David Gilchrist chats to Clayton Kearney from Horizon Motorhomes on customer relations and the importance of staying true to the company’s vision.
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“A wide horizon is the promise of an exciting adventure. It’s the wonder of boundless possibilities and the open road.
In the small seaside town of Ballina on the NSW north coast, businessman Clayton Kearney has turned that promise into an award-winning motorhome brand.
Horizon Motorhomes started modestly from the former motor mechanic’s workshop and used car yard in the late 1980s. Three decades later, Kearney moulded this idea of boundless possibilities and exciting adventure into the Horizon product line and made history by winning Manufacturer of the Year three years in a row at the NSW Caravan and Camping Industry Association NSW Awards.
And 2017 also saw Horizon Motorhomes pick up the Best of the Best category for the second year, cementing its reputation for high-quality workmanship as well as enter the Association’s Hall of Fame.
Clayton Kearney settles into a Casuarina Motorhome showcasing the exemplary styling for which Horizon is known to explain the trials behind the team’s success.
He recalls how it started with one motorhome in his used car yard. That van sold immediately. Looking for similar opportunities, he started repairing and refurbishing motorhomes.
“That led into buying second-hand Toyota Coaster buses and refitting them,” he says.
“We put them out in the sales yard and people would ask: ‘What brand are they?’ We didn’t have a brand name,” he laughs.
Smiling, he remembers mentioning the conundrum to his wife, who on reflection suggested Horizon. By her reckoning, it was a name that represented “the landscape – the wide horizon of Australia”. With that, history was created and a legend was born.
“We then started doing more and more fit-outs to second-hand buses,” Kearney explains. Then around 1998, as if glancing over a new horizon, he learned of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter’s arrival on the Australian motoring scene.
As far as Kearney was concerned, this five-speed rear-wheel drive bus was…”
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