Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Red Bay and the Tiffin Experience

In Red Bay, Alabama...

I had read a lot about the Red Bay experience for Tiffin motor home owners, but I still wasn’t quite prepared for it.  The town is a sleepy little burg of some 3500 souls, most of whom doubtlessly are employed by Tiffin.  After checking in at the factory service center, we were placed in the queue with about a hundred other Tiffin coaches that were lined up in rows along an abandoned airport runway.  The local airport was closed and swallowed up by Tiffin, but still more room was needed to accommodate the visiting coaches. An overflow area was created a few blocks away, and it was in this lot that we were assigned a space, joining eight other Tiffin motorhomes waiting for service.

Upon arriving in Red Bay, we followed signs to the service center and checked in at the office.

Tiffin Service Center Office

A small part of perhaps 100 Tiffin motorhomes parked for service.  See the old runway?
Only a few of the 42 service bays at Tiffin
Tiffin's response to customer demand for service at the factory has been amazing.  No other motorhome manufacturer I can think of has devoted 42 service bays exclusively to motor home repairs.  Also amazing is customers' willingness to accept waiting onsite perhaps as long as month for their turn to pull into a service bay, all the while living in their coaches lined up on an abandoned runway in the middle of nowhere.  Given the demand for instant gratification among most of society today, this laid-back phenomenon at Red Bay is not easy for me to figure out.  I think the only explanation is that Tiffin is renowned in the industry for standing behind its products, and this long queue of customers patiently standing by is a testament of their desire to have the work done by friendly factory service techs who know what they're doing.  Most have worked for Tiffin for decades. Another contributing factor is that most of the owners of these motorhomes are retired (like me!), thereby having more time on their hands than most younger folks who are still in the rat race.

Another surprise is that the owners usually don't have to exit their coaches during service! In fact, Tiffin encourages owners to watch the techs as a means of learning more about their motor homes. The techs are perfectly comfortable with owners' wandering around in the work area, watching what is going on and conversing with them.  Frankly, I've never heard of this being allowed anywhere else.

This sort of unconventional thinking comes from Bob Tiffin, the legendary but unassuming patriarch of the family who owns the company.  He maintains an office at the factory, and his door is always open to customers. Because of the folksy way he does business, taking personal interest in every customer he meets, he is generally revered by Tiffin owners, for whom he often makes special repair cost adjustments for chronic mechanical problems.  His willingness sometimes to absorb some repairs--even for rigs that are well out of warranty--has earned him a very loyal following of his brand.  Bob Tiffin is a pretty smart guy, in my book.


  1. I have heard really good things from other Tiffin owners about the service there. Hope your wait isn't too long. I know they move them in and out quite rapidly.

  2. I could never understand that, "Oh, you're not allowed in the service area due to insurance regulations" cr*p. It's usually because they don't want you to see just how sloppy they really are.
    My opinion, of course.
    I avoid those kinds of places.
    That's a lot of motor homes, hopefully you won't be there for too too long.
    Good luck.

  3. Enjoy Red Bay. If it is your first visit, make sure that you tour the factory at Red Bay (formal tour in the mornings, and you can get a pass at the security gate and go in at your leisure anytime during the day) and the paint shop in Belmont,MS...... about 8 miles west of Red Bay.

    We will arrive on Saturday, September 21, for some work by Brannon, and some inspections by Tiffin. Hopefully, our stay will be only a couple of days.

    Good luck on getting your items addressed.

    Richard and Patsy

  4. are on "Tiffin Time" but I can attest it is well worth the wait. We figured out finally that you have to wait around until the guy in a little grey car came by to give us our appointment time. When we finally heard there was a full day before we were to be seen so we used the open day to explore the nearby Rattlesnake Saloon and Grill which is built right INSIDE a cave. From there we went to Tupelo to see the Elvis birthplace and memorabilia. We have also heard the Coon Dog Cemetary is a fun trip. They did such a good job taking care of our issues I wouldn't hesitate to go back if we needed to


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