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 > “Pathetic quality”: RV dealers are fed up...

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2012Coleman

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Posted: 09/13/21 08:34am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Someone wrote:

But until the public starts holding the manufacturers accountable, they will continue to sell cr@p.


LOL - this statement has been repeatedly posted since I joined this forum in 2012. And now we are supposed to be mad at the dealers who should be holding manufacturers liable for quality by refusing to sell their products?

Article Author wrote:

“They just don’t have the expertise to complete a motorhome in Northern Indiana anymore. Their labor force has no eye for quality and they have no way of teaching it. The industry is ripe for someone else to step in and start producing quality products, but it will likely have to be someplace other than Indiana. Right now, if the workers there get upset by something, they just walk off because it’s easy to get a job in Elkhart right now.”


Here it is in a nutshell - everyone from the manufacturer on down is trying to make as much profit while expending the least. They sit around in board rooms and grouse about their labor force - but really they only care about what they can get out of them - "their labor force has no eye for quality and they have no way of teaching it." Bam! that hits the nail on the head.

But here is what the author gets wrong - "but it will likely have to be someplace other than Indiana" and "they have no way of teaching it." This are pretty stupid statements - because obviously they are putting this on their perception of the people there as being worthless. It's obviously the perception of not only the author, but the manufacturers - and this is their gravest mistake. And it's mostly because of ignorance.

I resembled a person in this same kind of work force in 1989 when Mazda started building the 626 sedan in Flat Rock Michigan - I was hired to work there. I was part of a team that was trained by 2 right off the boat Japanese guys who earned our respect within the first few months. We were given goals and were rewarded for reaching them. We were asked for suggestions which were implemented if they contributed or were something the trainers didn't know or realize would be of benefit. When we made mistakes, we did more training. I was promoted up and was soon working at their warehouse in Olive Branch Mississippi where the people hired were literally poor dirt farmers. Utilizing the skills we were taught, these people went from crashing wire guided part picking machines to a very effective work force - firing someone was a process - you had to have really screwed up - hardly anyone got fired. What is that you ask? The Japanese introduced a term/concept/approach called Kaizen which includes 5 elements: teamwork, personal discipline, improved morale, quality circles and suggestions for improvement.

I'll bet if you crashed a forklift in Indiana, you'd be escorted out of the door. Not here - know how hard it is to crash a wire guided picker? Pretty hard.

I guarantee you this - if you are in charge of a workforce and implement this - you will see results -but you yourself have to have the motivation to figure out how.

So there it is - the RV manufacturers don't have the expertise to train their workers, and they don't care to learn how. Imagine your job if you felt like you could easily be replaced, or there were no incentives, a way to get promoted, etc.? Put yourself into the shoes of the typical RV plant laborer. You are getting paid for piece work, and you are told to just get the job done. You see an area where improvement can be made - because maybe you have experience, or are just smart, but no one whats to hear it - just do your job. You know you could do that assembly better, but it would take another 15 minutes, and you need this material or that tool to do it better - but are chastised and told to just do it how you are told to do it. Then it degrades to oh **** - I just stabled through that water pipe - oh well.... Ever work in a place like that? Ever do assembly line work? Huh - no? So don't sit in judgement of these people. Money isn't a true motivator, nor can it guarantee the results needed. I've seen this on a massive scale - I've been a part of implementing it - I even thought it was a big joke at the beginning. You tell me where you could go set up manufacturing anything and get people who don't need to be trained, don't need incentives for good work, feel valued, want to contribute - you can't.


Remember Bob Seger's song - Feel Like a Number?

I take my card and I stand in line
To make a buck I work overtime
Dear sir letters keep comin' in the mail
I work my back till it's racked with pain
The boss can't even recall my name
I show up late and I'm docked, it never fails
I feel like just another, spoke in a great big wheel
Like a tiny blade of grass in a great big field

Then the guy on here from Australia (Robert Ryan) post pics of really nice RV's and gets poo-pooed about how they are too fancy and would never sell here - ya right while the guy down under is pulling his through some rock canyon and it's holding up better that the American built jeep towing it. That's what it will take - someone to open a manufacturer that can train a workforce to become highly skilled at building RV's. Oh - they will say, you'll never be able to afford one... I was still working at that plant when Ford bought a majority share in Mazda and bought a new Ford Probe - looking back at pictures of it I now gag - but it was considered a cool car at the time. Ford adopted the Kaizen philosophy and has been very successful - think no bailout.

