As I sit with my wife and dog in our 2014 Tiffin Allegro Open Road, I can’t help but reflect on the amazing community, service, and charm we have discovered as Tiffin owners in Red Bay, Alabama.
For those unfamiliar, Red Bay is the headquarters for Tiffin Motorhomes. It attracts Tiffin owners from across the country who come here for repairs, upgrades, and service. We now make an annual pilgrimage to Red Bay to have various repairs addressed, purchase parts for a few repairs I do myself, and enjoy the southern charm and hospitality of the town. This article walks you through our experience as Tiffin owners in the Tiffin community and highlights the value of visiting the manufacturing plant and related service providers, all located in Red Bay, Alabama.
The Tiffin Community
Owners of Tiffin motorhomes have cultivated a supportive community. Through online forums, social media groups, and local meet-ups, we exchange tips, stories, and recommendations, and we all share a common passion for exploration, the freedom of the open road, and “roughing it smoothly.”
Our first weekend owning our Tiffin Allegro Open Road—affectionately nicknamed, “Optimus Prime”— the step motor stopped working properly. o We jumped on Facebook and began searching Tiffin forums. Within minutes, we found stories of similar issues, along with replies from other owners.
I bashfully posted, asking about the skill level required to replace the motor. After being assured that this was a perfect repair for a newbie like myself— and being provided step-by-step instructions from other owners—I ordered the part and had a new step motor installed and working two days later. From there, I was hooked, and I browsed other Tiffin forums online, learning as I went.
We soon learned about Red Bay, hearing about upgrades Tiffin owners received from the experts there, and it wasn’t long before we had our own list of upgrades we could have performed should we ever visit. Then, during our first cross-country, multi-week summer adventure, one of our slide-outs stopped working. We eventually got it back in and could continue our trip, but we would not extend it back out until we could get it serviced. And there was only one place in the country where we wanted to go for such service…
Red Bay: The Heart of Tiffin Motorhomes
Why Red Bay? Since Tiffin’s founding in 1972, a fabric of Tiffin-related businesses, professionals, parts inventory, and generational knowledge has grown in and around the town of Red Bay.
On the border of Alabama and Mississippi, the town has a population of only about 3,200 people. Everybody who lives in or near Red Bay has either worked at Tiffin Red Bay, AL (or in nearby Tiffin plants in Belmont or Winfield) or knows somebody who has worked there. Artisans, mechanics, and craft workers have built family enterprises around Tiffin motorhomes, developing highly sought-after skills and services. The amount of knowledge and expertise for these hand-crafted motorhomes is unmatched.
Many Tiffin employees began moonlighting out of their own garages to provide service and custom upgrades for Tiffin owners who would stream through Red Bay for various service needs. Whether you need custom woodwork to match your original cabinetry, custom flooring to blend with the decor, or the latest lighting and technology to integrate into your coach’s existing electronics, all of the knowledge and expertise is there in Red Bay.
With this understanding, a trip to the Tiffin Red Bay, AL heartland for our slide-out repair made sense.
I needed to first identify the general service center I would use for our slide-out repair and a list of other minor repairs we had noticed needing attention. The Tiffin Service Center operated by Tiffin does not accept appointments and works on a first-come-first-served basis. Until recently, they wouldn’t even service coaches as old as Optimus Prime (2014). As we are not yet retired, and still have two teenagers at home, we needed a service center who scheduled appointments.
After some research in the forums and a few phone calls, we scheduled our appointment with Precision RV in Golden, MS – about 15 minutes outside of Red Bay. Owners Tony Darracott and Terry Ray opened Precision RV a few years ago with several decades of experience at the Tiffin plant under their belt. Papa Joe, Tony’s father, took my call and went above and beyond answering my questions to help me navigate the Red Bay ecosystem, ensuring a productive and successful few days in Red Bay.
In addition to a shop, their five campsites with full hookups located in their parking lot took the service experience to another level of convenience and ease.
The work they performed on Optimus Prime was second to none. They know how every part and system inside my coach is constructed and how it works, and own all of the tools necessary to service any of the parts or systems. With the Tiffin Parts counter at the Tiffin Service Center only a 15-minute drive away, they can complete just about any repair required on the house side of my coach. And their service comes with a demeanor that makes you feel like family. I’m happy to report we left Precision RV with our troublesome slide-out running smoother than it ever had in the time we have owned our coach, and the remainder of our minor repairs completed as well.
Woodwork & Body
While there, we wanted to take full advantage of the Tiffin Red Bay, AL resources available.
Next, we began working through our list of dream upgrades. First was the woodwork and tabletops. Chris Berry, owner of Making Sawdust, built us a custom console with two drawers and three cup holders to go over the doghouse in between the captains’ chairs. I could finally reach my cups without bending over or taking my eyes off the road!
While minor, these changes bring me joy whenever I sit down and begin another journey on the open road. Not only was the quality of craftsmanship top-notch, but Chris has the exact type of wood and stain colors to match the handcrafted cabinets that were built with our coach back in 2014! We also had Chris replace our laminate dining table, TV console countertop, and bathroom countertop with solid surface countertops.
There was one more former Tiffin employee’s business to visit while in Red Bay, and that was Pro Finishes in Belmont, MS, about 15 minutes from the Tiffin plant. Ricky McGee owns Pro Finishes, and he and his team are precision experts in bodywork and paint detail. Ricky spent a couple of decades working in the Tiffin paint factory in Belmont before retiring to run his own business full-time. We needed to address a few scratches on the exterior of Optimus Prime. Similar to Chris with his wood stain, Ricky’s team has all of the paint colors used through the years and was able to match colors perfectly.
Exploring Red Bay: Town & Factory
While my coach was being worked on at these various stops, we explored Red Bay. I enjoyed walking the charming downtown streets, where we found local shops and cafes. I soaked up the warm hospitality of the locals as I visited some of the historic business establishments, such as Tiffin Supply and Hotel Red Bay. All told, Red Bay’s small-town atmosphere is a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
A visit to Tiffin Red Bay, AL, wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Tiffin Factory itself. I took a tour of the manufacturing facility, witnessing firsthand the craftsmanship and dedication that goes into building these exceptional motorhomes. The woodshop was the most impressive, as all of the cabinetry is handcrafted with high-quality wood and construction techniques that truly set these coaches apart.
The highlight of the tour, though, was when Mr. Bob Tiffin, the founder of Tiffin Motorhomes, came out of his office to greet us and pose for photos. Bob has fostered a service-oriented culture and customer-first mindset his entire life. Now years since he and his sons sold the business to Thor, he still takes dozens of customer phone calls a week. He greeted each of us on my tour, asked where we were from, and answered our questions. His passion for helping customers shined through, and these interactions make Tiffin and Red Bay what they are today.
The ecosystem that exists in Red Bay is unique and worth experiencing as a Tiffin owner. With service professionals who know my specific unit inside and out, own the exact tools required for my unit, and can have necessary parts in hand within 15 minutes, it is the kind of service experience we all pine for.
Where do you take your RV when it requires substantial service, repair, or maintenance? Do you have experience visisting a RV manufacturer or headquarters? Let us know your experience in the comments below.