by Erin Zabarnick
photography by Reina Santa Cruz
Ed Newton strives for perfection. When he delivered newspapers as a boy, he worked for exactitude. When he bowls, he aims for perfect 300 games. And when he makes a motor home, it is top notch. Indeed, Lazy Daze motor homes, founded in 1956 by his late brother Paul, is known in the industry as one of the best—if not the best—motor homes for sale. It is also the first, according to Newton. He says the Newton family in 1966 designed, built and commercially marketed the first class “C” Motor Home in America.
Inside the motor homes, available for inspection at the company’s Holt Avenue Montclair headquarters, one can see the attention to detail that earned the coaches the G.D. Gallent five stars of recognition for safety and quality. Newton says considerable effort was put forth to create a low silhouette motor home with “classic clean lines.”
“The Lazy Daze exterior profile and graphics emphasize a sleek, smooth streamline look. This, coupled with the quality of workmanship in our motor home, creates that good feeling called ‘Pride of Ownership,’” he says. Inside the coaches, real wood cabinetry, large windows, king-sized beds, quality appliances and the attention to detail parallels that found in custom homes. “It is not necessary for a motor home to quiver, creak, rattle and groan when you travel down the highways. When high crosswinds prevail, you should not have to hold on to the steering wheel for ‘dear life.’ Our low silhouette, in combination with ideal weight placements, creates a motor home with sports car like handling,” says Newton.
For Ed Newton, 80, joined in ownership with his son Steve Newton, this is the realization of a motor home done their way. And for travelers, these coaches are quality homes away from homes. So, forget long lines at the airport, small-cramped cars and teenagers spring breaking at hotels. One can travel easily with an RV from Lazy Daze. There is no need to plan or make reservations—just go.
Ed, a long-time Claremont resident, joined the Lazy Daze family near its start when the company launched into financial trouble. At the time, his brother Paul owned the company. “Paul was known more as the idea guy, and I was more of the business type,” he says. Ed Newton decided that he would buy into the company and save it from collapsing, but only if he were given total company control. “I was retired at 30, but I didn’t want to stop working so I decided I would help my brother out,” he says.
With Ed as the new president, the company began to turn around. He started advertising and honing in on the types of people who would be interested in RVing. As a former journeyman in both painting and carpentry, he personally put in long days retooling and remodeling the factory. Ed designed all of the advertising brochures and wrote all of the copy. Together, the two brothers collaborated on design ideas for the motor homes. Slowly, but surely, the company began to turn around, becoming what it is today. The Lazy Daze motor home was awarded five stars, the highest rating by G.D. Gallent, the quality and safety regulators for all motor homes. Gallent and other rating agencies have marked Lazy Daze the No. 1 motor home in the United States and the best buy.
The owners agree. First time owner Sharon Naismith says, “Ed is a gentleman of the old school. I don’t think Ed suffers fools gladly. He is obviously very proud of the motor homes his company makes, feels that they are absolutely ready to go without modification or extras added to them, and is very protective of the Lazy Daze reputation.”
“I believe Lazy Daze is the best for the money,” says Dr. Paul David, Lazy Daze owner. “They’re an old-fashioned company that makes one quality of product—the best they know how. They have personnel policies that enable them to retain highly skilled workers.”
When Lazy Daze designed and built in 1966 the first commercially marketed class “C” motor home in America, it launched a way of life for thousands of people and also inspired many imitators of its product. A class “C” Motor Home is an RV with the living accommodations built on a van frame with an attached cab section. A full-size bed in the “cabover” section allows for ample seating, gallery and bathroom facilities in the coach. Also called a “mini-motor home” or “mini,” lengths range from approximately 16 to 32 feet. The RV manufacturer completes the body section containing the living area and attaches it to the auto industry produced van cab section.
When purchasing a motor home, one is not going to be spending left over change but instead be making an investment. In the long run, one can actually save money. In a study by PKF Consulting, “RV vacations are more affordable than travel by personal car, commercial airline or cruise ship. Even factoring in RV ownership costs, and considering resulting tax benefits, a family of four can spend up to 70 percent less when traveling by RV.” The big bonuses of RVing come from the call of the outdoors. A person can travel to the mountains, beaches, deserts, parks with the comforts of home. If one does not want to buy, she always has the option of renting. “Renting an RV is a popular way to “try before you buy. The RV rental business is a $350 million industry and grew by 63 percent between 1997-2002,” according to figures compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and the RV Rental Association.