People here want to go camping - the Covid pandemic has dumped in a lot more people into outdoor recreation as a means to vacation away from crowds. People complaining in forums and magazine articles aren't going to get manufacturers to change. There is a demand for RV's and people are simply buying what is available - too bad, that at the price point most people can afford, it's mostly sub par and it's too late after you went down the rabbit hole and made a purchase - and most of these people don't have the skills to do their own repairs. People coming on here and asking what brands are quality get answered - none - they are all junk. What do you think they are doing - no longer considering purchasing because a few people on a forum told them everything was junk? You may as well try to form a boycott of some gas company.

I'm betting that there were no dealers for Oliver and Casita on that call. What it will take is for someone to show the folks in Indiana how to produce a decent mass produced RV/travel trailer which starts with having a trained and motivated work force.

"The industry is ripe for someone else to step in and start producing quality products."

It doesn't even have to be a company building them from scratch - it could be someone rehabbing one or two models of the current junk products out there now. But the issue is the work force. There are people in Indiana who want to do these jobs - it's up to the manufactures to learn how to effectively harness that desire into making a better product.

This whole issue should be presenting opportunities to entrepreneurs who could swoop in and build businesses to repair the junk currently being produced - where are they? Can't train competent workforce's either? People should be opening up new camping spots to take advantage of the glut - I see FB groups where people complain more about not having a place to go.

Time will tell - it may get better - but it will take one giant slap in the manufacturers face to make anything happen.


Experience without good judgment is worthless; good judgment without experience is still good judgment!

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wapiticountry

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Posted: 09/13/21 09:04am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

jdc1 wrote:

Imagine what kind of employees you get for $7.25/hour. Yes, that's Indiana's minimum wage.
I did a bit of Google research and couldn't find any indication that RV plant employees are paid at minimum wage. The job listings for Thor, for example show pay in the $15.00 range for general labor. Forest River is shown to have many positions paying in the $20.00 Hr. range (source Glassdoor.com) These are new employee, entry level wages, I would expect those wages would increase with seniority and experience.
It isn't exactly Silicon Valley executive level pay, but it is way more than any quoted minimum wage for the state.
Over the years the minimum wage conversation has somehow morphed from not exploiting high school kids and totally unskilled labor entering the work force for the first time to how it should be a living wage for a family. If you are not in one of those two categories and still making that minimum wage, your career path is in need of some serious re-evaluation.

noteven

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Posted: 09/13/21 09:43am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Ya it's fun when good quality RV examples get posted - not big enough, not enough storage, the price, the price, the price,

Lots of people believe "new stuff goes up in price" vs "my money is worth less as more fiat money is printed by those allowed to own the presses"

But anyways - your "price" of something is the difference between what you paid for it and what you sell it for isn't it?

goducks10

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Posted: 09/13/21 10:14am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

"If they buy it, we will build it"
Seems to me that the quality level corresponds with the expected results from the manufacture. I see no reason other than money that any manufacturer can't build a solid well built RV.I guaranty that those so called shabby workers would build it better if their jobs were on the line. They don't have to because they're not expected to be perfect. Only good enough.

The other problem is the cheap stuff that's been installed in RV's for decades. I see some trends in certain products that are slowly working their way into RV's. Build technology and parts improvement would go a long way towards improving quality.

toedtoes

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Posted: 09/13/21 11:05am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

2012Coleman wrote:

Someone wrote:

But until the public starts holding the manufacturers accountable, they will continue to sell cr@p.


LOL - this statement has been repeatedly posted since I joined this forum in 2012. And now we are supposed to be mad at the dealers who should be holding manufacturers liable for quality by refusing to sell their products?


First, you quote me yet actually change the quote to remove my screenname? A bit tacky.

