RV Visionary, Northwood and ORV Manufacturing Founder Ron Nash Passes
La Grande, Oregon-based RV manufacturers, Northwood Manufacturing and Outdoors RV (ORV) have announced that their founder and RV veteran Ron Nash passed away in his sleep early Saturday morning, August 17th. Mr. Nash along with his wife Sherry, started Northwood Manufacturing spawning the iconic RV brands Arctic Fox and Nash among others. Nash then began Outdoors RV Manufacturing in 2009, growing it into a major player in the Western United States and Canada RV markets as well.
Ron broke away from the mainstream RV community and started Northwood Manufacturing in 1993. Due to his strong vision and passion for the RV lifestyle and the people involved in it, Northwood products quickly became known for their high-quality components and construction. Nash insisted on quality first in a thoughtful, attractive package stating early that his RVs were and always would be, “the pretty one(s) in work boots.”
In 2010 amidst ongoing health issues, Ron turned over day-to-day management of both companies to his long-time management team but always maintained an active interest in their growth. Craig Orton, CEO of Northwood Investments (parent company of both Northwood Mfg and ORV) stated, “It is impossible to put into words how Ron and Sherry have impacted our local Grande Ronde Valley community economically and culturally not to mention the RV industry as a whole. We will all miss him greatly but his legacy will live on.”
Northwood Investments CFO Cerise Smallwood went on to say, “We at Northwood and ORV are a family – Ron and Sherry’s family. We are committed to continue producing the highest quality, most rugged RVs in the marketplace. It was what Ron wanted and what Sherry continues to want. In this way, we will forever sustain his vision and his memory.”
Funeral arrangements are still being finalized and will be announced when available. The family asks that any condolence offerings be addressed to:
Loveland Funeral Chapel
1508 4th Street
La Grande, Oregon – 97850
From the desk of Donald Cochran, Chief Sales Officer
*all quotes and statements should be attributed to Mr. Cochran
Northwood Celebrates Sale of 15,000th Pickup Camper Sold
Apache Camping Center’s President Kevin L. Baker and Washington General Manager Kevin W. Baker were both on hand to take delivery of Northwood Manufacturing’s 15,000th pickup camper produced – a Wolf Creek 850. Northwood representatives included CEO Craig Orton, CFO Cerise Smallwood, CSO Donald Cochran and DSM Jim Baehmann.
Northwood CEO Craig Orton stated, “Northwood’s objective has always been to provide both dealers and the end user with the best built products in the market. Northwood has built its reputation by providing dependable, high value recreational vehicles by insisting upon quality components and demanding quality craftsmanship from our dedicated production line associates. That commitment will never change. We look forward to producing the next 15,000 pickup campers and beyond.”
Apache Camping Washington General Manager Kevin W. Baker, commented, “It says a lot about how well the Wolf Creek brand has been embraced by consumers. Apache has always been very excited about this product since its inception. We feel that Northwood really hit the sweet spot with both the Wolf Creek’s appearance and amenities and their evolution. Consumer reaction has been and continues to be very favorable. The Wolf Creek is the perfect complement to the Arctic Fox Camper and it speaks volumes that it should represent Northwood’s 15,000th pickup camper produced.”
Donald Cochran, Chief Sales Officer for Northwood noted, “What a testament to the ongoing strength of this dealership. Apache Camping Center retailed the very first Arctic Fox truck camper ever sold as well as the 10,000th! It is only fitting that they should also purchase our 15,000th unit. Northwood tremendously values our long-standing relationship with Apache – they are a first-class organization from top to bottom.”
Apache Camping Center is a family operated RV dealership specializing in towables, truck campers, and folding trailers. They are a prominent RV dealer in the Pacific Northwest with locations in Portland, OR as well as Everett, Poulsbo and Tacoma, WA. Apache has been a Northwood dealer since 1994 and is a top retailing dealer for Northwood Manufacturing.
(LR) Northwood CFO Cerise Smallwood, Northwood CEO Craig Orton, Apache Camping Center President Kevin L. Baker, Apache Camping Center Washington General Manager Kevin W. Baker, Northwood DSM Jim Baehmann and Northwood CSO Donald Cochran.
Northwood RV Veteran, Ward King to Retire
La Grande, Oregon-based RV manufacturers, Northwood Manufacturing and Outdoors RV (ORV) has announced RV industry veteran Ward King is retiring. King is winding up his almost 49 year career as the Chief Operations Officer of Northwood Investments, the parent company of both Northwood and ORV. As Chief Operations Officer over the past 8 years, Mr. King oversaw all the production facilities and daily operations at both the Northwood and ORV manufacturing complexes in La Grande. Ward had a very critical role in guiding both companies in the aftermath of the 2008 recession.
King began his career with a 31 year run at Fleetwood starting in 1970. King’s attention to detail and insightful decision-making abilities allowed him to rise quickly through the ranks, holding many high-level positions on both the plant and corporate level. Mr. King is quick to give thanks and credit to those along the way who were key in his training and supported him, including (in chronological order of work history): Steve Reeder (1977-1980); Bruce Boylen, whom King views as his chief mentor (1979); Ron Nash (1980-1988) and; Frank Subasic (1988-1992). Mr. King stated, “Without question I would never have had the opportunities presented to me nor garnered near the success I have been blessed by without the influence and support of these great men and dear friends.”
