Originally Posted by jimcol
Exactly what the U S car manufacturers said before the foreign manufacturers entered their market!
I think there are comparisons to the auto industry that do work and those that do not.
(sorry, this turned into an essay - oops!)
Start with a few questions, why did the foreign markets enter the US auto market, and could this happen in RVs? What complacency existed? What was wrong with the existing auto business models?
Lots of questions that are too big to fully answer here...
So, maybe just some opinions from my study of this subject (MBA material...)
The auto industry was disrupted because a new group of auto makers determined an entirely new business model based on an obsession with quality controls (study Dr Deming's influence if interested). The Japanese auto industry was in a shambles after WW2, so was eager for change, whereas the US industry was selling all they could manufacture at the time so had little interest in investing time and money to improve.
There is a famous "urban legend" story about the American auto executives who toured a Japanese auto plant to see what they were doing different. As they ended the tour, one of them asked "where are the people with the rubber hammers to straighten door panels before the vehicle leaves the plant?" The tour guide had no idea, so the American pressed, "where in the process do you straighten the door panels to make sure they are aligned properly?" The answer... "in the design phase".
The moral of the story is that quality was not an add on at the end of the manufacturing process, but an entirely different business model.
So, who is that disrupter in the RV industry? Who is the one that has a fundamentally different model, where defects are corrected in the design phase and there is an obsession with quality control above all else?
And, perhaps most important in the auto industry comparison, where is the driving need for change? The RV industry in NA is selling all they can build and has for years; where in other parts of the industry is an area of such struggle that they will be willing to forge a totally different path?
From what I can see, RV manufacturers have a lot of similarities in their business models, such as:
-they buy most of their parts from the same small group of parts manufacturers
-they use minimal automation compared to the auto industry so have more "human error"
-they usually pay workers by the piece, so the process naturally values speed over quality
The point of my ramblings?
IMHO, I sincerely believe anyone who thinks that Thor is bad and others are good has not looked under the hood of the RV industry. If you do, you will see manufacturers are more similar than different. (most of the "differences" are contained in marketing materials and anecdotal stories)
Ok, I could write lots more, but never intended to write an essay. Obviously I have too much time on my hands, sitting here in -36 weather