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End of the line for Lazy Daze, a one-of-a-kind RV builder

Toward the end of May, the news started circulating. Longtime RV builder Lazy Daze appeared to be closed down. Lazy Daze, based in Montclair, California, had a long history and a strong, enthusiastic customer base. Practically any “LD” owner would tell you, “Nobody builds them like Lazy Daze.” And it may well be that now nobody builds ‘em. What happened?

Shop teachers become RV builders

Lazy Daze
lazydaze.com

A little history sheds light on the almost fanatical following of Lazy Daze. Back in the 1950s, two high school shop teachers, Paul Newton and Harold Hamm, took on a project of their own. They built a slide-in truck camper, and it was so well done that they soon had others asking them to build one for them. Business got so good they quit teaching and moved over into the RV business. After Hamm died, Newton kept the enterprise going, getting help from his brother Ed. The little firm became a family group.

The Newtons’ approach to building RVs was simple: Hand craft an RV that lasts. Don’t sell them through dealers, sell them factory-to-the-customer. Use good-quality materials and take the time needed to build them.

High quality

Lazy Daze
lazydaze.com

The ethic translated into Class C units—although the company flirted with a Class A attempt. It didn’t work out well, and only one was ever built. But the Class C units that came out of the Lazy Daze plant were something else. No fiberglass “delamination” problems here. Lazy Daze rigs were sided with aircraft aluminum panels, easily replaced if necessary. And don’t worry about fading. Those panels were painted with polyurethane enamel, that would probably outlive the owner. Overhead, the motorhomes were topped, not with EPDM rubber or other easily damaged materials, but, again, with aluminum.

Lazy Daze
lazydaze.com

The interior work was likewise top-of-the-line. Since the company “built to order,” you could get your rig specialized to meet your needs in many respects. From the sounds of things, the family must have been RVers themselves. Floor designs were actually something real-life RVers could not just “live with,” but actually found practical and usable.

Lazy Daze didn’t churn out motorhomes measured in the thousands per year. They quietly, and without advertising, built RVs as they built up followers. In Lazy Daze’s heyday, you’d visit the factory showroom, choose one of three floor plans, and plunk down your deposit. Then you’d wait—for maybe two years—until your own rig proudly strutted off the line. Even today, used Lazy Daze rigs are considered a “find” on the market.

Then things got ugly for Lazy Daze

Lazy Daze hummed along, occupying a happy niche in the marketplace for seeming ages. But things got ugly when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Lazy Daze held up on production. During that ugly time of masks, hand sanitizers, and staying home, Lazy Daze stayed open. But at that time, service work was predominantly all that was done. When the pandemic lifted, Lazy Daze followers expected things would go back to normal.

But “normal” came crashing to an end when, last May, the word went out that Lazy Daze was shuttering. The shuttering was practically literal. The Montclair facility which earlier had large picture windows fronting the street, allowing folks to have a look inside, suddenly saw plywood covers over the glass. The company web presence went dark, and phones went from unanswered to unworking.

Facebook groups for Lazy Daze fans were stunned. Plenty of rumors flew, but little verifiable information was available. What really had happened? We may never really know. One suggestion was that the pandemic and “supply line issues” had proven too much for the venerable company. Another said that the company couldn’t get its hands on enough “cut-away chassis” to keep up production.

Looking for real answers

With phone lines down, we kept looking. We finally tracked down Lazy Daze’s service manager, Todd Miller, by email. Todd was friendly and courteous, and promised that he would touch base with the company ownership to see if we might get some official comment. Sadly, when Todd got back to us, the response was this: “Sorry, but the owners’ situation is not conducive to giving any interviews or information on the closing.”

As we’ve said, we may never really have a definitive answer to what happened to shut down what many feel are some of the best-built RVs. In the early days of RV building, nearly everyone started as a “mom-and-pop” builder. Well-crafted RVs soon stood out in the market, and those not-so-good faded away. But then, as the “big” RV manufacturers came on scene, the move to buy up the jewels of the mom-and-pop stores began in earnest. Sadly, most RVers will agree, when Mom and Pop sell out to the big guys, the quality just isn’t there anymore. Lazy Daze bucked the trend and built highly regarded Class C units until its dying breath. Rest in peace, Lazy Daze. You’ll be missed.

