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News for May 19, 2024

MC Fireside Chats – April 24th, 2024

Episode Summary

In the recent episode of MC Fireside Chats, host Brian Searl led a comprehensive discussion with prominent figures in the RV and outdoor hospitality industry. The conversation covered a wide range of topics that are currently shaping the future of RVing. Key industry leaders including David Ramsay and Brian Fuente, who represent innovative RV companies, shared their insights on market expansion and the pivotal role of technology in evolving RV designs. Their companies focus on making RVs more accessible and appealing to a broader audience, which includes a significant increase in first-time RV owners who are attracted by user-friendly and technologically advanced features. Phil Ingrassia and Shane Devenish offered perspectives on broader industry trends, such as the need for simpler, more intuitive RV technologies that can accommodate an increasingly diverse consumer base. They discussed how the industry is adapting to meet these demands through both product development and enhanced customer service strategies. Eleonore Hamm contributed to the discussion by highlighting the importance of advocacy and educational initiatives in Canada, which aim to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of RVing, particularly emphasizing how technologies like Starlink can transform RVing experiences in remote areas. Susan Carpenter spoke about the notable rise in solo female travelers in the RV sector, pointing out that vehicle designs are becoming more inclusive, reducing barriers to entry and making RVing less intimidating for newcomers. The conversation also featured a significant focus on the transformative impact of Starlink’s satellite internet service, with both Ramsay and Fuente explaining how it has revolutionized the connectivity options available to RVers. This innovation has not only enhanced the appeal of off-grid RVing but has also expanded the possibilities for where RVs can travel without losing touch with digital necessities. The dialogue delved into how these advancements are influencing consumer behaviors and expectations, with RV manufacturers increasingly integrating features that promote a blend of comfort, convenience, and connectivity. This shift is not just about accommodating the needs of traditional RV users but also about attracting new demographics who view RVs as viable options for remote work and extended travel. Overall, this episode of MC Fireside Chats provided a rich tapestry of insights that illustrate the dynamic changes occurring in the RV industry. It underscored the industry’s responsiveness to consumer demands and technological advancements, highlighting a promising future for outdoor hospitality. The collective expertise of the speakers painted a picture of an industry at an exciting crossroads, with technology and customer-centric designs driving growth and expanding the horizons of traditional RVing.

Recurring Guests

A man in a suit and tie is posing for a photo during the MC Fireside Chats on December 21st.
Phil Ingrassia
Executive Director
RVDA
On December 21st, 2022, a woman in a white blazer strikes a pose for a photo during the MC Fireside Chats event.
Eleonore Hamm
President
RVDA Canada
A smiling woman in a black jacket and floral shirt, ready for the MC Fireside Chats on December 21st.
Susan Carpenter
Executive Director
RV Women's Alliance
On December 21st, a man in a suit is smiling in an office during MC Fireside Chats.
Shane Devenish
President
CRVA

Special Guests

David Ramsay
CEO
DM Vans
Brian Fuente
CEO and Founder
Aero Build

Episode Transcript

This is MC Fireside Chats. A weekly show featuring conversations with thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and outdoor hospitality experts who share their insights to help your business succeed. Hosted by Brian Searl, the founder and CEO of Insider Perks. Empowered by insights from Modern Campground, the most innovative news source in the industry.

Brian Searl: [00:01:00] Welcome everybody to another episode of MC Fireside Chats. My name is Brian Searl with a street cleaning truck who just pulled up in front of me as the show began. So hopefully you guys can’t hear that in the background noise. But super excited to be here for our fourth week episode talking about The RV industry, all things outdoor hospitality.

I think we’re going to try in the future guys to bring in a couple of people here from the public. Remember when we had Kurt on here and we had a really cool discussion about national parks, state parks, things like that because that plays a role in the RV industry too, so I think we’re going to try to do that a little bit in the future as well, but super excited to be here with our, a couple of our current guests from Carpenter from the RV Women’s Alliance, Shane Devenish from CRVA, Eleanor Hamm.

RVDA of Canada, and Phil Ingrassia from RVDA of, is it’s not even an of, right? It’s just, that’s kind of arrogance from an American perspective, Phil. You really should be of America, like Eleanor is of Canada. We can be basically, probably. And then super excited to have two special guests here. Brian Fuente, Romero Bild, did I pronounce that right?

And Dave Ramsay, but not the Ramsay you think. He’s better. [00:02:00] Dave Ramsey from DM Vans. Super excited to welcome everybody here. Let’s just go around the room real quick to the people who don’t know starting with our current guest, Eleanor, you’re right to the left of me, in my view. Let’s introduce yourself and talk a little bit about where you’re from, if you want.

Eleonore Hamm: Sure, thank you very much. I’m Eleanor Hamm. I’m president of the RV Dealers Association of Canada. We represent dealers across the country. We’re actually a federation of provincial and regional associations. And, some of our key Objectives as our strategies and goals for our association are advocacy, education, benefits.

Brian Searl: Awesome. Phil? 

Phil Ingrassia: Hi, I’m Phil Ingrassia. I’m Eleanor’s counterpart in the U. S., so we represent U. S. Motorhome and Travel Trailer Dealers. We’re aligned with RVDA of Canada where we put on a national convention every November in Las Vegas and Eleanor sits on our board as a guest and I also sit on the RVDA of Canada board, so we’re pretty aligned as far [00:03:00] as, we want to help people US RV dealers, and by extension their customers, have a great experience in the great outdoors.

Awesome. Susan? 

Susan Carpenter: Hi, I’m Susan Carpenter from the RV Women’s Alliance, and I’m president of that in North America and some global we’re a, an association for women and men in the RV industry, where we offer networking, professional education, And we do symposiums, we do summer series, we do, this week, next weekend we’re doing a big campout in Howe, Indiana.

Supporting the industry every way we can. 

Brian Searl: Why Indiana for a camp, what is with Indiana? I know the manufacturers are there, guys, but they’re I’m not knocking Indiana, but like, all the places you could go. 

Susan Carpenter: It’s where most majority of our membership is here, so it makes the most sense that people don’t have to travel so far.

But we have talked about having one mid season mid winter here down south, [00:04:00] which would be nice. 

Brian Searl: Somewhere, yeah. I understand the logic. It makes perfect sense. I just, I don’t believe in logic. Shane. 

Shane Devenish: Yeah, I love Indiana. I’m Shane Devenish. I’m the president of the Canadian RV Association, the Canadian equivalent of the RV Industry Association.

Our office, however, is, it’s much smaller than RVIA’s office. We’re up here near Toronto Burlington, Ontario, looking forward to tonight’s hockey game. And It’s a pleasure to be here again. 

Brian Searl: Shane, haven’t you learned not to look forward to the Maple Leaf games yet? It’s been so many years, Shane.

I’m trying to help you here, man, but 

Shane Devenish: One of these years, Brian. If I could say it every year, it’s gotta happen. 

Brian Searl: If you just moved to Calgary, our team sucks so bad we can’t even get in the playoffs, and then there’s no expectations, you’re not disappointed, it’s perfect. Brian! 

Brian Fuente: Yes thanks for having me.

I’m Brian Fuente, the [00:05:00] founder and CEO of Aerobuild and Coast. We’re actually based in Nashville, Tennessee. We have been building trailers since 2017, primarily commercial trailers for mobile businesses, sent them all over the world. We’ve built hundreds of those and helped entrepreneurs launch their business.

Since 2017, we just launched a new consumer division with An all electric luxury travel trailer brand called Coast, which we launched last year and excited to talk further about that today. 

Brian Searl: Nice. Excited to hear about it, sir. David Ramsey. 

David Ramsay: Yeah. Thanks for having me. So yeah, CEO of a company called DM Vans.

We’re based in Wrightville, Colorado. We’re a class B RV manufacturer focused more on. What I like to call more of the off grid class BRV, as opposed to the luxury RV park models. We’ve been in business since 2018 and have been doing pretty much the same thing the whole way through.

Brian Searl: That just means there’s a demand for it. Stability, right? That’s a good thing. Thank you for being here. [00:06:00] Appreciate it. Excited to dive into our two special guest conversations. I want to talk first, though, just, is there anything, as I normally ask our recurring guests, that has come across your desk in the last 30 days since we’ve had a chance to sit down with each other that you feel is important?

I know we had discussed possibly bringing up what happened, whatever happened last week. I don’t even know what happened, but that’s on the table if you want to talk about that. 

Eleonore Hamm: Yeah, last week we had our RV Industry Advocacy Awareness Week in Ottawa, Ontario, so Ottawa being our nation’s capital. We had obviously some board meetings from the different associations and then it culminated in our meetings with Members of Parliament, as well as a fun event on Spark Street, which is a pedestrian street in Ottawa.

Ottawa, we had a couple RVs and a campground set up. Shane brings his giant marshmallows every time. We get a lot of people stopping by. If if you want to look at our social media either The CCRVA or RVD of Canada are some of our social feeds. You’ll [00:07:00] see some of the pictures from the event.

But it’s always very important for us because we’re dealing with, policy makers and regulators and just ensuring that we’re always at the forefront of of their mind when they’re making decisions that would impact the RV industry. So 

Brian Searl: now I feel terrible because I was, I should have known that because I was there two years ago.

I wasn’t actually doing any real work. I was just Sitting in a room with you guys who are doing the real work, but I don’t remember Shane’s big marshmallows

Eleonore Hamm: They’re new but They’re very impressive 

Brian Searl: So you’re like Brian’s not coming anymore now. It’s safe to introduce the new things that are cool That’s how it basically works. Eleanor, I’m curious, what is some of the top things that are at the forefront of your mind from the RV industry perspective when you went to the hill here?

Eleonore Hamm: We’ve got, we’ve got a few things, and none of them are really new, and probably, you probably hear about this in the U. S. as well, but obviously the lack of support. We need more skilled labor, skilled workers. We need more RV service technicians in Canada. So we need government policies to ensure that that they’re attracting people into [00:08:00] skilled labor.

For us specifically, in the RV industry, it’s Red Seal Apprentice Trade but there’s only schooling out west. We need some labor mobility grants available to people. We also need more investments in Parks Canada, in the infrastructure of campgrounds. We talked a bit about electrification. And then also some taxation issues, which I won’t go into details because it’s taxation issues.

But from our side, I think it went fairly well. We had about 15 to 20 MPs, Members of Parliament, stopped by the RV, and then we had a, Quite a few series of meetings as well in the different with government. Unfortunately the budget, the federal budget was released the day before, so it was a little bit chaotic but that’s Ottawa, and we just, have to be nimble but I think overall it was very well received by our members.

Brian Searl: And sorry if there’s a buzz in the background. They apparently are not only driving trucks, but even now mowing lawns and doing all kinds of things. So I’m trying to meet myself in conversation so we can hear you. Would you say that you feel like, and obviously you guys have been doing this a [00:09:00] number of years, right?

There are different priorities every year, some that stay the same. Do you feel like as you continue to have a recurring presence there, as they get more familiar with you just by its very nature every year, right? Do you feel like the legislation is getting more familiar with legislators? MPs are getting more familiar with the industry and what your needs and desires and wants are and how they help the economy and all that.

Eleonore Hamm: Absolutely. We’ve actually been doing it for 20 years. We started in 2004 religiously going to, to Ottawa every year and we’ve had some great wins and successes. There was a luxury tax that was introduced in Canada a couple of years ago by the current government, which impacts the small aircraft.

The car industry, and fortunately, because of the relationships that we’ve built and people understand that, RVing is an affordable family vacation option, that we were successful in, in, in having the RV industry excluded from the luxury tax. So that’s really a lot of it, sometimes our assets are bigger than others, but just being there every year and having those relationships and just, both with, and we’re [00:10:00] nonpartisan, so with all parties in Canada.

I think it’s very important for us to be there annually. 

Brian Searl: Phil, I know yours is coming up in the U. S. in June, is that correct? Is that the time period? 

Phil Ingrassia: Yeah, that’s right. Very similar to what Eleanor and Shane did last week. We bring in both manufacturers, suppliers, other industry stakeholders, dealers, and RBI organizes it.

