Category Archives: Forest River

Devastating Fire Makes Forest River RV Plant a Total Loss

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A devastating fire has made a Forest River RV plant in Elkhart, Indiana a total loss.

The plant, Forest River’s plant #59, went up in flames on March 12.

More than 40 firefighters in 15 crews battled to contain the blaze, which produced billowing smoke that could be seen for miles and showed up on area weather radar.

There were no fatalities, as the building was quickly evacuated.

Fire investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire, as the investigation has been hampered by safety issues at the site.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Forest River Leads RV Pack in Recreational Vehicle Global Growth

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Berkshire Hathaway’s recreational vehicle maker Forest River is riding a wave of strong global growth for the RV market.

The global recreational vehicles market, which was worth $54.63 billion in 2017 is projected to grow at a CAGR of about 4.11% from 2017 to 2025 to $75.38 Billion by 2025.

According to the report, “Recreational Vehicles (RVs) Market Size and Forecast By Product (Towable and Motorhomes), By Application (Commercial and Residential) And Trend Analysis, 2015 – 2025”, in 2016, 40 million Americans participated in camping activities, which is a primary booster for the growth of global recreational vehicle industry.

Berkshire’s Forest River Inc., is the largest player with a more than 25% share, followed by Thor Industries Inc., Winnebago Industries Inc., and REV Recreation Group.

According to the report, the U.S. market has roughly 10 million of the consumers aged between 35 years to 75 years that own recreational vehicles.

The China market is seeing increasing development of tourism and campgrounds coupled with consumers’ changing travel preferences is spurring the traction of recreational vehicles market. However, according to the report the domestic recreational vehicle market in China is still in the nascent stage, wherein consumers purchased about 25,000 vehicles in 2016. The purchase number is expected is to reach 500,000 by 2020 supported by growing economy and rising middle class.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Forest River’s Booming Business Means 325 New Jobs in Elkhart, Indiana

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Forest River, Berkshire Hathaway’s RV manufacturer, is riding high these days. With business booming, it’s proposing spending roughly $6 million on real estate and create 325 new full-time jobs with annual salaries totaling approximately $16.9 million in Elkhart, Indiana.

The Elkhart County Council has approved a resolution for a 5-year tax phase-in agreement that would include Forest River’s guarantee of the 325 new full-time jobs.

Forest River has already begun construction on two buildings and is in the planning stage for two more.

Surprising analysts, millennials have embraced the RV lifestyle, which has helped spur robust annual growth averaging 15 percent the last few years.

Then again, perhaps it shouldn’t be such a surprise. With millennials touted as focused on experiences, the RV is the perfect vehicle to bring you to those experiences in comfort.

© 2018 David Mazor


Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Record Recreational Vehicle Sales Paint Bright Picture for Forest River

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Berkshire Hathaway’s recreational vehicle manufacturer Forest River is having a stellar year, and fall sales industry-wide have leapt dramatically from the already stellar 2016 levels.

The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association ‘s October survey of manufacturers found RV wholesale shipments finished at 48,926, an increase of 26.2% from the 38,765 units shipped last October.

Those numbers improve on the 15.3% increase the 2016 numbers represented over 2015 levels, and the October 2017 shipments is the best October on comparable record, and is currently the highest monthly shipment total for 2017.

RV wholesale shipments have reached 426,932 through ten months of 2017, up 17.6% compared to the 363,051 units shipped over the same period last year.

All towable RVs, led by conventional travel trailers, totaled 43,294 units for the month, an increase of 27% compared to last October’s towable RV shipment total. Year-to-date totals for towable RV are 18.1% to 373,967 units.

October motorhome shipments are up 20.2% to 5,632 units over last year, paced by solid gains in all motorhome types. Year-to-date motorhome shipments have reached 52,965 units on 14.4% growth over the 46,285 units shipped during the same period last year.

As the year comes to an end, it looks to be a record year for Forest River, and the RV industry.

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Forest River Riding Wave of Record Industry-Wide RV Sales

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Berkshire Hathaway’s recreational vehicle maker Forest River is benefiting from industry-wide record sales for recreational vehicles.

After slumping during the Great Recession, sales are now hitting new highs as Millennials have embraced RVs as a popular vacation alternative to hotel and motel lodging.

According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association’s September survey of manufacturers, RV wholesale shipments finished at 43,598 units, an increase of 29.4% over the 33,704 units shipped last September. September 2017 shipments are the best September on comparable record.

RV wholesale shipments have climbed to 378,006 units through nine months of 2017, up 16.6% over the 324,286 units shipped during the same period last year.

