Forest River RV
As I mention in other articles, I am a follower of Forest River RV products. So more objectively, really, I wanted to describe how the company became so large and how one of the divisions became a leader of the recreational vehicle market.
Forest River, or better Forest River RV, is the segment of this company dedicated to the manufacture of RVs in the United States. It is one of the leading producers of recreational vehicles worldwide. It makes vehicles for both land and water. Founded many years ago, in 1996 by Peter Liegl, it went on to aggressively expand its position in the market through the acquisition of a number of other large and smaller brands. Therefore today, Forest River RV controls more than 20 brands, and in 2005 it was acquired by Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway. Now it has a history of producing various creative designs of vehicles for more than twenty years in the world market.
Forest River RV is known to be a highly reputed manufacturer company of amusing automobiles; like the campers or motorhomes. This company provides different types of unconventional vehicles to the customers; like utility trailers, cargo trailers and pontoon boats. Forest River Inc was founded in 1996.
Today it produces recreational vehicles belonging to various classes, from economic Class-C to the luxurious and ultimate Class-A vehicles. For those who love water, it provides multiple models of pontoons in a special division. Furthermore, the company has entered into manufacturing of commercial vehicles. Thus it produces cargo trucks, trailers, and buses. It incorporated new models of buses in 2019.
Brands Under The Umbrella of Forest River
Forest River company has expanded continually through a range of acquisitions, and today there are about a dozen major brands under its umbrella, and from the sales point of view company primarily focuses on the United States and Canadian markets. Some of its well-known subsidiaries for recreational vehicles are; Coachmen RV, Dynamax, Forest River RV, Palomino RV, Prime Time Manufacturing, Shasta RV.
Subsidiaries in making boats are Berkshire Pontoon, South Bay Pontoon, and Trifecta Pontoon. Some of the most famous brands in commercial vehicles are Rockport Commercial, Open Trailers, Restroom Trailers, Cargo Mate, and many more. Berkshire Coach and Elkhart Coach are well known for quality and customized buses.
Forest River RV Range Of Products
Focusing more on the Forest River campers, they are manufactured by the division we will mostly concentrate our attention on this website, that is Forest River RV, this company branch produces a complete range of motorhomes, following are some of the most commonly bought recreational vehicles from the company.
- Class A RV: the most expensive and luxurious, they are genuinely home on wheels. It is a bus that is converted into living space and has most of the luxuries one can think of, with lots of areas, bedrooms, kitchen, and other amenities. It has huge basement storage to carry things for long trips. Perfect fit for long journeys and camping, though it comes at a price. Driving these larger vehicles require some training and skills.
- Class B RV: Is a camper van, affordable and still comfortable. Forest River RV is a leading company for these vehicles. It is based on the chassis of the typical van with a raised roof. They provide living space, or better said, sleeping places and have other necessary things for life. Due to their small size, they are easy to drive and park. They are economical to maintain too. However, internal space is cramped due to the small size.
- Class C RV is something in between class B and A. Built either on the van or mini truck chassis they are maneuverable, easy to drive and yet have enough space. Extra space often comes due to sleeping space in the overhead compartment, which can also be used to store things. It is called an alcove or cab-over bed. These models are also manufactured by Forest River RV and one of their most famous campers for sale.
Class A, B, C RVs have dedicated embedded engines, which is their advantage and disadvantage too. Dedicated engine means easier to maintain and reliable, but it also means higher cost and vehicle may be standing for most of the time and depreciating.
If you have a truck or towing vehicle, you can look for towable RVs, which are cheaper, though they are less easy to drive and you have to consider the camper weight as well. Forest River RV has the following models
- Travel trailer: is constructed on top of the cargo trailer, and has all the standard luxuries like comfortable living space, necessary equipment, water supply, refrigeration and so on. They come in various sizes and choice would depend on the price and towing vehicle available.
- Fifth Wheel trailers: they have specific benefits over travel trailers, they are easy to drive, and often have more space. The only limitation is that they require a flatbed truck or open truck for towing.