##RVT1062b

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Cameron Welniak
1 day ago

We have a 1983 Lazy Daze, and love it! So sad to see the Company go under. We will continue to enjoy our RV as it was built as a beast and will be one forever! Look forward to seeing our LAZY friends on the road!!!

Ken
12 days ago

I don’t know the company nor the owners. From the comments and praise for Lazy Daze, it appears that the owners are another “victim” of the Covid trauma. Just be thankful that they provided their services for as long as they did with a quality Motorhome. It is likely they are more stressed than customers.

volnavy007
13 days ago

Another company leaving California — one of two ways to “get out of Dodge.”

Doug C
16 days ago

My dad owned two lazy days and 85 in a 2005 and I bought my own an 85 and was looking forward to buying a new one. obviously that’s not to be the case. I am a a little annoyed how they just kind of left everybody in the dark especially what the following they had. Maybe after all said and done they really didn’t care about us after all. I mean seriously how hard is it to say” thank you for 55 years but we’ve decided to close the business, thank you for everything”. Really not that difficult and now the owners are looking like a bunch of bums to me. And they have to know all of us are going like what happened.

Rich
16 days ago

I own a 2003 30IB and was on the waiting list for a new one for the past two years. They are a very well made RV and are quirky in some ways. The LDOG (lazy days owner group) is a wealth of information. I would hope that someone will buy the company and continue the building of quality RVs (not Thor though)

Jim
9 days ago
Reply to  Rich

I recently purchased a 2001 Lazy Daze 26.5 RB. I love it! Have to fix a few things though. Anybody have tips on upgrading electrical for LED’s and automation? Is there a plug-in florescent replacment with LED’s?

Douglas T Johnson
16 days ago

Must of been the systematic increase in hypersensitive transcontinental supply chain issues. That, coupled with the tyrannical method of over regulation and nuclear inflation rates. Ok, maybe none of that bs and they guy just wanted to retire!

Jim
17 days ago

Grandfather bought a brand new 19.5 foot 1977 and we took many trips in the RV. Had the Dodge chassis 360cc. Miss that RV.

Cynfll
17 days ago

I found my 1998 LD 23.5 foot twin/king last year in TN. I had been looking for about 2 years and was so happy and surprised to find on the east coast at a great price! I love it!

Cheryl V Clark
17 days ago

It’s a sad time for quality RV lovers. Our 1999 Lazy Daze was undeniably the best motor home we ever owned. Now I regret selling it.

Robert Levins
17 days ago

Oh my God. No . This is like Airstream going out of business. LAZY DAZE? My Dad was in the RV business in the 70’s & 80’s. LAZY DAZE was and still is “The” number one C-class motor home ever built. Some came close, and were pretty good, but nowhere near LAZY DAZE. If there is ever a chance for LAZY DAZE to return, an all American legend, the RV world be ever so grateful.

Ron Swartz
17 days ago

Over the years we owned three Lazy Daze coaches. The first, a 1971 bought from Ed and Paul Newton. It was well designed, and practical. Wet shower with PortaPotti; combination oven/room heater; hard floors and vinyl upholstery. Ours was on a Dodge chassis. The second LD was a 2000 Mid Bath (diesel) which we loved but traded for a Fleetwood Bounder Class A (Big mistake). Our last LD was a 2009, one of 3 built on the Chevy Kodiak chassis (19,000 lbs) as a full timers model. We only recently sold it due to our advancing age.

Buying a Lazy Daze was always an experience. There are many stories about Ed Newton’s sales technique. He was a curmudgeon. If you wanted to change something, his answer was always “You don’t need it.” He was usually right. He took you on a test ride that was a “white knuckle” experience to demonstrate the stability of the vehicle.

Marketing was usually word of mouth. Initially they only showed at the LA RV show. They never lacked for new orders.