RVDA also participates in it. Some of the similar issues, we’re looking at more federal government investment into our national park, national forest system especially in the campground side and allowing access to that, those places where people want to go camping.

And unfortunately in the U S there hasn’t been a lot of investment. It hasn’t kept up. With the changes in the product. And we were very supportive of that. We also have some tax issues that we’re trying to work through with Congress [00:11:00] and the manufacturers have some trade issues as far as bringing in materials to build RVs.

Those are the kind of issues are the same every year, but. Others change depending on the political environment, the economy, and any tax policies that get changed. 

Brian Searl: Is it worth briefly, and I want to get to our special guest, but is it worth briefly for the people who watch here and don’t attend advocacy days or aren’t as involved in the association or maybe don’t have as much of an intricate knowledge of economics and politics and how all those things are intertwined, right?

Is it worth having a brief conversation about how important some of those things like international trade are to the health of the industry? Because I feel like there’s maybe a knowledge gap between you can say that people hear it and really understand how important it is. 

Phil Ingrassia: Some of the tariff issues and things when the prices are raised for production, and Susan knows this very well from her her perks, the prices go up.

And so what happens when prices go up? You’re [00:12:00] cutting a segment of the population. Out who can’t necessarily afford what they want to do. That’s 1 of the issues. And then we, in the US, we’ve got this situation where RV visits to national parks, for instance, have really dropped since the mid 80s.

And why is that? A lot of the parks just haven’t kept up with the growth in the production of RVs and we may need to make these investments in public lands and the infrastructure so that rising tide lifts all boats and so that we can grow the outdoor economy and provide access to the folks that want to enjoy the great outdoors.

Brian Searl: So I think that’s an interesting point. statement and maybe I’ll just use it as my segue to Dave so we can talk about his company first. Just, we’ve heard about this for a long time with the state national parks not having appropriate, some states do it better than others obviously, and there is federal funding, the Great American Outdoors Act but not as much as obviously anyone would love to have.

But there’s been that conversation for a [00:13:00] long time. At least, my circle primarily is campgrounds and RV parks. And so we’ve heard the private campgrounds are very well positioned to compete with those places because they have the 50 amp hookups and the patio sites and the places that can pull in those big rigs and pull through those back ribs and back big rig.

Yeah, I can’t talk. I was doing good and then I lost it. But Is this something that benefits companies like Dave’s More? Is it Dave or David? But, David’s More, is that something that benefits your companies, David? Do you think disproportionately? Because people who purchase your types of vans can already fit in those spaces, right?

David Ramsay: Yeah we’re an unique spot and both geographically being in Colorado we’re surrounded by BLM land, National Forest land. The amount of dispersed camping availability where we are is insane. I grew up in Minnesota. There’s really not a lot there. So the Western part of the United States is much more [00:14:00] open for people to take things to in their own hands, go where you want to go, park where you want to park, you have your 14 day limit and you got to move.

But, yeah, we’ve seen that there’s not a lot of campgrounds where we are to be honest, and I think it’s probably a combination of the cost of building one where we are is really expensive because there’s so much public land, there’s not a lot of private land to do that most of the areas around us are, again, National Forest, BLM, which are expensive.

Way different than a national park. I imagine it’s mostly funding related of the funding that goes towards the National Forest and all that. Dispersed campgrounds got some rocks in a circle. That’s about all that you’re going to get there. As opposed to you go to Grand Canyon, places like that, national parks, they have to have that infrastructure.

They have to have for the big towables or the big Class A’s. It’s expensive to build that to get the electrical requirements and all that. We’re in a unique spot and, half my company lives out of vans. I’ve lived out of van for eight years at this point. I’m very familiar with just going off into national forests and all that, but it’s always nice to have those [00:15:00] options of the amenities and the hookups and all that of the campgrounds.

And yeah it’s a growing industry. And I don’t know if there’s people keeping up with that. And again, we’re fortunate out West, but I don’t know what they do. In the Midwest or the East Coast, where there’s not a lot of national forest land, there’s not a lot of BLM land I think they’re only going to be either illegally camping places that you shouldn’t be or they’re going to require those higher end campgrounds with all the hookups and the bigger power consumption that’s now required.

Yeah it’s an interesting situation, I think and I think there are more companies like myself, and it sounds like Brian’s getting into this all electric as well, so that we’re not as reliant on campgrounds in order to go out and do what we want to do. 

Brian Searl: So now I know we’ve had these conversations on this show before when people have gone to some of the recent trade shows RV shows, things like that, where there’s been I think, admittedly, maybe you can disagree with me, the people who are on here as recurring guests, a shift toward, and sorry for the noise again they [00:16:00] all seem to be attacking me at the same time.

There’s been more of a shift from of those bigger RVs to some of the smaller ones, to the vans, to the, I think it’s Class Cs, right? I’m again, I’m Campground. I’m ignorant to the RV industry a little bit, but I’m learning as we go and talk to all these brilliant people on the show. So has that, is that something that you saw and started DM Vans or is that something that’s shifted and started to benefit you more as you had already started DM Vans?

David Ramsay: Yeah, to be honest, I bought my first van eight years ago. It was a road truck actually, so a Canadian based company. And the reason I bought it was because it gets better gas mileage, it can fit into a regular parking space, it’s easier to drive, and is more reliable and all that. And so I think that Canada is probably a little bit ahead of the U.

  1. as far as the Class B market, which would be vans. If you really want to look ahead, Europe is way ahead of us. They do about 120, 000, I think that’s the number, so don’t quote me on it, but 120, 000 roughly [00:17:00] Class B units per year. And they have half the population. In the U. S. we do about 16, 000 Class B units.

So they’re about 12 times bigger than we are. And it is that push as gas prices change, as land changes, as accessibility changes. The Class A’s, it’s tough. It’s tough to drive. It’s tough to own. It’s tough to park. It’s tough to store. I think there’s always going to be that. They’re amazing vehicles.

They’re, it’s a house on wheels. It’s incredible. But those little conveniences and those little changes, and again, the nature of how our country’s grown and the space that’s available, I think there’s definitely been a push to more efficiency. More economical and just easier to use, simpler and easier to navigate has been my perspective.

I’m obviously biased because that’s all I look at in my industry is the class B market. But it has been a relatively stable market. And I would say that class A’s and class C’s have gotten hit a little bit harder in the motorhome world of just, Yeah, it’s a little bit of kind of counter to the culture right [00:18:00] now.

But yeah, that’s, my, my personal experience was why I started the company of, I like vans more than the other options and there’s absolutely a niche that finds the same, but it’s definitely not the majority in the motorhome market yet, and I don’t know if we’re going to where Europe is, but that remains to be seen.

Brian Searl: So talk us through some of, why did you start DM Vans? What were you hoping to Fix. I’m assuming there were other band makers, maybe not as many as there are today, but what were you trying to fix? What were you trying to kind of stake, hang your hat on, so to speak? And for those of you who aren’t recurring guests please, if you this is now a kind of turn based thing.

So if you have a question for whoever we’re talking to, or somebody else, feel free to just pop in and ask whenever you want. We’d love to have you add value to the conversation, so I don’t have to talk as much, but. Go ahead, David. 

David Ramsay: Yeah. So we’re it’s interesting to hear Brian’s company as well, cause we’re similar in that I actually bought my first van cause I was starting a business and to put it bluntly, I needed a cheap way to be able to live and travel and a van was a [00:19:00] great way to do that.

Our company mission is basically to create possibilities to improve lives for that’s ultimately what we’re trying to do. What we’ve found is in the van space specifically and the overall RV market as well, the use cases now, particularly post COVID and post working remote and all that.

There’s so much opportunity for people to leverage this product. To whether it’s just for short experiences taking two week trips to to go and see national parks or all that, or to improve your kind of vacation or your field of life or whatever that is. There’s this whole other side of the spectrum of all these people that are starting to use it to actually improve their.

Call it their professional life. So we’ve seen professional golfers, we’ve got a professional crossfitters, travel nurses. All sorts of professional people that are now using the product. And especially the work remote community. We’ve got programmers, people like that, that have just basically said wow, I can now move all across the country, chase seasons, chase weather, [00:20:00] visit friends, visit family, visit different areas and make a living and work.

So we’ve just been there to try and support. That pursuit of your passion and your life. And it isn’t just for the outdoors. Obviously that’s a huge part of it. And we don’t ignore that part of it at all. We’re just adding to the use cases that exist for the RV market.

It’s not just for national parks and not just for going outdoors. It’s for whatever your life will improve by it. That’s what it’s for at the end of the day. And I think the van segment. does offer a little bit more flexibility because you can actually be in an urban environment. I’ve lived in my van in New York City before I’ve lived in my van in LA and San Francisco.

Like it’s much easier to do that when you’re not in a big class C or a class A or a tow behind where you can’t park on the street. So it’s just adding a little bit of that opportunity to the segments that already exist in the RV space. And that’s been our goal is just to add more kind of opportunity and options for people.[00:21:00] 

Shane Devenish: Hey, David, is it, is your your unit a class B RV or is it a van conversion? 

David Ramsay: It’s a class B RV. Okay. RV compliant and NADA and all that. It’s definitely, if you look at it aesthetically it definitely comes from the custom van world. So all the materials used are double laminated Baltic birch and The aesthetic is very much like we still have pine ceilings on our vans tongue and groove pine.

We wanted to keep that aesthetic of, not all the materials that are used in the classic RV. We wanted to make it a little bit different and feel more like that custom van, but still obviously make it RVA compliant and all that. 

Shane Devenish: How else are your units different? 

David Ramsay: We’ve got a few main ones.

We have no exterior piping or anything underneath our vehicle, so there’s no generators, no black tanks, no gray tanks, no [00:22:00] again, plumbing. There’s nothing underneath the vehicle. All of it’s internal. So it’s a full four season. We’ve got heat and air conditioning, all internal. So that’s the one big one is you don’t have to winterize it.

Everything works all the same time. The other big one is we use composting toilets, which is a very kind of new thing, I would say, and there’s not many other RV companies I see doing it. But if any of you have ever used the black tank, it gets rid of all that mess and trying to find a dump station or any of that.

So having lived in the RV for 4 years and having to find dump stations and them being closed in the winter and all that stuff. We exclusively use composting toilets to make that more eco friendly and just easier for our customers and hopefully the environment as well. So those are the 2, I would say, biggest differences.

We’re all electric. I think that’s not new anymore. That’s, that’s where the standard’s going. Lithium batteries have gotten so cheap it makes it much more cost feasible to do that. Yeah, those are the two main [00:23:00] ones. And then if you just look at the design, it’s just built to be reliable and it’s built to be efficient.

They’re very simple, very straightforward. They rarely break because there’s just very few things in there to break. And that was one of our other big ones is just to keep them out of service phase, keep them out of being repaired and, staying on the road at the end of the day. We’ve all You know, heard the stories of the service industry and at the RVA leadership conference a few months ago, they talked a lot about that the CEO from Blue Compass was there and saying there’s a big gap in the service part of the RV industry.

So that’s something that we’re trying to solve on our side of it, which is to just make it more reliable, just make it work. 580 units on the road and I have essentially My salesperson handles all of our support calls. So it’s very minimal. I think she does maybe a couple of calls a week on those 580 units.

It’s been a good thing for our customer.

Brian Searl: All right, Brian, by David’s [00:24:00] own comparison, he said you’re similar. Do you agree? 

Brian Fuente: Yeah, I think We align on both reliability and quality and, obviously we’re in the towable market because that’s what we do. We’ve been building trailers, like I said, since 2017. And so we stayed in that lane and we just introduced Coast Model 1 last year.

And the first ones have just rolled off the production line and it’s been a lot of fun to see. Years of of R& D and hard work finally coming to life. So just to piggyback off of that, I think I grew up camping with as a kid, and it was just like one of my favorite pastimes with with family and, I saw such a, when we launched AirBuild in 17 we started building these trailers for, like I said, mobile businesses.