Second, I never said to get mad at the dealers. I said that until the manufacturers are held accountable for putting out a cr@p product, nothing will change.

As long as people continue to buy poorly built campers, the manufacturers will continue to make poorly built campers. This is true for any and every product made.

Per this article:

Our list of RV brands includes almost 100 entries and more than 500 distinct brands and model series. But would you believe only six parent companies own 95+ percent of the market?

And the Big Two own a whopping 85 percent?!

Thor Industries
Foresr River



The other four parent companies are Winnebago Industries, REV Group, Northwoods Manufacturing and Gulf Stream Coach.

That means that companies like Casita, Oliver etc, are capturing 5 percent of the market - combined. These companies make a very small range of RVs. Most often the small "couple sized" travel trailers.

For family sized RVs, there are far fewer options outside of the six major companies, and Thor and Forest River can afford to sell their entry level models at a loss - getting the new RVer into the market. If that entry level RV only holds up for one or two years, that's great. The consumer will have bought into the "RV life" and will upgrade, hopefully several times.


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2012Coleman

Florida

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Posted: 09/13/21 01:26pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

toedtoes wrote:

2012Coleman wrote:

Someone wrote:

But until the public starts holding the manufacturers accountable, they will continue to sell cr@p.


LOL - this statement has been repeatedly posted since I joined this forum in 2012. And now we are supposed to be mad at the dealers who should be holding manufacturers liable for quality by refusing to sell their products?


First, you quote me yet actually change the quote to remove my screenname? A bit tacky.

Second, I never said to get mad at the dealers. I said that until the manufacturers are held accountable for putting out a cr@p product, nothing will change.



First - I didn't quote you directly since you are not the only one who ever said that.

Second, I did not say that you specifically said we had to be mad at dealers - exactly why I didn't quote you. Someone else made that observation. If you'd like, I'll gladly update it.

I'm sorry that my attempt at trying to not belittle you came off as tacky.

dedmiston

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Posted: 09/13/21 02:01pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This thread went right where I thought it would.


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dedmiston

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Posted: 09/13/21 05:17pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Reopening. Please play nice with each other.

toedtoes

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Posted: 09/13/21 05:48pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

2012Coleman wrote:

toedtoes wrote:

2012Coleman wrote:

Someone wrote:

But until the public starts holding the manufacturers accountable, they will continue to sell cr@p.


LOL - this statement has been repeatedly posted since I joined this forum in 2012. And now we are supposed to be mad at the dealers who should be holding manufacturers liable for quality by refusing to sell their products?


First, you quote me yet actually change the quote to remove my screenname? A bit tacky.

Second, I never said to get mad at the dealers. I said that until the manufacturers are held accountable for putting out a cr@p product, nothing will change.



First - I didn't quote you directly since you are not the only one who ever said that.

Second, I did not say that you specifically said we had to be mad at dealers - exactly why I didn't quote you. Someone else made that observation. If you'd like, I'll gladly update it.

I'm sorry that my attempt at trying to not belittle you came off as tacky.


My apologies. Your clarification makes sense.

bikendan

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Posted: 09/13/21 09:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JimK-NY wrote:

Take a quick look at RVs and you will quickly see that poor construction is only part of the issue. Materials and parts are often poor. Design and engineering are typically very bad.

I equate the RV industry to the American auto industry of the 50s and 60s. It took some serious foreign competition to shake up the industry. Even now American makers continue to struggle with quality; e.g., for Ford quality is still "job one". Considering the high prices and poor quality, the door is open for foreign competition.


Exactly where will this RV foreign competition come from? There is no RV manufacturering there except for a couple of Japanese boutique builders of tiny motorhomes. Yes, there are some European RV manufacturers but it's nearly impossible to make a profit to export them to North America. How many European RVs have you seen at any dealerships here?
Shipping costs from Europe or the Far East are too high for them to make a profit. And RVs take up much more room on ships, than cars do.
The only possibility would be foreign investors to buy an existing RV manufacturer and instill their version of quality construction. But I don't see that happening, like Hymer RV's debacle and scandal of purchasing Roadtrek.


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