Created with Purpose: 2 Custom Coaches Taken in 2 Different Directions
Two like-minded people with distinctive visions of luxury: Richard chose to outfit a quad slide with technology-rich features, while Eric selected to simplify a non-slide into an ideal people mover. Although their coaches could be seen as paradoxical, the end results are the same – timeless beauty created to endure the road with a finesse found nowhere but Marathon.
As he sits in the salon of his new Marathon Coach, relaxing on the plush leather sofa, it’s obvious that Richard demands attention. It’s not overt, and he doesn’t ask for it. Seemingly unassuming, he possesses a commanding presence, his charisma filling the room, his voice carrying and his accompanying hand gestures drawing the eye. It’s no surprise with a personality like this, he desired a technological marvel with some features never seen in a Marathon before – or any motorcoach, for that matter.
Aside from the James Bond-esque security system and more than a handful of top-secret features, Richard’s coach was created for entertaining friends and family in luxury and style. Inside, his custom dinette can expand to sit six comfortably, while outside he has a custom cargo roll-out with an induction cooktop, electric grill, flip-up countertop and ample storage for everything he needs for outdoor entertaining. Also housed in the underbelly are two unique, height-adjustable folding tables with matching laminate tops and travel storage bags.
RVing since 1978, Richard was seasoned enough to know exactly what he wanted for life on the road. Although Marathons are already known for their drivability, this coach has additional features that further streamline the process. With its heads-up display unit (displaying driving telematics and data on the windshield so he doesn’t need to look away from the road), as well as custom iPhone and Blackberry phone “in-motion” mounts with concealed dash mounting that swivel to aid pilot seat access, a custom tablet holder on the handrail and a removable pilot caddy to hold his water bottle, coffee cup, Tabasco sauce bottle and Tupperware container, Richard has everything he needs close at hand to fully enjoy his journey.
Q&A with Richard and Marathon Salesperson Mal Williams
Q: Mal, how was your experience with Richard and Marathon Coach #1302?
A: This was my first custom coach order, and to see how everyone at Marathon came together to make a great coach and a great experience for him has been eye opening. There have been people in and out of the bus all day troubleshooting different things, looking at different things.
We talk about being custom coach builders. Everybody talks about that. It’s eye opening to me that we really, really are taking it so far. We’re currently waiting for Richard to place the towel rings exactly where he wants them. It’s just so custom. It’s thinking of his thoughts first. I love the attention to detail and care that everybody is putting into this.
Q: Richard, why a Marathon?
A: If you want it your way, it’s Marathon. Other companies, one of whom I dealt with previously, they crow about how they’re so technologically above everyone else, but technology for technology’s sake is not enough. It has to be reliable. You can’t need a wizard to fix problems. One of the things about Marathons is that you have access panels so you don’t have to rip half the coach apart to access something. That’s a giant difference.
These things cost even more than the typical luxury home and while a home might last 50 years, usually by that time, many are torn down. My bus could easily last 20 years – easily. My first one, an ’85 LeMirage XL, is still on the road – the Prevost shell is invulnerable.
Q: What was it like to work with the Marathon team?
A: This is the kind of environment that feels like home. We made numerous changes along the way. Through it all, it was responsive feedback. If they don’t think you’re going to like this, that it may not come out the way we’d want it represented, they tell you. Two years from now, five years from now, if it’s not going to look the same as on delivery day, that might not be the best choice to put in your coach. I always took the guidance. I said, “Thank you for pointing that out.” Whether the letters on the back of the coach or the piping on the bench, you don’t ignore it, you discuss it. There’s always a way to arrive at the best solution. What you end up with is a happy customer and one who’s prepared to laud Marathon’s praises far and wide, because you put yourself in their hands.
Q: What about your work?
A: I retired and moved to Florida seven years ago; however, I am involved in numerous charities. My office is my bedroom and my bedroom is my office. Instead of a four and a half hour commute each day from Connecticut to New York and then 10 or 11 hours in the office, I have a 36-inch commute. And so, every time something comes up, the ball and chain pulls me back. So now I’m working on reducing my commitment to several involvements so I can have some quiet time.
Q: Why are you doing this?
A: Because I want to visit all the places I drove past going to and from dog shows – my hobby for more than 30 years. I’ve traveled most of this country and never got to stop. I went from home up north to a dog show, finished and went home.
Q: Your interior design is quite inviting. Are you ready for company?
A: Most coaches are designed to sleep two, dine four, cocktails six. That wouldn’t work for me. I have a bed for two, so if my daughter and her fiancé were coming they’d have the privacy of the bedroom. There’s the air mattress and the jackknife, so you can easily sleep six. With the addition of the leaf on the table and two ultra slim folding chairs that hang in a closet, I have full ability to sleep and feed six people, which is not typical in a non-bunk coach.
Q: What are you most excited about in Marathon Coach #1302?
A: The simplest answer is the tech, the driver’s support tech in the cockpit. I can’t think of anything in the residential section, the interior, that differentiates it from any other Marathon coach. It’s a bath and a half – the new layout with the washer/dryer behind the toilet. There’s immense closet space – there’s oodles galore of space.
Q: Mal, how did Richard show you that he’s an experienced RV owner?