And as I started hey trying to figure out where I wanted to go with the company. I knew one day that I wanted to get into the consumer side with an RV. And saw a lot, a lack of innovation, lack of quality and lack of really great design in the space.

And We an architect friend of mine and a couple of engineers got [00:25:00] together and started designing Model 1 and it took about three years. And like David said, three years ago, all electric was such a unique thing. Now, today it’s the we all know what all electric means.

But we did launch this and we were one of the first all electric travel trailers to hit the market. So we introduced this in January of 23. And, I think pretty much overnight we got blogs and articles written about it all over the world because of just how unique the product was. I think, it’s, I come from an interior design background and Model 1 is is, has a very modern very comfortable very high quality interior.

And I think that’s what sets this apart too. It is a completely off grid unit as well. It’s got 1600 watts of solar and 23 kilowatt hours of lithium. Is a towable but we’ve also made it very easy to to set up and break down. And it tows amazing. Those that fear towing, this is certainly a trailer that’s set up for just that.

Brian Searl: So talk us through how you started it. What did [00:26:00] you want to accomplish? 

Brian Fuente: Yeah Launching a trailer manufacturing business in Nashville was not the easiest thing. We don’t it’s not like we have a labor pool of a bunch of technicians and workers that come from trailer manufacturing.

But and honestly started off with some friends and I. We launched Nashville’s, we built this retro style concession trailer and we launched Nashville’s first mobile bar and it was an overnight success. People started seeing the trailer and other people say, Hey, can you renovate our Airstream or can you build one for our retail shop?

Can you build one for our, we want, we have a, we started building all these custom trailers with the same friends. And as we started building things, we turned it into a business and that’s when we launched Aerobuild. And now Aerobuild, we have two, we have a factory that and the one, one side of the factory is commercial and one side is coasting, which is the consumer division.

And we’ve really honed in on the commercial side on our mobile coffee shops and it’s become a big deal. And we’ve just, [00:27:00] gone back to what David said. We just don’t have. We don’t have service calls. We build a very high quality unit. We’ve learned a lot through trailer manufacturing over the years.

And we felt like it was, we were ready and it was time to develop Coast, which is a very different product and built, constructed very differently. So it’s made with all composite materials. There’s no wood. It’s an all seasons trailer. It’s it’s built with the best of the best materials.

And so it’s built to be reliable and to to really, give the end user a really luxe experience on the road. 

Brian Searl: So when you talked us through how you got started and that’s an amazing story, I wish I had more time to dive more into that, right? Especially with mobile bars, I’ll take that all day.

But as you launched this new, and I’m so sorry, what was the name again? I don’t have it in my notes. The new Oasis? Coast. Coast. Okay. I don’t know why I thought of it in my head. So it sounds good though, maybe for your next model. So as you launched Coast though, what were, when you look at the problems that you were [00:28:00] trying to solve with it, what were you trying to primarily do that was different?

Brian Fuente: First of all, it was, like I said, it was the design and then innovation. I think, at the time there was no electrification in, in the total market. And but, At the, at our core, it’s the quality that we are so focused on. I saw such a need for a quality unit you just I’ve had several friends and family that have had RVs and travel trailers over the years and just had consistent issues and I was like I want to do something.

We want to be better. We want to provide something that these are not mass produced. These are hand built by our craftsmen here in Nashville. They’re, we build only two at a time and we that was really the driving force behind this, but it was also great design and, modern, a modern approach to a really beautiful interior very high end all the components are super high end, all the materials we build these out of are very high end, even things like our countertops. They, you just can’t damage them. They’re built to last. So 

Brian Searl: it was [00:29:00] really Elon said that about Cybertruck. Be careful. What’s that? Elon said that about Cybertruck. Be careful. 

Brian Fuente: I know. But yeah, I think yeah, it’s, it was really the when we started designing this, it was it was just time for some innovation and some and quality and good design.

Because just like David said in the European market you look at what they’re doing over there and it’s it’s from a design perspective, there’s some really beautiful units in the States that just ha we’re just, we’re, we’ve been a little far behind. Now we’re starting, I think we’re starting to see some shifts in design.

But that’s something that’s just happened over the past couple of years. 

Brian Searl: And are both of you a direct to consumer, you and David, or? Do you work with any dealers? 

Brian Fuente: We are currently direct to consumer. 

Brian Searl: Do you have aspirations to change that one day? 

Brian Fuente: Yes, potentially. I think, we’re a small team so I think, direct to consumer is not it’s not always the easiest.

Of course, if you have dealers that are behind the product and you have, a lot of marketing power and more voices talking about it, but it’s certainly [00:30:00] something we’re interested in exploring. Thank you. Both are commercial and consumer. 

Brian Searl: I’m curious your, I know we’ve talked about this briefly in other areas, Phil, but Phil or Eleanor, do you have thoughts on how this does not, might fit into, not specifically his products, but generally these types of 

Phil Ingrassia: Yeah, the RV industry is full of startups that started out direct to consumer and then built a dealer network once they had, establish the product as a quality product and, but, to scale up it’s, to be a national brand, it’s difficult to not have a dealer network.

And so that’s what we’ve seen over and over again in the RV business going way back into the 60s. A lot of these, a lot of the, the household names, if you will, were started. In a garage, John, John John K. Hanson and Winnebago and John Crean at Fleetwood.

You go back and look at the old days. That’s how those folks started. And that’s what makes it such a great industry. New entrants like David and Brian can [00:31:00] come in. and build a product and scale it up if they want. If they don’t have to do it.

But there’s a lot of opportunity. And that the great thing is, and what David and Brian are doing too, is they’re bringing new people into the market, right? It used to be we had, Retiree segment, young family segment, that’s about it. Okay, that’s when I got in 25 years ago, that’s all we talked about.

But now there’s so many different types of people using RVs for whatever they want to use it for. It may be camping, but it may be something completely different. So that’s one of the great things about the business. There’s just a ton of opportunity. 

Brian Fuente: Yeah, and we’re certainly seeing a kind of a new era of buyers.

It’s A lot of our customers have never camped before. It’s an opportunity to work remotely, like David said. We have Starlink, the high performance panel that we include. We’ve got people out there that are living in these full time. And I had one customer say she’s so excited about Doing zoom calls with [00:32:00] her with her camera on instead of off.

And so she sold her house and she’s living in a coast and she’s traveling and she’s, but she’s never RV’d or pulled a trailer in her entire life. So we are bringing I think a a new a new era of buyers into the industry for sure. 

David Ramsay: So we’re in the mi, we’re in the middle of transitioning from DTC to B2B.

We’ve got about 13 B2B locations across the country now. Through, through, through three different dealerships, but yeah, we had a certain volume where, trying to do 200 units from Rifle, Colorado, in the mountain, we’d be one of the top five dealerships in the country if we move 200 class B units out of one location.

It was inevitable that. Once we established our brand and our product and improved it over a five year period yeah, if someone calls me from Florida or New York city, they’re not flying into Denver, driving three hours just to then go touch the vehicle. So that’s where the dealership network is huge of, now we’ve got coverage from New [00:33:00] Hampshire down to Florida, Southern California, up to Washington.

And that’s the process. It obviously takes a while, right? You can’t accomplish the switch and all of a sudden we’ve got all these dealer partners, cause there’s a learning curve for them too. But yeah, as you move forward that’s the beauty of the RV industry is that there’s a very established dealership.

Network and dealership process. And it’s been there for decades. And so to be able to leverage that as the next step to get to that scale. And yeah where Brian’s at, if, they’re doing two at a time, maybe that scale isn’t quite there yet, but, As you get to that, then all of a sudden you’ve got these support network out there that can help move units in California, which you’re, probably difficult to move California from Nashville.

Yeah. 

Brian Fuente: Yeah, we are very fortunate in Nashville that it’s a major metropolitan area. So people do fly in and we have. Customers driving in, so we’re fortunate there for sure. 

Brian Searl: So we have a lot of wisdom on this call. I’m going to pick on Shane because he’s been a little quiet today. So sorry Shane.

We have a lot of but same question really to Phil and [00:34:00] Eleanor and to Susan and there’s a lot of wisdom on this call, a lot of years of experience, right? And so we’ve had several of these companies in the past on the show who have great products, Early stages compared to speaking of their companies.

Is there something that you would give them as a piece of advice as they continue to look to grow in the industry, both with dealers, without dealers, with consumers, without whatever? Is there something that you would give them that says, this is a piece of advice I think would help you? I know I’m putting you on the spot.

Shane Devenish: I, in my experience direct to consumer is hard. But to start off smaller, and hear what the cons the consumers are saying to you and adapt to what they’re saying you might, pave the way for guess getting ready to expand, you when you’re dealing with the end consumer, you’re really hearing feedback directly from them about how how your unit is going to be used and and taken care of out there.

Having said that, once you [00:35:00] expand in a dealer network, it is, it’s tougher too, because you’re probably going to need Sign up with a finance company and, repurchase agreements or, sell to dealers on consignment and then it really hurts your cash flow. But but you guys I think you guys are pretty smart guys.

From what, what I’m hearing, you’re really innovative. It’s like Phil said it’s really neat to see, new builders like yourselves coming to the market. I quickly looked at your website, Brian, and I can say it’s phenomenal. You’ve done a great job on it.

It’s very unique and and eye catching. 

Brian Fuente: Thank you. 

Shane Devenish: With everything that’s moving. The one thing I the one question I got for you, Brian, is your Axle tow assisting from the electrical standpoint yet? 

Brian Fuente: Not yet. 

Shane Devenish: Okay. So that’s coming down, that once we see innovations like that, I think it’s going to be really neat, we are.

Brian Fuente: Yes, we are working on that. But It’s not, it’s, yes, we’re [00:36:00] working on that. 

Shane Devenish: Oh, you don’t want to spill the beans yet. 

Brian Fuente: Yeah. , 

Shane Devenish: there’s millions watching call between us. 

Brian Searl: Nobody watches the shows . 

Brian Fuente: We’re working on it. 

Shane Devenish: So you conceptually do you think the market is like a year or two down the road or week or longer?

Or sooner 

Brian Fuente: for a drive train. 

Shane Devenish: Yeah. 

Brian Fuente: We’re hopeful for 2025. 

Shane Devenish: Okay. 

Brian Fuente: Wow. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a conversation we’ve been having prior to to yeah, we’ve had this conversation for about two and a half years now. And, there’s a, obviously there’s a lot of safety involved. You also have to think when you’re When you’re developing a system like that, you got to think about serviceability as well.

And education as people travel across travel across the country, like if something, if it needs to get serviced, you got to, it’s just, there’s just a lot involved and as it stands today, Model 1 is just a, [00:37:00] it is more of a standard travel trailer that’s just built with the, super high quality components and it’s true, it’s an off grid trailer and and the tow’s amazing.

But it is certainly something we’re working on. But there’s just, it’s, there’s a lot of a lot of things to sort out before you can just put something like that on the road. 

Shane Devenish: And do you think direct to consumer, is that something you hear from your potential buyers all the time as far as if something goes wrong, where do I take it?

Is that kind of a little bit on the downside or? 

Brian Fuente: No, I don’t think so. I think we on Model 1, which is our first our first unit. It’s serviceable just about any, at any RV, with any RV technician. These are, there’s nothing, there’s no proprietary technology. We just happen to put the best of the best together.

If you need to replace a battery, we can replace a battery. If it’s it’s designed for easy for easy service if it ever needs to get serviced. But we, our first one that we built has been over almost 5, 000 [00:38:00] miles and, they’re just not built to have issues.

But if you had a maintenance if you needed to get a service, you could get a service by any technician. It also comes with CoachNet as well, so you have RV roadside and technical so you get three years of that, and then unlimited support from here and at our facilities here in Nashville.

Brian Searl: So this is an interesting question, and maybe Phil or Eleanor, you could help me with this. Is this something where, if what he is saying, and again, I have no reason not to believe him, if what he’s saying is true, if it’s easy to swap out a battery, they’re the standard premium parts of The industry, is this something that they could take to any dealership?

Would they service it, or do dealerships only service models they carry, or how does that work? 

