Putting the craft in craftworkby Charles Renny
Pleasure-Way's cornerstone of success is an unwavering commitment to the highest quality by world craftsmanship; all the interiors of its coaches are hand-crafted piece by piece.
Read an in-depth article highlighting the Pleasure-Way approach to Craftsmanship written by Charles Renny.
Pleasure-Way Industries never takes the easy way out; the company prefers to do things the right way the first time! Starting when the chassis rolls in from the manufacturer (Pleasure-Way builds their class B motorhomes on Ford, GM and Dodge chassis). Pleasure-Way uses "work stations" where the chassis move through a series of stalls and teams of skilled craftspeople constructing them in a logical manner. At some of the stations, such as installing the wiring or installing a raised roof, a team of workers is involved in the process. At other stations, like building the interior, one person does all the work.
Moving away from the strict assembly line mentality that permeates the manufacturing industry did not just happen without careful research and development. Pleasure-Way looked at the quality of work that came off of assembly lines and found that quality suffered as a result. Casting farther out and using in-house data, the assembly line concept was re-defined as "construction in a logical order by teams of skilled craftspeople". As a result of these techniques, quality is improved dramatically over straight assembly line products. Incidentally, Pleasure-Way's assembly techniques are similar to the ones used by Rolls Royce and Bentley.
All products are tracked internally so that Pleasure-Way can quickly determine whether a problem is internal or external. One internal issue that was uncovered was the inadvertent twisting of fiberglass parts when they came out of the mold. The solution turned out to be a simple idea: to place the bracing for the component on while it was still in the mold and to modify assembly to suit this change. This would not have been possible on a traditional assembly line. External issues revolved around creating perfect interior fittings of items such as cabinets and upholstery. Again, the solution was a simple idea that took a lot of work to integrate. All the manufacturing, assembly and installation work for Pleasure-Way's Class B van motorhomes, from cabinet-making to cushion upholstery, was brought in house and accomplished on a piece by piece, hand-fitted process. Pleasure-Way runs its own fibreglass, paint and body shop as well. The fibreglass department is responsible for all of the fibreglass body components. The fibreglass team sprays and hand-rolls all the fibreglass to ensure that there are no air pockets and to ensure that the fibreglass maintains its strength and integrity.
The Ford Excel requires the most extensive work to convert because it necessitates a width increase of about 8 inches (20 cm). Once the body work is done, the next step is to seal the metal with primer and paint. After that, it is time to start fitting internal components. A true old-fashioned work ethic permeates throughout Pleasure-Way's manufacturing philosophy and it's not more apparent than during the cabinet installation. Each individual cabinet component is created for each individual van. This requires the cabinet components to be labeled by the serial number of the chassis so that every cabinet installer knows which pieces are for their specific van. From there, the installer creates a series of templates for each piece so that he can precisely trim the wall partition, for example, to ensure a perfect fit. This template procedure is done for each van and no two templates are ever the same as no two chassis are exactly identical. This style of construction is not found in other recreation vehicles. Most manufacturers prefabricate cabinets; it's definitely more cost effective, but the quality is just not the same.
Until a van rolls out the door, each team down the line checks all previous steps and processes until assembly is complete. Then the motorhome undergoes a final complete inspection to examine all mechanical systems, fit and finish, internal and external paint and so on. Many people are impressed by companies that have products that advertise they meet ISO (i.e.: ISO 2001) standards. Consumers often do not realize that these standards are "paperwork" standards. All an ISO standard really means is that there is a paper trail that shows the product meets the manufacturing standard that the company has set for it.
At Pleasure-Way the standard is not only on paper, it is evident in each vehicle that rolls out the door. The company ensures that the structural integrity of each Class B motorhome exceeds the original manufacturer's standard. They know that each piece of maple veneer will not peel and that the solid maple components will fit because they were all made by Pleasure-Way. They know that the toilet will work and that the lights will not short out. They know that the bed will be comfortable and that the flat screen TV is mounted solidly. The list goes on but the highest accolade is when the supplier of the chassis recognizes the manufacturer's craftsmanship. Mercedes-Benz, supplier of the Dodge Sprinter chassis, does not change its chassis warranty as it does with some other coachbuilders, but offers their regular warranty, which is the same as the one Pleasure-Way provides.
Mr. Renny is a twenty-year member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. Before becoming an automotive journalist, Mr. Renny held several jobs within the auto industry as well as way from it. Within the industry, Mr. Renny has been a Parts and Service Manager for a BMW/Mercedes-Benz Franchise and a small engines mechanic for motorcycles, snowmobiles and outboard engines. In an average year Mr. Renny will perform 60 road tests of different vehicles from electric concepts to Class 8 semi-trailers. His road tests can now be found on auto123.com and in many print outlets.