In 2001, Ron Nash reached out to his long-time friend, King to take on the role of Director of Manufacturing at Northwood Manufacturing. Ward served in this role until 2010 when he was offered and accepted the position of Chief Operations Officer of Northwood Investments, overseeing both Northwood and Outdoors RV Manufacturing. Over the next 8 years, King guided both companies to tremendous growth and prosperity.
Ron and Sherry Nash, owners of both Northwood Mfg. and Outdoors RV stated, “Ward is and always has been a tremendous asset to both companies. Not only will we miss his tremendous experience and incredible eye and for what a highly functional, quality RV can and should be but even more importantly we will miss a great friend to us all and a genuinely good person. We wish him all the best in retirement.”
A succession plan has been in place for over a year, since in October of 2017 when then Northwood Chief Financial Officer, Craig Orton was promoted to Chief Executive Officer and long-time Corporate Controller, Cerise Smallwood was promoted to the CFO position. Orton is also now the acting General Manager at the Northwood facility while Smallwood is filling the GM role at Outdoors RV. In addition, in August of this year, Northwood Director of Sales Donald Cochran was promoted to Chief Sales Officer to oversee the Sales Departments of both companies. Together, the three have over 45 years of combined service at Northwood.
Northwood Investments CEO, Craig Orton went on to say, “We truly wish to thank Ward for his dedication and commitment to always getting it right. He is a true professional and we will certainly miss his energy and leadership. We wish Ward well in this next chapter of his life.”
King himself concluded, “I want to personally thank every member of the Northwood and ORV teams for their dedication to providing our dealers and customers with the best quality RV available in the industry – it has been a real pleasure to be a part of what truly is a wonderful work family.
I want to especially thank Ron and Sherry Nash for their vision as well as their unwavering loyalty and confidence in entrusting me with so many of the responsibilities in running both Northwood and ORV.
This is a fun industry and it has been very good to me. I have always said and believed that if you take care of the people you work with, the people will take care of you – and they’ve never let me down. That’s what I will miss the most, all the truly good people I’ve had the great fortune to work for and with – I thank you all.”
Mr. King’s last day will be Friday, January 25th. You can contact Ward via email at [email protected]
Northwood COO Ward King
From the desk of Donald Cochran, Chief Sales Officer
*all quotes and statements should be attributed to Mr. Cochran
Northwood Manufacturing Reaches Milestone – Produces/Sells 50,000th Towable
Northwood Manufacturing CEO Craig Orton, CFO Cerise Smallwood, CSO Donald Cochran and DSM Jim Baehmann were all present to deliver Northwood’s 50,000th towable built and sold to Guaranty RV Sales Managers Paul Willman and Lenny Mellin.
Craig Orton, Northwood CEO, told Willman and Mellin, “Fifty-thousand RVs is an incredible accomplishment for us all. You both and Guaranty RV have been a significant part of that success. On behalf of everyone at Northwood including the Nash family, we want to express our gratitude to the Guaranty RV organization. Guaranty has been a constant and first rate, dealer partner as well as being our good friends.”
In accepting, Willman commented, “This has really been a wonderful partnership. We have come so far together over these many years. We really value the history, the relationship and Northwood’s ongoing commitment to supply us with superior, quality products and service. Thank you to everyone at Northwood.”
Northwood’s Chief Sales Officer, Donald Cochran, added, “We thank Guaranty, Paul and Lenny so much for the long-term commitment. It’s inspiring to see how far we have come and recognize what a strong relationship we enjoy with Guaranty. We truly appreciate Guaranty’s important and ongoing contribution to our success with our products. We look forward to a continued bright future together and tens of thousands of additional RV sales with them.”
Guaranty RV is a privately-owned RV dealership in Junction City, Oregon. They are a prominent RV dealer in the Northwest and nationally. Guaranty RV is a long-standing and top-retailing dealer for Northwood Manufacturing.
(LR) Northwood CSO Donald Cochran, Northwood DSM Jim Baehmann, Guaranty RV Sales Manager Paul Willman, Guaranty RV Sales Manager Lenny Mellin, Northwood CFO Cerise Smallwood and Northwood CEO Craig Orton.
From the desk of Donald Cochran, Chief Sales Officer
Dealers gather in front of the Northwood 25 Year Timeline
Northwood Manufacturing Hosts Dealer Appreciation & Showcase
On October second and third, Northwood Manufacturing held their Dealer Appreciation and Product Showcase to recognize their top dealers and exhibit their latest product offerings and innovations as well as celebrating their 25th year of being in business.
Dealers were invited from all over the western United States and Canada to gather at Wildhorse Resort and Casino in Pendleton, Oregon for the two-day gathering. Events included golfing, keynote speaker football legend Joey Harrington, catered meals, sales and marketing presentations and new product displays.