Phil Ingrassia: It depends on the dealership, and I’m sure Brian and maybe David have run into this. It, and it depends on the time of year too. What we’re hearing is some dealers are two, three weeks out on service and certainly in transit travelers, dealers have no problem [00:39:00] with in transit.

They’ll try to move them up, get those people back on the road. It’s that local person who bought hundreds of miles away that some dealers have a little bit of an issue with. And so they may, they’ll service them, but they may be at the back of the line. 

Eleonore Hamm: Yeah, most of our dealerships, the issue is that, we talked at the beginning of the show about needing more skilled labourers, that a lot of them don’t have the skills.

Yes, if absolutely there are networks of dealerships as well. If someone’s on the road, they work very hard to try to get them, to carry on their trip, but but again, if it’s, if it’s a, if it’s a cupboard door, and you’re local, but it’s not impeding your travel, it may take you a little bit longer to to get the unit serviced.

Brian Searl: Yeah, and I’m sorry if that was an ignorant question. I just really don’t know. I was just curious if that’s the way service people work or not, generally. So I want to give Susan a chance, since she’s been quiet this whole trip, to ask a question. For those of you who don’t know Susan from the RV Women’s Alliance, the way I understand it is, if you want to succeed in the RV industry, she’s like the mafia.

[00:40:00] She’s got to bless you. You got to join the Women’s Alliance, or you’re out. 

Susan Carpenter: That’s right, hey! I am Italian too, Sicilian, so he’s not lying. 

Brian Searl: I really didn’t know that, but cool. 

Susan Carpenter: Yeah. 

Brian Searl: Susan, do you have any questions for these? 

Susan Carpenter: So actually, I was out looking at both sites and both RVs, and the one about, David, we haven’t talked a lot about yours, but I’m going to assume that you have a lot of solo travelers as well.

And I know that there’s been a huge upswing of females out there RVing by themselves and a lot of them aren’t comfortable towing or what have you. So I could definitely see your vans being a great way of going out and seeing the country for that niche of a client. 

David Ramsay: Yeah I, and we are. I don’t know the numbers but I would say that anecdotally, we have a [00:41:00] large female presence especially in that solo traveler world.

And I do think it’s interesting, because if you go, especially in the Class B space, which again, that’s my expertise There are certain brands that cater very much to the off road, burly, I just call it a little bit more testosterone driven aesthetic and function wise they’re slightly different, but it’s not that different, but it’s actually more of a brand piece that I think just turns a certain demographic away.

And as I mentioned earlier, our brand from the beginning has been, this is for any lifestyle for any type of person and we design it that way, right? We’ve got about 20, 24 people on staff or so half of them live in our product on site and male, female, different backgrounds, all of that.

And we try and design a product that is more universally applicable so that there’s not [00:42:00] a predetermined use case and I’ll actually give you a little anecdote of it of, we actually call our vehicles lifestyle vehicles. They’re LVs. That’s our model. And what we said was that recreational vehicles, that predetermines the use of the vehicle.

It’s used for recreation. And we were like that’s not always the case that can be used for other things. And so we actually wanted it to be more catered towards your life, hence lifestyle vehicles. So I think that’s attracted not just a more female crowd, but I would just say a larger demographic in general that feels more comfortable and more I guess less intimidated by the product.

And allows them to just be on the road. It’s very simple. It’s very open. We have very kind of a clean aesthetic similar to Brian’s. I just looked up his website too there. That just creates a little bit more welcoming than I think some of the other models where you step in them and they’re very tight, they’re very dark or they’re very burly or whatever.

It just, it’s very specific. So I think you’re [00:43:00] spot on with that. 

Brian Searl: Do you see that season that there’s been more of a shift toward obviously, people come in all different shapes and sizes, and we’re not trying to lump men or women into a bucket here, right? But 

do you 

Brian Searl: see that there is more of a outreach from manufacturers to be more inclusive in recent years?

With designs and components and features, or do you think that’s always been there, that we just haven’t noticed it? 

Susan Carpenter: No, I think it’s most definite. I think there’s a lot more. You’ve got Janine Pettit. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of her from Girl Camper. And she has this huge following of these women out there just doing it on their own, where, They might’ve always been, who knows, now it’s social media, you see them out there, but I think that bringing down that barrier to entry, to getting into these things and making them less intimidating sure helps.

Brian Searl: I’m intimidated by them. So 

Susan Carpenter: yeah. 

Brian Searl: Also, I don’t have enough money to afford one day either, but 

Susan Carpenter: I told [00:44:00] her, 

Brian Searl: so we’re going to talk about all this. All what else is on our, what else has come across the industry docket in the last 30 days since we’ve talked, guys? Anything, Phil and Eleanor, from your perspective, or Shane?

Or David or Brian, too, is there anything else that we’re missing that you’d like to bring up?

David Ramsay: No one? I’ll just comment on what Brian had said this and they offer it on theirs, but I’ll just make the note of the introduction of Starlink and this mobile Starlink. Which I think has been within the last year. It is an absolute game changer. It was something that we had an ambassador that was his name is Scott Jerk.

He’s a trail runner. He was going to go try and break the Appalachian Trail record again. His record had gotten broken. This was three years ago. They were looking for some sort of mobile internet to work. And the best they could find was, I think it was like a 14, 000 setup that would have got them one megabyte a second.

That’s 

David Ramsay: like AOL download speeds from [00:45:00] 1999. And then all of a sudden Starlink came out of nowhere and I use it on mine. I’ve been at 12, 500 feet of elevation outside of self service for over an hour and a half getting 200 megabytes a second downloads. So that off grid. Ability to be in this national forest stuff I was talking about earlier, but just the ability and function that came is probably one of the number three, top three questions we got is how do I get internet?

How do I, go to the bathroom shower and where do I park it? Those are always the three. And I never had a good answer for internet. And that really has been a game changer. For my demographic, but I imagine across the industry of that has opened up capabilities for RVing to an extreme extent, because historically you want to go off grid, you want to go into the most gorgeous places, but your cell phone’s not going to work.

And as sad as it is, we are incredibly tied to the internet. And Starlink almost overnight just completely solved that problem in a very [00:46:00] affordable way. So just mentioning it, Brian’s putting it on his, I have one on mine. But that has opened up the capabilities with the RV industry. I think so much, and we’re only seeing the tip of it right now.

Cause I don’t think a lot of consumers actually know how good it is. I still get questions out of a lot. And I tell people like it’s a life changer. If you need internet, you, the problem solved. 

Brian Fuente: And the panel that we install, you can use it on the go as well. If you’re traveling in your vehicle and you’re pulling the trailer, you can access Internet as well.

And that just makes this whole thing, just as a simple setup and, it’s self contained. So it’s just so much easier for the end user to have that safety net knowing they have access to Internet. And two, piggybacking off of David earlier, I think, we don’t have black water tanks either.

We’re actually doing a dry flush toilet. And When you talk about just this, opening up more opportunities for these new buyers, making the whole process simple for [00:47:00] them is very helpful in selling our product at least, and I’m sure for David as well. 

Brian Searl: Is there any data, Phil or Eleanor or Shane or whoever wants to talk, is there any data on how some of this new technology, both from a Starlink and even a compost and toilet perspective, has changed?

The behavior or desire of people to buy certain units or where they go or how they use their rigs or is there anything like that’s ever been done from an industry perspective? 

Phil Ingrassia: I don’t know if we’ve specifically been in the field on those types of features, but I will say that the number of first time buyers.

That we’ve seen in the last five years has really increased. And so those first time buyers, they’re not experienced RVers. So these types of simplification of the, of some of the components is really important to keep them RVing in the future and building that installed customer base, if you will.

We’ll just [00:48:00] stairstep up and help the industry prosper in the future. So I do think that is really important and we hear it a lot from dealers even is, if they have one, if they have one message to the manufacturers, it’s let’s try to simplify some of the stuff we’re putting in this unit.

And some people don’t like the word decontenting or whatever, but. Let’s try to make it, let’s make it simpler to use for the end user and that will be, they’ll be more satisfied with their experience. 

Brian Fuente: We’re even installing an on board water generator trailer will, there’s a system that will, I think it’s up to 8 liters or 8 gallons of water a day it can pull.

From an off grid perspective, it’s really impressive some of the technology that’s out there. And we have buyers that, are, If you’re using these for Airbnb, putting on their property where they don’t have access to utilities. You can pretty much set this thing up [00:49:00] anywhere.

So that there’s just a whole lot of opportunity for, just different different buyers out there, and some people want the off grid capability. Some could care less about it. They just want a really comfortable unit, but, I think having that, those offerings and having those amenities are, it’s really, it’s crucial to the this new era of buyer.

Brian Searl: Eleanor and Shane, I’m curious, this may be our final question here, and then we’ll have some final thoughts, but does this type of shift toward RVs that have these off grid capabilities? Or are just embracing some of the technologies and services like Starlink. Does that end up disproportionately benefiting Canada because of all the places that we don’t have internet access up here versus the U.

S.? Like long term? Do you feel like that does?

Shane Devenish: We are both watching our mouths open and who is going to talk first? You go first. 

Eleonore Hamm: Yeah I think so. It definitely opens up the possibility and, same as what’s happening in the U. S. is happening in [00:50:00] Canada. The only thing is that our climate tends to lead to people not necessarily being outdoors all year round and traveling all year round.

Because it gets pretty cold in certain areas, but for the most part people that are working remotely in the summer months they have access to definitely regions where they would not have been able to be out RVing, for as long periods of time, because they would have just taken smaller vacations, but now they have the opportunity.

to be plugged in while being unplugged, which was funny because originally we always thought, oh yeah, people want to go camping to be unplugged, but no, they want to be dialed in still. So definitely, I think it gives us an opportunity for our consumers to use those products and services. We’ll hopefully expand their time using their RVs.

Brian Searl: I feel like, yeah, Shane, please weigh in, but I feel like just the amount of area and beauty and land and nature up here, and I’m new to Canada that just doesn’t have cell phone coverage, it’s never been explored, and part of that obviously is, we still don’t have roads a lot of places, [00:51:00] but assuming we have roads to places, I feel like this is going to be great for the camping industry as a whole.

Do you agree, Shane? 

Shane Devenish: Yeah, absolutely. There’s so many campgrounds that are struggling to get Wi Fi service because they’re so far remote, and And the consumers are looking for it. So if a Starlink is already in the unit, then that pressure is eliminated. And I’m curious, Brian, David how much is the installation and the monthly cost?

Brian Fuente: We included on our model 1, so it’s baked into the, to the cost. The subscription is about 150 a month, I believe. But yeah, that’s, it’s included in our model 1. 

David Ramsay: And the main perk of it for me is that it’s month to month. You basically, and it’s prorated now as well, so I think it’s like the sixth of every month that renews, so if you’re going on a camping trip, if I was leaving today, I could start it, it would start up immediately, and then it would renew in about 16 days or so.

12 days or something. And I [00:52:00] only pay for those 12 days and then I pay for a full month after that. The dish that Brian puts on, it’s the one I have as well, that mounts on your roof that works while driving that is the most expensive. It’s 2, 500 for the dish. The portable stand dish that doesn’t work in motion but does work at a campsite is around 600.

I don’t know if that price has changed lately or not. But yeah, so you do have options. The one Brian installs and again, the one I have I use it cause there are still parts of the United States, even on the main interstates where cell service is not great. And so what I actually do is I keep my Starlink on, I flip my phone into airplane mode and I actually just use wifi.

So it never even, goes back and forth between Porcel Service but it’s been a game changer for where we are in Rifle to drive down to Phoenix. We go through parts of Arizona where it’s about six hours of no service off and on. And now I have full service. I can take calls. I can do whatever I want throughout that time period.

So it’s [00:53:00] more expensive than your home internet, but not by much. And it’s about as fast and fully flexible and portable. Apples to apples. I’m like, it’s almost a better deal because you can turn it off when you don’t need it, which is cool. 

Brian Fuente: We have a client that’s in South Mississippi, and they don’t have access to stable internet, so they’re actually using their coast to provide internet for their home as well.

