Dutchmen Manufacturing Redefined The Travel Trailer Industry
I remember when the first Dutchmen travel trailers were built. I also remember the first time they displayed them in South Bend. Notre Dame parking lots became a sea of recreational vehicles. That was back when the fall show was a major event. In time it faltered and eventually went away. Forest River revived it years later, but as a private show for their dealers. It has now turned into a major event for most manufacturers in the Elkhart, Indiana area.
Dutchmen has built an extensive line of recreational vehicles for over 20 years. How were they responsible for making the rest of the travel trailer manufacturers rethink how they built and equipped them? They just came up with a simple idea. Give consumers more for their money. Wow, what a concept!
Dealers were stocking brand names that had led the industry for years.Those trailers came to a dealer’s lot with no antennas, awnings, microwaves, stereos, televisions, or air conditioners. All these options were sold and installed by the dealer. The dealer bought those options from a parts supplier.
When Dutchmen introduced their travel trailer with everything, well almost everything, standard, it ignited a fire in the RV industry that would burn for a long time. It would cause dealers, suppliers, and manufacturer’s to change how they did business. But, before that happened, intense conversations and battles took place between suppliers, dealers, and manufacturer’s
It is, needless to say, who won the battles. Dutchmen succeeded in their new endeavor, and the RV business changed forever. You would be hard pressed to find a popular travel trailer today, that is not equipped, with almost every option previously mentioned. In the end, the consumer was the real winner.
The camping family soon found themselves shopping for a recreational vehicle in a whole new way. Many manufacturers were really slow to accept that the well equipped travel trailer was here to stay. In the meantime, shoppers spoke loudly with their checkbooks. The rise of the Dutchmen organization was on a rapid pace of gaining market share. In time almost every brand, on every dealers lot, was now equipped with at least an air conditioner, awning, television antenna, and microwave.
Dutchmen purchased a few years later by Thor was a dominant player in their profitability. Today, Thor is the worlds largest manufacturer of RV’s. Dutchmen Manufacturing is still a key part of Thor’s travel trailer division.