Ultimate Campers in trouble?

Submitted: Wednesday, Oct 10, 2018 at 21:11
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Reply By: Member - Jim S1 - Wednesday, Oct 10, 2018 at 21:21

Wednesday, Oct 10, 2018 at 21:21
Just caught up with this news via the Ultimate campers forum. Quite a shock, and makes one wonder if the industry has over-reached. Kimberley, and now Ultimate in receivership, and who else at the top end ..... T-Van, Camp-o-matic, Aussie Swag ..... I wonder they all are travelling.
Feel for the people who have paid deposits, and now left wondering if they've lost the lot.
Feel for Michael and Wendy and all their employees .... must be a very hard time.

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Follow Up By: PhilD - Wednesday, Oct 10, 2018 at 23:53

Wednesday, Oct 10, 2018 at 23:53
Aussie Swag closed up shop and sold their stuff off earlier this year. Seem to have seen the way things were going.
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Monday, Oct 15, 2018 at 09:41

Monday, Oct 15, 2018 at 09:41
Johnnos have gone as well.
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Reply By: braincell - Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 11:03

Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 11:03
looks like the chinese stuff is destroying the local market . I have a good challenge camper that was made in Adelaide .They closed down also , the resale on any campers is also gone down .
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Reply By: Member - Wildmax - Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 11:53

Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 11:53
Very sad to read the Ultimate news, and equally Kimberley a few months ago - both extremely well made products with a deserved reputation for innovation and quality build.
I think that in both cases their top of the line "inventions" must have put pressure on the companies and may have been a leap too far in terms of both technology and development cost.
Hopefully the other good companies around like AOR and Track are taking a close look at their erstwhile competitors' experiences to see what pitfalls to avoid. I guess stick to the knitting is a good message...... keep looking after the loyal customers, and be extremely careful with quality control and any new product investment.
It's a tough battle against those dodgy imports!!
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Follow Up By: Gronk - Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 08:46

Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 08:46
The KK debacle started with a messy divorce. Then kept going with a new owner who was a shonk.
The bloke who "nearly" took it all on had a good idea......cut the slower selling stuff (just happened to be the dearer big vans) and stick to the core.....which was camper trailers.
There is always a market for good quality expensive gear, but you obviously need to sell enough to make a profit.
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Reply By: mechpete - Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 11:58

Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 11:58
seems like another casuality of cheap chinese imports
bloody shame
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Reply By: Michael H9 - Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 19:25

Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 19:25
In my mind, a $55k starting price for a camper is a hard sell. They have a great reputation and great build quality but fair dinkum, that's way past my price bracket. Surely you need a constant lower end seller to keep the cash flow ticking over? Mercedes builds quite a few buzz boxes these days, probably for the same reason.
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Follow Up By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 21:21

Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 21:21
Michael, they are made in Australia not china and fifty people worked at the factory.
Thats fifty thousand dollars week in wages ?????
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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 21:47

Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 21:47
Probably all true, but that still doesn't give me $55k to buy their base model. I was theorizing if they would have sold twice as many $25k models. Well built, quality brand with less features or lower spec inclusions. Only selling top of the range is cutting out a hell of a lot of customers because the people can't afford it. A lot of previously high quality brands now have budget versions.
Many manufacturers have woken up to not producing products that last too long.You go broke selling unbreakable products, you have to make them last just long enough to not cheese people off, but make them buy another one within a reasonable time frame that suits your production requirements. I don't think Toyota's are unbreakable anymore.
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Follow Up By: Nutta - Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 22:13

Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 22:13
Jayco don't seem to have any problems and I'm sure they turn over way more than 50k per week.

I'll cetainly be buying another one, very happy with ours the last 3 years.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 22:24

Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 22:24
The only trouble Nutta, an Ultimate will get you there and back, and places that you would only dream of going in your Jayco.

They are two very different type of campers and the only limiting factor with an Ultimate, is the vehicle towing it, and not the camper.