It’s also a battery backup system in case of a storm, which they have a lot of, bad storms down there. 

Brian Searl: Alright, I know we’re running a couple minutes late, so I want to wrap up the show here, give everybody a chance to get off. Eleanor, I think there’s something here though, from a marketing perspective, to bring back like the RVDA’s version of the Verizon Can You Hear Me Now guy.

Starling, randomly traveling around Canada. I bet you could get some buy in for that. Pitch that to GoRV. 

Eleonore Hamm: Yeah, I will. Will do, for sure. 

Brian Searl: But, yeah, super excited to have you guys here. Thank you so much. Our recurring guests, as always, Susan Carpenter, Phil Angracia, Eleanor Hamm, Shane Devenish. Our two guests, Dave Ramsey.

And Brian, whose name I don’t remember because I’m not looking at it and he didn’t put it on your little but super excited. Thank you [00:54:00] for the great conversation. I will see you all next week on your show or four weeks from now on your show. I’m going to be gone for the next three weeks. So it’ll be a better content, better show, but thank you guys.

Appreciate it as always. And we’ll see you next time. 

Shane Devenish: Thanks, Brian. 

Nice to meet you guys. 

This episode of MC Fireside Chats with your host Brian Searl. Have a suggestion for a show idea? Want your campground or company in a future episode? Email us at hello at moderncampground. com. Get your daily dose of news from moderncampground.

com and be sure to join us next week for more insights into the fascinating world of outdoor [00:55:00] hospitality.

This is MC Fireside Chats. A weekly show featuring conversations with thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and outdoor hospitality experts who share their insights to help your business succeed. Hosted by Brian Searl, the founder and CEO of Insider Perks. Empowered by insights from Modern Campground, the most innovative news source in the industry.

Brian Searl: [00:01:00] Welcome everybody to another episode of MC Fireside Chats. My name is Brian Searl with a street cleaning truck who just pulled up in front of me as the show began. So hopefully you guys can’t hear that in the background noise. But super excited to be here for our fourth week episode talking about The RV industry, all things outdoor hospitality.

I think we’re going to try in the future guys to bring in a couple of people here from the public. Remember when we had Kurt on here and we had a really cool discussion about national parks, state parks, things like that because that plays a role in the RV industry too, so I think we’re going to try to do that a little bit in the future as well, but super excited to be here with our, a couple of our current guests from Carpenter from the RV Women’s Alliance, Shane Devenish from CRVA, Eleanor Hamm.

RVDA of Canada, and Phil Ingrassia from RVDA of, is it’s not even an of, right? It’s just, that’s kind of arrogance from an American perspective, Phil. You really should be of America, like Eleanor is of Canada. We can be basically, probably. And then super excited to have two special guests here. Brian Fuente, Romero Bild, did I pronounce that right?

And Dave Ramsay, but not the Ramsay you think. He’s better. [00:02:00] Dave Ramsey from DM Vans. Super excited to welcome everybody here. Let’s just go around the room real quick to the people who don’t know starting with our current guest, Eleanor, you’re right to the left of me, in my view. Let’s introduce yourself and talk a little bit about where you’re from, if you want.

Eleonore Hamm: Sure, thank you very much. I’m Eleanor Hamm. I’m president of the RV Dealers Association of Canada. We represent dealers across the country. We’re actually a federation of provincial and regional associations. And, some of our key Objectives as our strategies and goals for our association are advocacy, education, benefits.

Brian Searl: Awesome. Phil? 

Phil Ingrassia: Hi, I’m Phil Ingrassia. I’m Eleanor’s counterpart in the U. S., so we represent U. S. Motorhome and Travel Trailer Dealers. We’re aligned with RVDA of Canada where we put on a national convention every November in Las Vegas and Eleanor sits on our board as a guest and I also sit on the RVDA of Canada board, so we’re pretty aligned as far [00:03:00] as, we want to help people US RV dealers, and by extension their customers, have a great experience in the great outdoors.

Awesome. Susan? 

Susan Carpenter: Hi, I’m Susan Carpenter from the RV Women’s Alliance, and I’m president of that in North America and some global we’re a, an association for women and men in the RV industry, where we offer networking, professional education, And we do symposiums, we do summer series, we do, this week, next weekend we’re doing a big campout in Howe, Indiana.

Supporting the industry every way we can. 

Brian Searl: Why Indiana for a camp, what is with Indiana? I know the manufacturers are there, guys, but they’re I’m not knocking Indiana, but like, all the places you could go. 

Susan Carpenter: It’s where most majority of our membership is here, so it makes the most sense that people don’t have to travel so far.

But we have talked about having one mid season mid winter here down south, [00:04:00] which would be nice. 

Brian Searl: Somewhere, yeah. I understand the logic. It makes perfect sense. I just, I don’t believe in logic. Shane. 

Shane Devenish: Yeah, I love Indiana. I’m Shane Devenish. I’m the president of the Canadian RV Association, the Canadian equivalent of the RV Industry Association.

Our office, however, is, it’s much smaller than RVIA’s office. We’re up here near Toronto Burlington, Ontario, looking forward to tonight’s hockey game. And It’s a pleasure to be here again. 

Brian Searl: Shane, haven’t you learned not to look forward to the Maple Leaf games yet? It’s been so many years, Shane.

I’m trying to help you here, man, but 

Shane Devenish: One of these years, Brian. If I could say it every year, it’s gotta happen. 

Brian Searl: If you just moved to Calgary, our team sucks so bad we can’t even get in the playoffs, and then there’s no expectations, you’re not disappointed, it’s perfect. Brian! 

Brian Fuente: Yes thanks for having me.

I’m Brian Fuente, the [00:05:00] founder and CEO of Aerobuild and Coast. We’re actually based in Nashville, Tennessee. We have been building trailers since 2017, primarily commercial trailers for mobile businesses, sent them all over the world. We’ve built hundreds of those and helped entrepreneurs launch their business.

Since 2017, we just launched a new consumer division with An all electric luxury travel trailer brand called Coast, which we launched last year and excited to talk further about that today. 

Brian Searl: Nice. Excited to hear about it, sir. David Ramsey. 

David Ramsay: Yeah. Thanks for having me. So yeah, CEO of a company called DM Vans.

We’re based in Wrightville, Colorado. We’re a class B RV manufacturer focused more on. What I like to call more of the off grid class BRV, as opposed to the luxury RV park models. We’ve been in business since 2018 and have been doing pretty much the same thing the whole way through.

Brian Searl: That just means there’s a demand for it. Stability, right? That’s a good thing. Thank you for being here. [00:06:00] Appreciate it. Excited to dive into our two special guest conversations. I want to talk first, though, just, is there anything, as I normally ask our recurring guests, that has come across your desk in the last 30 days since we’ve had a chance to sit down with each other that you feel is important?

I know we had discussed possibly bringing up what happened, whatever happened last week. I don’t even know what happened, but that’s on the table if you want to talk about that. 

Eleonore Hamm: Yeah, last week we had our RV Industry Advocacy Awareness Week in Ottawa, Ontario, so Ottawa being our nation’s capital. We had obviously some board meetings from the different associations and then it culminated in our meetings with Members of Parliament, as well as a fun event on Spark Street, which is a pedestrian street in Ottawa.

Ottawa, we had a couple RVs and a campground set up. Shane brings his giant marshmallows every time. We get a lot of people stopping by. If if you want to look at our social media either The CCRVA or RVD of Canada are some of our social feeds. You’ll [00:07:00] see some of the pictures from the event.

But it’s always very important for us because we’re dealing with, policy makers and regulators and just ensuring that we’re always at the forefront of of their mind when they’re making decisions that would impact the RV industry. So 

Brian Searl: now I feel terrible because I was, I should have known that because I was there two years ago.

I wasn’t actually doing any real work. I was just Sitting in a room with you guys who are doing the real work, but I don’t remember Shane’s big marshmallows

Eleonore Hamm: They’re new but They’re very impressive 

Brian Searl: So you’re like Brian’s not coming anymore now. It’s safe to introduce the new things that are cool That’s how it basically works. Eleanor, I’m curious, what is some of the top things that are at the forefront of your mind from the RV industry perspective when you went to the hill here?

Eleonore Hamm: We’ve got, we’ve got a few things, and none of them are really new, and probably, you probably hear about this in the U. S. as well, but obviously the lack of support. We need more skilled labor, skilled workers. We need more RV service technicians in Canada. So we need government policies to ensure that that they’re attracting people into [00:08:00] skilled labor.

For us specifically, in the RV industry, it’s Red Seal Apprentice Trade but there’s only schooling out west. We need some labor mobility grants available to people. We also need more investments in Parks Canada, in the infrastructure of campgrounds. We talked a bit about electrification. And then also some taxation issues, which I won’t go into details because it’s taxation issues.

But from our side, I think it went fairly well. We had about 15 to 20 MPs, Members of Parliament, stopped by the RV, and then we had a, Quite a few series of meetings as well in the different with government. Unfortunately the budget, the federal budget was released the day before, so it was a little bit chaotic but that’s Ottawa, and we just, have to be nimble but I think overall it was very well received by our members.

Brian Searl: And sorry if there’s a buzz in the background. They apparently are not only driving trucks, but even now mowing lawns and doing all kinds of things. So I’m trying to meet myself in conversation so we can hear you. Would you say that you feel like, and obviously you guys have been doing this a [00:09:00] number of years, right?

There are different priorities every year, some that stay the same. Do you feel like as you continue to have a recurring presence there, as they get more familiar with you just by its very nature every year, right? Do you feel like the legislation is getting more familiar with legislators? MPs are getting more familiar with the industry and what your needs and desires and wants are and how they help the economy and all that.

Eleonore Hamm: Absolutely. We’ve actually been doing it for 20 years. We started in 2004 religiously going to, to Ottawa every year and we’ve had some great wins and successes. There was a luxury tax that was introduced in Canada a couple of years ago by the current government, which impacts the small aircraft.

The car industry, and fortunately, because of the relationships that we’ve built and people understand that, RVing is an affordable family vacation option, that we were successful in, in, in having the RV industry excluded from the luxury tax. So that’s really a lot of it, sometimes our assets are bigger than others, but just being there every year and having those relationships and just, both with, and we’re [00:10:00] nonpartisan, so with all parties in Canada.

I think it’s very important for us to be there annually. 

Brian Searl: Phil, I know yours is coming up in the U. S. in June, is that correct? Is that the time period? 

Phil Ingrassia: Yeah, that’s right. Very similar to what Eleanor and Shane did last week. We bring in both manufacturers, suppliers, other industry stakeholders, dealers, and RBI organizes it.

RVDA also participates in it. Some of the similar issues, we’re looking at more federal government investment into our national park, national forest system especially in the campground side and allowing access to that, those places where people want to go camping.

And unfortunately in the U S there hasn’t been a lot of investment. It hasn’t kept up. With the changes in the product. And we were very supportive of that. We also have some tax issues that we’re trying to work through with Congress [00:11:00] and the manufacturers have some trade issues as far as bringing in materials to build RVs.

Those are the kind of issues are the same every year, but. Others change depending on the political environment, the economy, and any tax policies that get changed. 

Brian Searl: Is it worth briefly, and I want to get to our special guest, but is it worth briefly for the people who watch here and don’t attend advocacy days or aren’t as involved in the association or maybe don’t have as much of an intricate knowledge of economics and politics and how all those things are intertwined, right?

Is it worth having a brief conversation about how important some of those things like international trade are to the health of the industry? Because I feel like there’s maybe a knowledge gap between you can say that people hear it and really understand how important it is. 

Phil Ingrassia: Some of the tariff issues and things when the prices are raised for production, and Susan knows this very well from her her perks, the prices go up.

And so what happens when prices go up? You’re [00:12:00] cutting a segment of the population. Out who can’t necessarily afford what they want to do. That’s 1 of the issues. And then we, in the US, we’ve got this situation where RV visits to national parks, for instance, have really dropped since the mid 80s.

