Trip to the Mother Ship
It sounds like a spice, or for those in Florida currently, a description of the coast lines getting hit with Red tide.
But, for every Tiffin motorhome owner, Red Bay means home. As in Sweet Alabama home.
In 1941, Alex Tiffin opened Tiffin Supply Company in this little town in northern Alabama. Throw a stick and you’re in neighboring Mississippi. The store carried any and every thing one needed to build a home. The family business expanded in 1965, with the purchase of a cotton gin. Alex’s son, Bob, took to the management of the operation like a fish takes to water.
Tiffin Supply provided materials to a business that came to town that manufactured recreational vehicles. The business folded and the Tiffin family seized the opportunity to hang another shingle with their name on it. Tiffin Motorhomes was established in 1972.
A 1984 Tiffin Allegro bus. Credit: Tiffin Motorhomes Facebook
Bob Tiffin summed up the competition and determined he wanted to build a better product, one that would stand the test of time. Other RVs were being made out of fiberglass and aluminum. Bob built his Tiffins on a much more durable steel chassis.
Tiffin started with making just two coaches a day. Now the company makes thousands of their hand-crafted, quality motorhomes every year. The company builds both gas as well as diesel fueled motorhomes, with models ranging from smaller 25-foot Class C vehicles, all the way up to 45 foot Class A motorhomes. Check out their models here.
Check out this beautiful 2023 Tiffin Zephyr. Photo credit: Tiffin website
Bob’s sons are now involved in the business, which was bought out by Thor Industries in 2020.The company has stated that they intend to remain in little Red Bay, Alabama, population 3200, give or take. Moving the company out of the area would be devastating to the community.
What Bob Tiffin began has exploded into a whole cottage industry, with service providers ranging from garages that do mechanical repairs, paint shops, detailing mobile vans, and even businesses that will custom make new cabinetry and update and replace furniture.
The Tiffin company has an excellent warranty program, so many travelers to the small town stay in graveled make-do parking lots and head out first thing every morning to get in line for warranty service. For those of us with vehicles that are out of warranty, Red Bay is still the place to come for repairs. Many of the off-shoot business owners and mechanics are former Tiffin employees. They know these coaches inside and out.
We had a whole laundry list of items that were beyond our mechanical abilities, and had absolutely no clue how to figure out which businesses in Red Bay to tackle the repairs. We read about owners who were spending several weeks scheduling their various appointments. We didn’t have that kind of time frame to work with. So, April Fowler of Happy Host RV Concierge to the rescue! April contacted service providers on our behalf, and stacked our appointments within a four-day window. Davidson RV did a fantastic job with most of our repairs, and had a comfortable, dog-friendly lounge for us to work from. The crew wanted to adopt Luna as their shop dog!
On day 2 of our repairs, we snuck in a tour of the main Tiffin manufacturing plant in Red Bay. No cameras were allowed, so I just had to stamp the imprint of the sight of all the workers diligently laboring at their jobs in my memory banks. From custom-made wood pieces for the cabinetry, to all the color-coded wires that make up the three miles of wiring in each coach, to seeing a unit nearly complete at the end of all the processes, it was amazing.
Our last stop involved getting our cracked windshield replaced. The repair entailed nearly 5 hours of work in the repair shop, then letting the seal settle overnight. I wish I took a picture of the huge garage from the inside of our coach. I can now add sleeping overnight in a service garage to my list of life experiences. We slept well, and were protected from the massive rain storm that pounded on their tin roof through the early morning hours.
We woke up early in time to open up the big garage doors and let our last provider in for a special touch to our coach.
The special paint job is a reflection of our love for our country and our shared joy in seeing all of her beauty.
With clear skies and bright sun filtering in from our new windshield, we left the Mother Ship.
One more step closer to home.
But before then…more adventures await in Blue Ridge, Georgia.