Jeanne Gaffney
17 days ago
Reply to  Ron Swartz

Hi Ron. We met you at the regional gathering in Arkansas. I just wanted to let you know we have a couple in the Southeast LD group that has a Kodiak chassis. Boy is it nice! I also heard through the grapevine that the 3rd Kodiak got into an accident and isn’t on the road anymore. Ours is a 2006 anniversary edition. We’ve kept it in tip top shape. Just sprung for undercover storage since the factory closed. We want it to last until we can’t travel. Take care. Jeanne and Ed Gaffney

Cheryl V Clark
17 days ago
Reply to  Ron Swartz

I remember the white knuckle test drive! We were very impressed.

C Botner
17 days ago

Here’s a challenge for the writing staff and what an interesting story it will make; Find out the real details behind the closure of Lazy Daze.

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
17 days ago
Reply to  C Botner

Hi, C. (That reminds me of the canned juice I used to drink as a kid in the ’50s. 😆 ) I think both Russ De Maris and Tony Barthel are still working on that, as they have been diligently for a couple of weeks now. We’ll let you know if they come up with any more details. Have a good evening. 😀 –Diane

Tony Barthel(@tony)
17 days ago
Reply to  C Botner

I talked to a number of people but none of the core Lazy Daze people would have a word with us. Since the decision is theirs alone to make, they are the only ones who would be able to answer the question and it is quite apparent that they have no interest in doing so.

John Koenig
17 days ago

Cue the music for: “Another One Bites The Dust” 🙁

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
17 days ago
Reply to  John Koenig

Hi, John. That’s the comment I made to a newly engaged, longtime bachelor at a law firm I worked at in the ’80s. He was somewhat amused. Have a good evening. 😀 –Diane

Larry Lee
17 days ago

I can vouch for the high quality RV’s built at Sunline Coach Company, Denver PA. They made 70,000 various RV’s over 42 years. They closed in bankruptcy in 2006 but still have an owners club membership over 10,000 which I think says a lot.

Jim Langley
17 days ago

Not mentioned yet in these comments is the incredible Lazy Daze owners’ group that feels like family even if you haven’t yet found your own Lazy Daze. Everyone is welcome to join and it’s a treasure trove of information going back decades on these unique motorcoaches.

Everything is covered from all imaginable upgrades and repairs to exhaustive route and camping details from Laze Daze owners who have travelled all over and shared all they learned. If you’ve got any questions about Laze Daze RVs – since they do come up for sale regularly, it’s a wonderful resource: https://www.lazydazeowners.com/

We’re sad they had to shut down and we hope Todd who was our primary contact at Lazy Daze is doing well and finds a great position in the industry. He deserves it.

Jim Schrankel
17 days ago

We Born Free owners have had a similar experience; a quality product, a great company and employees, then, Gone!

Larry Lee
17 days ago

The owners’ silence might be due to state and federal regulations which require a company to give notification of closing at least 90 days prior. It may be they were unable to comply with that law which puts them in a tight legal spot. Hopefully, they had fewer than 50 employees which might let them off the regulatory hook.

Sharon N.
17 days ago

We had a 2002 31′ Twin Bed model, and enjoyed it for several years, until health issues made us hang up the keys.
Quality, out the door, was Lazy Daze’s byword. When you left the factory in a new LD, it worked, and kept working. In many cases these RVs are still on the road years later.
If you had any issues, a call (not an e-mail), got an immediate response. If you needed to buy an accessory, or spare part, you needed to send a check. (At least in the early 2000s, they did not accept credit cards.)
This might have contributed to the end of the line for LD. They were strictly old-school, and proud of it.
I hope the employees, many of whom worked for LD for years, have been able to make the transition to new jobs.

Robert Adams
18 days ago

I sold my Lazy Daze and bought a Winnebago class A.
That was a very bad decision. The quality of Winnebago is far inferior to Lazy Daze.
Wish I had my Lazy Daze back.

Orlan Jennings
18 days ago

I owned a 30’ with an “island” bed. Great RV, loved it. When we visited the factory and took the tour, they were repairing a unit that had crashed and rolled over! What other RV can you roll over and still have it “repairable”. They use steel tubing for the frames. There were no new models, just continuous improvement. While on the tour, they were looking at the rear exterior lights. Seems they had a few reports about water leakage and were trying to fix it. That was one of the “model” changes for the coming year. So sad to see them gone.

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