Thank you to everyone who took the time to reply with such passion and vigor to my letter, “It’s Time To Fight”. Your feedback is a valuable glimpse into the perceptions and intentions of our community during these challenging times. I will urge the leaders of the truck camper industry to read your comments carefully.
Of course not everything was perfect. When I stated, “Politically, it would be wise to keep these words from the pages of Truck Camper Magazine,” I was referring to industry politics, not national politics. A few readers misunderstood me and sent in their national political standings. While I enjoyed these emails and identify with the fervor from which they came, I am keeping national politics out of this discussion.
By all means, please keep the feedback coming. This fight continues.
Here are your responses presented in the order in which they arrived:
“What a fantastic article and thank you for saying it. In general I’m against publications like this taking a political stand, but in this case I think it’s very appropriate. Your analysis of the current economic situation is spot on. Economic trends are cyclical and gas prices are not causing the sky to fall.
Technology will come on line in the future to reduce the demand on fuel, the housing market will come back, and the economy will improve. Market corrections are a reality and for very good reasons. So why not take advantage of the down economy and do as you say; save thousands on your next truck camper combination and reap the rewards of a soft economy. Thank you for being an advocate for the truck camper industry.” – Brian Stimits
“Gordon – Folks aren’t seeing any “Truck camper deals of a lifetime” out there. I haven’t seen any manufacturer rebates or anything else. My wife and I want to buy a new Lance 971. If there were some great deals out there, we would likely do something now.” – Brad W
“Thanks for your work on this information for truck campers. I always felt we were the forgotten campers in the RV world. Good job keep it up.” – Gordon Knight, Jr.
“Go Gordon! As a recently displaced sales manager, I personally appreciate your stand. I would encourage everyone to do the same. Thanks.” – Dewey Ulbright
“Glad you put your thoughts online. The truck camper industry is taking a hit like every other aspect of our life these days. Personally I think every industry and every user of fossil fuels has to rethink. Detroit is beginning to wake up. All of us in Michigan have felt the pain of the CEOs being asleep at the wheel.
There are plenty of ways to increase the miles per gallon of our trucks and cars. The housing industry, bankers, restaurants, schools, and families have had to find new and better ways of doing things. Maybe the truck camper is the new way. Let’s stop hauling half of what we own behind us in a long trailer or pushing it in a motorhome half the size of my house. Why not latch on to a functional, cozy truck camper? Put it in the bed of an efficient truck and visit a few places. Maybe boondocking overnight will bring us to our destination.
Let’s drive 55 to 60 miles per hour instead of the high speeds folks have become accustomed to. Let’s put out the solar panels and enjoy the campfires and stories instead of TV and DVD. It is possible to drive a day, eat your meals out of the camper, and spend a night boondocking for less than some of the folks driving cars, eating at restaurants, and staying at hotels. I can’t imagine Americans giving up travel completely.
I was only slightly joking when I told my husband that we should take our truck camper on the road for January and February and save money. I figure with our $300 a month budget for heating oil this season at our home, we can lower the thermostat to keep the water lines from freezing, head for a warmer climate in our truck camper, and save money! Keep the brain churning, Gordon!” – Michigan Marge
“Yes, Gordon. For heaven’s sake, keep on truckin’. My wife and I had never been able to experience the joy of RVing until we purchased our beloved used truck and camper two years ago. This rig has been a perfect way for us to get out and do the things that truck camper folks like to do. And believe me, we looked at all the other options.
The Chevy Silverado and Hallmark Ute fit us like a glove. We also were listening to the media and thinking about quitting or cutting back on our truck camper exploring. Then we figured we have gone through a lot of so called crises before. We pretty much ignored them and went on enjoying life.” – Alyn Wolf
“Gordon – I read your commentary about truck campers and the real economic factors that affect them. You are right to say that factors outside our control should not affect what we do. But there is more. From what I have seen, truck camper manufacturers also contribute to the slow down in selling. Many truck campers seem to be far more affordable than others. Where some will cost around $18,000, others with similar designs and equipment are costing two or three times that.
Many, and I am among them, do not see how a cost for the same item can cost so much more. They use the same appliances, the same exteriors, and the same basic framing. I will agree that some do more to make the camper stronger or more appealing to the marketplace, but two or three times the cost? The other factor that I see is the lack of a marketplace where anyone can see or purchase a truck camper if they decide they want one. Here in Las Vegas, there is one dealer selling truck campers. If I want another brand, the closest dealer to me is two-hundred miles away or more. That is not an inducement to go buy one, especially if I have never seen the model I think I might want.
So it is the case of “the chicken or the egg”? Do the makers need to get into the marketplace more or do they wait until sales increase? With an economy indicating so much is wrong here, I am not surprised that people are putting off buying a truck camper. But then again, if they were more available to the people that want them, sales may increase. I don’t have an answer for that, but I cannot imagine any store wanting to sell an item and not having it available to the people that they want to reach. Would Dodge and Chrysler or Ford survive? I don’t think so. So it isn’t all the economy, nor the lack to willingness to buy. Fault also has to be had by the manufacturers. I hope they all find the answer while they have the ability to do so.
I have been an RVer for over forty years and do not like the prospect of that lifestyle taking a hit. I think more of a smoothing of price differences, more access, and a broader dealer spectrum would help. But I can only watch and wait. I hope the truck camper and RV buyers aren’t doing the same thing for much longer.” – Frank Drake, Las Vegas, Nevada
“Gordon – Your article is upbeat, but I think there are several other things manufacturers need to do to get many folks off the fence. One, build green. Two, lower formaldehyde levels significantly. Three, lower weight significantly by adapting new composite technology. Four, emphasize solar and other off-grid technologies.
Five, come up with more creative floor plans. For example, getting a high quality queen sofa-bed on the main level. Seniors and handicapped campers would flock to a plan where they don’t have to climb to get in bed and the overhead area would then make great storage area. Yes, it’s the economy, stupid. It’s a part of the equation, but it is far from all that could be done.” – Dennis J. Darr