“We already knew that we were going to build a new plant. That was two years before,” says Dale Davis, ATC’s leading salesman for its toy hauler division.
A new production plant increased ATC’s manufacturing capabilities, sure. It also created a desire to build something new. The new facility would allow ATC to branch out, creating products for a new type of its dealer base.
“Long story short, we looked at what we could do. Once we had a new plant, we were able to start a whole new line,” Davis says.
So, the company looked inward. People often questioned ATC over custom features in its car hauler lines. Those questions ranged from the mundane all the way to bathroom packages.
“We walked through a process,” Davis explains. “Our executives sat down. It’s kind of a problem-solving process. You present the problem, some outcomes and some projections. It’s like a mini-business plan to see if it makes sense.”
From what they had gathered, there wasn’t a lot of competition in a very particular segment of the market. So, in April of 2015, the company built its very first ATC toy hauler.
“It was slow at first,” he says. “We almost shut it down, but, in the last two years, it went nuts.”
For inspiration, the ATC team sought out RV dealers. Unbeknownst to him, that task proved harder than he imagined. While known in the cargo and race trailer industry, ATC was an enigma for the recreational vehicle market.
“I had worked here for fifteen years,” says Davis. “I thought they’d at least know who we were, but we’d never been in their circle.
Davis and his team started studying what looked good and what didn’t. What they found was that their niche lied in the fact that there was no wood in their toy hauler – at all. So, the team focused on other niches. The company went with an aluminum roof, something of a rarity in the RV world. They noticed their roofs, as opposed to others, weren’t leaking or getting damaged as easily.
“We toured RV dealerships and you’d see trim falling off or see things rotting. Floors would bow as we walked through them. We thought if people were willing to pay a little more for something that will last them the rest of their lives, we’ll do okay.”
The first designs, Davis admits, were pretty utilitarian. The company leaned on the word of its dealers, listening for functional ideas. The constant circuit of RV shows combined with the custom inquiries helped quite a bit. ATC didn’t stop there, though.
“We kind of created a dealership panel of what we felt were the five dealers that really got it. We could trust their opinions. They weren’t in it for their own thing. They wanted to make this a better team effort,” Davis remembers.
Davis recalled compliments the toy haulers received on the size of their bathrooms. It’s something, he admitted, the company didn’t do intentionally. They just thought they’d make the most space possible of the area where they were building it. Now, those large restrooms, another rarity in the RV world, have become a staple of ATC’s line. Davis says that staple comes from the company listening to what people were saying.
For 2018, ATC announced a new toy hauler. Davis hoped it would have been introduced at the 2018 NATDA Trade Show & Convention. With most RV happening from January to March, September’s show as the perfect opportunity.
“We made a list of all the suggestions we heard from people and voted on it. We came up with ten to fifteen awesome things and, within a month, we had new plans.”
But, due to internal factors, the company didn’t have the manpower to pull off a new prototype in time. It came prepared with brochures and explanations, but dealers would have to wait to see the new model in person.
“Hopefully, that becomes the pattern for us at ATC – that we introduce the cool, new stuff at NATDA. I think that’s perfect. It’s a draw for dealers. It’s exciting.”
Dealers still latched on to the ideas and concepts they knew would come. ATC was able to sell the upcoming units and the trailers are hitting dealers’ lots right about now.
“We’re striving to improve. We know we’re not perfect at all and we’ve got a long way to go. It’s unique, because it’s an expensive product. But, people are falling in love with it. It’s been exciting.”
People have fallen in love with it. According to Davis, the company’s toy hauler division has more than doubled this year.
For more information on ATC, please visit www.aluminumtoyhauler.com.
ABOUT ATC TRAILERS
ATC believes one, sole company should be responsible for the product they produce. In today’s world of outsourcing everything from material production to assembly, installation and even customer service, ATC builds virtually every aspect of the trailer in house. From selection and procurement of raw materials, to frame assembly; from interior and exterior cladding to plumbing and electrical system installation; from door fabrication and installation to custom cabinetry and millwork; every component is produced and assembled under one roof in our Indiana facility, made by hand in the USA. To learn more, please visit www.aluminumtoyhauler.com.