Weekend Warrior

A new RV company is resurrecting a pioneering brand in the toy-hauler market, trying to lead the industry right out of the gate.

Posted on Aug. 16, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

ELKHART — A familiar name in the toy-hauler recreational vehicle market is getting a new look as Weekend Warrior RVs are coming back.

The dealers who are already fighting to get exclusive rights to sell Weekend Warriors in their markets will get their first in-person view next month during RV Open House Week.

Right now there’s only one prototype built, but the frames for the first production models are already on the production line, which for now is housed under NeXus RV’s roof.

Claude Donati, head of NeXus, is also serving as chief executive of Warrior RV. The companies are separate, but NeXus is helping Weekend Warrior get off the ground.

“What brought us together is a solid idea and from there we developed a company,” Donati said.

Brandon Ambris and Frank Barouti came up with the idea and are making it happen, along with Casey Torres.

Ambris is from around here and grew up in the RV industry. Barouti is with Giant RV in California, which accounted for half of the old Warrior company’s sales.

“It was the top of what it was for that time and era back in the late ‘90s,” Barouti said. “They were always the innovators and leaders of the top toy-hauler,” and it was one he and Torres used with customers. Torres worked for the old company.

When the economic downturn hit, it hit the RV industry hard. Donati said, “Weekend Warrior was one of the first casualties of the downturn.” It’s then-owner was innovative, but his business wasn’t ready for the downturn. “When they fell, they fell quickly,” Donati said.

Ambris and Barouti started talking in earnest a year ago about starting a company, and with the RV industry and the economy where it is, they decided to go ahead and iron out details. They formed

They’re going to work with only one dealer per market, and they plan to buck other industry trends, they said.

It’s going to have all steel-cage construction with virtually no wood in the laminated sidewalls. “This thing is setting a whole new standard,” Donati said.

Barouti said, We’re very opinionated and strong-minded about a look that has to be better than what everyone else has. In doing so we’re going to keep a legacy that’s been going on with the name Weekend Warrior. We definitely are keeping that going, and Weekend Warrior was always the innovator, the leader of this industry.”

Torres, West Coast sales manager for the new company, said, “Manufacturers, when they come out with a new product, they target somebody with that product. Keystone comes out with a mid-profile, they target this guy.

“We’re not targeting anybody. We’re targeting the toy hauler market. We’re not trying to be another brand. We are the innovators of the market. We are the ones that are not going after a particular brand, we’re going after the entire market. Whoever wants to sit behind us, have at it,” Torres said. “We’re doing things that we think are needed, not what the industry thinks are needed. It’s what we feel is needed for our customers and for what we do personally.”

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