- Folding and tent trailers: they are among the economical options. They have expandable compartments. Thus they are easy to tow, and once a person has reached the camping place one can open the expandable compartments. However, it also means less safety, an extra job to be done each time. Nonetheless, they are a great option for occasional camping as they are cheap and easy to park. They would have living space, place to carry essential things, but facilities like toilet, kitchen or other amenities may be missing or minimal.
- Toy haulers: they are for more active people, those who wish to carry along their dirt bike, ATVs, snowmobiles, and love camping with them. It would generally have the compartment to store the toys used by adults and some living space, though other amenities may be minimal. These are often preferred by those who love to participate in outdoor sports and still prefer camping.
Apart from the offers from Forest River RV, the portfolio of products offers for active outdoor life is for those who love to spend time floating, and the company has various models of pontoon boats to offer. These type of vessels differ from standard boats in a way that they use inflated compartments to remain floating. They are generally considered as safer and more stable when compared to conventional boats. Pontoons offer enough space for kids to run and thus are perfect for family outings. They are also a perfect fit for extended fishing trips. They are easy to maintain and last longer than conventional boats.
Apart from recreational vehicles, Forest River also offers a range of commercial trucks, cargo trailers, and buses. Cargo trailers came in various sizes and can be used to transport from anything small to large machinery. They provide a new line of buses since 2019 that can be fitted with anything according to needs of the clients, what sets them apart from other companies is its ability to offer customized solutions according to the client’s demand.
The FROG experience
FROG stands for the Forest River Owners Group. The company understands the importance of staying engaged with its clients, and the importance of continued post-sales relationships and thus it created the community of recreational vehicles and named it FROG. Anyone owning one of the Forest River RV product brands can be a part of the community. FROG organizes group trips and rallies for the more vibrant experience. Thus after buying one of the recreational vehicles from the company, one can join the community and become an active participant. Gatherings would often involve the participation of hundreds of vehicles from around the country.
Further Expansion of Forest River RV
Initially, Forest River RV purchased few assets from the Cobra industry, as the present CEO of Forest River RV was associated with that company during the period of 1985 to 1993. Then this new company started manufacturing travel trailers, tent campers, park models and fifth wheels with the brand names of Sierra, Sandpiper, Salem, Rockwood, Flagstaff, Wildwood, Quailridge, and Summit. Later, this company started the production of cargo utility trailers with the brand name of Cargo Mate.
They launched another cargo trailer in 1997 that gained instant popularity just like Continental Cargo. Again in 1998, this company launched Forest River Marine and also started the productions of pontoon boats. In the same year, Forest River RV decided to buy some assets from Firan Motorhomes so that it can produce the best motorhomes from its manufacturing units. Forest River took over US Cargo in 2000, which was earlier known to be the best producer of utility trailers, but this business was not assigned to Forest River RV division.
This company started its bus service seriously from 2001 by taking over the companies of Starcraft Bus and Glaval Bus. It launched Rockport Commercial Vehicles and cargo trucks for commercial uses in 2002. Then the company started a fresh segment named Vanguard Industries, for which it purchased some assets of Palomino. Soon this company expanded its business so much that it had to shift its head office from Goshen to Elkhart, in Indiana State. All these expansions and product launches boosted the business of this company to a huge extent.
As we said earlier, Forest River Inc. continued to be possessed by Warren Buffett and joined by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in 2005. The fame of this company became more prominent in 2007 when it acquired two more companies, namely Rance Aluminum Fabrication and Priority One Financial Services. After a few more years, Forest River bought the properties of Coachman RV, from the renowned Coachman Industries. It was a highly fruitful deal as Coachman manufactured different types of entertaining vehicles; like gas class A motorhomes, gas class C motorhomes, rear diesel motorhomes, fifth wheels, sport utility trailers, travel trailers, and tent campers. Of course that this business was assigned to the Forest River RV division.