A: One of the things that stands out is the closet on the other side of the refrigerator. If you’re out walking and it rains, what do you do with your wet jacket when you come in? You put it in a closet right away. Coach #1302 has a closet designed for wet jackets. It’s not leather wrapped; instead, it’s completely faced in laminate on the inside, but also, it’s ventilated. Richard has owned multiple coaches, and it’s only people like that, people who have really experienced a variety of coaches, that recognize nuances such as this.
Seated at the head of the conference table in the glass encased atrium at Marathon World Headquarters, two of Eric’s four children flit about creating art and talking among themselves in hushed tones. Eric is quite easy to talk with, like visiting with an old friend one hasn’t seen for a while. Armed with a mild demeanor and a mere flip phone, this highly approachable 40-something-year-old answers questions without hesitation or any hint of fanfare.
A family driven project, Marathon Coach #1311 was created with the journey in mind. Eric’s love for the road started early when he and his partner were in their early 20s. For more than two decades now, they’ve been exploring life together on and off the road. The RV adventures, however, are rather new, having just begun two years ago in a traditional Class B.
Needing more space for people, fuel and luggage, this family and the Marathon team crafted this non-slide coach to more comfortably move people with space for contemplation. “I want these trips to be long and boring, for collective thought and relaxation,” said Eric.
Q&A with Eric
Q: We understand this coach is mainly for transportation from point A to point B. Why a bus conversion?
A: I hate flying, I hate airports. I hate all the waiting times, delays, cancelled flights, airports in general. They’re not my favorite. I’d much rather be on my own, take a break when I want and see the things moving by. In an airplane you see nothing, just clouds or darkness. I prefer to see what’s in front of and around me.
Someone in Sweden once mentioned that when they go to the U.S., they go to a couple cities and everything is a fly-by state. I don’t want to show my kids that. I want them to see and not consider things fly-by, instead, appreciate every little neighborhood and see the differences in the country. Because if you just fly New York to LA to San Francisco, it’s pretty much all the same.
Q: What brought you to Marathon?
A: When we did a family road trip from the Pacific Northwest to Miami – approximately 25 nights and more than 9,000 miles – I realized our class B wasn’t big enough. We had too much luggage and too little hold-tank capacities, plus the diesel fuel tank was 25 gallons, so we were stopping too frequently. We didn’t have enough capacity to carry all of us safely or enough storage, so I started looking at bigger options. Someone told me, “When looking for an RV, get your last one first.” I wanted to get this one.
Q: Why now?
A: Now that we have four kids who are growing up too fast, I don’t to wait around and delay everything until the time is right. I want to do it while I can. I feel like my nine-year-old daughter is only going to give me three or four more years, years that she’s going to want to be with me, and I want to take advantage of that. I’d rather do this now than to do it later and force my kids to come with me.
Q: Your coach is a bit less ornate than the average Marathon. Can you tell us about your exterior paint design?
A: My second daughter named the coach Sparky, and she picked the exterior color. She picked a bluish gray with a bit of metallic. We wanted to make the coach look as close to a commuter bus in style as possible.
Q: What was your inspiration for the interior?
A: Her older sister picked all the interior colors, from the cabinetry, walls, flooring, ceiling, countertops, all of that. I tried to design it, not like a house on wheels, but as a minivan with bathrooms, beds and a place to eat. There are no fixtures, like lamps – nothing that reminds us of home. It’s like we took our Honda Odyssey and made room for a bath and a half, a place to prepare and store food, four bunks and a bigger bed in the back; that’s it.
There are no TVs, no entertainment or audio. We focused on making it a transport machine rather than a living machine. I want this vehicle to be a tool that helps our children come to terms with boredom, the monotony of being on the road for eight, nine, 10 hours a day, with no TVs, no iPads, no smart phones, no video games to play with – just looking out the window and telling stories. I don’t want them to be overly stimulated and dependent on entertainment all the time. I want them to interact with each other. They have books, drawing and storytelling. What I’ve found is that on these really long road trips we’ve had is our kids have become really good storytellers.
For me, it’s about the journey, and it takes a long time. Our kids don’t really know you can fly to Florida. They think Florida’s 10 days away and they don’t complain.
Q: Where to?
A: We want to do summers in Alaska; springtime on the East Coast – New York/Boston/New Foundland/Labrador/Canada area; winters in California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah; and fall in Florida. That’s how I imagine the year, the four corners of Canada and the U.S. Aside from these four corner trips, I want to spend time in places like Montana and other big, open spaces.
Q: What do you think a typical day will look like in your coach?
A: We’ll use this more like a giant mini-van. My son and I, I imagine, will be sleeping in it a lot, but my partner and girls may get a hotel room. It’s not a place we really plan to live in, but more like a mode of transportation, much like how I imagine musicians use their coaches. A lot of musicians, groups or crews travel from point to point, often getting a hotel when they arrive at their destination.
Q: Do you have final wisdom to share?
A: My dad used to tell me that the best vintages of wine in France aren’t the ones from the best seasons with the good weather. He said you want the right mix of hardship – bad weather and good weather. That’s what makes the vines work for it. I heard that plants and trees with the best climate and plenty of water have weak root systems. It’s the ones that go through drought, the ones with 30-meter root systems, that are durable. So I’m trying to give my kids more mental durability.