Originally posted by Nick Cagle: One, number 3709, in February, 1991 and one, number M0043, in November, 1997.
If you find any errors in this list please let me know.
My coach, the 3709, was a Mobile Medical Lab when it left the factory and wasn't really intended to be an RV. I see that you have listed the "Police Units" as such. Might it be better to list these as "Regal/Commercial", "Regal/Police" or Regal/Medical" units seeing that they fall in the "Regal" column as far as the "Data Tag Numbers" are concerned?
I just want to clarify my thoughts on the build sequence numbers. When I first started this project the only Monarch we had was M0022. That lead me to believe that the Monarch had its own sequence like the Regency and that the "M" stood for Monarch.
I no longer think that is correct. Since I have collected the following tags:
9505-S0002-23L-1 Mobile office
9711-S0047-23R-1 Mobile office
I think that when Barth RSV took over ownership, they started all sequence numbers over. They had two divisions, Specialty Vehicles and Motorhomes. Each division started over at S0001 and M0001.
The Regency was the only coach to ever have its own numbering sequence and that was probably due to the first ones being built by MCC. And when Barth RSV took over even the Regency lost its unique number scheme. ie see tag M0012.
Anybody got any other ideas? Nick
Posts: 1811 | Location: Harlem, GA | Member Since: 09-17-2007
It seems that the new company (5/05) didn't care to separate the model designation.
9505-S0002-23L-1 ~ Regal/Specialty ~ Chevy 454
9601-M0012-38RL-1C ~ Regency ~ Cummins
9608-M0022-38MI-4C ~ Monarch ~ Cummins
9708-M0037-37MM-1 ~ Monarch ~ Cummins
9711-M0043-29FF-1C ~ Regal/Motorhome ~ Chevy 454
9711-S0047-23R-1 ~ Regal/Specialty ~ Chevy 454
It looks like the Regular production run of RV's had an "M for Motorhome" and an "S for Specialty Vehicle".
Bankruptcy followed the new Barth after Printz took over. If my theory is correct, It doesn't look like the new company produced more then 50 RV's in 2 and a half years. If Nick's theory is correct, then you could double that number. We would need a data tag that has the same number but a different letter in the front. Ie: M0022 and an S0022
Would anyone else like to add their data tag number to our project?
Originally listed in RV News Online August 31, 1996 "Have Company - Will Manufacture"
The Re-Birth of Barth by Don Magary Barth to Introduce Luxury Class Mini-motorhome
In a 1957-1963 popular western television series, Paladin's business card read simply, "Have gun - will travel-Wire Paladin - San Francisco." In kind, Bill Prinz's business card today might well read, "Have company - will manufacture." Prinz is the president of Barth RSV, Inc., and he is working hard to bring the company back from the brink of extinction. And he is doing that by being open minded about the types of projects Barth can and will accept. Since he and partner, Richard Miller, bought the company in 1995, Barth has manufactured campers for a Japanese motorhome manufacturer, bookmobiles, medical units, mobile police and fire department's command post units and even "old time" trolleys.
Trolleys? That's right. The day RV News visited Barth, the manufacturing line was crawling with trolleys, the kind that look like cable cars.
"That was by accident," Prinz explained. "An old friend of mine came to me and said that he had an order for a couple of trolleys. He wanted to know if I would be interested in building them for him so I told him to send me the specifications. We took a look at the specs and said, 'Heck, if we can build a big old motorhome, we can build that-there's nothing to it.
"So we basically designed this new trolley product from the ground up. About that same time a company in California, called Specialty Vehicles, found out that we were manufacturing trolleys. They called and asked if we would build trolleys for them. They found us because someone had told them that they had seen a trolley with the name Barth on it. We put a long-term agreement together where they marketed the product and all we do is build it for them so we have no sales and marketing costs. They have a marketing organization and are basically selling trolleys all over the world. It's been a tremendous market. We have them all over the country now."
Prinz's plan for Barth is working. He said, "We finalized the buyout in March 1995, and we turned our first black month in March of this year."
It's not surprising that a friend brought Prinz the idea that developed into a very lucrative business. Anyone who knows him would agree that Prinz is a class act. Prinz has been building personal relationships in the industry for 28 years.
Originally from Dayton, OH, Prinz started working for a supplier in 1968 in Dayton. Then in 1971 he went to work for Fleetwood when they opened a plant in Decatur, IN.
Bill smiled and said, "I did Fleetwood plants that people have never heard of. I was the general manager of the Pace Arrow plant in McKinney, TX in 1972 and 1973. The plant was open for a grand total of 18 months.
"So I went to the Southwind plant in Quincy, MI, in 1974 and stayed there until 1980 when Fleetwood closed that plant. That was one of my bigger plants for Fleetwood and was one of my longest tenures."
