A Conversation With Mitul Chandrani, Sr. Marketing Manager, Xantrex
With vision and purpose, Schneider Electric in 2008 bought a Canadian company called Xantrex. They were interested in the renewable division because of its market potential, which was rebranded under Schneider Electric. But Xantrex’ mobile unit (boats, RVs, and trucks) remained independent.
“Xantrex was one of those fortunate acquisitions” where the business benefited while still retaining its core teams and values, said Mitul Chandrani, Sr. Marketing Manager. “There was no bureaucracy or red tape you normally associate with a global company.”
In essence, Xantrex enjoys the autonomy of an entrepreneurial arm within a large but supportive organization which speaks to the strength and confidence of Schneider leadership in leaving a well-established brand alone.
Xantrex Guy From Day One
Mitul was a “Xantrex guy” but didn’t miss a step when Schneider Electric acquired the company. In fact, there was virtually no change in his day to day or with the people in charge. The General Manager, the head of Product Development, the OEM sales manager and Mitul are all still with Xantrex today, 10 years later.
Trained in civil engineering, Mitul uses his master’s degree in marketing to design and conceive solutions for dealers, serving more as an outside sales person than a traditional marketer. He thrives on being on the front line understanding how Xantrex can help its partners, like Newmar, Keystone, Highland Ridge, Jayco, and Forest River.
For example, they just launched at the OEM level a new electrical system for Class B motorhomes called Freedom eGen as an option for the end user which eliminates a generator altogether.
Why an Inverter Upgrade Just Makes Sense
Mitul’s enthusiasm for Xantrex solutions was evident as he told me about projects he’s been working on. One major marketing campaign over the past couple of years has been to encourage consumers to “Upgrade to an Inverter Charger.”
He detailed impressive statistics while explaining market opportunities.
Most of the RVs sold from the factory come equipped with a converter which is an AC to DC charger. It charges the batteries. That’s all it does.
Conversely, not only does the inverter/charger charge the battery it also provides an AC power source. So any AC-powered electronics and appliances in an RV can be powered easily using an inverter.
Xantrex makes inverter/chargers. They don’t make converters. Hence, the “Upgrade to an Inverter Charger” campaign targeted to RV dealers.
Instead of replacing a broken converter, Xantrex recommends the dealer offer a choice to upgrade. While an inverter/charger is slightly more expensive than a converter, it offers two distinct features: (1) a two-year warranty vs. a one-year warranty on many converters and (2) an AC power source, which is not available in a converter.
The campaign has worked so well that sales for inverter/charger models they’ve targeted to promote for the aftermarket have more than doubled, Mitul said.
Another campaign which has enjoyed great success is called “Your Gateway to Worry-free Dry Camping.”
The goal of running a print campaign in Trailerlife and Motorhome was to educate RV end users to the limitations of relying on a converter. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, an inverter/charger
- Lasts longer.
- Charges the battery better.
- Powers any downstream loads while plugged into shore power (which you can’t do with a converter).
Everyone has a smartphone these days, but you can’t plug in your phone charger into a converter. You need an AC power source to do that. In educating dealers, Xantrex is not only offering end users a practical solution to their connectivity needs but also improving the bottom line for dealers with incremental revenue and improved customer satisfaction!
Freedom X for the Win
“Freedom is like a Corvette. It’s so strong it’s become a sub-brand across multiple industries,” Mitul said. There are more boats, trucks, and RVs with the Freedom product than any other make or model. Almost every class of RV built in the U.S. between 1980 and 2004 has a Freedom product on it. The majority of boats over 50’ built in the late 90s and early 2000s have a Freedom installed.
Like any technology, Freedom has evolved. In 2017, Xantrex launched the Freedom X. Their marketing message needed to speak with one voice across the various market segments. What symbol would communicate the same thing to different audiences? They decided on the horse because of its strong connotation of Freedom and Power. In using the stallion, they were able to tie everything under one brand. (Freedom SW was launched in 2011 for the marine market.)
Power Technology Market Trends
Inverter Service Center’s Ray Barbee and Xantrex both agree that lithium-ion and solar are two areas where consumers will see rapid growth over the next five years.
“Manufacturers are way more open to lithium-ion than they were two years ago,” Mitul said. In the next few years, he believes that “a lithium-ion option will be standard on almost all RVs and boats.” That’s why the new Freedom X and Freedom SW are both compatible with lithium-ion batteries.
In addition, Coachman and Midwest, two massive RV companies, already have endorsed and are offering Freedom eGen. After extensive testing, they’ve decided to offer it as a factory option.
Of course, solar is big, Mitul said. Every RV wants solar panels on it. It’s also becoming popular in the truck and marine industry. Xantrex manufactures solar-charged controllers which work with the solar panel and inverter/charger and helps capture this market. The Freedom SW and Freedom X also integrate into a solar power system.
Finally, Mitul sees Bluetooth integration allowing for one single control panel managed from one place. Soon you’ll be able to control all instrumentation and accessories through your phone or tablet.
Personal Relationships Matter
Mitul works closely with everyone at Inverter Service Center and enjoys a strong relationship. “If they don’t hear from me for a week or two, they shoot me an email or Jordan will give me a call or PJ would say ‘where the hell have you been,’” Mitul said with a laugh. “That’s the kind of close relationship we have.” He credits PJ Gonzalez, ISC Manager, for cultivating a family atmosphere.
The team at ISC is also direct about issues that need fixing. PJ is very clear and transparent about his expectations and doesn’t hold back. He gives Xantrex a chance to make changes.
“Xantrex had some issues early on and after working closely with PJ the turnaround has been amazing,” Mitul said.
“Now we are so strong I think ISC is the closest partner we have.”
Thank you Mitul for being an equally great partner!