Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hymer Buys Out Roadtrek

On February 23, 2016, the German-based RV manufacturer, Erwin Hymer Group bought out all of the shares of Roadtrek Motorhomes, Inc. including its U.S. subsidiary, Roadtrek Motorhomes USA, Inc. (which I was unaware even existed) and renames the Roadtrek company to Erwin Hymer Group North America Inc.. This story has been reported on various Roadtrek websites and Facebook groups. I wanted to go a little deeper than what Roadtrek has reported and was able to find a little more. 

This is a corporate take over of Roadtrek and the seller was the Illinois based firm that owned Roadtrek, Industrial Opportunity Partners LLC, a capital investment fund that came to Roadtrek's financial rescue around 2011. While being looked upon as mutually beneficial to both Roadtrek and Hymer, the greatest benefit goes, naturally, to Hymer who has been looking to move into the lucrative RV market in North America. Hymer self-proclaims to be the world's largest manufacturer of motorhomes and "caravans" (travel trailers). Its intent is to begin North American manufacture of its HymerCar, Hymer's Class B model at Roadtrek's two (?) manufacturing plants in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada as well as begin North American production of larger motorhomes (presumably Class As, Class Cs, and perhaps B+s) and travel trailers also at the Kitchner plants. The Kitchner factories will be enlarged. The Erwin Hymer Group North America, Inc. will continue to manufacture Roadtreks in all three of Roadtrek's current van choices - Chevy Express, Dodge Promaster, and Mercedes Sprinter. The President and CEO of EHGNA will be Roadtrek's President and CEO, Jim Hammill. The acquisition of Roadtrek allows Hymer to become the first European RV manufacturer of RVs in North America. In Europe, Hymer makes eight different brands of RVs which include Class As, Bs, and Cs plus travel trailers. They are looking to enter the American market with the HymerCar and this is scheduled to role off the factory floor in in Kitchener in early summer 2016. The HymerCar is a Class B that seems to not be targeted to RVers at all but to those who want a vehicle to take with them for outdoor activities and sports. While it has all of the RV components inside, according to an article in Motorhome magazine (March 2016), components such as the kitchen can be removed to make room to carry what is needed for an activity. Hymer Group believes there is a market for this in the US. It reminds me of Roadtrek's attempt at something like this with the Nissan N7 Active which lasted on the market for only a few years. There is also a push by Hymer Group to get an ultra-light travel trailer made at the Roadtrek plant that they feel will come in at a price point below other available travel trailers in the US. Small travel trailers in the US are not that expensive and I would not want to be in an ultra-light unit in the types of storms that we get here.

It is clear from what I am reading that the intent by Hymer is to manufacture its brands of RVs out of the former Roadtrek factories and permit the continuation of the Roadtrek models at the same time. My question is - having seen what happens with corporate takeovers of similar brands, especially in new markets for the dominant and ruling corporation is "for how long"? I have been following the corporate takeover of another company (not in the RV industry) recently that started out appearing to be a good thing also - and in less than six months the new corporate owner started shutting down locations of the company that it bought out in addition to cutting salaries and benefits of managers and employees. Everyone thought in the beginning of this acquisition that everything would improve for the better. It did not. Another related corporate takeover, again not in the RV industry, started closing company assets immediately in several years now later, little of the original company that was taken over still exists. This is big business - and as few really understand - big business does not exist for the good of the public, but for the benefit of the company, which is as it should be.

 I have to wonder how, even with the enhancement and expansion of the two (?) current Roadtrek plants that can just about keep up with the manufacture of their own Roadtrek production now, they will be able able to maintain that and the production of what Hymer wants manufactured here - their brands of RVs. This is purely my opinion and conjecture. Only time will tell what will happen and with even my small investment in Roadtrek in owning my 190, I sincerely hope that this company continues to manufacturer Roadtreks, continues its training of service technicians at dealerships, and continues to manufacturer and maintain an inventory of the parts that are exclusive to Roadtrek RVs. Hopefully, also, the current Roadtrek models will continue to be called Roadtreks (which right now is being reported as the intention) - since if not, the "brand" will cease to exist.

While many see this all as a good thing. I do not. Perhaps I am a pessimist but the interests of the "victor" are what always take precedence. As I said, time will tell.



  1. I concur. I, too, have seen your described "takeover" scenario firsthand and it wasn't pretty.


  2. Those of us that own the older models of Roadtrek, mine being a 2002 190V, this takeover will not have an effect on us. Most of us have been turned off by the service we have, or more likely, not have had by the Roadtrek dealers. We have found that there are many better choices for service. Plus most of our systems have been around for a long time. I hope that the for the newer Sprinter owners that Hamel will be allowed to keep running the company. Time will tell.