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Follow Up By: Nutta - Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 22:46

Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 at 22:46
I was more comparing companies going broke than where the van can go but Jayco could go broke to at any time! Cheers.
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Follow Up By: Member - cruza25 - Friday, Oct 12, 2018 at 09:13

Friday, Oct 12, 2018 at 09:13
Sad to see Ultimate and Kimberly go, lets hope demand for other Aussie manufacturers can keep them profitable.

Maybe that’s why jayco are launching the jtrak.
Chassis suspension tent and interior made here with body panels imported.
Seems reasonable at 24k for the obx model. Have to see how they sell.

https://marketplacer.imgix.net/n0/oTnAd-mjBDW3vQvO-51TO85fc.pdf?s=f5468e53a7bd13552c80fd67614fe882

We are looking at a cub off roader but will have a look at the jayco when the Adelaide dealer gets stock.

Cheers
Mike
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Follow Up By: Nutta - Friday, Oct 12, 2018 at 09:31

Friday, Oct 12, 2018 at 09:31
It looks pretty good, their chassis's seem pretty solid too.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Friday, Oct 12, 2018 at 09:37

Friday, Oct 12, 2018 at 09:37
Apparently they never recovered from the Nautilus fiasco that cost them millions of dollars & a lot of credibility from the owners.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 07:19

Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 07:19
Agreed Michael.

Some campers are $70K or more now. You can get an off road caravan for that.

I think the camper manufacturers got ahead of themselves a year or 2 ago when there was a boom and just got rediculas. The Nautilis was never going to be a great seller.


If people buy the chinese campers, you can't blame the chinese manufacturers, unless they are crap quality of course. It's the buyers who make the decisions. The same people who complain they have no jobs anymore.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 08:34

Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 08:34
Our motor vehicle industry failed to recognise the threat from the Korean invasion & suffered the consequences, the caravan & camper industry are at a real risk of falling into the same trap. They have been complacent & treating us with contempt by providing sub-standard, ill equipped & non-compliant products.
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Follow Up By: Gronk - Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 08:41

Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 08:41
Shaker, the local stuff may be dearer than the imported stuff, but your comments about sub standard, ill equipped and non compliant are really strange. Like to tell us which manufacturer does any of those things you said ??
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 09:18

Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 09:18
As someone mentioned above, it's not just the manufacturers. OHS has become the new unionism in Australia. I think you would have to be insane to open a business in Austalia
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 11:20

Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 11:20
No I wouldn’t in respect of the site owners, but things like chains bolted to the draw bar with mild steel bolts & washers, poor welding & paintwork, overweight campers, incorrectly placed lighting etc.
I looked at an off-road van with a tare of 1800kg & ATM of 2100kg, when I mentioned that by the time I fill it with water & gas it would be almost to the limit they said I could get an ATM upgrade ... at my cost. In 2006 I bought a well known brand of camper trailer that weighed 461kg over its stated tare weight, the suspension was overloaded ex factory, trailer was returned after VCAT hearing.
Why are we paying $100,000 plus for campers with archaic braking systems, none of us would buy a vehicle with drum brakes.
I could go on!
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Follow Up By: Member - Jim S1 - Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 20:26

Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 20:26
Plenty of utes with drum brakes at the rear.

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Follow Up By: Shaker - Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 22:01

Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 22:01
I should have said none of us would buy a new vehicle with drum brakes as the primary method of stopping safely!
Also Ute rear drums don’t rely on a magnet dragging on the face of the drum operating what is little more than a handbrake linkage. When we did rely on drum brakes the front brakes were ‘two leading shoe’, not single.
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Follow Up By: Hoyks - Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 at 12:48

Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 at 12:48
But they are also made in Thailand where they get a tax concession to make utes with leaf springs and drum brakes. It doesn't make it the best or most elegant solution.

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Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 09:09

Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 09:09
Interesting reading comments here, so many are spot on as to Australian consumer expectations and price point.
Marketing 101, perhaps a lot of Aussie manufacturers are just not researching what the market wants / expects ?

Ultimately (no pun intended), consumers drive all trends in markets.

