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Old 04-07-2018, 02:23 PM   #1
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Default Wonder why RV quality seems to be slipping?

I found this short video on another forum. Some (like me) think the overall quality of RVs in general (and certainly Bs are no exception) has noticeably declined in the last couple of years. Since most are made in Elkhart this is pretty informative. Pushing for numbers always seems to be a route to problems in any industry.

Many Bs, of course, are not made in the Elkhart area but it is reasonable to assume the supply and demand and hiring issues are the same. Just look at the wait time on new Bs to prove that point.


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Old 04-07-2018, 03:27 PM   #2
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I lived through a boom... in North Dakota. It totally sucks for those who are retired because we only get the inflation and poor service from places that can't get workers. WalMart and McDonalds etc unable to get help for $15-20 an hour. It is why I left the state. The inevitable bust only makes things worse because the workers leave... and the trash (and their crime wave) stays behind.

Of course most Class B rigs are built in Canada... as they always have been.

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Old 04-07-2018, 03:33 PM   #3
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I don't think it is just RVs that are having the quality slippage, although RVs are a prime example of the problems.

Before the recession, companies had really started to figure out that having poor quality was not a good thing, and that higher quality paid off in the long run with happier customers, better reputations, and less warranty costs.

Unfortunately, when things got tight, the first thing to go was anything that was seen as non value added by accountants, and that included lots of quality related things. Training, good tools, improvements, etc all went away for many, many, companies during that time period.

Unfortunately, now that times are good and profits up, the bar for quality has already been severely lowered so there is not as much incentive to get back to doing a better, quality job. When you see $150K high end RVs with the lowest end import electronics in them, you know that they are just maximizing profits and not concerned about quality and reliability, or their customers.

I don't think the RV quality will start to improve much until the market saturates with more manufacturers so quality gets to be more of a visible determining factor between brands and the weaker players either have to improve or vanish.

In the 80s and 90s, there were lots of programs from consultants that claimed that "quality is free". The premise was that the costs of improved quality would be covered by reduced scrap, returns, rework, etc. Places I worked went through many of the programs and found the improvements didn't turn out to "free" in the short term dollars evaluations, which disappointed many of the executive and accountant folks. What the improvements did do was assure survival when markets got very competitive or there was a slowdown, when all the low quality suppliers would start to go under.

IMO, there is really no reason to have poor quality and customer service in this day and age, and with the economy doing well. The only reason things haven't gotten better is because of greed for profits over sustainability and because the public hasn't yet revolted and demanded better.
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Old 04-07-2018, 04:18 PM   #4
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I just finished reading an article that says the RV Business is super booming....they are so short of manpower that they are paying bonuses! I can just imagine walking the assembly floors of travel trailers....can just see the attention to detail and the QA before it rolls out. On the buyers end, I keep reading on FB about people so peeved at Dealers and Manufacturers for selling them crap, refusing to acknowledge the problem.....but wanting everyone to buy that Extended Warranty Service. Ironic, the only satisfied customers of these seem to tout CW's and their high praise of service and work - makes me think these are from CW Corporate....for everything else about them is disastrous.
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Old 04-07-2018, 06:13 PM   #5
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Since seventies we had 3 reasonable quality RVs among some below average ones. 1977 and 1985 Westfalias and 1997 Bigfoot truck camper. My first exposure to NA made RV appliance was an LPG heater (brown louvers) which I installed in 1977 Westfalia in place of the spare tire. This was a disaster, it sounded like 2 years old child learning to play a violin.

With good experience from our Bigfoot we followed with a trailer, and this RV was appalling. Afterwards I learned that original Bigfoot owner with his staff perished in the airplane disaster. The management replacement team had different objectives and experiences and then the financial crash hit them hard. Change of management resulted in different quality attitude permeating the company. I was left with my own repairs such as preventing the awning of becoming a missile.

In my view there is an optimum balance of engineering, manufacturing technologies, and price point to be successful. I donít think we are at this point in NA. Manufacturing technologies are often old like, my most favored, staple gun. Shops are often too small to hire engineers unless charging high prices. This optimum balance is met by a few companies in EU, large manufacturing sites, molding tools, engineering departments, automation reflecting in decent prices.

My hope was for Hymer to bring their technologies to NA, did not happen.
Methodologies of building RVs are stagnant but there are some new RV appliances such as combining water with space heating by Truma or Webasto, new battery management systems by combining inverters with chargers, or multiple DC source chargers.

And The Lithium, from my perspective a little like this, just change the CAR for Li:

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Old 04-07-2018, 07:12 PM   #6
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The video on Elkhart features one of my favorite stops, the Lechyd Da Brewery. I've been there a few times.
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Old 04-07-2018, 07:30 PM   #7
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How much of the perceived quality decline is because of forums and other electronic media allow us to share problems? My parentís RVís in the 1980 to 1995 era were way worse than our 2013.

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