This whole situation at Roadtrek is so sad.
So very, very, sad.
It's like a death in the family.
The reason? The company is Insolvent, $300 million in debt by some reports. That's what employees say happened when they assembled late Friday afternoon, just before the weekend,, to be suddenly informed they were all fired.
All of them. The entire workforce of about 800]. Clear out your stuff and leave. Right now.
Some had been there nearly 30 years. They don't even know the name of the guy who fired them, just some guy in a suit. The termination letter some later received was signed by a law firm, not even a person.
By Friday night, even the company website, Roadtrek.com, was gone from the Internet. Like it never existed.
This weekend all over Ontario and in many other parts of North America and the US, worried parents are wondering how to pay for braces and dancing lessons and hockey leagues for the kids, let alone mortgages and insurance and car payments.
And thousands of customers have six year warranties on vehicles they invested huge chunks of their life savings to buy, now suddenly find there is no company left to honor those warranties.
All over North America are vendors, dealerships and parts suppliers wondering who will pay those outstanding invoices Roadtrek/Hymer owe them.
Over the years I have gotten to know many of those workers and over the past month, as the company unraveled, many have called or reached out to me, even though we ended our connection with the company last month. They wanted to know if I had heard anything they hadn't. I hadn't and indeed, actually knew much less than they did.
The lack of information has hurt the employees Incredibly, even after a month, the company has still not publicly revealed anything except the management team was removed and financial irregularities were being investigated.
That official silence is why rumors are getting crazier day by day.
I honestly have no idea what will become of Roadtrek or Hymer. Hopefully, with the company now in receivership and under legal scrutiny, some clarity will be evident in the weeks ahead.
My thoughts and prayers are first with those who have no job this weekend. They are innocent victims of a colossal corporate debacle that, depending on who you listen to, is either the result of mismanagement, greed, fraud or some complicated combination of all three.
There is an alternate narrative out there, too, that this was all a convoluted plot by Thor and the rich young German kids who inherited the Hymer brand to make it easier for Thor (whose stock has ben dropping) to get financing for their purchase of Hymer global. Under this scenario, Roadtrek as a brand was sacrificed as a pure business decision, scapegoats were set up, and the Canadian operation intentionally shut down. Thor makes Airstream and Roadtrek competes with the Airstream Interstate and there are those who think Thor wants only one Class B van to succeed.
I do know that the employees built really fine motorhomes and my hope is they will all do so again from Shirley Avenue in Kitchener and Reuter Road in Cambridge, working for a new and revitalized Roadtrek that will once again honor those warranties.
The Roadtrek brand shaped the Class B motorhome industry, and for nearly 50 years has been synonymous with quality, craftsmanship and innovation. That's something that will always have value and I know, deep down, some smart company somewhere will keep it alive.