Showing the Way
By Travis O. Pryor
Even from its humble beginnings in an industrial area of Elkhart, Ind., Way Interglobal Network had visions of a bigger future as an import distributor for RV OEMs.
Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the company and President/CEO Wayne Kaylor are seeing some of those hopes and dreams pay off in a big way.
Way Interglobal benefited from the RV industry distributor wars when Coast Distribution, which had been bought by NTP-STAG, left its 115,000-square-foot facility in Elkhart, Ind. The company moved into the high-profile location along the Indiana Toll Road at Elkhart Exit 92 and established its new headquarters in 2017.
With offices in Dongguan, China, as well as Elkhart, Way Interglobal continues to grow along with the industry and soon will need additional space, according to Kaylor.
Way Interglobal — an authorized distributor of LG Appliances, Hisense TVs and Appliances, and RCA TVs, as well as Everchill refrigerators, Greystone fireplaces and appliances and Drive audio and entertainment systems — is poised to take even more steps to meet the needs of its OEM clients as well as the aftermarket.
Growing from the Start
No business can truly be called an overnight success. Everybody has ups and downs in the early stages of business.
But Way Interglobal got into the RV segment at just the right time, as the industry was beginning to peek its head above ground to survey what was left after the Great Recession took its toll on every aspect of the industry.
“So, obviously we started 10 years ago more importing products for other distributors at that point — manufacturing products for other distributors in the RV industry,” Kaylor says. “Really, within that first year we decided, ‘Hey, we’re going to do this on our own,’ and started developing different products — microwaves, whatever — to bring to market. And in the course of the 10 years we’ve grown exponentially with 20-plus percent growth the last three years. It’s been a pretty fun ride. And obviously product innovation has been the driver of it.”
Kaylor credits the development of a 12-volt compressor refrigerator not only with building Way Interglobal’s fortunes, but also changing a part of the industry.
LP gas refrigerators had been part of the industry for some time, but had some limitations. Residential refrigerators had begun to show up in RVs, but sucked a lot of power and quickly drained batteries.
The 12-volt refrigerator allowed batteries that were continuously recharged with solar hookups to efficiently provide enough energy to cool the food inside.
“It really has changed the industry dynamic,” Kaylor says. “We went from no units three years ago to in the last two and a half years we’ll do 70,000 pieces of it plus this year. I mean that’s a pretty big number for just getting started in it.”
Space Already Tight
When Way moved into its new space at 3002 Coast Court, it doubled its existing space.
The facility had 17 docks and ample office space to accommodate growth.
It allowed the company to stack more of its products as they arrived from China and it allowed for Way to have its own research, testing and development department.
But Way’s needs continued to grow and now the company has two outlying facilities in Elkhart and is seeking a third.
“Like I said, our growth’s been pretty significant,” Kaylor says. “And we see that trend continuing.”
Still, having the R&D facility in Elkhart helps Way keep track of the quality of the products it receives from its manufacturers in China. Kaylor says products are tested at a lab in China before being shipped to the U.S.
Engineers in Elkhart then are able to do further testing.
Looking in the Crystal Ball
Having its own research facilities has enabled Way Interglobal to develop more of its own products.
Most recently, a new line of gas ranged was introduced, and the company has eight patents pending on the ranged and a new generation of the product that will be introduced in the fourth quarter of this year.
With the new products and the new financial partnership coming online, Kaylor says he expects more growth and to become even more competitive with some of the larger OE suppliers, such as Lippert Components and Patrick Industries.
He acknowledges those companies are “the behemoths, and they do a great job,” but hopes to be one of the few independent companies that have enough financial backing to be able to compete.
“We believe we’ll hit the 100 million threshold in the very near future, which is a pretty big gain for us,” he says.
Kaylor says he has been working with a large supplier of lithium battery technology that he hopes results in new developments that will be released in the next 18 months.
He also says he expects to continue growing the cooking products category and to have innovations for new power centers that will drive an entire coach among the company’s next-tier product categories.
As with any company doing business overseas, the current climate with regards to tariffs is a concern for Way Interglobal.
Kaylor says nobody can absorb those costs long-term, so eventually the costs get passed on to the OEMs and the OEMs pass them on to the consumers.
But with growth on the horizon both past and future, Way Interglobal will continue to make innovations.
“We’re spending the money internally to develop the products specifically for the RV application, which is key,” Kaylor says.