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A treat for the eyes wherever they roam – the majestic Heartland toy-haulers have always been coveted for their outside-the-box design and functionality – mostly due to involved leadership like that of GM, AJ Jones.
From travel and design to Heartland innovation, we sat down with AJ to chat about all three.
Tell us about yourself, where are you from?
I was born and raised in Indiana – South Park, to be exact, where I had the luxury of being surrounded by wilderness and camping excursions like going to Sipshewana Campground for the weekend, rafting on the Wawasee Lake or just exploring nearby hiking paths since I was young.
Where do you get your passion for RVing?
I’ve always had a passion for people and my lifestyle has always been centered around the great outdoors. So, I guess it only made sense that I had a natural curiosity for motorhomes. I grew up camping with my family, and have always looked forward to giving my now 5-year-old son and 3-month-old daughter the same experiences. We go camping as a family at least a couple times a year.
How did you get started in this industry?
I actually began as a sales guy for Heartland RVs, but quickly dived into product and design management, before making my way up to running all 4 luxury brand toy-haulers (Cyclone, Road Warrior, Torque and Edge) through really learning about what our customers wanted to get out of their motorhomes. I’m definitely that “people person” type of manager who likes to make sure you walk away feeling awesome about your choice in an RV!
Where do you love to travel?
One of my absolute favorite spots has to be Mackinac Island in Michigan. All smoky mountains and dense forests. A must-see for sure. Another would be the West Rocky Mountains of Colorado. We recently went back with my 5-year-old son, Michael and he loved it.
Ever been up to Canada?
Yes, I have. Did some camping at a small campground near the outskirts of Ontario by Waterton Lake once. Beautiful area, we’d go back again for sure. I’m a fan of the Canadian Rockies as well.
Got any favourite camping meals to share?
I’m a little more traditional when it comes to campfire meals. Gotta’ love those juicy hamburgers and hotdogs charred to perfection. Though, with the Heartland models, I find you’ve got the luxury of not having to change your cooking style much. A spacious kitchen with all the amenities really helps.
What goes into the design/production of Heartland Toy-Hauler 5th Wheels?
For starters, we’re simply invested in the lifestyle of camping. Not only do we get customer input via yearly Heartland retail shows and daily visits – our staff is also privy to “testing” out each new design by taking out Heartland motorhomes for vacation or weekend getaway.
We’re pretty hands-on to say the least. And all our staff members – sales and administration to management and design – put in ideas/feedback for floor plans, features and functionality.
So, what makes Heartland Toy-Haulers so innovative and different?
Because we’re so customer-feature focused, our exclusive floor plans comes with huge luxury bathrooms designed for easy access near the front of your motorhome while still allowing ample space for a mega bedroom suite toward the back. More traditional motorhomes usually stick with a smaller bathroom up front where the look, feel and functionality of the overall RV might not be maximized as much.
Any upcoming design secrets you can let us in on?
Mmm! Though I can’t let you in on too much for 2015, I can say that our latest luxury models do come with novel patio designs where your patio comes right off the side and from the back of your Cyclone motorhome, which allows for a lot more in-front and inside living space. This type of patio design is exclusive to Heartland.
And finally, what’s your favorite toy-hauler?
Definitely the Cyclone 4200 model. Just because I’ve got two kids and a dog, and it’s got that ideal living area – features two separate patio decks, a huge bedroom picture window, plus 2 full bathrooms. Perfect for a family of 4 or 5, or even if your kids want to bring along a friend for the trip. It’s the ultimate camper in my book.