Monday, June 15, 2009

Saturday June 13, 2009

Today is the day that we were scheduled to go to the Heartland factory to see how the coaches are built. Stella and I both slept later than usual but we got up and got all cleaned up and ready to go. We elected not to ride the bus but to drive over in Bill's truck. There were five or six others that were driving, so we got into the convoy to Elkhart to the factory. We stopped along the way and picked up some donuts to snack on along the way.

When we got to the factory, they had several new coaches in the parking lot for us to look over, including a beautiful new Landmark Grand Canyon with the full body paint, several Bighorn models, several toyhaulers and several new light weight models that we had not seen. They had left these out and open for us to look over and should have been on their way to a dealer and ultimately to a customer. We were later told that because of the economy, most of the trailers now being built are for customer orders.

It was fascinating to watch a trailer go from a bare frame to a completed coach. It is nothing like I had imagined and everything in the manufacturing process is done with efficiency in mind to build the best quality trailer with the lowest cost. I was very impressed with the factory and the way our trailers are made. I understand that most of the trailers are built in this same manner, so it gives me a better understanding of what the process is.

After touring the factory, we had a short roundtable talk with the President and CEO of Heartland, Brian Brady. He gave us a brief history of how Heartland got started, how it progressed and where it is going. He also took some comments and listened to complaints from owners and with others in his management staff present, they took notes on and said they would look into several issues that were brought up. We then had a lunch of hamburgers and brats on a bun which was furnished by Heartland. During lunch, Mr. Brady met individual owners and spoke with them. Stella and I got to talk to him and he took note of some of the issues that Stella had noticed on a Landmark trailer. He gave her his business card and asked her to send him an email about her suggestions. He also told me that he had just returned from Houston and had met with his dealers there and offered any assistance with the Houston rallies that we are hosting. It was also very flattering for me to have been known to Coley Brady, the brand manager for Landmark and Bighorn for my work as Chapter Leader in Houston.

When we finished at the factory, those that had ridden the bus re-boarded the buses and we went to the RV/MH Hall of fame and museum in Elkhart. This is a pretty interesting place with a history of RVing and many pictures of the old trailers and several well-kept old cars, trucks and trailers on display.

From there we came back home and hung out until the final meal was prepared and set out for us in the rally hall. We had a fine meal of pork chops, potatoes and beans for our supper. It was good and everyone had a good time. Of course, we were near the end of tables that were served, but that was just bad luck.

After the meal, we had numerous door prizes given out. Every attendee got two prizes that ranged from books on RVing to 19" televisions. I was asked to be a prize runner and gladly helped out. When the prizes were all handed out, we had entertainment furnished by "dueling pianos" who were very good. This is two men that seem to know every song ever sung. They get a lot of audience participation in their act and everyone enjoyed them.

The night ended about ten o'clock and everyone started back to their rigs. I was asked to drive one of the golf carts to take folks back home. My feedback was that everyone had a great time at the rally and had enjoyed the entertainment.

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