Press-Republican

March 3, 2013

Local Airstream company continues to expand

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — New models of an American icon are now available from a local business that has doubled in size within the last year. 

Nomad Airstream President and Sales Manager Steven Clement said they are now an authorized Airstream dealer with exclusive rights to the New York and Vermont sales territory.

“We’re getting calls from all over,” he said.

Market holds promise

He and CEO Guillaume Langevin see great potential for the market, particularly the Burlington area. Clement said it is difficult to find Airstream trailers in Canada, so they even expect to have customers from the Montreal market.

“We know customers will be coming down,” he said.

The company has already received some new 2013 inventory.

The International Signature and Serenity series includes models from 19 feet to 30 feet. The Classic Limited line has model lengths of 27 feet, 30 feet and 31 feet, and is the flagship of the Aurstream line.

The Airstream Eddie Bauer edition is available in 26-foot and-28 foot lengths. It features a wide rear hatch to accommodate outdoor gear such as a kayak or bicycles. 

“It really fits in with the Adiorndacks,” Clement said.

Models very popular

The International Sterling edition features design innovations from Christopher Deam and is available in 26-foot and 28-foot lengths.

The Airstream Sport line is available in 16-foot and 22-foot models.

The Flying Cloud line has models from 19 feet to 31 feet. There are 15 different floor plans.

Clement said it is the most popular Airstream model in North America.

Comfort and style are hallmarks of the Airstream brand, he said.

Some units include amenities such as LED lighting, porcelain toilets and Sealy pillow-top mattresses. High-end stereo and flat-screen televisions are also popular.

Water filtration systems are standard on all models. There is also a gas-detection and shut-off system for added safety.

Airstream Nomad expects to start selling Class B interstate travel coaches later this year. The vehicles are a combination of a Mercedes Benz chassis and Airstream living quarters.

“They are the No. 1 selling Class B motorhomes in the United States,” Clement said. “They sell like hotcakes.”

Renovation planned

The property, at 167 Willow Drive in the Town of Plattsburgh, provides easy access from Exit 36 on Interstate 87. The building will soon receive a total makeover to create showroom space worthy of the gleaming, luxury travel trailers.

The partners made a final pitch for the franchise to Airstream officials at an RV show in Louisville, Ky. The meeting was originally scheduled for 45 minutes, but extended to about 41/2 hours.

Clement said they are now the only combination Airstream dealer and restoration center in North America. 

“This is a first for Airstream,” he said. 

As a certified franchise, they can provide warranty and service work for Airstream owners. They will also be able to offer customers new trailer shells and then fully customize the interior.

The company now has 20 employees, double the workforce from one year ago. They have hired a general manager, project manager, customer-service representatives and technicians.

Once the franchise was secured, they flew their entire staff to Airstream headquarters and production facility in Jackson Center, Ohio, in January.

“It was important for us that our staff understand Airstream and why it is an American icon,” Clement aid.

Saw building process

They were able to see how each shell and frame is built from scratch. Even the furniture is hand-crafted and then installed in the trailer.

GSM by Nomad merged with Brattleboro, Vt.-based Taylor Design Healthy Homes in 2012. That company specializes in creation of chemical-free living spaces for people with chemical sensitivities.

The chemical-free units will be assembled in a separate area of the facility so there is no cross contamination, Clement said.

Langevin and Clement were partners in Montreal-based Nomad Espace Mobile, which rented specially outfitted Airstream units for use at special events. Through that business, they had worked with GSM Vehicles, which was involved in restoration of Airstream trailers.

They acquired that business in May 2012 and moved it to its present location on the western edge of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base.

Their original renovation and customization business will still be called GSM by Nomad.

They have recently finished one renovation that a San Francisco-based company is using as a bar car. It even has exterior beer taps, Clement said.

Another one is used as a hair styling studio on movie sets by a Montreal studio. It features a larger door to accommodate actors who are in costume.

Have long life

Airstream trailers are noted for their safety, with a  low-center of gravity and light overall weight. The rounded shell makes the units more aerodynamic than other trailers.

Studies have shown that between 60 percent and 70 percent of the Airstream trailers ever built are still on the road.

“People who buy an Airstream are on the road. They love travelling,” Clement said.

Email Dan Heath: dheath@pressrepublican.com