Events were kicked off with a friendly but competitive golf outing on the afternoon of the first day. Participants ranged from dealership owners and salespeople to Northwood DSMs and corporate officers. Immediately following came a gourmet, catered dinner and recognition of Northwood’s top ten dealers for the last year as “Absolute Performers” complete with custom, hand-crafted awards presented by Northwood Chief Sales Officer, Donald Cochran.
Day one culminated with a presentation by keynote speaker and former University of Oregon and NFL quarterback great, Joey Harrington. Mr. Harrington’s genuine and insightful style paired well with his colorful anecdotes and stories that were deeply influenced by his Oregon roots – the very
same roots Northwood enjoys. His humor and candor were a hit with the audience. Additionally, Harrington focused on the special bond Northwood holds with its dealers in terms of personal relationships and commitment to quality on all levels.
Day two kicked off with a morning meeting that included breakfast and insightful comments about the “State of Northwood” by Northwood Chief Financial Officer Cerise Smallwood and President/Chief Executive Officer Craig Orton. Both Orton and Smallwood thanked the dealers and salespeople for their partnership and loyalty to Northwood and their products. Orton and Smallwood then spoke individually about how the theme of the show, “25 Years of Quality by Design” is reflective of not only how Northwood operates in terms of manufacturing but also in the relationships built with dealers and retail customers. Mr. Orton and Mrs. Smallwood were on hand throughout the event and made it a point to spend one-on-one time with all those attending.
Director of Marketing, Lance Rinker then presented an analysis about the effectiveness of all of Northwood’s marketing over the past year including web-based and print platforms. Highlights included a walk-through of Northwood’s video Quick Tours and cutting-edge 3D Virtual Tours on
the company’s newly updated website. The role of social media in the RV landscape was also addressed by Northwood DSM, Colby Lankford. Rinker went on to reveal what direction future marketing tools and campaigns will be taking the company in.
The podium was then turned over to Donald Cochran who gave an insightful summary of all the updates and revisions that Northwood brands have and will continue to undergo for the coming model year. Mr. Cochran was quick to point out that, “We are constantly pushing ourselves to improve our products and are thrilled to have all of our brands on display here today showcasing our latest flooplans as well as potential new features and options to gain valuable dealer feedback.” He went on to say, “We always have and will continue to solicit dealer input. We can never lose sight of what our dealers and retail customers want. The continuous effort to provide value-added features and options coupled with Northwood’s time-tested quality and the best
dealer partnerships in the industry make for a strong combination in the marketplace.”
Eager dealers then toured the product display that provided an early glimpse of what they could look forward to as they currently enjoy a strong demand for Northwood products this fall and start planning for the promising winter and spring as well.
In closing, Craig Orton summarized by saying, “Northwood’s goal is to always provide our dealers and retail customers with the highest quality products in the marketplace. Northwood’s 25 year reputation for manufacturing solid, top value RVs has been earned and maintaining that standard over the next 25 years and beyond remains our highest priority. We have accomplished this by insisting on quality components and demanding quality craftsmanship from our dedicated production line workers and we are committed to continuing to do so.”
New Northwood Product Display
Northwood 25 Years of Quality by Design Timeline Display
From the desk of Donald Cochran, National Sales Director
Northwood Launches 3D Tours
Northwood Manufacturing is excited to announce the launch of their latest online sales tool – NW3D Tours. These tours provide cutting-edge 3D and virtual reality models to be used by dealers and customers alike as a primary medium for experiencing and sharing Northwood floorplans and features. The NW3D Tour utilizes an all-in-one reality capture system that gives the viewer realistic, interactive 3D and virtual reality experiences that make you feel like you are in the coach.
The tour begins with an exterior “dollhouse” model view of each coach that the viewer may rotate to any angle using their computer mouse. The viewer may then use their mouse to click on any room in the 3D floorplan to go “inside”. From there, the viewer can experience 360 degree views of each room, zoom in and out on features as well as click into any and all additional rooms throughout the coach.
According to Northwood National Sales Director, Donald Cochran, “The NW3D Tour is a complete reimaging of what floorplan exploration can be. Several models’ NW3D Tours have already been posted to the website with all Northwood models to be coming soon.”
The NW3D tours may be accessed by clicking on the “NW3D” icon either on the Northwood homepage or on each model’s individual specification page right next to the Quick Tour.
Cochran went on to say, “We are very pleased to present the NW3D Tour as our latest step forward in our ongoing mission to support dealer and customer sales in as many new and imaginative ways as possible.”
Northwood is pleased to announce the launch of their newly re-vamped website today, Tuesday, September 1st. The site sports a clean, contemporary look with enhanced visuals and navigational tools all of which are highly mobile friendly. The site’s content includes large-scale photographs in tile-style format as well as floor-plans, highly-detailed feature and option lists, multi-platform navigation and updated and expanded video content. The site also boasts a brand new “Build Your RV” tool. The new site is Northwood’s latest step in their ongoing commitment to continually upgrade and evolve all areas of their business and providing a premium RV experience for their customers .
Check out our new page with news, tips, feature topics, new products…. You name it. We’re talking about it.