And why is that? A lot of the parks just haven’t kept up with the growth in the production of RVs and we may need to make these investments in public lands and the infrastructure so that rising tide lifts all boats and so that we can grow the outdoor economy and provide access to the folks that want to enjoy the great outdoors.

Brian Searl: So I think that’s an interesting point. statement and maybe I’ll just use it as my segue to Dave so we can talk about his company first. Just, we’ve heard about this for a long time with the state national parks not having appropriate, some states do it better than others obviously, and there is federal funding, the Great American Outdoors Act but not as much as obviously anyone would love to have.

But there’s been that conversation for a [00:13:00] long time. At least, my circle primarily is campgrounds and RV parks. And so we’ve heard the private campgrounds are very well positioned to compete with those places because they have the 50 amp hookups and the patio sites and the places that can pull in those big rigs and pull through those back ribs and back big rig.

Yeah, I can’t talk. I was doing good and then I lost it. But Is this something that benefits companies like Dave’s More? Is it Dave or David? But, David’s More, is that something that benefits your companies, David? Do you think disproportionately? Because people who purchase your types of vans can already fit in those spaces, right?

David Ramsay: Yeah we’re an unique spot and both geographically being in Colorado we’re surrounded by BLM land, National Forest land. The amount of dispersed camping availability where we are is insane. I grew up in Minnesota. There’s really not a lot there. So the Western part of the United States is much more [00:14:00] open for people to take things to in their own hands, go where you want to go, park where you want to park, you have your 14 day limit and you got to move.

But, yeah, we’ve seen that there’s not a lot of campgrounds where we are to be honest, and I think it’s probably a combination of the cost of building one where we are is really expensive because there’s so much public land, there’s not a lot of private land to do that most of the areas around us are, again, National Forest, BLM, which are expensive.

Way different than a national park. I imagine it’s mostly funding related of the funding that goes towards the National Forest and all that. Dispersed campgrounds got some rocks in a circle. That’s about all that you’re going to get there. As opposed to you go to Grand Canyon, places like that, national parks, they have to have that infrastructure.

They have to have for the big towables or the big Class A’s. It’s expensive to build that to get the electrical requirements and all that. We’re in a unique spot and, half my company lives out of vans. I’ve lived out of van for eight years at this point. I’m very familiar with just going off into national forests and all that, but it’s always nice to have those [00:15:00] options of the amenities and the hookups and all that of the campgrounds.

And yeah it’s a growing industry. And I don’t know if there’s people keeping up with that. And again, we’re fortunate out West, but I don’t know what they do. In the Midwest or the East Coast, where there’s not a lot of national forest land, there’s not a lot of BLM land I think they’re only going to be either illegally camping places that you shouldn’t be or they’re going to require those higher end campgrounds with all the hookups and the bigger power consumption that’s now required.

Yeah it’s an interesting situation, I think and I think there are more companies like myself, and it sounds like Brian’s getting into this all electric as well, so that we’re not as reliant on campgrounds in order to go out and do what we want to do. 

Brian Searl: So now I know we’ve had these conversations on this show before when people have gone to some of the recent trade shows RV shows, things like that, where there’s been I think, admittedly, maybe you can disagree with me, the people who are on here as recurring guests, a shift toward, and sorry for the noise again they [00:16:00] all seem to be attacking me at the same time.

There’s been more of a shift from of those bigger RVs to some of the smaller ones, to the vans, to the, I think it’s Class Cs, right? I’m again, I’m Campground. I’m ignorant to the RV industry a little bit, but I’m learning as we go and talk to all these brilliant people on the show. So has that, is that something that you saw and started DM Vans or is that something that’s shifted and started to benefit you more as you had already started DM Vans?

David Ramsay: Yeah, to be honest, I bought my first van eight years ago. It was a road truck actually, so a Canadian based company. And the reason I bought it was because it gets better gas mileage, it can fit into a regular parking space, it’s easier to drive, and is more reliable and all that. And so I think that Canada is probably a little bit ahead of the U.

  1. as far as the Class B market, which would be vans. If you really want to look ahead, Europe is way ahead of us. They do about 120, 000, I think that’s the number, so don’t quote me on it, but 120, 000 roughly [00:17:00] Class B units per year. And they have half the population. In the U. S. we do about 16, 000 Class B units.

So they’re about 12 times bigger than we are. And it is that push as gas prices change, as land changes, as accessibility changes. The Class A’s, it’s tough. It’s tough to drive. It’s tough to own. It’s tough to park. It’s tough to store. I think there’s always going to be that. They’re amazing vehicles.

They’re, it’s a house on wheels. It’s incredible. But those little conveniences and those little changes, and again, the nature of how our country’s grown and the space that’s available, I think there’s definitely been a push to more efficiency. More economical and just easier to use, simpler and easier to navigate has been my perspective.

I’m obviously biased because that’s all I look at in my industry is the class B market. But it has been a relatively stable market. And I would say that class A’s and class C’s have gotten hit a little bit harder in the motorhome world of just, Yeah, it’s a little bit of kind of counter to the culture right [00:18:00] now.

But yeah, that’s, my, my personal experience was why I started the company of, I like vans more than the other options and there’s absolutely a niche that finds the same, but it’s definitely not the majority in the motorhome market yet, and I don’t know if we’re going to where Europe is, but that remains to be seen.

Brian Searl: So talk us through some of, why did you start DM Vans? What were you hoping to Fix. I’m assuming there were other band makers, maybe not as many as there are today, but what were you trying to fix? What were you trying to kind of stake, hang your hat on, so to speak? And for those of you who aren’t recurring guests please, if you this is now a kind of turn based thing.

So if you have a question for whoever we’re talking to, or somebody else, feel free to just pop in and ask whenever you want. We’d love to have you add value to the conversation, so I don’t have to talk as much, but. Go ahead, David. 

David Ramsay: Yeah. So we’re it’s interesting to hear Brian’s company as well, cause we’re similar in that I actually bought my first van cause I was starting a business and to put it bluntly, I needed a cheap way to be able to live and travel and a van was a [00:19:00] great way to do that.

Our company mission is basically to create possibilities to improve lives for that’s ultimately what we’re trying to do. What we’ve found is in the van space specifically and the overall RV market as well, the use cases now, particularly post COVID and post working remote and all that.

There’s so much opportunity for people to leverage this product. To whether it’s just for short experiences taking two week trips to to go and see national parks or all that, or to improve your kind of vacation or your field of life or whatever that is. There’s this whole other side of the spectrum of all these people that are starting to use it to actually improve their.

Call it their professional life. So we’ve seen professional golfers, we’ve got a professional crossfitters, travel nurses. All sorts of professional people that are now using the product. And especially the work remote community. We’ve got programmers, people like that, that have just basically said wow, I can now move all across the country, chase seasons, chase weather, [00:20:00] visit friends, visit family, visit different areas and make a living and work.

So we’ve just been there to try and support. That pursuit of your passion and your life. And it isn’t just for the outdoors. Obviously that’s a huge part of it. And we don’t ignore that part of it at all. We’re just adding to the use cases that exist for the RV market.

It’s not just for national parks and not just for going outdoors. It’s for whatever your life will improve by it. That’s what it’s for at the end of the day. And I think the van segment. does offer a little bit more flexibility because you can actually be in an urban environment. I’ve lived in my van in New York City before I’ve lived in my van in LA and San Francisco.

Like it’s much easier to do that when you’re not in a big class C or a class A or a tow behind where you can’t park on the street. So it’s just adding a little bit of that opportunity to the segments that already exist in the RV space. And that’s been our goal is just to add more kind of opportunity and options for people.[00:21:00] 

Shane Devenish: Hey, David, is it, is your your unit a class B RV or is it a van conversion? 

David Ramsay: It’s a class B RV. Okay. RV compliant and NADA and all that. It’s definitely, if you look at it aesthetically it definitely comes from the custom van world. So all the materials used are double laminated Baltic birch and The aesthetic is very much like we still have pine ceilings on our vans tongue and groove pine.

We wanted to keep that aesthetic of, not all the materials that are used in the classic RV. We wanted to make it a little bit different and feel more like that custom van, but still obviously make it RVA compliant and all that. 

Shane Devenish: How else are your units different? 

David Ramsay: We’ve got a few main ones.

We have no exterior piping or anything underneath our vehicle, so there’s no generators, no black tanks, no gray tanks, no [00:22:00] again, plumbing. There’s nothing underneath the vehicle. All of it’s internal. So it’s a full four season. We’ve got heat and air conditioning, all internal. So that’s the one big one is you don’t have to winterize it.

Everything works all the same time. The other big one is we use composting toilets, which is a very kind of new thing, I would say, and there’s not many other RV companies I see doing it. But if any of you have ever used the black tank, it gets rid of all that mess and trying to find a dump station or any of that.

So having lived in the RV for 4 years and having to find dump stations and them being closed in the winter and all that stuff. We exclusively use composting toilets to make that more eco friendly and just easier for our customers and hopefully the environment as well. So those are the 2, I would say, biggest differences.

We’re all electric. I think that’s not new anymore. That’s, that’s where the standard’s going. Lithium batteries have gotten so cheap it makes it much more cost feasible to do that. Yeah, those are the two main [00:23:00] ones. And then if you just look at the design, it’s just built to be reliable and it’s built to be efficient.

They’re very simple, very straightforward. They rarely break because there’s just very few things in there to break. And that was one of our other big ones is just to keep them out of service phase, keep them out of being repaired and, staying on the road at the end of the day. We’ve all You know, heard the stories of the service industry and at the RVA leadership conference a few months ago, they talked a lot about that the CEO from Blue Compass was there and saying there’s a big gap in the service part of the RV industry.

So that’s something that we’re trying to solve on our side of it, which is to just make it more reliable, just make it work. 580 units on the road and I have essentially My salesperson handles all of our support calls. So it’s very minimal. I think she does maybe a couple of calls a week on those 580 units.

It’s been a good thing for our customer.

Brian Searl: All right, Brian, by David’s [00:24:00] own comparison, he said you’re similar. Do you agree? 

Brian Fuente: Yeah, I think We align on both reliability and quality and, obviously we’re in the towable market because that’s what we do. We’ve been building trailers, like I said, since 2017. And so we stayed in that lane and we just introduced Coast Model 1 last year.

And the first ones have just rolled off the production line and it’s been a lot of fun to see. Years of of R& D and hard work finally coming to life. So just to piggyback off of that, I think I grew up camping with as a kid, and it was just like one of my favorite pastimes with with family and, I saw such a, when we launched AirBuild in 17 we started building these trailers for, like I said, mobile businesses.

And as I started hey trying to figure out where I wanted to go with the company. I knew one day that I wanted to get into the consumer side with an RV. And saw a lot, a lack of innovation, lack of quality and lack of really great design in the space.

And We an architect friend of mine and a couple of engineers got [00:25:00] together and started designing Model 1 and it took about three years. And like David said, three years ago, all electric was such a unique thing. Now, today it’s the we all know what all electric means.

But we did launch this and we were one of the first all electric travel trailers to hit the market. So we introduced this in January of 23. And, I think pretty much overnight we got blogs and articles written about it all over the world because of just how unique the product was. I think, it’s, I come from an interior design background and Model 1 is is, has a very modern very comfortable very high quality interior.

And I think that’s what sets this apart too. It is a completely off grid unit as well. It’s got 1600 watts of solar and 23 kilowatt hours of lithium. Is a towable but we’ve also made it very easy to to set up and break down. And it tows amazing. Those that fear towing, this is certainly a trailer that’s set up for just that.

Brian Searl: So talk us through how you started it. What did [00:26:00] you want to accomplish? 

Brian Fuente: Yeah Launching a trailer manufacturing business in Nashville was not the easiest thing. We don’t it’s not like we have a labor pool of a bunch of technicians and workers that come from trailer manufacturing.

But and honestly started off with some friends and I. We launched Nashville’s, we built this retro style concession trailer and we launched Nashville’s first mobile bar and it was an overnight success. People started seeing the trailer and other people say, Hey, can you renovate our Airstream or can you build one for our retail shop?

