Marathon Cabinetry: Built for Decades of Form and Function
The difference between traditional cabinetry and Marathon cabinetry is thoughtful design and expert installation. Backed by decades of industry expertise, Marathon has contemplated every detail of innovation, quality and luxury. The results are timeless form and flawless function in cabinetry that’s fresh off the production floor, or five, 10 or even 20 years down the line. It’s no wonder Marathon owners love their pre-owned or long-term owned coaches. With more than 1,300 luxury bus conversions to date and more than 36 years of experience building them, Marathons have proven over and over that they withstand the test of time.
“Charles Eames said, ‘Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.’ This is what makes Marathon different — we design for longevity,” said Interior Designer Brenda Kraft. “As cabinetry is designed, it’s with far more than the final look in mind (although that is very important). What is paramount is how will our customers USE this? Even though a Prevost chassis is basically the largest ‘RV,’ it is still a small space – approximately 8 feet wide (without slides) – and that reality drives design decisions. Making sure our cabinets provide as much storage as possible, without crowding or overwhelming the space, is a dance of balance and precision at which our engineers excel.”
Creativity has been driving all aspects of Marathon design since the beginning – most self-generated from the in-house design team and some customer-sourced. Although trends are considered during the development stage, stylistic origins stem from timeless designs that clients will enjoy for decades to come without coaches seeming dated. Favoring clean, simple lines that flow throughout the coach, aesthetics marry maximized usability. This is one reason why a 15-year-old coach interior and cabinetry still look vibrant and relevant today and will for years to come.
“With only a few exceptions,” explained Engineering Manager Jay Graham, “cabinets can include almost every discipline within Marathon. In addition to engineering, interior design, cabinet shop and install, the plumbing, electrical, mechanical, flooring, upholstery, countertop and woodworking departments may be consulted on designs to ensure proper planning, function and installation. It takes everyone to ensure all material and components are integrated in any new designs appropriately and according to Marathon’s installation and quality standards.”
Marathon’s cabinet design staff has more than 200 years of combined cabinet fabrication and design experience, which ranks them top in the bus conversion industry. Most of our current cabinet design staff were cabinet builders at some point in their Marathon career.
Known as the industry leader in cabinetry, Marathon has introduced numerous cabinetry firsts: laminate usage instead of wood veneers, fabric lined cabinet interiors, large radius cabinet offerings, laminate heated and bent for tighter radius corners, fully concealed appliances, wardrobe-to-bunks conversion, water-closet-to-wardrobe conversion and the kitchen dream center.
“Although our preference is to cover cabinets using laminate,” said Jay, “we have also created wood and veneer cabinets, painted cabinets, metal covered cabinets, solid surface, upholstered, wall papered and acrylic cabinets.”
One of the ways Marathon transforms the look of innovative and traditional spaces alike is through the use of laminate. Laminate is not only sustainable, but it also has many distinct advantages over lacquered wood and wood veneer cabinets. Between color, pattern, texture and surface finishes, there are thousands of laminate choices available – wood and wood veneer have considerably fewer options. Laminates also have repeatable patterns so Marathon is able to match all wood grains and patterns from door to drawer to cabinet – all without visual interruption. If a door or drawer front gets damaged or destroyed, an exact replacement can be made to match. Plus, laminate choices include wood species replicas that are unavailable due to restrictions on harvesting or quantities necessary to complete an entire coach.
“Simple is hard. Easy is harder. Invisible is hardest.” Jean-Louise Gassee
“Wood-grain matching on our laminate is time consuming and expensive; but it is a detail that matters to the discriminating,” said Brenda. “Unlike our competitors, we hide all our hinges, for a clean, invisible look that doesn’t distract. I think of our cabinetry as a microcosm of our bus, because what is inside our cabinets matters as much to us as what one initially sees on the outside. The ‘simple, easy, invisible’ qualities of design that Gassee refers to is seen in the dovetailed solid bamboo drawer boxes that are custom stained, pantries that pull all the way out on quality glides, four to six heavy hinges on every wardrobe door to keep them even and square no matter how many miles are driven. Besides all of that, we wrap the bases of drawers and all of the wardrobe shelving/walls in a leather composite material that makes cleanup easy and protects the contents, which may move when in motion. We don’t cut corners – even in ‘hidden’ areas – and it shows in the longevity of our buses. You can purchase a 10-year-old Marathon and the foundation is still solid; it may only need a few interior changes to bring the look up to date.”
Marathon has six documented quality inspections throughout the build process for quality that is “built-in” rather than “inspected-in.” Add to this a full three-day documented audit process that covers fit, finish and function of all cabinetry. For example, when it comes to variance, Marathon is looking for no more than a 32nd of an inch – that’s roughly half the thickness of a dime.
“Marathon has and maintains a production standards book titled, ‘Production Standards,’ which is intended for standards of excellence for all cabinetry,” said Divisions Production Manager Mike Perotti. “The book is updated consistently as new items are introduced into each coach build. We are not following someone else’s standards but setting the excellence standards for others to follow. Here at Marathon it’s always quality first.”