Thor Industries reports huge RV growth

Thor Industries reported huge growth compared to the same time last year and its motor coach division is off to a solid start this year.

Posted on Feb. 5, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Feb. 5, 2013 at 2:17 p.m.

ELKHART — Thor Industries, like the recreational vehicle industry in general, is riding high, with the company announcing preliminary overall sales growth of 24.2 percent in their second fiscal quarter compared to the previous year.

The quarter, which ended Jan. 30, saw RV sales rise to $636.1 million, 27 percent higher than last year.

The motorized RV segment more than doubled in sales over the previous year’s second quarter, according to the company, rising to $113.7 million from 2012’s $56.8 million.

By comparison, the industry as a whole grew about 13.2 percent last year, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.

Already, the 2013 show season shows more promise for the motorized business, according to Joel Grimm of Thor Motor Coach.

“The 2013 RV Shows have been great, getting this year started on the right note. Our dealers have achieved excellent sales at our retail shows this year. Consumers are seeking out our products as a result of our great dealer base, introduction of new model features and the positive feedback from our ‘Shield of Protection’ customer service programs,” said Grimm, national sales manager for gas motorhome sales, in a written announcement.

For the first six months of Thor’s fiscal year, total sales were $1.62 billion, with recreational vehicles accounting for $1.4 billion of that total. Bus sales also saw a rise of 5.9 percent in the first six months of the year.

Backlogs for RVs also grew at the end of January compared to the previous year, though bus backlog dropped.

“Thor achieved solid gains in revenue for the second quarter ending Jan. 31, 2013, as the momentum of our RV products introduced in the fall continued at Louisville in late November,” said Peter Orthwein, Thor chairman and CEO, in a written announcement on the earnings.

“Indications from the early RV retail shows have been very positive, with increased traffic and higher sales levels, reflecting continued strength in our industry,” Orthwein said. “Despite the improvements in RV sales, the overall environment in the towables market remains very competitive, and elevated levels of incentives associated with orders placed at the fall open house are reflected in our sales and our second-quarter operating results that we expect to report on March 7. In addition, the bus business continued to be characterized by aggressive competition during the second quarter,” he said.

Thor, in the process of moving from Jackson Center, Ohio, to Elkhart, held about 36 percent of the RV market last year, according to an RV industry survey of retail registrations.

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