For Roadtrek President Jim Hammill, there's one simple 'reason why the company's products are the
top-selling motorhomes in their class in North America ."
Our products are just better than everyone else’s, “he says. "In the motorhome world, there are
dozens of features a product needs to be functional for its owner, and those
vary widely from capacity, water and
electricity to drivability and how easy it is to park.
In our products, we
try to give the consumer every possible advantage that will allow them to be
able to go down the road and have total freedom, "Hammill adds.
Ontario-based company which marks its 40th Anniversary in business
in 2013 manufactures Class B recreation
through a network of more than 100 dealers in
the United States, Canada, Japan and Dubai. "Our owners are buying
products that cost $75,000 - UP, so
they expect perfection, automotive quality and
ease of use, "Hammill says.”They
don't want to have to take
a course to be able to use the vehicle; they want to just flick a switch
and turn it on."
This ease of use
is best illustrated by the E-Trek, an environmentally friendly vehicle Hammill
calls the company's newest flagship. Heat and hot water in the E-Trek are
provided through the vehicle's combined heating core, which is fueled by its
regular fuel diesel as
opposed to propane. The E-Trek also features an engine mounted generator and a 245watt
solar panel on its roof that charges
its eight auxiliary batteries in daylight.
of the E-Trek such as its solar panel, are being adapted to the company's other
vehicles, including its 40th Anniversary Edition model, launched
this year. The anniversary edition model includes insulated fresh and waste
water systems that will function even in cold temperatures. "This
allows our consumers to go anywhere in North America regardless of the
weather," Hammill says. "Our customers want to be able to just jump
in their vehicles and cross the country and not have to be a technician along
Leading The Way:
All of Roadtrek’s
vehicles are manufactured in its headquarters in Kitchener. Vehicles are built
on Chevy Express van and Mercedes Sprinter chassis, which are cut, expanded and
equipped with fiberglass bodies. After the body is in place, the company
installs wiring, plumbing, propane and other systems, depending on the product
Other manufacturing functions include cabinet making, plastic
vacuum forming, appliance installation and painting. Following final assembly,
each vehicle goes through more than 200 quality checks, inspections and tests,
including one conducted by the vehicle's owner, Hammill says.
enhanced its production capabilities by investing in metal working equipment
and CNC tube cutters and benders. The company also added scanning technology to
its research and development and engineering capabilities. "We feel we
have to lead the engineering way and always have, since our products have
functions other companies’ products don’t,” he adds. Our products are not the
cheapest or most expensive, but they are the most functional and well built.”
lean manufacturing. “The recession made us completely retool and redesign our
manufacturing,” Hammill says. 'We used to have three long assembly lines with 200
vans in process that took 30 days to work our way through. "Today, the
company produces roughly 40vans at a time, with an average through put of seven
days. Vans are manufactured based on sales as opposed to sales forecasts, he
inventory of parts has been reduced by more than 70 percent within the past few
years through the implementation of kanban systems and dealer managed
inventory. ”We have an excellent group of vendors who went through tough times
just like everyone did, "Hammill says. “They work closely with us on
engineering and help us bring in new technology all of the time."
improvements include adding work stations and kitting systems. ‘We continue to
refine all of our processes and regularly have lean events to improve our business, “he adds.