Indeed, the industry is at a high point. The 2001 Harris Interactive study commissioned by the GO RVing Coalition notes, “The changes in the frequency and duration of vacations favor the RV industry. Americans are traveling on weekends in shorter distances with less planning. Among all U.S. households, one in 12 owns a motor home and one in six plans on buying an RV in the future. Baby boomers—both parents and empty nesters—are strong potential buyers.”
Other studies have shown today’s typical RV owner is 49 years old, married, with an annual household income of $56,000—higher than the median for all households. RV owners are likely to own their homes and spend their disposable income on traveling, an average 4,500 miles and 28-35 days annually.
Lazy Daze is a company that sells and builds motor homes direct from the factory, eliminating price markups. Newton is proud of his one-to-one customer-to-client relationships. “He was willing to spend two hours with me when I visited the factory after ordering my Lazy Daze, answering my questions, offering his opinion on various options that are available and trying to talk me out of ordering several things he didn’t think I needed,” says Naismith.
The owners say they feel close to clients and enjoy taking suggestions on what would make their motor homes better. Says Naismith, “I did several years of research before deciding on a Lazy Daze. I joined the RV Consumers’ Group four years before placing an order. I read the messages in the Yahoo! Groups’ www.lifewithalazydazerv.com archives, then followed the group online and asked lots of questions. I read all I could on various RV manufacturers, concentrating on quality, owner satisfaction, and problems people had encountered, both with the manufacturers and the dealers. I, along with my husband, who is a reluctant participant in this venture, visited a lot of RV dealers, looked at a lot of RVs, with the help of material from the RVCG on how to evaluate RVs for their quality. I then went ahead and placed an order for our 2002 30’ TB (twin bed) Lazy Daze over the phone, without ever visiting the factory or seeing Lazy Daze in person. It worked out!”
“The No. 1 thing that jumps out about Lazy Daze motor homes, to me, is their level of quality,” Naismith says. Lazy Daze motor homes are one of the most durable motor homes out there. The exterior of the coach is covered in aircraft aluminum panels that have been painted with aircraft type polyurethane enamel, making the Motor Home strong against the earthly elements. Each panel can be changed if damaged. The roof of the Motor Home is covered by an aluminum panel and is sun and tear resistant. The vehicle’s frame is supported by steel, reinforcing the framework, making it safer for all occupants. The motor home frame is backed with a lifetime warranty to the original owner, giving the client reassurance in well-done craftsmanship.
Lazy Daze motor homes also offer comfort in their products. The company features multiple floor plans. Newton says that “if you tell me how many you need to sleep in your motor home, I can almost always accommodate you.” Windows help to accomplish an open airy feeling. These motor homes are also great on storage, inside and outside.
Some people worry about adverse weather when driving an RV, but that is not the case with Newton’s vehicle. “I know of no instance where a Lazy Daze tipped over or was adversely affected by strong winds. Their weight is properly distributed,” he says.
Not only are the Lazy Daze motor homes durable, they are popular too. “Lazy Daze has a back order of five to seven months on all models,” says Newton. “They have customers who discover they have not just purchased a Motor Home; they’ve joined a club. Lazy Daze has a cult-like following,” says Dr. David.
The Lazy Daze Caravan Club, available to original owners, is currently headed by wagon master Rosemary Webb. She is the person who organizes the Club’s caravan trips, now in their 49th season. When the Club was born, who better to be the first wagon master than original owner Paul Newton. In the Club’s early days, owners were invited by Ed’s advertisement, “Come with us into the great outdoor world of family fun and adventure in your Lazy Daze camper!” During those trips, families found fun activities such as “egg tosses, balloon-breaking relays, ‘tall tale’ sessions, variety shows, old-time singing around the campfire—an emphasis on family,” says Ed.
Times have changed for the Caravan Club and so have the people. What once used to be a community club filled with families and working people is now made up of mostly the retired. While this has changed due to economics and busy schedules, some things never change, like the love of the outdoors, potlucks and bingo.
A motor home is a vehicle that combines the transportation of a car with the luxury of living space. There are two types of motor homes: motorized and towables. The ones provided by Lazy Daze are motorized, meaning the car and the living space are combined as one unit.
There is great flexibility and convenience with a motor home. Family togetherness is also a big plus. Owner Steve Newton remembers, “Traveling with my family in the Lazy Daze gives me some of my best memories. I got a space all to myself, and I got to ride dirt bikes a lot. It really brought the family together.”