Without going into detail, I fear this country is stuffed in the near future, and there is very little that anyone can do about it.
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Reply By: Gerard B2 - Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 20:34

Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 20:34
Let's see what comes out of the meeting, it will surprise a few.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 at 06:37

Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 at 06:37
Gerard, I wonder what you post means.

Appointing a voluntary administrator means the company is in trouble and the future needs to be decided quickly. The Administrator said they have not had time to understand the situation and there will be a creditors meeting.

Is there something you know that none of the above know?
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 at 12:18

Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 at 12:18
I think the biggest surprises, when companies go into VA, are usually the surprises to the poor old trade creditors - who are often unaware how deep in the manure, the company has been - and for how long.

The general trend by sharp administrators is to make the long-suffering trade creditors take a major share of the current companys losses - while the administrators "resurrect" the company in a new corporate structure, that owes nothing to creditors of the old company structure.

The administrators then offer a huge carrot to the trade creditors to take the financial kick in the goolies - on the basis that they'll be able to make up their losses, by supplying and trading with the new company structure.

9 times out of 10, the new company structure is dependent on huge outside financial contributions and support - but those contributions and support usually come with all kinds of caveats - including making the new financial contributor a preferred creditor above anyone else, if the new company structure fails, as it often does.

The simple problems with most businesses that fall into administration, is the inability to manage costs, the inability to see and manage for downturns in the market - and the inability of the owners to reduce their millionaire lifestyle expenditures, when economic downturns do occur.

The cheap Chinese import problem will always be with us, a wise manufacturer goes to great lengths to explain the folly of buying cheap.

"Buy Cheap - Buy Twice", always used to be a good explanation of that point - which point, many people seem to have forgotten about.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 at 13:24

Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 at 13:24
That used to be the Australian Motor Industry’s mantra in regard to Hyundai, now look at them!
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 at 14:26

Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 at 14:26
I heard a story about how the CEO of Hyundai went down the production line in the late 1990's and asked the managers, "why are we producing cheap crap? We have penetrated the market now, we no longer need to be producing cheap crap! Toyota is our main competition, so we need to raise quality levels to match Toyota!"

So, the story goes that Hyundai rejigged their build quality from, "cheapest cars you can buy", to the outlook of one that matched Toyotas, "unparalleled quality and reliability".

It was extremely beneficial to Hyundai, that right at the time they boosted build quality, Toyota dropped the ball on build quality, and went for maximum production numbers, to try and knock GM off the perch as the producer of the most vehicles built annually.

Toyota spent a number of years in build quality purgatory, before they arrested the decline around 2010, with a whole new Warranty and Claims Dept, specifically to fix the problems they'd created with their lack of attention to quality in the early-to-mid 2000's.

The RV industry has peaked, just as the housing price increases have peaked.
The RV industry has been growing at 10% plus per year since the late 1990's, this is unsustainable for the long term, and the natural order of things is that quite a number of local caravan and camper manufacturers will fall by the wayside shortly, and in the near-term.

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: braggy - Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 at 07:57

Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 at 07:57
It looks like Ultimate were in the throws of trying to deliver a cheaper style camper to meet the market demands.

Article in Eurobodalla online news about Ultimate ...
"In June this year the company was among the list of successful applicants offered funding under the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages, South Coast, New South Wales region for $758,134 to go towards their Composite Camper and Rapid Adhesive Assembly Process estimated at $1,516,268
The grant for the project was awarded to help develop cost competitive curved composite panels, and design and manufacture a high quality, light weight entry level compact camper using the new types of composite panels for rapid assembly. The project would see the manufacturing process fully automated, simplified and scalable to ensure the new compact composite camper will be cost competitive with international competitors."
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 at 15:17

Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 at 15:17
Well there's a coincidence. A company calls in an administrator just after it gets $3/4Million of government funds.
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Reply By: Member - Jim S1 - Monday, Oct 15, 2018 at 11:11

Monday, Oct 15, 2018 at 11:11
Braggy's post mentioned $758000 ...... where does $3-4m come from ?