All towable RVs, led by conventional travel trailers, totaled 38,543 units for the month, an increase of 31.8% compared to the 29,233 units shipped in September 2016. Year-to-date totals for towable RVs are up 17% to 330,673 units.

September motorhome shipments are up 13.1% to 5,055 units over last year; paced by solid gains in Type C motorhomes. Year-to-date motorhome shipments have reached 47,333 units on 13.8% growth over the 41,599 units shipped during the same time last year.

Forest River is working hard at increasing its capacity, with facility expansions at its plants in the Indiana cities of LaGrange and Butler.

The company will spend $2.9 million to build a 100,000-square-foot facility in Butler, and will employ 150 workers when it is completed.

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Forest River Marine Joins the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Forest River Marine, a division of Forest River, Inc., has become a platinum member of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.

The MRAA’s mission is to be the single voice of marine retailers, providing member services that include: fostering and uniting relationships; raising awareness and professionalism; protecting common interests and strengthening all members.

The association is comprised of boat dealers, marine parts and accessories vendors, marina operators, boatyards, marine service providers, and all those whose livelihood is affected by the marine industry.

“We believe in the importance of a strong and effective dealer body,” said Tom McCuddy, Forest River Marine general manager. “We are proud to have a strong network of dealers, and we believe that supporting the work of our industry’s dealer association is an important contributor to the overall health of our industry and our boating community.”

Forest River Marine is a leading manufacturer of pontoon boats under the Berkshire, South Bay, and Trifecta brands.

“The Forest River team has shown a great desire to strengthen its dealer network in support of their customers,” said MRAA President Matt Gruhn. “From their participation at our annual conference all the way through to their communications with the Forest River dealer network about programs and opportunities that our team here at MRAA has to offer them, they continue to invest in and lead the way with dealer development.”

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Forest River Heads Down the Road to Solve Labor Shortage

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While much has been written in the national press about the Midwest having been left behind by the economic recovery, Berkshire Hathaway’s Forest River Inc. is actually struggling to come up with enough employees in Elkhart, Indiana, and is moving some of the production of its XLR Boost toy hauler 73 miles down the road to Butler, Indiana.

Elkhart, which is Forest River’s headquarters, has an unemployment rate that is under 3.3 percent.

“We want to continue to keep our quality level high and increase the amount of production. But we can’t do that with the amount of workforce that we have here (in Elkhart). We need a separate facility for the Boost that can bring in good quality workers. All the good quality people are already working here in Elkhart right now,” Brent Stevens, Forest River’s general manager overseeing the XLR models, said in an article in RV Business magazine.

The company will build a 100,000-square-foot facility in Butler, and will employ 150 workers when it is completed.

The XLR Boost toy hauler comes as a 102” wide body travel trailer or fifth wheel that combines traditional trailer living space and cargo areas that have plenty of space as well as a zero gravity loading ramp door for hauling ATV’s, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, bicycles or any other outdoor toys.

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Forest River Benefitting from Record Industry-Wide Sales

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Berkshire Hathaway’s RV manufacturer, Forest River, is riding high as a result of record industry-wide sales.

Since coming out of the Great Recession, the industry has been setting year-after-year sales records.

Sales are now at the highest level since the industry began tracking sales statistics in 1979.

Total 2016 RV shipments reached 430,961 total units, up a whopping 15.1% over 2015.

“The RV lifestyle has become ingrained in so many areas of this country and the incredibly strong U.S. shipment totals reflect that,” said Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Frank Hugelmeyer. “What I’m particularly proud of is the way that our industry continues to stay a step ahead of the economic curve. Our strong numbers are increasingly being viewed as a bellwether of the economy, and the fact that they continued all the way to the end of December is a great signal for the coming year.”

According to the RVIA, Towable were the largest share of the cumulative total, with a record-busting total of 375,950 units shipped in 2016, up 15% from the previous year.

The annual motorhome shipment increase was nearly identical on a percentage basis, with 54,741 units shipped, a 15.7% increase over 2015 totals. Of those motorhomes, type C motorhomes and type B motorhomes were up 26.8% and 24.1% for the year, respectively.

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Forest River Enters Luxury Bus Market

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Ready to take a flight on your private jet? Well, you can’t just roll out on the tarmac in any old shuttle bus. You need a shuttle bus with oodles of fine leather, USB ports for every seat, and LED mood lighting.

