FWC; major design changes, issues, and value?

So you want FWC to change a design they've been perfecting for 46yrs(that they can't keep on the shelf), make a heavy investment in composites engineering and prototyping units, retrain there skilled workforce to use composite construction, gaurantee that they will be as good or better than the 46yr old design, and sell them for the same price or less? All to fix one real issue that isn't an issue for everyone, and because you don't like the way they look?

I would suggest you never open your own business.

Kevin
Very ironic advice considering most businesses rely on constant improvement and evolution of their products to stay relevant in a competitive market.

Uhhhh yeah...well let's see here for a second. Would you buy a car or truck that was designed 46 years ago? Would you buy a TV designed 46 years ago? Would you buy a computer designed 46 years ago? Look around your home and in your daily life and think about what was NOT available 46 years ago? The fact that you're on a computer communicating with people around the world, posting pictures, videos, etc. DID NOT exist 46 years ago.

Is it so far beyond the realm of reason and understanding to think expect a product to appreciably evolve after nearly a half century of time?

Where does the notion that the progression of a product means that you lose reliability? I don't get that. You're surrounded by items and products that you use everyday that have become better, lighter, faster, cleaner, safer, etc. You already use them!

Why can't a truck camper improve and still be reliable and affordable?
 
Very ironic advice considering most businesses rely on constant improvement and evolution of their products to stay relevant in a competitive market.

Uhhhh yeah...well let's see here for a second. Would you buy a car or truck that was designed 46 years ago? Would you buy a TV designed 46 years ago? Would you buy a computer designed 46 years ago? Look around your home and in your daily life and think about what was NOT available 46 years ago? The fact that you're on a computer communicating with people around the world, posting pictures, videos, etc. DID NOT exist 46 years ago.

Is it so far beyond the realm of reason and understanding to think expect a product to appreciably evolve after nearly a half century of time?

Where does the notion that the progression of a product means that you lose reliability? I don't get that. You're surrounded by items and products that you use everyday that have become better, lighter, faster, cleaner, safer, etc. You already use them!

Why can't a truck camper improve and still be reliable and affordable?
But why would a company change their product if they have no competition? Why is it that they have no competition?

The other product examples you give have other factors forcing their evolution. Cars and trucks are heavily mandated by the government for safety and emissions. All of those products have much more consumer marketplace competition. You are correct, they have to evolve to compete. I guess no ones come out with a better camper yet? Maybe it is perfect!

Is FWC still using the same sink, stove, furnace, windows, doors, insulation, and interior fabrics from the 70s? I didn't think so. They have been evolving. I'm sure they've even made many improvements in the frames over the years as they hear about problems. Their down right progressive if you actually think about! I mean you have 3 different interior layouts you can choose from, as well as a production flatbed model. Does Lance, Capri, Hallmark or Palomino offer that? Nope.

If they were to go to a composite shell structure that's not a small change, its a huge leap to do it right. It would have to be engineered correctly which costs time and money, the engineering and design would have to be vetted and tested, even more time and money, workers would have to be retrained, etc....... In the end they'd be staking a 46yr reputation on it working out well. Once again all to fix an issue that not everyone seems to experience and because you don't like they way they look. This makes no sense.

Your are correct that products should improve over time, but why would they change what works well and is apparently what the people want. No business just changes products to change them.

Kevin
 
But why would a company change their product if they have no competition? Why is it that they have no competition?

The other product examples you give have other factors forcing their evolution. Cars and trucks are heavily mandated by the government for safety and emissions. All of those products have much more consumer marketplace competition. You are correct, they have to evolve to compete. I guess no ones come out with a better camper yet? Maybe it is perfect!

Is FWC still using the same sink, stove, furnace, windows, doors, insulation, and interior fabrics from the 70s? I didn't think so. They have been evolving. I'm sure they've even made many improvements in the frames over the years as they hear about problems. Their down right progressive if you actually think about! I mean you have 3 different interior layouts you can choose from, as well as a production flatbed model. Does Lance, Capri, Hallmark or Palomino offer that? Nope.

If they were to go to a composite shell structure that's not a small change, its a huge leap to do it right. It would have to be engineered correctly which costs time and money, the engineering and design would have to be vetted and tested, even more time and money, workers would have to be retrained, etc....... In the end they'd be staking a 46yr reputation on it working out well. Once again all to fix an issue that not everyone seems to experience and because you don't like they way they look. This makes no sense.

Your are correct that products should improve over time, but why would they change what works well and is apparently what the people want. No business just changes products to change them.

Kevin

You know I don't really have an issue with FWC. I'm actually glad they exist. I think they have filled a very valuable role in the off roading community. They've earned the respect they receive from their customers.