After ten years with Fleetwood, he left to try the mobile home industry in Phoenix, AZ, for two years. However, he missed the RV business and went back to Fleetwood and stayed with them until 1986. That's when he went to work for Rockwood. Rockwood was eventually acquired by the now defunct Cobra Industries. Prinz was not particularly happy with the new Rockwood ownership, but he remained because they pretty much stayed out of the way. Then in 1993 he resigned at Rockwood to take the position at Barth.
He joined Barth with the intention of investing in the company. He said, "I had put together a plan with Mike Umbaugh, the previous owner of Barth, to buy the company."
The company was in deep trouble.
"I didn't realize until after I was here for two or three months how bad it was. I knew it was bad, but I felt with my connections I was strong enough and had enough background in the business that I could pull it out. Well, it was too far gone to pull out.
"So it was just a matter of hanging on until I could figure out what we could do. In the interim I had been trying to put some people together to buy it."
Eventually, Barth's financial woes overtook the company, and a secured creditor stepped in and took over the assets of the company.
"They put me in charge because they had known me for a long time," Prinz said. "Then my partner and I bought the assets from them."
Prinz's partner is Dick Miller, a local businessman who operates a chain of 40 nursing homes known as Miller's Merry Manor in central and northern Indiana .
Prinz said, "Dick and I sat down and worked out a deal where we both would invest some money in the company. He has the majority interest, however, I have a buyout plan where I would end up as owner over a period of time.
"Dick is a great partner to have. He believes I know the business, what I'm doing and where I'm going. He looks at the financial statements and says, 'Just keep showing me progress and I'll leave you alone.' And he does; he's been fantastic."
And it's no wonder. Bill Prinz has built an excellent reputation during his years in the industry. He is not only extremely personable, he is known for his integrity and loyalty. And that loyalty was returned to him by some key employees at Barth during the time between the creditor takeover and the start up under new ownership.
Prinz said, "The transition was difficult. What I tried to do was look as if there was nothing wrong, even though we knew and probably a lot of the suppliers knew otherwise. But it worked. A lot of people never realized that we were shut down. We were down for almost eight weeks where we did not produce. I have a group of very loyal people who worked for as long as six weeks without pay. They stayed with me with the hope that I was going to pull it off. Most of them are still here."
During the first year Prinz concentrated on specialized vehicles because he recognized that the motorhome product that he had inherited was behind the market and out of style. Prinz said, "We didn't have the wherewithal to spend the amount of money needed to bring it up to date immediately. We kept enough product going out in the market place to let the market know that we were still there, while at the same time trying to work on the upgrading process."
Over the years, Barth has been a luxury-class motorhome manufacturer with a loyal following of buyers. One of Barth's strong attributes was the perception that the unit is built like a "tank" - strong and durable.
"They're still built like a tank," Prinz said. "There is a certain mystique with Barth as a motorhome similar to what there was with Airstream as a trailer. A lot of the units sold in the last couple of years have been to previous owners. By doing that we have kept our place in the market while we upgraded the product.
"We've maintained all the same building and construction methods. The only thing we have changed as far as the "look" is that we have put a fiberglass front end on the unit to give the front some style. The thickness of the aluminum that was used did not make it possible to give the front end style - it was basically a flat front. While we did go to fiberglass in the front we tried to maintain the familiar Barth look. We think we have done that."
Prinz said the redesign of the Barth motorhome is now complete and the company has started shipping the new edition. The first two units went to a dealer in British Columbia, Canada. Prinz said, "Obviously, when you're doing this kind of major redesign you wonder if you have caught up to the market or not. You really don't know until you get the product into the field. That first unit sold in six weeks and the second unit sold in three weeks. These are both coaches that in US dollars would retail in the $225 - $265,000 range. So we believe that we are there product wise."
In its first nine months, April to December last year, Barth did $4.5 million and is on track to do $12 million this year. Prinz said, "My goal is to be at $50 million in five years. I think we can get there. I'm not going to compete with Fleetwood, Winnebago or Coachman in their end of the market. We're looking for these niches in the market like the trolleys and other things. And even on the RV side, we are going to focus on the niches where there's not going to be a lot of competition. I'm doing something now that has earned me some strange looks from people. We are going to go into the Class C business. If my reasoning is sound, it's a good decision for the company. My reason is that Fleetwood, Winnebago, Coach-man, Gulfstream, Thor have all abandoned the high-end market because of its extremely small numbers.
"I don't need big numbers. If I can build one or two a week, that's fine. And we are going to give the customer a very good mini-home, probably the best mini-home they have ever seen on the market."
Barth will be building it's mini on the new Ford Super Duty, 14,050 pound gvwr chassis. Prinz continued, "We're going to limit the number of floor plans. We think there's a market for a mini-motorhome priced to retail for someplace between $50 and $75,000."
