Knowing that FITTS had no prior experience manufacturing motorhomes, this had to be viewed as a risk. What made you comfortable making the decision to partner with them?
During our initial discussions in 2010 it became clear that this was going to be a new challenge for FITTS. However, they proposed a solution to our problem and demonstrated their ability to solve it. Their expertise in designing and building with aluminum removed all doubt once they educated us on the benefits of aluminum fabrication. At that point we realized that there were significantly fewer risks than we originally thought and we got really excited about this.
So the initial idea was not to use aluminum for construction? Can you expand on that?
We came into this thinking the motorhome coach should be built out of composite, or fiberglass. That process requires a mold being built and then the product is made from the mold. When FITTS recommended the product to be fabricated with aluminum, we were not initially sold on the idea. They educated us on why they don’t work with fiberglass and explained any change to the product requires a new mold, which is expensive and slow. The beauty of designing in 3D modeling with aluminum is that changes can be created quickly and cost effectively. Our products are now very versatile and this is a big benefit for our customers and us.
Understanding that versatility is important, have you been making changes and evolving your product?
Absolutely. As with any new, very sophisticated product, there are growing pains and adjustments needed in design and production methods. Fortunately, we have customers that are willing to give us feedback, and we have worked with FITTS to make changes where needed. During the initial design phase, and throughout subsequent revisions, we have worked together to improve the models. Our products have evolved and I believe they are some of the best in the market.
This sounds like a great partnership and has been a success for both companies. Would you agree?
It is a great partnership. FITTS possesses advanced design and manufacturing capabilities. They have invested in assets, which can be leveraged to produce a myriad of products. Partnering with them allows us to offer our customers sophisticated products without our having to invest in the capital equipment ourselves. Our businesses are located within close proximity, so it also benefits us in lead times and reduces shipping costs to move products between our businesses. This enables us to deliver a superior motorhome at a competitive price to our customer – and that is what matters most.
In addition to the off-road motorhome vehicles for consumers, Provan and FITTS have also teamed up to develop disaster relief vehicles for two top 10 banks in the US. Do you foresee future commercial applications and new markets to enter?
That is a very interesting question because we have already manufactured a couple of units for commercial applications. One was with disaster relief with BB&T Bank and the other was for Envisioneering, Inc., a Department of Defense sub-contractor. I believe in the future we can further develop vehicles for a variety of applications, including television broadcasting, mobile medical treatment, mobile banking, and federal, state, and military use.