CCC Putting Country Coach Back On the Map
Posted on Jan 24, 2011
JUNCTION CITY, OR – Country Coach motorhome owners can once again call Junction City home after a newly organized Country Coach Corporation opened its doors last Monday Jan. 3.
Ronald Lee, the corporation’s new owner and president, launched his new business located at the old Country Coach site on the south side of East First Avenue in Junction City. This business is unrelated to two other start-up recreational vehicle businesses also located on the old Country Coach campus: Premier RV and Cascade Coach.
Lee was one of the original founders of the family business Country Camper in the 1970s, which later turned into Country Coach around 1983 after it evolved from campers to building luxury motorhomes. Lee retired and left the company in 1995 after it was sold to a publicly traded company, National RV Holdings, which owned Country Coach when it declared bankruptcy in 2009.
To ensure success, Lee plans to run the company differently. “This is something that you dedicate yourself to if you are going to do it,” he said.
With no intentions of failure, Lee’s moving slowly with only about 10 to 20 employees at first. He plans to increase the number of workers as the company grows. Lee’s currently hired 10 employees that he considers “the best of the best” who hold about 245 combined years of past service at Country Coach.
Lee’s goals are driven by three underlying themes: to preserve the Country Coach name, to save the Country Coach property which Lee now owns, and to bring jobs to Lane County.
“Country Coach is not just a name, it’s people, as people own these coaches,” Lee said.
Restoring the value of Country Coach motorhomes is important to Lee. Lacking mother company backing this last year, Country Coach motorhomes lost 30-40 percent of their blue book value. Lee aims to start up the company to restore the value of existing coaches.
“It will improve their value immensely,” he said.
Lee has lived in the Junction City area for 35 years and has close ties with many members of the community, including many previous Country Coach employees, so reviving the company is important to him.
One such employee is David Diamond who is now chief operating officer of the new company. Diamond has worked for Country Coach since 1979.
“For starters, on Jan. 3 there’s going to be parts manufacturing for the thousands and thousands of Country Coaches that are still out there,” Diamond said. Since the company closed in 2009, no proprietary parts manufacturer existed for the motorhomes.
“In addition, we are going to offer factory service,” Diamond said, since all the former Country Coach intellectual property was purchased by Ron Lee after the Country Coach liquidation auction.
Lee now owns a large server that contains all the information about every Country Coach motorhome built within the last 15 years, and even longer. He also owns all the warranty information of previous owners.
Intellectual property includes all the trademarks, the drawings and all the designs of the custom motorhomes. It also includes production tooling and molds for fabricating every part of a Country Coach motorhome with engineering drawings, bills of material and as-built configurations for Country Coach Motorhomes and DynoMax chassis.
“Ron purchased critical manufacturing equipment,” Diamond said. These pieces are necessary to build factory parts right now, which is a key part to the success of the new company.
“[Country Coach owners] can bring their coach back home, back to the womb if you will, and get factory service that has not been available since the company shut down,” Diamond said. This detailed information helps coach owners to diagnose problems and find parts.
“A steady, smooth slope upward is how we envision the business to grow,” Diamond said. “The key is creating a sustainable business,” opening the company in phases so that the company remains solid.
The company has put together a detailed business plan to begin manufacturing coaches in the future, but not on Jan. 3. In the past Country Coach employed about 1,800 and produced about 1,000 coaches a year. But this new company plans to start slow maybe producing 25 coaches a year, dependent on the market.
The three components of the initial company will include parts manufacturing, service and sales. The company also plans to offer consignment sales of previously owned motorhomes.
Along with opening his new business on Jan.3, Lee also launched a new Country Coach website. He anticipates the website will bring the Country Coach motorhome community back together again. He said his preliminary unfinished site experienced about 9,000 hits since Thanksgiving, and that’s 9,000 different Internet viewers not counting repeat hits.
An important piece of starting this company to Lee is maintaining the value of Country Coach motorhomes. About 1,700 members belong to the County Coach Club with almost 7,000 owners of coaches less than 10 years old “that need a mother company,” Lee said.
Lee feels that his new company is important to the community, to Country Coach owners and also to America. “It’s time we bring manufacturing back to this country,” he said.
For more information, visit the new factory site at 135 East First Avenue in Junction City or call 541.234.2167. Information can also be found on the new website at www.CountryCoach.com.
Article by Vera Westbrook, Tri-County Tribune. Printed January 2011.