Sunday, June 19, 2011

Saturday June 18, 2011-Goshen Fairgrounds

Today was our day to visit the Heartland factory and the Motorhome/Recreational Vehicle Museum in Elkhart. Most of us rode buses to the factory but Stella and took our truck because we didn't want to go to the museum again. It was another nice day but not as cool as it has been.

Here is a small group of Heartlanders walking around several trailers that were out for us to go through near the factories on the grounds.

This is a new model that just came out, one of the Prowler models. Prowler was a Fleetwood trailer that was the #1 selling trailer brand for ten or eleven years in a row. When Fleetwood went under, Heartland bought the rights to all their brand names. It looks as if Heartland has another winner in the Prowler.

This is Kary Katzenberger, brand manager for the Landmark and Bighorn brands for Heartland. Kary and other brand managers and employees took us on the tours of the plant. Very interesting and informative.

In one of the very first steps in building a trailer, they start with a bare frame. The frame is turned upside down for the suspension and running gear to be installed and then it comes inside the building where the rest of the work is done.

Here you can see the framework and the tanks that have been installed. They don't allow tours during the working hours of the plants, and these people go to work about four o'clock in the morning and get off by three o'clock in the afternoon, so they get their time in and still have the afternoon to take care of their personal business.

Many Amish people work in these plants. We met one man a couple of years ago and learned that their religion does not allow them to own an automobile but they can ride in someone else's car. Some groups of Amish are allowed to own and drive cars, so they come around and pick up the others to take them to work. Interesting lifestyle.

Here is the decking of a new trailer. The tanks, wiring, piping, insulation and other materials have been installed and the laminated deck installed over all that. You can see that a lot of insulation is used in the floor. I guess thats one reason that the floors are so solid in our trailers.

The carpet and linoleum has been laid in place. The angled strip that you see is a part of the slide-out. The slide goes over this strip, which lifts it up as it glides in.

They are starting to install the cabinets in this trailer. Much easier to install now than to wait until the walls are in place! There will be steps installed to the right of the cabinets to go up into the bathroom and bedroom.

This is a laminated roof of a new trailer. The openings are for skylights or air conditioning units that will be installed further down the line.

After completing the plant tour, about four hundred of our friends gathered in a new plant building that we used for our lunchroom. We had burgers and brats for lunch today. It was a great time with other Heartland owners. I would urge anyone that didn't get to go this year to try to plan a trip to our next "homecoming" rally in Goshen in 2013. It's well worth the trip.

Brian Brady, President and CEO of Heartland spoke to us for a long time before taking questions from the floor. We met him in 2009 when we attended our first rally here and were very impressed with him. He insisted that everyone call him Brian instead of Mr. Brady.

We returned to the fairgrounds and hung out and relaxed for a bit while many of the others went to the Motorhome/RV Hall of Fame and Museum. I later learned that Jim had to send some of the buses that he had reserved back because so many people decided to drive their own vehicles and thats too bad. I wish we as a group had let him know so that he didn't have to spend the money on the buses, but I guess we all learned something here and the next rally will be better for it.

We later went to our last get-together. We had a good catered meal that all enjoyed. You might be wondering how 450 people got fed and I'll tell you. We had two lines of food on either end of the hall. People could go on both sides of the tables to fill their plates. Then each table (eight people to a table) was given a number which were drawn, with two tables being given the same numbers. That way, when your table number was called, there were two tables being fed on either end of the room. It may sound confusing but it worked. 450 people were served in about 30-45 minutes.

We had some great entertainment after the meal. A man named Dave Tressell, who is a hypnotist, had about 15 volunteers come up. He hypnotized them and it was hilarious! I got some video of it but I'll have to attach it to another entry. I don't want this one to be so long and need to get it posted. It will be worth it, so check back here and I'll post it later.

So long.

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