Forest River inaugurated Prime Time Manufacturing in 2009, for the productions of varieties of innovative entertaining automobiles that are easily towable. This company also revived the Shasta product line in 2010, which proved its business insight, as this step was the consequence of the takeover of Coachman RV. Next, Forest River took over Dynamax Corporation in 2011, which was widely known for manufacturing luxury motorhomes, like Super Class C motorhomes.
Moreover, in 2014, this company has launched production units in California, Oregon, Hemet, and Silverton to reach their customers in all these places. Forest River also took over the company of Star Trans Bus in that same year. In 2016, the Forest River Marine division started the production of the Trifecta Pontoon line. This company introduced a new luxury bus line in the market, with the brand name of Berkshire Coach.
they have achieved marvelous business growth within these years since its inception, and this includes also Forest River RV division. Now this company runs manufacturing units in 86 locations, where 11,000 employees are working diligently at present. To date, more than 1.9 million vehicles of different varieties have been sold from this company, earning the revenue of approximately $4 billion.
Forest River is a renowned manufacturing company that is known for producing various types of recreational automobiles; like pontoon boats, cargo trailers and luxury buses. The auxiliary brands of this company are enlisted as follows.
- Buses: The luxury buses of Forest River are named as Berkshire Coach, Starcraft Bus, Glaval Bus, Star Trans Bus, Turtle Top and Elkhart Coach.
- Cargo trailers: The numerous types of cargo trailers manufactured by this company are branded as Force Trailers, Continental Cargo, Cargo Mate, Restroom Trailers, US Cargo, Haulin Trailers, Rance Aluminum Trailers and Lightning Trailers.
- Commercial trucks: The major brand that represents the commercial trucks of Forest River is named as Rockport Commercial Vehicles.
- Park models: The Park Models manufactured by this company are named as Cabins and Suites, Quailridge and Summit.
- Pontoon boats: The brand names attributed to the pontoon boats are Berkshire Pontoons, Trifecta Pontoons and South Bay Pontoons.
Forest River RV has taken over many other companies in these 20 years, which have added to the strength of this company. The descriptions of these acquisitions are provided as follows.
- Coachman RV: This Company was in operation since 1964 and its manufacturing unit was situated in the downtown area of Middlebury in Indiana, over a huge area of 5000 sq. feet. Numerous travel trailers, truck campers, and other commercial vehicles were the main products of this company. In December 2008, this company was acquired by Forest River RV and now it is mainly famous for its major brands, like Class A, Class B, and Class C motorhomes.
- Dynamax Corporation: This Company was launched in 1997 for the production of the motorhomes of the latest RV designs. However, it was taken over by Forest River RV in 2011 and now it is a reliable brand for manufacturing speedy and customized motorhomes; like Luxury Class C motorhomes and Super C motorhomes.
- Prime Time Manufacturing: This automobile company started its production in 2009 and soon it became famous for manufacturing travel trailers and fifth wheels throughout the markets USA and Canada. It’s headquarter is located in Wakarusa of Indiana State and now it ranks among the topmost industries of this country.
- Palomino: This Company was founded in 1968 and it merged with Forest River in 2008 for the productions of tent campers, travel trailers, toy haulers and fifth wheels.
- Forest River RV: It is a prime division of Forest River Inc. and now it ranks among the largest RV manufacturers in the United States.
- Shasta: This Company was initiated in 1941 for the productions of house trailers that were used for military purposes at that time. Now this famous company of the last century is known to manufacture mainly travel trailers and fifth wheels.
I am Tony, an RV designer and RV developer. I create bill of materials for RV manufacturers for travel trailers and fifth wheels. I worked as a freelance transportation consultant for Lyft. As an RV development consultant, I create customization trees for RV manufacturers who want to offer a solution to prospective customers to design their custom RV with variant configuration. Apart from this, I sell in Indiana trailer hitches, hitch balls, goosenecks and weight distribution systems where I provide advice to customers who want to know which is their towing capacity, which hitch ball should they utilize and how to deploy a weight distribution system. I do my best to explain all these processes and their installation, here in RV Favorites.