Berkshire Hathaway’s RV and bus manufacturer, Forest River, has added a luxury bus product line to its existing buses. The move comes because of feedback from its dealers. Forest River is the largest shuttle bus manufacturer in the United States, but didn’t have a specific luxury division.

The new luxury shuttle bus division has been dubbed Berkshire Coach, and will operate separately from Forest River’s Elkhart Coach, Glaval Bus, Starcraft Bus, and Startrans bus companies.

Berkshire Coach is building its shuttle buses at its recently acquired facility in Elkhart, Indiana. Formerly the Ameritrans Bus facility, it was acquired by Forest River in July 2016. Berkshire Coach currently has 25 employees and is projecting an expansion to 75 employees by the end of 2017.

According to Berkshire Coach, what sets the new luxury buses a part from the competition is the wide range of standard features, including Ultra Lux seating, roof-mounted, center aisle, ducted heating and air conditioning system, individual USB ports, seat belts, overhead Hadley Swan premium luggage racks and mood-setting LED lighting. The luxury cabin is further enhanced by wood-look composite flooring, suede finishes, frameless windows, panoramic skyview front window and 19” LED monitors located in the front of the coach.

David Wright, Senior General Manager at Forest River, states, “When we decided to launch a brand new division almost a year ago, we made the commitment to build America’s best luxury bus. After months of research and development and spending extensive time with our dealers and their customers, we are proud to introduce the Berkshire Ultra. Berkshire Coach’s intelligent luxury offers a product and experience that is unparalleled in the industry today.”

Troy Snyder, General Manager of Berkshire Coach, added, “We simplified the process for our customers and their dealers by making all luxury options standard equipment and backing it all with the most complete warranty in the industry. From Ultra Lux seating to individual USB ports at each seat, and everything inbetwe en, it all comes standard and is covered with the industry’s most comprehensive 5-year/100,000 mile warranty.”

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Special Report: Surging RV Sales Sets Off Gold Rush for Indiana Manufacturing Facilities

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Back in 2008 the recreational vehicle market hit a wall, a big wall, with sales plunging a precipitous 30% that year, and the next year was just as bad.

For Forest River, which had the financial strength of Berkshire Hathaway behind it, it was a time pull in the belt, and also an opportunity to acquire a competitor in Coachman Industries.

In 2008, Coachman was just days from closing when it sold itself to Forest River for next to nothing.

“With this transaction, we secure the future for this proud brand, and the employees of our RV Group. This announcement will also end the speculation over whether Coachmen itself will survive these extraordinarily difficult times, and preserve the jobs of our employee base, in both our RV and Housing segments”, said Coachman’s CEO Richard Laver at the time.

Hitting Record Numbers

Now, RV sales are back to levels not seen since the 1980s. 2016 sales industry-wide surpassed already rosy projections with around 420,000 RVs sold, and next year is projected to be up another 5%.

The sales also mean profits. In 2008, Coachmen’s sales not only crashed 52%, but it lost money on every vehicle it built. Today, sales industry-wide are not only robust, but profitable. Another leading manufacturer, Thor industries, saw record first-quarter FY 2017 net income of $78.7 million.

Adding Capacity

The strong sales have set up a gold-rush-like hunt for new manufacturing sites as RV manufacturers work to boost capacity. The heart of the gold rush is in Indiana, where 111 of the U.S.’s 228 RV manufacturing plants are situated.

Berkshire Hathaway’s Forest River, competitor Thor Industries, and companies such as Drew Industries, a supplier of components for original equipment manufacturers of RVs and adjacent industries, are all scrambling to secure new production facilities.

The scramble for new facilities is filling plants that in some cases have been sitting idle for almost a decade.

New Plants, More Jobs

With the rush for more facilities comes more jobs.

In September 2016, Highland Ridge RV, a manufacturer of towable recreational vehicles, opened a new $5.7 million, 92,000-square-foot facility in Shipshewana that also added 65 jobs.

More recently, Forest River purchased a 100-acre-plus industrial site in the town of LaGrange. The move brings much needed activity to a facility that has been sitting empty for the past eight years, and jobs to the community of roughly 2,700 people. The plant will provide some 250 jobs in the first year, and as many as 450 by the end of 2018.

Forest River has not announced exactly what it will be building at the new facility, but part of its production line from its Topeka plant is expected to be relocated to the facility.

With Indiana’s unemployment rate at only 4.2% in November 2016, well below the national average of 4.6%, the RV renaissance is clearly having a positive impact on the state’s economy. And the heart of the RV manufacturing in the counties of Elkhart and LaGrange have unemployment rates of 3.3% and 3.2% respectively,

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.