The Gypsy Rose

The Gypsy Rose

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why we chose Heartland--copy & paste from 'The Gypsy Journal' a professional blog about RVing

Sorry about the formating...when you're steal someone else's words, like I am here and hope it's ok.  I am in no way, shape or form the author of the following article I found on Heartland's website.  But, I could not have said it any differently.  Heartland has been treating us like the Pirate & Kitty Sweeties that we are, answering questions that may seem annoying to most, welcoming us to the family before we've even purchased from them...even letting me know I can change and request anything (within reason, I'm sure) my little heart desires.  Take a minute to watch the videos at their site.  Just click on the title, I think, and it should take you to  
Factory Tour

 We always enjoy touring factories and watching how things are made. Over the years we have toured a teddy bear factory, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory, the Tabasco factory, a whiskey distillery, and a cheese factory, to name a few. Since Elkhart is the center of the RV industry, we decided to tour an RV factory. 

Heartland Recreational Vehicles is a new advertiser in the Gypsy Journal, and Scott Tuttle in their marketing department had invited us to stop by and take a look at their operation, so we called Scott and arranged a tour while we were in town. Heartland is a new company formed by some veterans of the RV industry who had a vision to do things differently, and Scott told me they were committed to building a quality fifth wheel that was built for the needs of fulltime RVers.

 During our telephone conversations, I had repeated to Scott the statement I have made in these pages and during my seminars at RV rallies across the country, that the biggest problem with the RV industry is the poor quality of most of the RVs on the road. Call me idealistic if you will, but I just feel that when you pay $100,000 or more for a recreational vehicle, the darned thing should not fall apart going down the highway! Scott assured me that Heartland’s new Landmark fifth wheel was a different breed of animal than RVers have been used to. 

We arrived late in the afternoon and spent a couple of hours touring the plant. Having built our bus conversion from the shell up, and having lived on the road in both a production motorhome and now a bus, we have some idea of what goes into today’s RVs. I came away from the Heartland factory impressed by what I saw. These guys have some good ideas that the rest of the industry has overlooked. 

The first thing that we noted was that the exterior wall frames are structurally stronger. Instead of just using a hollow metal channel, Heartland fills the channels with wood for extra strength. 

Another big step forward is the frame design that, coupled with a unique front cap, gives the trailer 30% more turning radius with a short bed pickup with an extended cab, eliminating the “crunch zone,” where so many fifth wheel owners have damaged their trucks and trailers by turning too sharply. This design makes backing and parking the Landmark fifth wheel easier and safer. Maneuvers that would jack knife another rig are a simple task with the Heartland design. 

The rear fiberglass cap is also a brand new design, with recessed LED tail lights and LED running lights that give it a handsome automotive look. Overall, the Landmark is a very good looking rig. But looks alone don’t make a quality recreational vehicle. 

Scott showed us a lot of other new concepts that I think fulltimers are really going to appreciate. The rig is built to hold up under the rigors of fulltime use. It’s not going to fall apart like our Fleetwood motorhome did after a short time on the highway. The floors are solid, welds are top quality, it’s built on a strong frame, and they don’t cut corners to get one more unit out in a day. 

The electrical system and plumbing are well designed, with a water manifold that allows the owner to shut down any line in the event of a problem. But with direct runs and quality components and installation, a lot of the problems people see in RVs should be eliminated right from the start. 

Inside, they have included a lot of good ideas. Drawers and storage are well thought out, the furniture is well above the standards for the RV industry, interior design is attractive and comfortable, and the unit is roomy inside with its three slides. All models are prepped for washer/dryer installation, have hard maple bedroom furniture with cedar lined closets, residential sized drawers, and 6’4” ceilings in the bedroom. A lot of the things that are an option on the competitors’ RVs are standard equipment on the Heartland. 

Down below, storage is fantastic, with what Heartland calls its “Texas Storage” compartment, over 141 cubic feet accessible on three sides by 48” wide insulated doors. The bay has a flat floor with no obstructions for complete pass thorough access. The bay also has large sliding access panels for utility maintenance. The bays are floored with thick rubberized mats to resist stains and tears. A door side power center features a non-corrosive dual slide-out battery tray and quick battery disconnects. 

One nice touch is that all compartment doors are specially keyed, instead of using the generic keys other RVs use, so owners don’t have to worry about anyone in the campground being able to unlock their storage bays. Throw in a host of other neat features, including a black water flush system, exterior security lights, a satellite TV hookup, CAT-5 high speed wiring for computer Internet access, a safe in the bedroom closet (not in the floor, but in the side where it can be easily accessed), blackout day/night shades, and Corian countertops and the result is a recreational vehicle that I believe fulltimers will really appreciate, and one that I think is definitely several steps above most of what is on the market today. 

Here is another article, from last summer:

 Factory Tour 

In over eight years of publishing the Gypsy Journal, we have accepted advertising from only one RV manufacturer, Heartland Recreational Vehicles. This is not because other manufacturers have not approached us, but we’ve seen very few whose quality and customer service meet our own standards. If I would not personally do business with a company, I cannot in good faith accept their advertising. In my view, doing so would be an endorsement of that company. 

I will admit that I was skeptical of Heartland when they first contacted us, but Scott Tuttle, their Vice President in charge of marketing, convinced me that they are a company dedicated to producing top quality products, and we have enjoyed a good working relationship for several years now. 

We have watched Heartland grow from a small company of 50 or so employees to a major contender in the towable RV market, with a workforce of over 600 people. RV Business magazine reported in their May 2007 issue that in a recent Statistical Surveys, Inc. survey of the top 45 fifth wheel brand names, 30 lost market share. Of those who showed a gain in market share, most were small, or single digit gains. However, three brands achieved triple digit gains, and all three were Heartland products. Folks, that only happens when a company is committed to putting out top quality products and providing top quality service after the sale. 

Recently Scott Tuttle took me on a tour of their newest production facility, where they are producing their new North Trail travel trailers. I was very impressed! The construction methods, standard features, and Heartland’s attention to detail are first rate. The North Trail features many things you’d expect to find in an upscale fifth wheel, including a crowned roof that promotes water and debris run off, to keep the roof free of standing water that can lead to mold; extra large outside pass-through storage, a laminated roof with all aluminum trusses that is the strongest in the business; two inch think aluminum framed sidewalls (as much as twice as thick as the competition); and dual axles that are positioned far enough apart to provide maximum stability, not only when parked, but on the highway as well. And these are just a few of the reasons why Heartland continues to grow and to enjoy such a great reputation for owner satisfaction. 

If I were ever going to have a towable RV, be it a travel trailer, toy hauler, or fifth wheel, my first, last and only choice would be a Heartland product. I was so impressed with the new North Trail line that I asked Scott to loan us one of their trailers for a trip to Alaska one of these days. Wouldn’t that make for a nice trip north?

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