To answer your question as to why improve or change a product for the sake of change? I guess is more of a design philosophy I follow than rather than one that FWC needs to follow.

You innovate and improve because you can. Engineering is all about improvement, utilizing new and emerging technologies where applicable to make a product better. FWC has enjoyed a nice niche for a long time. With new businesses popping up offering new alternatives, inevitably FWC's market share will shrink.

If someone considering FWC's camper instead buys XYZ campers design, offering new materials, along with reliability - there is immediate lost market share. With on-line forums and a growing over-landing community of people networking about their experiences, this can snowball very quickly and FWC can find itself on the outside looking in. Use Sears as an example, if you don't adapt you become an afterthought.

I wouldn't want to see that happen to FWC. With their name and their existing market share, infrastructure, etc. they could out maneuver potential competitors.

Resting on your laurels catches up to everyone sooner or later. If you're not working to build a better mouse trap, you can bet someone else is. Honestly where would we be if other industries worked from the position of "this is good enough" was the prevailing philosophy? Advances in automobiles and automotive safety, medicine, construction materials, electronics, camping gear, just to name a few are all areas in which we all benefit.

Think about it - cars had no seatbelts, then lap belts, then 3 point seatbelts, then steering wheel airbags, then full frontal airbags, then side curtain air bags, and now a car will actually stop for you if you're not paying attention! That's innovation. It benefits everyone.

This is my personal philosophy and also the philosophy of most successful companies. I don't see why it would any different for FWC.

That said, there's something for everyone out there. 5 years ago I would've be an FWC customer, but not anymore. I see many alternatives that didn't exist 5 years ago that are maturing and share a philosophy similar to mine.
 
Think about it - cars had no seatbelts, then lap belts, then 3 point seatbelts, then steering wheel airbags, then full frontal airbags, then side curtain air bags, and now a car will actually stop for you if you're not paying attention! That's innovation. It benefits everyone.
And almost all that was mandated by the government at one point or another. Remember the Tucker automobile?

While it may not be perfect in everyone's eyes, it seems to be the one that makes the most sense if your looking in that niche market. They are the sturdiest, longest lasting, best optioned, lightest and most affordable option. Everything else is more of a compromise in way or another.

Kevin
 
You innovate and improve because you can. Engineering is all about improvement . . .

This is my personal philosophy and also the philosophy of most successful companies . . .

That said, there's something for everyone out there. 5 years ago I would've be an FWC customer, but not anymore. I see many alternatives that didn't exist 5 years ago that are maturing and share a philosophy similar to mine.
It's obvious that you don't have experience with company finance. The only reason a successful company makes a change to a product (especially a well selling product) is improving the bottom line. It either increases sales, reduces cost, or meets new government mandates. Engineered improvement is only one of the variables considered (and usually has the least clout).

Choice is great. I did a cursory look at some of the new campers cited in this thread and none of the ones I looked at were cheaper than a new Grandby; which is still too expensive for me. 'Latest and greatest' seldom reduces cost.
 
It's obvious that you don't have experience with company finance. The only reason a successful company makes a change to a product (especially a well selling product) is improving the bottom line. It either increases sales, reduces cost, or meets new government mandates. Engineered improvement is only one of the variables considered (and usually has the least clout).

Choice is great. I did a cursory look at some of the new campers cited in this thread and none of the ones I looked at were cheaper than a new Grandby; which is still too expensive for me. 'Latest and greatest' seldom reduces cost.

I disagree with that philosophy and to question my experience in company financing is kinda funny actually. That aside. I think innovation drives sales, reduces cost and while also meeting new government mandates. The relationship is symbiotic. To strive for improvement is to protect one's own bottom line.

Improvement and innovation is always going to have a finical benefactor. Thats goes without saying. The human aspect of building a better mousetrap not only satisfies the very human need to improve and make something work better, more efficiently, and maybe even more humanely, it also sells more mousetraps and also reduces disease and pestilence. Innovation serves more than one purpose.

Some innovation stems from altruism. Making something safer not only gives a company a tag line for promotion and sales, it also saves lives.
 
And almost all that was mandated by the government at one point or another. Remember the Tucker automobile?

While it may not be perfect in everyone's eyes, it seems to be the one that makes the most sense if your looking in that niche market. They are the sturdiest, longest lasting, best optioned, lightest and most affordable option. Everything else is more of a compromise in way or another.

Kevin
Mandated or not it's one example. There are countless examples of innovation that have nothing to do with government mandates. You don't see many bag phones anymore right? Or a car phone? Still using dial up?