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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Monday, Oct 15, 2018 at 12:29

Monday, Oct 15, 2018 at 12:29
3/4of a million is 750k
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Follow Up By: Member - Jim S1 - Monday, Oct 15, 2018 at 12:37

Monday, Oct 15, 2018 at 12:37
Ah, sorry, my mistake. Misread the ¾ thing.

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Reply By: Greg H22 - Tuesday, Oct 16, 2018 at 13:05

Tuesday, Oct 16, 2018 at 13:05
I agree that there entry price is way to steep. I managed to get into a ultimate back when when they were offering the xtrk variant at about half the normal entry price. Sure it didn't have all the bells and whistles but it was same brilliant engineered trailer that we have taken all over the country over the past nearly 9 years without a problem. To places where others we were traveling with in cheap trailers failed miserably. I believe they if they were to bring back a budget version they would make a killing. Sad to see another victim of cheap inferior chinese imports, there is way too much of it these days
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Reply By: rlhydn - Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018 at 11:26

Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018 at 11:26
From what I've been told, there is a strong discouragement for local manufacturing to expand.

Without approval to expand, these businesses struggle to keep up with demand. Forcing them to cut cheaper, less profitable models from their catalogue

So even if they could afford to sell their trailers cheaper, they often cannot hire the expensive Australians to make them quick enough to see a profit.

Appears to me that Australians have been pushed to a 'get it now, get it cheap' marketplace. So the 'value' of manufacturing has been skewed.

Seeing the $5k import and then the $55k on a heavily engineered local; simply makes me question the shortcuts made on any 'offroad' trailer / caravan being sold in between. Or are these companies running very much below cost, large capacity factory manufacturing?

Perhaps Ultimate can recoup and rebrand, come back with a more marketable approach that suits the bank, the budget and the roughest conditions of Australia.
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Reply By: Greg J1 - Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018 at 17:37

Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018 at 17:37
It’s such a shame to see Australian manufacturing companies go down.

Aussie camper trailer manufacturers are pushing the proverbial up hill with a pointed stick at the moment because of the younger generation’s attitude of I want it and I want it now.

How many cheap ass Chinese campers do you see on the road now towed by a dual cab 4WD with black wheels with a 30 something dad and mum and a few kids in the back.

Years ago these young families tented or swagged such a holiday but now you can’t leave home without all the bells and whistles.

Maybe I’m wrong but a few years down the track these same families will be crying because my kids can’t find a job in Australia.

I really don’t think the younger generation has heard of living within your means.

Cheers Greg
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018 at 18:29

Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018 at 18:29
Hi Greg

I just wish I photographed the number of cheap campers that were in dry dock at stations and caravan parks throughout our recent Cape trip.

Broken suspension, broken axels, wheels missing.....yet the true Aussie made campers did it with ease



Cheers



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Follow Up By: Greg J1 - Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018 at 18:51

Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018 at 18:51
Just goes to show.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018 at 21:26

Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018 at 21:26
A few years ago I saw a very reputable, expensive Australian camper trailer at Innamincka on its maiden trip with broken suspension.

Interestingly I recently read a review on AusRV off-road vans, which is the Australian manufacturing arm of MDC Campers, the reviewer said that the $90k plus van that he tested was not as good as the MDC imported Chinese van at less than half the price.

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Reply By: Member - RobnJane(VIC) - Friday, Oct 19, 2018 at 19:52

Friday, Oct 19, 2018 at 19:52
Obviously a very sad topic, as with similar stories about Australian companies failing or falling on hard times.
At this stage of course we need to await the results of the administrators report, as so much of what is noted above is conjecture. My uneducated guess is that too much money was invested in the high tech new ‘off-road caravan’ and once on the market it didn’t sell in sufficient numbers.
I certainly don’t think it is appropriate for genuine high spec/high capability campers to compete on price with cheap imports, there is room for camper trailers of genuine capability and importantly durability.
Hopefully there are enough of us ‘informed’ consumers out there who recognise that genuine value is an altogether different matter than cheapest.
Rgds,
Rob.
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