Can you build one for our, we want, we have a, we started building all these custom trailers with the same friends. And as we started building things, we turned it into a business and that’s when we launched Aerobuild. And now Aerobuild, we have two, we have a factory that and the one, one side of the factory is commercial and one side is coasting, which is the consumer division.

And we’ve really honed in on the commercial side on our mobile coffee shops and it’s become a big deal. And we’ve just, [00:27:00] gone back to what David said. We just don’t have. We don’t have service calls. We build a very high quality unit. We’ve learned a lot through trailer manufacturing over the years.

And we felt like it was, we were ready and it was time to develop Coast, which is a very different product and built, constructed very differently. So it’s made with all composite materials. There’s no wood. It’s an all seasons trailer. It’s it’s built with the best of the best materials.

And so it’s built to be reliable and to to really, give the end user a really luxe experience on the road. 

Brian Searl: So when you talked us through how you got started and that’s an amazing story, I wish I had more time to dive more into that, right? Especially with mobile bars, I’ll take that all day.

But as you launched this new, and I’m so sorry, what was the name again? I don’t have it in my notes. The new Oasis? Coast. Coast. Okay. I don’t know why I thought of it in my head. So it sounds good though, maybe for your next model. So as you launched Coast though, what were, when you look at the problems that you were [00:28:00] trying to solve with it, what were you trying to primarily do that was different?

Brian Fuente: First of all, it was, like I said, it was the design and then innovation. I think, at the time there was no electrification in, in the total market. And but, At the, at our core, it’s the quality that we are so focused on. I saw such a need for a quality unit you just I’ve had several friends and family that have had RVs and travel trailers over the years and just had consistent issues and I was like I want to do something.

We want to be better. We want to provide something that these are not mass produced. These are hand built by our craftsmen here in Nashville. They’re, we build only two at a time and we that was really the driving force behind this, but it was also great design and, modern, a modern approach to a really beautiful interior very high end all the components are super high end, all the materials we build these out of are very high end, even things like our countertops. They, you just can’t damage them. They’re built to last. So 

Brian Searl: it was [00:29:00] really Elon said that about Cybertruck. Be careful. What’s that? Elon said that about Cybertruck. Be careful. 

Brian Fuente: I know. But yeah, I think yeah, it’s, it was really the when we started designing this, it was it was just time for some innovation and some and quality and good design.

Because just like David said in the European market you look at what they’re doing over there and it’s it’s from a design perspective, there’s some really beautiful units in the States that just ha we’re just, we’re, we’ve been a little far behind. Now we’re starting, I think we’re starting to see some shifts in design.

But that’s something that’s just happened over the past couple of years. 

Brian Searl: And are both of you a direct to consumer, you and David, or? Do you work with any dealers? 

Brian Fuente: We are currently direct to consumer. 

Brian Searl: Do you have aspirations to change that one day? 

Brian Fuente: Yes, potentially. I think, we’re a small team so I think, direct to consumer is not it’s not always the easiest.

Of course, if you have dealers that are behind the product and you have, a lot of marketing power and more voices talking about it, but it’s certainly [00:30:00] something we’re interested in exploring. Thank you. Both are commercial and consumer. 

Brian Searl: I’m curious your, I know we’ve talked about this briefly in other areas, Phil, but Phil or Eleanor, do you have thoughts on how this does not, might fit into, not specifically his products, but generally these types of 

Phil Ingrassia: Yeah, the RV industry is full of startups that started out direct to consumer and then built a dealer network once they had, establish the product as a quality product and, but, to scale up it’s, to be a national brand, it’s difficult to not have a dealer network.

And so that’s what we’ve seen over and over again in the RV business going way back into the 60s. A lot of these, a lot of the, the household names, if you will, were started. In a garage, John, John John K. Hanson and Winnebago and John Crean at Fleetwood.

You go back and look at the old days. That’s how those folks started. And that’s what makes it such a great industry. New entrants like David and Brian can [00:31:00] come in. and build a product and scale it up if they want. If they don’t have to do it.

But there’s a lot of opportunity. And that the great thing is, and what David and Brian are doing too, is they’re bringing new people into the market, right? It used to be we had, Retiree segment, young family segment, that’s about it. Okay, that’s when I got in 25 years ago, that’s all we talked about.

But now there’s so many different types of people using RVs for whatever they want to use it for. It may be camping, but it may be something completely different. So that’s one of the great things about the business. There’s just a ton of opportunity. 

Brian Fuente: Yeah, and we’re certainly seeing a kind of a new era of buyers.

It’s A lot of our customers have never camped before. It’s an opportunity to work remotely, like David said. We have Starlink, the high performance panel that we include. We’ve got people out there that are living in these full time. And I had one customer say she’s so excited about Doing zoom calls with [00:32:00] her with her camera on instead of off.

And so she sold her house and she’s living in a coast and she’s traveling and she’s, but she’s never RV’d or pulled a trailer in her entire life. So we are bringing I think a a new a new era of buyers into the industry for sure. 

David Ramsay: So we’re in the mi, we’re in the middle of transitioning from DTC to B2B.

We’ve got about 13 B2B locations across the country now. Through, through, through three different dealerships, but yeah, we had a certain volume where, trying to do 200 units from Rifle, Colorado, in the mountain, we’d be one of the top five dealerships in the country if we move 200 class B units out of one location.

It was inevitable that. Once we established our brand and our product and improved it over a five year period yeah, if someone calls me from Florida or New York city, they’re not flying into Denver, driving three hours just to then go touch the vehicle. So that’s where the dealership network is huge of, now we’ve got coverage from New [00:33:00] Hampshire down to Florida, Southern California, up to Washington.

And that’s the process. It obviously takes a while, right? You can’t accomplish the switch and all of a sudden we’ve got all these dealer partners, cause there’s a learning curve for them too. But yeah, as you move forward that’s the beauty of the RV industry is that there’s a very established dealership.

Network and dealership process. And it’s been there for decades. And so to be able to leverage that as the next step to get to that scale. And yeah where Brian’s at, if, they’re doing two at a time, maybe that scale isn’t quite there yet, but, As you get to that, then all of a sudden you’ve got these support network out there that can help move units in California, which you’re, probably difficult to move California from Nashville.

Yeah. 

Brian Fuente: Yeah, we are very fortunate in Nashville that it’s a major metropolitan area. So people do fly in and we have. Customers driving in, so we’re fortunate there for sure. 

Brian Searl: So we have a lot of wisdom on this call. I’m going to pick on Shane because he’s been a little quiet today. So sorry Shane.

We have a lot of but same question really to Phil and [00:34:00] Eleanor and to Susan and there’s a lot of wisdom on this call, a lot of years of experience, right? And so we’ve had several of these companies in the past on the show who have great products, Early stages compared to speaking of their companies.

Is there something that you would give them as a piece of advice as they continue to look to grow in the industry, both with dealers, without dealers, with consumers, without whatever? Is there something that you would give them that says, this is a piece of advice I think would help you? I know I’m putting you on the spot.

Shane Devenish: I, in my experience direct to consumer is hard. But to start off smaller, and hear what the cons the consumers are saying to you and adapt to what they’re saying you might, pave the way for guess getting ready to expand, you when you’re dealing with the end consumer, you’re really hearing feedback directly from them about how how your unit is going to be used and and taken care of out there.

Having said that, once you [00:35:00] expand in a dealer network, it is, it’s tougher too, because you’re probably going to need Sign up with a finance company and, repurchase agreements or, sell to dealers on consignment and then it really hurts your cash flow. But but you guys I think you guys are pretty smart guys.

From what, what I’m hearing, you’re really innovative. It’s like Phil said it’s really neat to see, new builders like yourselves coming to the market. I quickly looked at your website, Brian, and I can say it’s phenomenal. You’ve done a great job on it.

It’s very unique and and eye catching. 

Brian Fuente: Thank you. 

Shane Devenish: With everything that’s moving. The one thing I the one question I got for you, Brian, is your Axle tow assisting from the electrical standpoint yet? 

Brian Fuente: Not yet. 

Shane Devenish: Okay. So that’s coming down, that once we see innovations like that, I think it’s going to be really neat, we are.

Brian Fuente: Yes, we are working on that. But It’s not, it’s, yes, we’re [00:36:00] working on that. 

Shane Devenish: Oh, you don’t want to spill the beans yet. 

Brian Fuente: Yeah. , 

Shane Devenish: there’s millions watching call between us. 

Brian Searl: Nobody watches the shows . 

Brian Fuente: We’re working on it. 

Shane Devenish: So you conceptually do you think the market is like a year or two down the road or week or longer?

Or sooner 

Brian Fuente: for a drive train. 

Shane Devenish: Yeah. 

Brian Fuente: We’re hopeful for 2025. 

Shane Devenish: Okay. 

Brian Fuente: Wow. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a conversation we’ve been having prior to to yeah, we’ve had this conversation for about two and a half years now. And, there’s a, obviously there’s a lot of safety involved. You also have to think when you’re When you’re developing a system like that, you got to think about serviceability as well.

And education as people travel across travel across the country, like if something, if it needs to get serviced, you got to, it’s just, there’s just a lot involved and as it stands today, Model 1 is just a, [00:37:00] it is more of a standard travel trailer that’s just built with the, super high quality components and it’s true, it’s an off grid trailer and and the tow’s amazing.

But it is certainly something we’re working on. But there’s just, it’s, there’s a lot of a lot of things to sort out before you can just put something like that on the road. 

Shane Devenish: And do you think direct to consumer, is that something you hear from your potential buyers all the time as far as if something goes wrong, where do I take it?

Is that kind of a little bit on the downside or? 

Brian Fuente: No, I don’t think so. I think we on Model 1, which is our first our first unit. It’s serviceable just about any, at any RV, with any RV technician. These are, there’s nothing, there’s no proprietary technology. We just happen to put the best of the best together.

If you need to replace a battery, we can replace a battery. If it’s it’s designed for easy for easy service if it ever needs to get serviced. But we, our first one that we built has been over almost 5, 000 [00:38:00] miles and, they’re just not built to have issues.

But if you had a maintenance if you needed to get a service, you could get a service by any technician. It also comes with CoachNet as well, so you have RV roadside and technical so you get three years of that, and then unlimited support from here and at our facilities here in Nashville.

Brian Searl: So this is an interesting question, and maybe Phil or Eleanor, you could help me with this. Is this something where, if what he is saying, and again, I have no reason not to believe him, if what he’s saying is true, if it’s easy to swap out a battery, they’re the standard premium parts of The industry, is this something that they could take to any dealership?

Would they service it, or do dealerships only service models they carry, or how does that work? 

Phil Ingrassia: It depends on the dealership, and I’m sure Brian and maybe David have run into this. It, and it depends on the time of year too. What we’re hearing is some dealers are two, three weeks out on service and certainly in transit travelers, dealers have no problem [00:39:00] with in transit.

They’ll try to move them up, get those people back on the road. It’s that local person who bought hundreds of miles away that some dealers have a little bit of an issue with. And so they may, they’ll service them, but they may be at the back of the line. 

Eleonore Hamm: Yeah, most of our dealerships, the issue is that, we talked at the beginning of the show about needing more skilled labourers, that a lot of them don’t have the skills.

Yes, if absolutely there are networks of dealerships as well. If someone’s on the road, they work very hard to try to get them, to carry on their trip, but but again, if it’s, if it’s a, if it’s a cupboard door, and you’re local, but it’s not impeding your travel, it may take you a little bit longer to to get the unit serviced.

Brian Searl: Yeah, and I’m sorry if that was an ignorant question. I just really don’t know. I was just curious if that’s the way service people work or not, generally. So I want to give Susan a chance, since she’s been quiet this whole trip, to ask a question. For those of you who don’t know Susan from the RV Women’s Alliance, the way I understand it is, if you want to succeed in the RV industry, she’s like the mafia.

[00:40:00] She’s got to bless you. You got to join the Women’s Alliance, or you’re out. 

Susan Carpenter: That’s right, hey! I am Italian too, Sicilian, so he’s not lying. 

Brian Searl: I really didn’t know that, but cool. 

