- Airstream’s CEO says the company is in a unique position.
- It has a powerful, 85-year history.
- The company is preparing itself to sell RVs to millennials, deal with the arrival of self-driving vehicles, and address the opportunities that electric cars present.
Bob Wheeler might have the best job in America. CEO of Airstream since 2005 and charged with steering the iconic, Ohio-based manufacturer of silvery, sleek, space-age trailers into the future, he’s found himself extremely comfortable with several major challenges that are keeping other executives up at night.
His burden could be huge — Airstream has been around for 85 years and for many, it symbolizes the all-American trailer at its best, crafted from shimmering aluminum and exuding timeless cool. And the company isn’t without challenges, particularly as they relate to Airstream’s historic reliance on the human need to hit the open road. What if, in the future, we stop driving?
Wheeler, who saw Airstream thorough a rough patch during the financial crisis, is taking it all in stride.
“We see everything as opportunity rather than a threat,” he told Business Insider.
Opportunities are everywhere and threats are refreshingly limited
Airstream makes everything in the US — “Nobody wants an Airstream built anywhere else,” Wheeler said — and even in a world in which humans aren’t behind the wheel, towing a trailer on a weeklong adventure isn’t intimidating.
Wheeler and his team have been asking themselves what an autonomous vehicle looks like, and what happens when you don’t have forward-facing seats. The mobility experience might make them more social, involving more entertainment and even sleeping.
“That starts to seem a lot like a recreational vehicle,” he said, adding that Airstream is now focusing intently in on the intersection between transportation and residential design. “We want to make sure we’re in Read More Here