes to plan an off-the-grid unit is suddenly you can run off your batteries.

That was pretty cool.

Nate: Yeah, definitely.

Mark: We’re getting close to being completely off grid.

Nate: Yeah, I wonder what some of the leaders of these companies think.

Mark: Let’s go ask them.

Nate: All right, let’s go.

Mark: Our first interview was with Dustin Johns from Travel Lite.

Nate: As a visionary where do you see the industry in 5, 10, 15, 20 years?

Dustin Johns: I see it continuing to grow because of the resurgence of people wanting to go outside. I believe that with the computer, age instant gratification and the things that we’re accustomed to nowadays, I think all of us have a little sense of wanting to be away from that from time to time. But still have it accessible.

That little internal desire to go outside and have fun and get away from all that stuff, even if it’s just for one day. I want to make it as easy as possible. You hitch up and you go, it’s not any worry, it’s not hard to learn.

Now we’re working forward. I actually just broke ground on Tuesday last week on a new 27-acre expansion. We’re putting up a state of the art facility, a lot of glass on this building.

Another thing that’s cool for the customers to know, because when the new facility is opened up every Friday from 10 to 2 we’re giving unannounced factory tours, because we’re going to be so proud of what we’re doing and I want the customers to feel like they can be a part of the process.

Me and my wife own it, my cousin is our purchasing agent, my brother is our production manager.

Nate: Sounds like you’re really excited for how the future’s is going in, like the path and what you’re focusing on you think that’s what’s going to be right.

Dustin Johns: I’m so comfortable and confident in the RV industry that I’ve personally just did this 27 acres. And then also a dealership and full service center right on site. Basically I’m putting all my eggs in one basket in the RV game, so I’m very confident it’s going to work out.

Nate: I love it.

Mark: We then hunted down another young leader in the RV industry. Leigh Tiffin of Vanleigh RV from the Tiffin family.

Nate: Being in industry so long and seeing the trends and being real in touch with this industry, where do you see it going 5, 10, 15, 20 years?

Leigh Tiffin: I think that there’s definitely a ton of interest in RVing these days. It’s really a growing industry, younger and younger people are getting interested in RVing. I think it’s really important though that as an industry we do a good job of taking care of those first-time buyers and making sure they have a positive experience, because it’s still a luxury purchase, right? It’s still not something you have to have. You can’t enjoy life without an RV. But life’s a lot richer with an RV.

So I think that as we look down the road 5, 10 years, we see people wanting a more personalized customer focused experience. We talk all the time about being the family-owned manufacturer of choice, and really we’re the only family-owned manufacturer now. So many of our competitors are part of big Fortune 500 companies that they’re in it to make a profit and don’t necessarily have a heart, don’t necessarily have a personalized feel for the customer.

Nate: Leigh, where do you see the big value that sets a family focused business apart from a non-focused business or a non-family focused business? I mean, right away you’re looking at it, and this is an industry and something that is focused on like family experiences. So they’re going to understand it better, but do you have anything to add to that?

Leigh Tiffin: I think that everything about the RVs … RV industry is personal. From the way that you make them to the way that you buy them and sell them, to the way that you use them, I think everything is personal.

So to me as I look at why that’s special to us, there’s an angle in terms of how we do business with our dealers, how we treat our owners, how we treat our employees, and how we are as a company to do business with with our vendors. And I think that’s what’s so special about being family-owned and having a face and a name associated with the company. I think that that really makes a difference for all those constituencies that I just talked about.

Nate: All right, and Leigh, you were talking about these younger buyers and the Millennials, and where do you think their biggest desires are right now, like what are they interested in at the moment? And how are you going to help give them what they want?

Leigh Tiffin: I think that everyone’s interested in putting the cell phone down, getting back in touch with nature, family, real relationships, real communication. I think that’s what … In my opinion that’s a lot of the appeal the young folks who want to go camping, is getting out there in nature, really feeling like you’re an explorer so to speak.

And I think that the way we can cater to that is we continue to grow as to become more and more of a full line manufacturer that offers something for people at all these individual price points who may be interested in that camping experience, but still putting our twist on it, which is to be very quality-minded, customer-oriented and give them something that they can be proud of.

Nate: Mark, you could really tell that the manufacturers, I mean, they really brought their A-game this year.

Mark: It was so cool to see that they’re this close to going completely off the grid. It’s like the RV industry is leading all the other industries.

Nate: Right, speaking of leaders, I mean, the vision that these young leaders are giving is amazing.

Mark: It’s very exciting. I loved it.

Nate: All right, thank you guys for watching and joining us for the RVIA 2017 Show.

Share with us the RV trends you are seeing in the comments!