Donald J. Clark - Grand Design RV
Innovation counts: 5 questions to Donald J. Clark
North American dealers had a first look at Grand Design RV’s new travel trailers, fifth wheels and toy haulers. President, Donald J. Clark, discusses the models, market share and what continually drives the company forward
Words Antonio Mazzucchelli and Steve Fennell
Grand Design is one of the newest players in the US RV industry, having been established approximately 10 years ago. For 2024, the company continues to produce contemporary and cutting edge trailer designs for its dealers and consumers.
Aboutcamp BtoB: What are the most successful models in Grand Design’s series of travel trailers, fifth wheels and toy haulers?
Donald J. Clark: What we’re very proud of is the Grand Design Imagine travel trailer, which is the top-selling laminated travel trailer in the industry. For 2024, Grand Design introduced an entry-level Transcend travel trailer that we believe will be another very strong seller. We are also the manufacturer of the number-one-selling toy hauler/travel trailer called the Momentum. So, these are just three models that attack these major segments of the market.
Aboutcamp BtoB: With those successes, who is Grand Design’s target market and what other models best serve dealers and consumers?
Donald J. Clark: It depends on the model. Our Solitude fifth wheel is targeted at RVers who may want to spend the winter down south. It’s the number two seller in its class of luxury fifth wheels, which is a major segment in the industry right now. Our Reflection fifth wheel is also very popular. We consider it a volume-oriented product and is a major profit centre for our dealers.
Aboutcamp BtoB: What do you think has changed in the Grand Design models over the last 10 years that have contributed to this success?
Donald J. Clark: We have been in business for a little more than 10 years and are doing very well. What has changed for Grand Design in that time is the advancement in technology, diagnostics and the service side of the RV business. We have since embraced technology to offer our customers several conveniences in many of our models such as one-touch systems for levelling, awnings and slides, making them easily camp-ready. As a company, we now have a full breadth of products where a dealer doesn’t require any other brand on their lot as Grand Design covers all the major segments. We are not a small boutique-style manufacturer. We only want to major in the majors and target 95 percent of the customer demand for our dealers. That’s what we specialize in.
Aboutcamp BtoB: A lot of manufacturers are adjusting their product lineup for 2024 given the slowing market. How has the current economy affected Grand Design and how are you reacting to it?
Donald J. Clark: It has made us stronger. When the economy has been strong for 12 years, a pace is established to deliver a dealer’s product in a timely fashion. This allowed us an opportunity to take a step back. At a time when some brands are waiting until the economy bounces back, we increased our investments in new product and innovation. At this event alone, Grand Design has introduced two new subset brands and 21 new floor plans. We’re bringing exciting new products to our dealers so they can show them to the retail consumers and keep even more people in the Grand Design family. The Elkhart RV Dealer Open House is where we take this opportunity to show our new products and innovations.
Aboutcamp BtoB: What additional incentives has Grand Design implemented to further strengthen its model lines for 2024?
Donald J. Clark: We’ve increased the breadth of our products as we want to hit the segments that we wanted to when we first founded the company. We’ve broadened the reach of the Grand Design brand by introducing lower-price segment products to attract price-conscious consumers into the Grand Design family and then have them stay in our family as their needs progress.