By: Anthony Bowe
Matt Arnold, president of Bristol, Ind.-based LOOK Trailers, believes his company has found a winner in the Pace American brand. LOOK Trailers purchased certain assets and the intellectual rights for Pace at a bankruptcy auction last November for an undisclosed sum and has started production on several models for the cargo, racing and landscaping industries.
“When you walk up to a Pace trailer, there’s going to be visual cues that are different. We’re not going to build a LOOK product and slap a Pace label on it. We’re going to build a Pace trailer and at a higher quality than ever before,” Arnold told RV PRO.
This February, LOOK Trailers will roll out a marketing campaign publicizing the return of Pace. The company is currently producing nine Pace models, including the Outback, Journey, CargoSport, Legacy, Summit, Pursuit, Midway, Shadow, and Aerosport.
Sun Capital Partners, the private equity firm that previously owned Pace, eliminated several Pace models and raised prices for the ones it kept, according to Tom Holt, marketing and communications manager for LOOK Trailers and Pace American.
“Sun Capital dropped the CargoSport, Summit and Midway lines, and changed the configurations and standard features on all the other models, taking the value and features away that originally made those brands popular,” Holt said.
LOOK Trailers gauged dealer and consumer demand before initiating production.
“The racers want the Shadow back; the landscapers want the Summit series back,” Arnold said. “The Cargo Sport, which was the product that had really driven Pace, had completely been eliminated. We’re bringing it back because we felt it was the trademark Pace product.
“Before rolling out our Pace trailers, we had to get the costs in line, build the product correctly, and build the features that are important to the customers,’ he said.
The company, which already has 300 LOOK Trailers dealers in its network, is looking to build a new network of Pace retailers.
“I expect we’ll have 150 Pace dealers by halfway through the year – we’ve had that much positive response,” Arnold said, who added the company has already delivered products to around a dozen dealers and has verbal commitments from several more. “Now is the right time to get signed up and onboard – this is a product that sells better than it did six months ago.”
The new Pace models will look and feel the same, but manufacturing enhancements make the units more durable, according to Arnold.
“The Pace product was originally built on I-beam frames, which is not as strong as tube. Because we already build (LOOK) trailers on tube frames, we integrated the tube frame into the Pace product. We won’t be building on I-beam at all,” he said.
The company also made LED lights a new standard for its Pace brand. Arnold said the result of the added quality will be a fast-turning product.
LOOK Trailers hold plenty of manufacturing capacity to accommodate the added production – 420,000 total square feet across five regional production plants in Indiana, Utah, Arizona and Georgia. However, Arnold said the company will have to bolster its labor force, which already includes 150 employees.
“We’re in a full push at all of our facilities to hire more people. We need at least another 150 in the next four months,” he said. “We’re gunning to double our production this year.”
LOOK Trailers’ plans for expansion aren’t overly ambitious when considering the company’s growth since opening in February 2010. The company was the fastest-growing enclosed trailer company in 2011 – expanding its market share from 1.1 percent to 4.1 percent, a 276.2 percent increase, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. LOOK Trailers will accept the “Largest Percentage Market Share Increase” award in the enclosed trailer market from Statistical Surveys on Feb. 9, at the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) Convention and Trade Show in Fort Worth, Texas.
With such rapid growth, Arnold said his company has valuable experience in launching a product and growing it quickly.
“We have to take and leverage that learning curve and re-launch this product well-featured, and get the publicity out there to draw the customers back in,” he said. “We’ve got retail customers that want the product – it’s time to get it out on the dealers’ lots and start turning units.”