RV maker Coachmen replaces CEO
The Elkhart, Ind.-based company announced that Claire C. Skinner, daughter of Coachman’s founder, “elected to take early retirement.” Richard Lavers, Coachmen's chief financial officer will take over the CEO role.
The move comes as the manufacturer struggles to sustain profitability. Coachmen also cut its dividend in half from six cents a share to three cents per share. The company reported just over $700 million in revenue last year.
Skinner had worked for the company for 18 years. The new Coachmen CEO clearly wants to move in a new direction.
"Coachmen has great employees, great brands, and great dealers,” Lavers said in a prepared statement. “Our clear focus is on restoring profitability, but that is not enough. Our goal is to be a leader in our industry. We will hit the ground running, with a sense of urgency from day one."
William P. Johnson will take over Skinner’s duties as chairman of the company’s board. He endorsed the management shake-up.
“The board is confident in the future of Coachmen Industries, Inc,” he said. “We believe the company's best days lie yet ahead.”
The company reported a loss of $26.4 million in 2005, leading Coachmen to announce an “intensive recovery program” to reach profitability. The efforts – layoffs, the elimination of some products – were mildly successful. The first quarters of 2006 showed a profit of a little more than $3 million.
We called Coachmen
to get more insight on the company.
We spoke to Jeffrey Tryka, director of planning and investor relations, who was pretty tight-lipped about Coachmen’s plans.
He said the move was made to “return to operating profitability and to restore the company’s leadership role to what it was in the past.”
Tryka said that the company doesn’t have a position dedicated to marketing. He said that marketing is handled by each brand inside the company. Coachmen has several different brands including Coachmen Recreational Vehicles, Viking Recreational Vehicles, Sportscoach, Mod-U-Kraf and All American Homes.
He said that the company operates under two main corporate segments – recreational vehicles and systems-built housing (manufactured homes.)
We asked about the demographics for each segment. Tryka said the manufactured housing target audience varies greatly. But, for recreational vehicles, Coachmen generally targets the 45 to 65 crowd for larger motor homes. For smaller RVs, the company tagets young families in their mid-20s to mid-40s.
Tryka said that company doesn’t have an agency of record and all creative work is handled in house. He said that the company occasionally requires the services of an outside agency for project work.
Agencies with experience targeting the company’s demographic should reach out to Lavers and other executives at Coachmen immediately. It’s hard to sell recreational vehicles with gasoline costing nearly $3 per gallon. But with the price of gas receding, the company could be a great marketing campaign away from profitability. We’d suggest aiming high and making contact with Lavers – perhaps its time Coachmen got an agency of record. Agencies could also try reaching out to some of the brands, and working up from there.
Coachmen Industries, Inc.
P.O. Box 3300
Elkhart, IN 46515
Director of Planning & Investor Relations
Chief Executive Officer
Michael R. Terlep
President Coachmen RV Company
Product and Sales Manager
Coachmen Class C's
All American Homes
Vice President & General Manager