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Another one bites the dust


LindaH

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This is very, very sad news indeed. Although we don't own an Excel, we came THISCLOSE to buying one when we first began fulltiming. But we visited their Smith Center factory 2 or 3 times, and the Excel dealer in Moriarty, NM, many more times. Peterson built very nice units, and the people we know who are Excel owners have nothing but good things to say about them. Many have purchased more than one. I appreciated the personal service we received from everyone connected with Peterson Industries; it was a pleasure to work with a smaller manufacturer -- as opposed to the mega-builders. Seeing yet another small company forced to close their doors because of this economy is so very depressing.

 

I'm sure this was an extremely tough decision to have to make, and I'd like to send the owners & staff my best wishes during this extremely difficult time.

 

Renee

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We are disappointed. We just got to see an Excel last weekend after trying to coordinate for a few months. It's the first trailer that we instantly thought we could live in. We're still about 12-18 months from buying, but they were #1 on our list at this point.

 

Back to the drawing board, still other brands to look at.

 

Sigh.

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We fulltimed in an Excel and traded it in on our new, smaller, motorhome last winter. It was a good rig and factory support (what we needed of it, which wasn't much), was always excellent.

 

This is going to be a big blow for the town of Smith Center, too. I don't know how many employees they had, but I imagine it was a good portion of Smith Center's work force. And it's not like they're in Indiana where they could find another job in the RV industry.

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I'm not sure the question is -- what quality manufacturers are left? The problem I see is -- what AFFORDABLE quality manufacturers are left? There's an awful large percentage of the RVing population who can't, or don't want to, spend the big BIG bucks it costs for one of the three Jack has listed. Excel & DRV, although not cheap, were more reachable in price, yet at a higher level of quality than many others.

 

I just hope our Horizons continues to hold up, because if I'm going to spend almost in the up-to-$250K range, it's not going to be on an RV. Maybe I just have too much of my mom's frugality in me, but I could buy a darn nice house in a darn nice location for that & travel for a few months every year in a much smaller unit than we now have! Others may have a different opinion.

 

Renee

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And Renee has said exactly what we are struggling with.

 

The closest price/quality competitor to Excel/DRV that we had seen to date was Redwood and I don't really like them. Excel clearly stood out from the crowd. We've waffled between buying used & buying new, but we're currently leaning new for reasons that I don't want to use to thread jack here. Now we are left trying to figure out what to do. We'll look at DRV still in the hope that Thor doesn't drag it down too far before we are ready to buy in 12-18 months. But then I'll still worry about how they will manage warranty work. Or we move towards New Horizons or Spacecraft and spend more than we would prefer. Forks is out because they don't offer anything at 35' or under and we are determined to stay at that length. Both New Horizons and Spacecraft are heavier than we really wanted to go as well.

 

We'll figure it all out, I'm sure. But for this week, we're sad for Excel and their employees.

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I too agree with Renee. When we started looking for our new full-timer unit, we seriously considered HitchHiker, Carriage, and DRV. Carriage stopped production during our search so we eliminated them from consideration, and ended up with a Hitchhiker Discover America that we are totally satisfied with. A top quality unit, designed for full-time use, without the "frills" that seem to show up so often in the upper end of the mass produced units. We didn't want a TV on a motorized lift, a vessel sink, or a 1500 watt heater dressed up to resemble a fireplace. But we also wanted a unit that could still be safely pulled by a "normal" pick-up truck and didn't cost six figures.

 

Within a year of buying out Hitchhiker, they too ceased factory production, so they are gone as a future option.

 

I know that New Horizons and others make very high quality units, but they are quite expensive and generally very heavy. I seems like this niche above the typical mass production trailers and below the very highest-end is drying up and going away.

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From what I have gathered talking to the factory people at DRV, it looks like Heartland is taking a "hands off" approach to them. They do have better buying power now and can get the same components at a cheaper cost than before which should help lower production costs. Thor was trying to break into the higher end market with a semi custom maker and know that to keep that "feel" they will need to leave them pretty much as is.

 

Then again, Thor has screwed up a few others in the past.......

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I too agree with Renee.

 

I know that New Horizons and others make very high quality units, but they are quite expensive and generally very heavy. I seems like this niche above the typical mass production trailers and below the very highest-end is drying up and going away.

I agree. There are not many choices left in that tier below custom. Probably Lifestyle and DRV are where it is at. Personally, I'd likely look for a used Carriage and renovate it. And when the custom trailers are pushing into the $250K range it certainly gives you "pause" as to what you are getting for that money. You better be taking FULL advantage of the customization that is built into those prices.

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Although I have not seen one the Augusta Luxe appears to be a good quality unit. It is 13'6" also, so should be plenty of head room.

We saw a Luxe at the Tampa show and were impressed until I looked at the weight sticker and realized that CCC was around 1000lbs.

 

Rich

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Not surprized really. When I was at the Hershey, PA RV show this past Fall. My wife and I walked through a unit and past 3 salesman. No one said a single word to us. And this was during the week before all of the crouds. We looked at a Lifestyle and DRV and went with a DRV. I was able to get more custom stuff with the DRV. Plus they have a history and I heard good things about them backing there product. I'm sure DRV sales will pick up because of this.

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We saw a Luxe at the Tampa show and were impressed until I looked at the weight sticker and realized that CCC was around 1000lbs.

 

Rich

 

According to the specs at their website, the smallest CCC (for their shortest fifth wheel) is 2,941#. Of course, this would go down based on the options selected.

 

http://augusta-rv.com/fifth-wheel-specifications/

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That wasn't the Luxe model. I couldn't find this info on the Luxe. Luxe comes in 40'-up units. I was simply pointing out we may have an option. I do believe Excel lack of dealer base really hurt them. I have never seen new ones on a lot and see few in rv parks. In contrast I see about as many Tetons as Excels.

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Bryan bent over backwards to see that I got the trailer I wanted and needed. Because of the way we RV, we needed one in the 28-30 foot, and as far as we could tell, Excel was the only high quality trailer maker with one that small. We are very happy with it.

And, in the few times that we have had trouble, the folks at the factory also went all out to help us. We plan to leave tomorrow in our Excel, and in a way, it will be sad.

 

Bryan, if you read this ---- Thank you very, very much for all the help you gave me in "outfitting" my Excel in a way that exactly fits our needs. I worried about taking too much of your time, but you never seemed to mind. I am sure you remember my name: Charles Skinner

 

C. S.

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Kind of off topic, but where are the one stop renovation facilities and who are they?

 

 

JB

John, Hitch Hiker has a complete restoration/repair shop in Kansas. According to Mike Mitchell, the owner they are doing great repairing and restoring HHs and others. In addition when we were last there they had landed a contract to construct high end interiors in stock trailers made in Oklahoma City, and there were at least 6 older HHs having a complete "remodel".

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