Everyone loves their new gadgets, new technology, innovative solutions to problems we don't even have yet, We can't get enough of the next shiny new device, but somehow a box that fits in the back of your truck can look basically the same as it did 20 years ago and it totally gets a pass?

Well, I suppose there are those people who still LOVE wall-to-wall shag carpeting ;)
 
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It's obvious that you don't have experience with company finance. The only reason a successful company makes a change to a product (especially a well selling product) is improving the bottom line. It either increases sales, reduces cost, or meets new government mandates. Engineered improvement is only one of the variables considered (and usually has the least clout).
Whenever I see “the only reason” I know what follows is likely to be wrong. I ran an R&D Innovation group for a large technology company in Palo Alto and a significant portion of product development/improvement budget is allocated to maintaining parity with competition. Company X introduces a new feature or design element and your successful product becomes less attractive to buyers. Companies spend a lot of money just running in place. Companies spend money on innovation because they know their competitors are doing the same - no increased sales, no reduction in cost, and no government mandates.

Companies also spend money on changing a product because of changing demographics, trends, or consumers simply expect change - the fashion industry is a good example. They continually change their products with little expectation in increased sales, but if they don’t makes changes, they will fall behind the competition.

I agree with Kodak-Black, I checked out a friends FWC and felt like I stepped into the 80’s, everything felt dated. With increased competition FWC needs to up their game or they will rapidly see market share plumit. The market is changing - Winnebago realized that millennials weren’t going to buy their big 2WD RVs and introduced the Revel, which now seems to have a cult following.
 
. . .You don't see many bag phones anymore right? Or a car phone? Still using dial up?

The cell phone on my hip is not a minor 'improvement' over the dial up phone. It is a HUGE leap in functionality. You would be happy with a dial up phone with the latest materials, manufacturing processes, design, and colors?

Everyone loves their new gadgets, new technology, innovative solutions to problems we don't even have yet, We can't get enough of the next shiny new device, but somehow a box that fits in the back of your truck can look basically the same as it did 20 years ago and it totally gets a pass?

Maybe that the problem: we are enamored with 'shiny', it doesn't improve the function, ruggedness, or durability, but its 'shiny'. My levi's are basically the same as they were 100 years ago. Some minor changes were good ( zippers instead of buttons), some were not so good (thinner, cheaper denim). But the basic design, the basic look, the basic materials are the same. Advertisers have perfected the art form of convincing us that 'shiny' is better.

Well, I suppose there are those people who still LOVE wall-to-wall shag carpeting ;)

News Flash - New neighbors moved in last summer, guess what: they put in wall-to-wall shag carpeting. It's back in style.


Whenever I see “the only reason” I know what follows is likely to be wrong. I ran an R&D Innovation group for a large technology company in Palo Alto and a significant portion of product development/improvement budget is allocated to maintaining parity with competition. Company X introduces a new feature or design element and your successful product becomes less attractive to buyers. Companies spend a lot of money just running in place. Companies spend money on innovation because they know their competitors are doing the same - no increased sales, no reduction in cost, and no government mandates.

In my 40+ years as an engineer, in 4 multi-national tech companies, with 20 of those years having to endure 'product development meetings' with upper management, not once did I (or anyone else I knew) get a change to a product through that wasn't at least revenue neutral. Not one. That included high margin products and very cost sensitive ones. Maybe it is because I was always in companies where performance mattered, not cosmetics.

Companies also spend money on changing a product because of changing demographics, trends, or consumers simply expect change - the fashion industry is a good example. They continually change their products with little expectation in increased sales, but if they don’t makes changes, they will fall behind the competition.

What the fashion industry sells is change. They have convinced a lot of us that we cannot wear last years colors, styles, or patterns; that your status is determined by what you wear. There is seldom any increase in functionality. And they are laughing all the way to the bank while convincing us to send our last years styles to Goodwill and pay a 500 - 1000% markup on the same stuff, only different.

I agree with Kodak-Black, I checked out a friends FWC and felt like I stepped into the 80’s, everything felt dated.

Updating to current styles won't make his camper any lighter, dryer, hold more, go further, keep him more comfortable or safe; those are the important things. In a few years 2019 styles will look dated and eventually 1980's stuff will be back in style.

With increased competition FWC needs to up their game or they will rapidly see market share plumit. The market is changing - Winnebago realized that millennials weren’t going to buy their big 2WD RVs and introduced the Revel, which now seems to have a cult following.

You will notice they didn't just change the colors, fabrics, and materials of the big RV's, it is the size and functionality that is changing.
 