Susan Carpenter: Yeah. 

Brian Searl: Susan, do you have any questions for these? 

Susan Carpenter: So actually, I was out looking at both sites and both RVs, and the one about, David, we haven’t talked a lot about yours, but I’m going to assume that you have a lot of solo travelers as well.

And I know that there’s been a huge upswing of females out there RVing by themselves and a lot of them aren’t comfortable towing or what have you. So I could definitely see your vans being a great way of going out and seeing the country for that niche of a client. 

David Ramsay: Yeah I, and we are. I don’t know the numbers but I would say that anecdotally, we have a [00:41:00] large female presence especially in that solo traveler world.

And I do think it’s interesting, because if you go, especially in the Class B space, which again, that’s my expertise There are certain brands that cater very much to the off road, burly, I just call it a little bit more testosterone driven aesthetic and function wise they’re slightly different, but it’s not that different, but it’s actually more of a brand piece that I think just turns a certain demographic away.

And as I mentioned earlier, our brand from the beginning has been, this is for any lifestyle for any type of person and we design it that way, right? We’ve got about 20, 24 people on staff or so half of them live in our product on site and male, female, different backgrounds, all of that.

And we try and design a product that is more universally applicable so that there’s not [00:42:00] a predetermined use case and I’ll actually give you a little anecdote of it of, we actually call our vehicles lifestyle vehicles. They’re LVs. That’s our model. And what we said was that recreational vehicles, that predetermines the use of the vehicle.

It’s used for recreation. And we were like that’s not always the case that can be used for other things. And so we actually wanted it to be more catered towards your life, hence lifestyle vehicles. So I think that’s attracted not just a more female crowd, but I would just say a larger demographic in general that feels more comfortable and more I guess less intimidated by the product.

And allows them to just be on the road. It’s very simple. It’s very open. We have very kind of a clean aesthetic similar to Brian’s. I just looked up his website too there. That just creates a little bit more welcoming than I think some of the other models where you step in them and they’re very tight, they’re very dark or they’re very burly or whatever.

It just, it’s very specific. So I think you’re [00:43:00] spot on with that. 

Brian Searl: Do you see that season that there’s been more of a shift toward obviously, people come in all different shapes and sizes, and we’re not trying to lump men or women into a bucket here, right? But 

do you 

Brian Searl: see that there is more of a outreach from manufacturers to be more inclusive in recent years?

With designs and components and features, or do you think that’s always been there, that we just haven’t noticed it? 

Susan Carpenter: No, I think it’s most definite. I think there’s a lot more. You’ve got Janine Pettit. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of her from Girl Camper. And she has this huge following of these women out there just doing it on their own, where, They might’ve always been, who knows, now it’s social media, you see them out there, but I think that bringing down that barrier to entry, to getting into these things and making them less intimidating sure helps.

Brian Searl: I’m intimidated by them. So 

Susan Carpenter: yeah. 

Brian Searl: Also, I don’t have enough money to afford one day either, but 

Susan Carpenter: I told [00:44:00] her, 

Brian Searl: so we’re going to talk about all this. All what else is on our, what else has come across the industry docket in the last 30 days since we’ve talked, guys? Anything, Phil and Eleanor, from your perspective, or Shane?

Or David or Brian, too, is there anything else that we’re missing that you’d like to bring up?

David Ramsay: No one? I’ll just comment on what Brian had said this and they offer it on theirs, but I’ll just make the note of the introduction of Starlink and this mobile Starlink. Which I think has been within the last year. It is an absolute game changer. It was something that we had an ambassador that was his name is Scott Jerk.

He’s a trail runner. He was going to go try and break the Appalachian Trail record again. His record had gotten broken. This was three years ago. They were looking for some sort of mobile internet to work. And the best they could find was, I think it was like a 14, 000 setup that would have got them one megabyte a second.

That’s 

David Ramsay: like AOL download speeds from [00:45:00] 1999. And then all of a sudden Starlink came out of nowhere and I use it on mine. I’ve been at 12, 500 feet of elevation outside of self service for over an hour and a half getting 200 megabytes a second downloads. So that off grid. Ability to be in this national forest stuff I was talking about earlier, but just the ability and function that came is probably one of the number three, top three questions we got is how do I get internet?

How do I, go to the bathroom shower and where do I park it? Those are always the three. And I never had a good answer for internet. And that really has been a game changer. For my demographic, but I imagine across the industry of that has opened up capabilities for RVing to an extreme extent, because historically you want to go off grid, you want to go into the most gorgeous places, but your cell phone’s not going to work.

And as sad as it is, we are incredibly tied to the internet. And Starlink almost overnight just completely solved that problem in a very [00:46:00] affordable way. So just mentioning it, Brian’s putting it on his, I have one on mine. But that has opened up the capabilities with the RV industry. I think so much, and we’re only seeing the tip of it right now.

Cause I don’t think a lot of consumers actually know how good it is. I still get questions out of a lot. And I tell people like it’s a life changer. If you need internet, you, the problem solved. 

Brian Fuente: And the panel that we install, you can use it on the go as well. If you’re traveling in your vehicle and you’re pulling the trailer, you can access Internet as well.

And that just makes this whole thing, just as a simple setup and, it’s self contained. So it’s just so much easier for the end user to have that safety net knowing they have access to Internet. And two, piggybacking off of David earlier, I think, we don’t have black water tanks either.

We’re actually doing a dry flush toilet. And When you talk about just this, opening up more opportunities for these new buyers, making the whole process simple for [00:47:00] them is very helpful in selling our product at least, and I’m sure for David as well. 

Brian Searl: Is there any data, Phil or Eleanor or Shane or whoever wants to talk, is there any data on how some of this new technology, both from a Starlink and even a compost and toilet perspective, has changed?

The behavior or desire of people to buy certain units or where they go or how they use their rigs or is there anything like that’s ever been done from an industry perspective? 

Phil Ingrassia: I don’t know if we’ve specifically been in the field on those types of features, but I will say that the number of first time buyers.

That we’ve seen in the last five years has really increased. And so those first time buyers, they’re not experienced RVers. So these types of simplification of the, of some of the components is really important to keep them RVing in the future and building that installed customer base, if you will.

We’ll just [00:48:00] stairstep up and help the industry prosper in the future. So I do think that is really important and we hear it a lot from dealers even is, if they have one, if they have one message to the manufacturers, it’s let’s try to simplify some of the stuff we’re putting in this unit.

And some people don’t like the word decontenting or whatever, but. Let’s try to make it, let’s make it simpler to use for the end user and that will be, they’ll be more satisfied with their experience. 

Brian Fuente: We’re even installing an on board water generator trailer will, there’s a system that will, I think it’s up to 8 liters or 8 gallons of water a day it can pull.

From an off grid perspective, it’s really impressive some of the technology that’s out there. And we have buyers that, are, If you’re using these for Airbnb, putting on their property where they don’t have access to utilities. You can pretty much set this thing up [00:49:00] anywhere.

So that there’s just a whole lot of opportunity for, just different different buyers out there, and some people want the off grid capability. Some could care less about it. They just want a really comfortable unit, but, I think having that, those offerings and having those amenities are, it’s really, it’s crucial to the this new era of buyer.

Brian Searl: Eleanor and Shane, I’m curious, this may be our final question here, and then we’ll have some final thoughts, but does this type of shift toward RVs that have these off grid capabilities? Or are just embracing some of the technologies and services like Starlink. Does that end up disproportionately benefiting Canada because of all the places that we don’t have internet access up here versus the U.

S.? Like long term? Do you feel like that does?

Shane Devenish: We are both watching our mouths open and who is going to talk first? You go first. 

Eleonore Hamm: Yeah I think so. It definitely opens up the possibility and, same as what’s happening in the U. S. is happening in [00:50:00] Canada. The only thing is that our climate tends to lead to people not necessarily being outdoors all year round and traveling all year round.

Because it gets pretty cold in certain areas, but for the most part people that are working remotely in the summer months they have access to definitely regions where they would not have been able to be out RVing, for as long periods of time, because they would have just taken smaller vacations, but now they have the opportunity.

to be plugged in while being unplugged, which was funny because originally we always thought, oh yeah, people want to go camping to be unplugged, but no, they want to be dialed in still. So definitely, I think it gives us an opportunity for our consumers to use those products and services. We’ll hopefully expand their time using their RVs.

Brian Searl: I feel like, yeah, Shane, please weigh in, but I feel like just the amount of area and beauty and land and nature up here, and I’m new to Canada that just doesn’t have cell phone coverage, it’s never been explored, and part of that obviously is, we still don’t have roads a lot of places, [00:51:00] but assuming we have roads to places, I feel like this is going to be great for the camping industry as a whole.

Do you agree, Shane? 

Shane Devenish: Yeah, absolutely. There’s so many campgrounds that are struggling to get Wi Fi service because they’re so far remote, and And the consumers are looking for it. So if a Starlink is already in the unit, then that pressure is eliminated. And I’m curious, Brian, David how much is the installation and the monthly cost?

Brian Fuente: We included on our model 1, so it’s baked into the, to the cost. The subscription is about 150 a month, I believe. But yeah, that’s, it’s included in our model 1. 

David Ramsay: And the main perk of it for me is that it’s month to month. You basically, and it’s prorated now as well, so I think it’s like the sixth of every month that renews, so if you’re going on a camping trip, if I was leaving today, I could start it, it would start up immediately, and then it would renew in about 16 days or so.

12 days or something. And I [00:52:00] only pay for those 12 days and then I pay for a full month after that. The dish that Brian puts on, it’s the one I have as well, that mounts on your roof that works while driving that is the most expensive. It’s 2, 500 for the dish. The portable stand dish that doesn’t work in motion but does work at a campsite is around 600.

I don’t know if that price has changed lately or not. But yeah, so you do have options. The one Brian installs and again, the one I have I use it cause there are still parts of the United States, even on the main interstates where cell service is not great. And so what I actually do is I keep my Starlink on, I flip my phone into airplane mode and I actually just use wifi.

So it never even, goes back and forth between Porcel Service but it’s been a game changer for where we are in Rifle to drive down to Phoenix. We go through parts of Arizona where it’s about six hours of no service off and on. And now I have full service. I can take calls. I can do whatever I want throughout that time period.

So it’s [00:53:00] more expensive than your home internet, but not by much. And it’s about as fast and fully flexible and portable. Apples to apples. I’m like, it’s almost a better deal because you can turn it off when you don’t need it, which is cool. 

Brian Fuente: We have a client that’s in South Mississippi, and they don’t have access to stable internet, so they’re actually using their coast to provide internet for their home as well.

It’s also a battery backup system in case of a storm, which they have a lot of, bad storms down there. 

Brian Searl: Alright, I know we’re running a couple minutes late, so I want to wrap up the show here, give everybody a chance to get off. Eleanor, I think there’s something here though, from a marketing perspective, to bring back like the RVDA’s version of the Verizon Can You Hear Me Now guy.

Starling, randomly traveling around Canada. I bet you could get some buy in for that. Pitch that to GoRV. 

Eleonore Hamm: Yeah, I will. Will do, for sure. 

Brian Searl: But, yeah, super excited to have you guys here. Thank you so much. Our recurring guests, as always, Susan Carpenter, Phil Angracia, Eleanor Hamm, Shane Devenish. Our two guests, Dave Ramsey.

And Brian, whose name I don’t remember because I’m not looking at it and he didn’t put it on your little but super excited. Thank you [00:54:00] for the great conversation. I will see you all next week on your show or four weeks from now on your show. I’m going to be gone for the next three weeks. So it’ll be a better content, better show, but thank you guys.

Appreciate it as always. And we’ll see you next time. 

Shane Devenish: Thanks, Brian. 

Nice to meet you guys. 

This episode of MC Fireside Chats with your host Brian Searl. Have a suggestion for a show idea? Want your campground or company in a future episode? Email us at hello at moderncampground. com. Get your daily dose of news from moderncampground.

com and be sure to join us next week for more insights into the fascinating world of outdoor [00:55:00] hospitality.