October 5, 2017 by Dave Barbulesco
The Thor Diesel Club rolled into the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds Sunday (Sept. 1) in Goshen, Ind., as 132 coaches — including 90 first-time attendees — filled the facility’s rally campground offering members a full five days of socializing, vendor seminars and tours of Thor’s manufacturing facility.
“We offer our members a pretty packed week of activities,” related Jack Arnold, president of the Thor Diesel Club, an international chapter of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) which prior to Thor Motor Coach’s formation in 2010 was called the Mandalay Diesel Club. “This year’s theme was ‘Aloha,’ so there was definitely a Hawaiian flavor, including a lot of the coaches. We also hosted 50 vendor seminars, letting owners see the latest products.
“Our goal is to keep members busy, but at the same time it’s really about camaraderie and fellowship. A lot of our members haven’t seen each other for a year, so it’s a chance to reconnect with old friends and make some new ones.”
While recreating is a key part of the gathering, Arnold emphasized that the event, one of several throughout the year, also offered attendees a chance to get up close and personal with Thor Motor Coach (TMC) personnel.
“Every fall we come here so we can be in close proximity to the Thor Motor Coach factory,” he said. “We call this our technical rally because it allows Thor’s service center to pretty much shut down for the week and technicians can work on one or two minor issues for each coach. All of the repairs are submitted prior to the rally so techs are aware of fixes that need to done each day. We also scheduled three busloads for factory tours on Tuesday giving owners a chance to see how their coaches are made.”
Jon Krider, TMC vice president of product development, said that from the company’s standpoint the rally offered a unique opportunity to personally engage with owners.
“We get a lot of great information during the 2- to 2 1/2-hour focus groups that are part of the rally,” he said. “The club picks 12 people in advance that submit three things they like about their coach, and then three things they don’t like. During the rally, we meet with each of those members. It really gives us a chance to understand our customers better — find out why they bought a Thor coach, and maybe what we need to do better.”
Arnold noted, “Members also get a chance to hear about what’s in the pipeline as far as product. It’s interesting, because some of the things Thor is doing are a direct result of those suggestions from owners. That tells our membership that Thor is listening.”
The fall event is just one stop on Thor Diesel Club’s rally schedule, according to Arnold.
“We have a spring rally and then we have nine regions that have at least one rally a year,” he said, adding that the club’s overall membership was right around 700. “Thor is involved in every event. They have representation at every rally as well as helping financially. Thor is very supportive of our regional concept.”
*Re-published with permission