Another problem that Prinz is having to overcome is that the former management was selling motorhomes direct to the consumer. Prinz is committed to building a dealer network. He said, "Since I've come in, we've said, 'Hey, we obviously can't do both - sell direct and have dealers.' When we get people who want to buy a product, we send them through the dealer, or we will work with them and tell the dealers this is where we're going, this is what we're going to do. We may deal directly with the people, but it still goes through a dealer. Our intent is not to have a large dealer network, but a quality dealer network. We will limit the number of dealers that have the product, allow them some reasonable territories and the ability to make some money-and then give them a good product to sell.
"Our biggest problem in the industry is giving people a good first experience with the product. Too many people have bad experiences the first time out and I think it jades their outlook for the future on buying more product or continuing on with their current product."
Another project that is taking a high priority is creating a better manufacturing facility. Prinz explained, "This building was built in 1963 and is very poorly laid out and very poorly maintained over the years. It's a terrible facility, but at the same time, we try to keep it clean and neat. Dick and I are committed to building a new plant, probably in the next year."
With all the demands of management and having to solve problems such as the new building, Prinz never forgets that it is ultimately people who will make Barth successful. And he is building a team of people who he believes are committed to that success. "One of the things I have learned and I learned it while at Fleetwood from John Crean, Fleetwood's founder. He said: Surround yourself with good people; it makes your job a hell of a lot easier. And that's what I've done. I have a lot of good people here.
"We're up to almost 100 people and they do a good job for us. The former head engineer from Rockwood and the former CFO from Rockwood are part of our team, and I just hired an ex-Fleetwood employee as my production manager. He was at Fleetwood for 11 or 12 years and ran the Class A plant in California for part of that time."
It's been a challenging three years for Prinz, but if it has taken its toll you cannot tell that from looking at him. And even though he turned 50 earlier this year he still exhibits a youthful enthusiasm.
"I'm ecstatic to be here," Prinz said. "We went through some trials getting to the point where we are, but I'm holding up well and the company is coming out of it. The future looks very bright for us. And it has certainly been a learning experience. The perspective you get is a little different when you're sitting in this chair and all the money is basically yours that's on the line or a partner's that has put a lot of confidence in you. I also believe that my experiences at Fleetwood were great learning experiences for me that have helped me here."
In an era when the industry is changing and the people running companies seem to be more ruthless when it comes to business, it's refreshing to know that there are still people involved in the industry who subscribe to a personal code of ethics and integrity. Prinz is one of those.
"If I tell the people that I'm going to do something, I do it," he said. "If I tell them I'm not going to do something, they can pretty well figure that I'm not going to do it. And that's the way I do business. I'm straight with people; I'm straight with the dealers, with the suppliers, and with the people that work for me in the plant. I've been that way since I started and I will be that way when I finish."
Add to that a cooperative spirit when it comes to working with customers to give them what they expect, you have the basis for Prinz's business philosophy. He said, "I want the company to be known and respected for its integrity, and that philosophy will be reflected throughout the company. And yes, we have quality problems from time to time. One of my trolley customers who runs a big fleet of vehicles for a tour company in the Los Angeles area had a major problem recently and came back here to get the problem resolved. At the end of his visit he said, 'You know, I came back here with this problem and talked with your people. I want to tell you, what I appreciate most about your people is not one of them said we can't do this, or we won't do that; all of them said we will figure out how to correct this situation and make it better and give you the product that you're supposed to have.'
"And that's the way it ought to be."
Barth's road to recovery is in capable hands, and Prinz seems to have the company on track for even more successes in the future. He said, "My goal right now is to level out the peaks and the valleys with the company. In five years I want Barth to be a $50 million a year company. However, that $50 million is not going to come from one or two products; that $50 million may come from seven or eight products that each do $6 or $7 million a year."
So Barth may not be the typical manufacturer in the RV industry because when you walk down the production line, you are apt to see old time cable car trolleys intermixed with state-of-the-art luxury class motor-homes. And who knows what other kinds of unique vehicles may be rolling off the production line in the future. Barth is a company that is determined to find innovative ways to meet a potential customer's needs.
"Yes," Prinz said, "we are willing to do anything a customer may want. If it can be done on wheels, we can do it."
Nick, Sarasota was running a trolley a while back. Don't know if it's still in service but I'm trying to find out. It was a dead ringer for the one on Dave's CD, so I'd guess it was a Barth. I'll let you know if I find out anything.
79 Barth Classic
Posts: 3562 | Location: Venice Fl. | Member Since: 07-12-2004
This website is dedicated to the Barth Custom Coach, their owners and those who admire this American made, quality crafted, motor coach. We are committed to the history, preservation and restoration of the Barth Custom Coach.