As a leader in the recreational vehicle space, Thor Industries wants to be as well-known and well-regarded as the high-quality RV brands it oversees. “We are exceptional at delivering product that meets customers’ needs in an affordable manner,” says Ken Julian, senior vice president of human resources and administration for Thor. “But then we looked at our position and realized there’s a bigger opportunity for growth.”
To that end, Thor has been hard at work refining and rebranding itself, expanding beyond the go-to resource for legacy RV users to reaching a more outdoorsy customer base who doesn’t necessarily commit to the RV lifestyle.
“Breaking down these barriers is a key component of this rebrand decision,” says Julian, whose work in HR involves changing the company’s internal culture to fit the attitude espoused by Thor’s new tagline, “Go Everywhere, Stay Anywhere.”
Having worked in the RV industry for thirty years—fifteen of those at Thor—Julian says he’s excited to see Thor’s internal and external branding take this new direction. The challenges of developing and building relationships between each of Thor’s many subsidiaries, all with their own human resources information system, makes running HR feel like putting together a jigsaw puzzle: specific pieces only work in their specific place.
Although Thor’s rebrand will maintain that decentralized structure, the company’s focus is shifting dramatically to attract customers with an affinity for the outdoors who have yet to experience or commit to the RV lifestyle.
“There’s really nobody in our space that is positioning themselves as an authority for that group of customers,” Julian says.
Alongside these cultural changes, Thor has also revealed a new logo, featuring a mountain with a road running through it. It’s a design that took about one hundred different iterations and numerous changes to accomplish, but it’s one that Julian says creates emotion and engagement. One of his favorite features of the logo is the orb seen in the corner, which was designed to be interpreted as a sun or a moon, depending on the context.
“The logo fits the duality of the tagline, ‘Go anywhere, Stay everywhere.’” Julian says, adding that evokes a sense of freedom for Thor’s customers that the company wishes to embody in the recreational vehicle space.
Julian also applies these newfound principles to Thor’s corporate office, committing himself to creating an environment where people can feel like they are welcomed and engaged.
“Every day is different at Thor,” he remarks, which he says makes it doubly important to foster a warm, collaborative environment for his department and the company at large.
Central to that is disrupting Thor’s traditional hierarchies in favor of more egalitarian communication structure, in which employees feel open to come to managers like himself with whatever they need.
“As a small office of approximately sixty, we often find ourselves multitasking and ‘wearing many hats,’” Julian says. “This can be interpreted by folks within the office that management is closed, not open to conversation.” As such, it’s his goal at Thor to break down these perceived walls and provide opportunities to share ideas, allowing Thor to invest further in its employees.
When asked in job interviews what applicants need to be successful, Julian’s answer is consistent: flexibility.
“If you have an agenda, a rigidity, you will find yourself frustrated in the Thor family,” Julian admits. “But if you have a spirit of collaboration and focus on doing your job as best you can, you will be dynamically successful.”
In this way, life at Thor matches the unpredictability of the outdoor lifestyle sold by the company’s new message.
“If you’ve ever camped, there hasn’t been a camping adventure where something didn’t go wrong, and you had to respond to that,” Julian says. Likewise, at the company, he stresses the need for workers to be able to roll with the punches and deal with unexpected complications.
As Thor continues with its ambitious rebranding, Julian hopes both customers and employees alike benefit from the company’s revitalized focus on customers and a flexible corporate culture. “Our jobs would be really boring if we didn’t have people to deal with,” he says.