Mark Polk has an interesting post on the RV.Net blog titled My Top 5 Predictions for the Future of the RV Industry. One of his predictions is that the weak will not survive. I agree, and I think that is a good thing. But I’ll add something to Mark’s prediction – the undeserving also will not survive.
For years, many big RV manufacturers had the same mindset as AT&T did back when they were a monopoly – “We don’t care because we don’t have to!” You see where that got them. Now some of the RV companies who had that same mindset are history, or are on the ropes, just waiting for the knockout punch.
When people ask my opinion on which RVs to buy, I have always recommended four brands, based upon the quality of their rigs and their history of customer service. Those companies are Tiffin, Heartland, Newmar, and Winnebago. When asked which companies I would not buy from, Fleetwood has always topped my list. Having been Fleetwood owners, we know just how poor their quality and customer service is. Monaco was another company I could not recommend, based upon the problems owners of their coaches have shared with me over the years.
As I look at the companies who are hanging in there in these tough times, and which ones seem to be going by the wayside, I see that the same ones I have always been comfortable with are still cranking out units, and the ones who I have felt were problematic, are now going or gone. While I sympathize with the RV industry workers who have lost their jobs, I can’t feel bad when I see a company that has routinely neglected its customers close its doors. I only hope that when things pick back up (and they will), these displaced workers can find positions with the strong companies that survive.
Speaking of big, impersonal companies, having run small town newspapers for much of my adult life, I have seen what happens to small business owners when WalMart comes to town. I have also printed the letters to the editor from local people complaining about losing their jobs at those small businesses when the doors closed. But I also saw those same people shopping at the big discount store to save a buck. They never seemed to understand that if they did not support the small shop owners, those shops would close and their jobs would disappear. So you save a dollar today and lose a job tomorrow. That makes good sense, doesn’t it?
While out soliciting door prizes for our Gypsy Gathering rally, we were dismayed to see how many small stores that donated door prizes last year have gone out of business. At the same time, there are more and more big chain stores in Casa Grande. When we call on those stores, the managers put us off by telling us that all donations must go through the corporate offices, a long and involved process that seldom gets any results. So, just like the residents of this and other small towns, we have seen the local small time operators close up, and the big impersonal stores display their don’t care attitude when it comes to giving something back to the community.
Almost every small restaurant we have called on has donated door prizes, some have given several. But, with one exception, the chain restaurants who could easily afford to donate a lunch or dinner have said no. So when we go out to dinner, we make it a point to dine at the small places whose owners give even when they really can’t afford to, because they want to support our rally and the money it brings to town. I hope when folks get to the rally, they will pass by those big places and patronize the local businesses too.
After reading yesterday’s blog, several readers wanted to know just whose name Bad Nick wanted to tell that young fast food worker to call out. I think myself and Bad Nick will take that one to the grave with us. Did I ever tell you what a great shot my wife is with a pistol?
Thought For The Day – It doesn’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.