Roadtrek Motorhomes, the best selling Class B motorhome in North America for more than two decades, has another superlative to add to it's claim to fame: It is now part of the largest motorhome manufacturer in the world.
In a major announcement, the Erwin Hymer Group – the owner of Europe's most best known motorhome and caravan brands, has acquired all shares of Roadtrek Motorhomes from Industrial Opportunity Partners, the Chicago-based investment firm that has owned the Kitchener, Ontario-based Roadtrek since 2011.
The deal was signed Monday, Feb. 22, 2016 at Roadtrek's main Canadian factory. On Tuesday, company employees wearing new shirts celebrating the deal, met their new owners and were treated to lunch. Roadtrek's management team remains unchanged under the new ownership, as does the firm's commitment to keep building and innovate under the Roadtrek brand.
Think of the Hymer group as the Winnebago of Europe – it is a huge company, operating eight production facilities in Germany, France and Italy with some 4,400 employees. It has 800 dealers throughout Europe and does 1.5 billion Euros in business each year ($165 billion U.S.)
Jim Hammill, who has been President and CEO of Roadtrek, assumes the same duties for the newly formed Erwin Hymer Group North America, Inc., which will continue producing Roadtrek motorhomes.
“This is a great opportunity for Roadtrek to join the largest motorhome manufacturer in the world,” said Hammill . “In Europe, the Hymer Group manufactures 35,000 units a year, which is almost as big as the entire North American motorhome market from all companies combined.”
Martin Brandt, the CEO of the Erwin Hymer Group, said he met Hammill at a trade show in Europe last summer and immediately recognized a synergy in the two companies and a shared philosophy in their approach to filling the leisure travel needs of the growing RV markets.
“We kept meeting and talking and we were struck by how Hymer and Roadtrek were so alike in being technology-driven, down to earth and customer-oriented,” he said.
Brandt said the Hymer Group has wanted to get deeply involved in North America since 2013 and has been unable to find the right partner – until they met Roadtrek and started talking to Hammill and his team.
In Europe, Hymer has eight different brands and makes many different types of RVs in what in North America would be called Class A, B and C motorhomes, plus ultra light weight towables and even a unique automobile roof top mounded pop up camper.
Roadtrek will continue making its many Class B brands but – as soon as late this spring – will also roll out some of the Hymer Class B's as well, built on the Ram ProMaster and Mercedes Sprinter chassis. The HymerCar brand of Class B RVs will likely be the first to be produced in the Roadtrek factory.
One of Hymer's most popular models, the Grand Canyon, was prominently on display at the signing ceremony, along with a Sprnter-based Roadtrek RS Adventurous model.
“We have a three year business plan that we have worked out with the Roadtrek team,” said Brandt, in which every three, four or five months we'll come out with a new product for the North American market.”
Hammill says production of the first Hymer motorhomes will be at the exiting two Kitchener factories, which will continue to build nine different models on three Chassis – the Sprinter, the ProMaster and the Chevrolet Express. A third factory, also in Kitchener, will also go into production for other models, like the larger motorhome and the towables.
“This is a game changer,” he said. “A new consumer who was never able to by RVs before will now be able to buy an RV because their tow vehicle will be their Honda Civic. They won't have to also buy a big truck or SUV. Their family car can pull these. Some of the Erwin Hymer Group products are pulled by Austin Minis. We are talking about incredibly light weight stuff that has the full space needed for a family.”
Be sure to listen to Roadtreking Podcast Episode 76 coming Wednesday Feb. 24 for the complete interviews with Hammill and Brandt.
Meaantime, here's a news video I did featuring highlights of the big announcement:
The two companies:
About Erwin Hymer:
The following motorhome and caravan brands are part of Erwin Hymer Group: Bürstner, Carado, Dethleffs, HYMER, Niesmann+Bischoff, Laika, LMC and Sunlight, Europe's largest motor home rental company McRent, the chassis specialist Goldschmitt, the accessory specialist Movera as well as the tent caravan manufacturer 3DOG camping. You can learn more about them at www.erwinhymergroup.com
Roadtrek is North America's leading manufacturer of Class B motorhomes. The company does $96 million in business annually and employs a staff of 300 at its two production facilities in Kitchener, Ontario (Canada).
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