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Thread: Factory Tour

  1. #1
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    Factory Tour

    We have been hunting for about a year now for a new fifth wheel. Early on one dealer said to us “all manufactures’ use the same products and build them the same way.” This struck a nerve with us and wanted to know if this was true. Besides we were at wits end listening to dealers pointing to brochures for answers while having a perplexed look of confusion on their faces as we asked about fundamentals like how was the underbelly heated exactly. I have to admit when a couple manufactures reps looked the same way we got scared and decided to take matters in our own hands by going down and visiting plants in Indiana.
    So with lists of concerns in hand we traveled and set up 4 tours. We had narrowed down three units we were very interested in and one unit we heard was a don’t buy. This we thought would allow us to really compare units. One tour was done after plant working hours, two were during plant working hours (Grand Design was one of these) and one just at end of shift. During working hours gave us the best insight on how coaches were made in that given plant. Basically speaking yes all plants pretty much use the same “stuff” to build units, it’s all done pretty much the same way but there are differences.
    Grand Design uses the same frames as others but have added extra support and braces to the unit at stress points giving it a more robust frame. Due to some of our research and personal experience we already were looking at those exact points of stress in units because they have been known to fail. We focused on the Reflection during the tour. Seeing a proactive approach with Grand Design on not even the top of the line unit pretty much sold us right there. I think it should be a selling point in future literature. On the bedroom portion of the frame Grand Design uses actual L brackets welded to the frame which will hold the side walls, other manufactures use thin metal rails tacked to the frames at varying points and we saw this rail bent all out of shape way before a wall was placed on it. We feel Grand Design did it better.
    We really liked Grand Design’s choice in their whole approach to HVAC system, from no in floor ducts to trap dirt while camping to actual ducting rather than the cheap dryer venting like product common in other units.
    We liked the care in which the underbelly was dealt with. They took their time wrapping all the tanks and thought about using the coach in colder temps. Water lines are protected, heat ducts are in the right places and they used good products. One plant appeared to use trashed reflective material that didn’t even fit right and had chunks ripped out of it.

    Speaking of reflective materials, Grand Designed used way more of it then some others, the nose cap has it as part of the insulation, I have to add also had the most framing under the nose cap (one unit had none!). Reflective material was part of the ceiling, up along the back wall and slide floors.
    Other items that got our attention, carpet delete, great option for us with dogs. Not having frameless windows a plus for us who like to have a breeze. The pantry! I can’t say enough about the pantry! Love the quirky glass door and pantry written on it, adds a lot of whimsy to the coach. Outside doors open correctly under the slides to reduce hunched back and head cracking. We liked how services like water and drain tanks were tested along the line. Actual wood supports were included for areas of heavy stress like as a backer for the ladder (I think Grand Design was the only one).
    I would like to suggest Grand Design offer heated tanks on the Reflection line. Another thought would be incorporating something many RV owners already mod, the screen door. Many of us add lexan panels to the door. This allows us extra light in the coach while running the a/c or heat. Having it removable allows extra breezes on days like today. It also saves the screen from dogs and little kids.
    As a company I think their plant was one of the cleanest, floors were cleaned up, things were not piled all over the place, it was very well lite etc, even their coaches were fairly clean during the building process. One plant we visited looked like a disaster zone and the coaches were filled with construction debris, trash, tools, scrap, nails and screws just waiting to cause problems. The floors looked like they haven’t been cleaned for a month and it was so messy it looked like a hazard for the staff. For us how the plant looked showed care and concern for the construction process at Grand Design. Another plant we visited actually lay material on all the vinyl floors and on counter tops to protect them, we thought that was a great idea maybe something Grand Design can look at.
    Our guide was more than happy to show us any part of the process took his time explaining things and didn’t rush us at all. We also got to meet all the owners and were pleasantly surprised they took time out not just to say hello but talked to us and seemed honestly interested in what we had to say, good and bad. The open welcoming feeling we got during the whole visit really added to our already made up minds this was a company we really wanted to buy from. In fact we told the reps doing all four of our tours the same thing, we are doing this figure out which unit to buy and your unit is on our list. Grand Design is the only company to follow up with us.
    We promised Bill we would pass this along, if you want to be sure someone at Grand Design will see your post, be sure to place it in the technical support forum, while they do monitor the whole forum something might get overlooked and they are concerned about that. Thanks Bill for trying to keep the lines of communication open for us.
    Thank you Jeremiah, Don, Ron, Bill and Janice who rushed over giving us a heads up about our gravity fill concerns and your solution. Not only did you make our experience very pleasant and informative but you all went beyond. We hope to be future owners of your product soon.

    Derek and Tatjana Esseltine
    Lostincanada and Jahna
    AKA Derek and Tatjana plus our pups Shadow and Nani
    2012 Ram 2500
    2015 Reflection 337 #814
    Hailing from Southern Ontario Canada

  2. #2
    Site Sponsor Steve and Cill's Avatar
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    Re: Factory Tour

    Derek and Tatjana, thank you for posting this. Hearing this from someone who, as of yet, doesn't own a Grand Design product, makes me "Happy, Happy, Happy" that we bought a Solitude.

  3. #3
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    Re: Factory Tour

    Derek and Tatjana:

    Thanks for the excellent follow up. We hope to earn your business. I will be sending your post to all of the appropriate people at Grand Design so they can see first hand how customers look at products and the suggestions that you made.

    Thanks again, Bill

  4. #4
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    Re: Factory Tour

    Thankyou for the factory update. I bought a 305 in September and asked a lot of questions before I bought. I love my Grand Design. It will not be long before they are #1.

  5. #5
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    Re: Factory Tour

    Excellent post!
    Location - Wherever the road takes us...Full-timers
    2015 Momentum 380
    Chevy Silverado HDR 3500 Dually 4x4

  6. #6
    stormy
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    we are looking to upgrade to 5th wheel and reflection 337 RLS is one on our list. thanks for this great insight into the reflection.

  7. #7
    Senior Member dloase's Avatar
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    What a well written post. We already own a GD, but it is nice to read things like this to reenforce our idea that we made the right choice.
    David & Linda - Plainview, VA
    2008 3500HD CrewCab DRW
    2014 369RL #258
    2007 Solstice
    2008 TrailBlazer
    2016 Kia Sorento
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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