The cell phone on my hip is not a minor 'improvement' over the dial up phone. It is a HUGE leap in functionality. You would be happy with a dial up phone with the latest materials, manufacturing processes, design, and colors?

Just FYI the dial up I was referring to was dial up internet not a dial up phone? As far as I know even the newest phones have to be "dialed". I'm not really sure how you interpreted my comment or if forming a question threw off my meaning.

Maybe that the problem: we are enamored with 'shiny', it doesn't improve the function, ruggedness, or durability, but its 'shiny'. My levi's are basically the same as they were 100 years ago. Some minor changes were good ( zippers instead of buttons), some were not so good (thinner, cheaper denim). But the basic design, the basic look, the basic materials are the same. Advertisers have perfected the art form of convincing us that 'shiny' is better.

I think you're taking the "shiny" comment too literal?? It doesn't have to literally shine.

My suggestion is that new technology doesn't necessarily mean it won't reliable. For basic items change is not necessarily warranted. You gave the examples of jeans and you're correct. Toilet paper will likely be the same in 50 years as well.

My example is a hammer which is another good example as they look pretty much the same from 50 years ago. At the same time there are nail guns, pneumatic and electric, battery operated. Still performs the function of a hammer driving a nail and does so reliably, with less effort from the end user, allowing for more efficient work and energy usage.

And I would tend to disagree, I think the FUNCTION DOES IMPROVE with newer product design. A cell phone is another great example of this. You have in your hand the power of desk top computer from 5 years ago. The mapping and GPS functions are amazing. I also disagree with the ruggedness comment. I think products are more rugged and robust. For example, many cell phones can be submerged in water now, when just a few years ago if it got wet it was toast!

And that's my point.

I mean taking your position is really kind of silly. I would imagine that you, like most of us, use new technology in every area of your life. It's almost as though you're arguing that it shouldn't change or improve? You're taking a weird position and hypocritical. Just by the fact you're communicating through the use an internet based forum that didn't exist 20 years ago means you undestand the use a benefit of advancement. So what gives?

You want FWC to stay the same? So be it? Perhaps 40 years from now they will look like they did in 1974. I'm sure there will be a segment of consumers who would be thrilled.

When it comes right down to it all I've suggested is that they could modernize and improve the product. Sheesh!

That suggestion is not an attack on anyone's sense of taste or value or style. If you want a dated design it's available for purchase.
 
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Mandated or not it's one example. There are countless examples of innovation that have nothing to do with government mandates. You don't see many bag phones anymore right? Or a car phone? Still using dial up?
You are kidding right? Last I looked the gov wasn't mandating the way any camper looked.

Yes, cell phones and computers are a much better example. However, as Graton pointed out the cell phone and computer industry has seen a lot of innovation due to competition. Yes people like there gadgets, but if they never knew what a smart phone was they'd likely never want one. Hell we'd still have rotary dial phones!

So my question to you; what is FWC's competition? I'm looking for actual examples and not hypotheticals here. Who makes a pop up camper designed to go offroad, that is roughly the same or less weight, roughly the same or better amenities and roughly the same price?

Kevin
 
Ov
You are kidding right? Last I looked the gov wasn't mandating the way any camper looked.

Yes, cell phones and computers are a much better example. However, as Graton pointed out the cell phone and computer industry has seen a lot of innovation due to competition. Yes people like there gadgets, but if they never knew what a smart phone was they'd likely never want one. Hell we'd still have rotary dial phones!

So my question to you; what is FWC's competition? I'm looking for actual examples and not hypotheticals here. Who makes a pop up camper designed to go offroad, that is roughly the same or less weight, roughly the same or better amenities and roughly the same price?

Kevin
Overland Explorer.
 

Regcabguy

Expedition Leader
Very ironic advice considering most businesses rely on constant improvement and evolution of their products to stay relevant in a competitive market.

Uhhhh yeah...well let's see here for a second. Would you buy a car or truck that was designed 46 years ago? Would you buy a TV designed 46 years ago? Would you buy a computer designed 46 years ago? Look around your home and in your daily life and think about what was NOT available 46 years ago? The fact that you're on a computer communicating with people around the world, posting pictures, videos, etc. DID NOT exist 46 years ago.

Is it so far beyond the realm of reason and understanding to think expect a product to appreciably evolve after nearly a half century of time?

Where does the notion that the progression of a product means that you lose reliability? I don't get that. You're surrounded by items and products that you use everyday that have become better, lighter, faster, cleaner, safer, etc. You already use them!

Why can't a truck camper improve and still be reliable and affordable?
A few inches higher and underbed storage and a made bed would be a reality. Might kill the condensation owners complain about.
 
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