RV Podcast 210: What Thor’s purchase of Roadtrek/Hymer companies means to RVers

The Big Story this week, and we mean BIG, is the purchase of the Erwin Hymer Group of Europe and North America by Thor Industries, which already is the biggest RV company in North America. By making this purchase, which also includes the sale of Roadtrek Motorhomes, Thor will become the biggest RV company in the world, with more than 24 separate RV brands.

In this week’s News of the Week segment, I’ll talk about this massive $2.45 billion deal and explain what this means to the RV community as a whole and especially those who own Roadtrek or Hymer of North America models.

Also this week… we have lots more news, your questions, lots of apps to suggest that will help with your road trips and a great off the beaten path report.

Show Notes for Episode #210 Sept. 18, 2018 of Roadtreking – The RV Podcast:

WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK

MIKE

Before we get going let me offer this programming note. The “You are Never Too Old” segment about RVing that I had promised in our newsletter and Sunday night in our Ask Us Anything RV Lifestyle broadcast on YouTube won’t be airing this week. The magnitude of the Thor plan to purchase Roadtrek’s parent company is breaking news that we need to devote an extended period of time discussion. But never fear, that segment and interview with an 87 year old RVer will be coming in just a couple of weeks.

We’ll get to the Thor/Hymer deal in our News of the Week segment in a few minutes, so stick around for that.

Meanwhile, we’re just back from the Hershey RV Show, known as America’s Largest. We’ll have a full video on it Thursday.

JENNIFER

It was so great to meet so many of our fans and followers. We felt like celebrities there! Everywhere we went people were recognizing us and sharing their love of the RV Lifestyle. We were overwhelmed with the kid words and encouragement and had a ball meeting so many people. I had Mike video many of them so they can share their excitement about this lifestyle and inspire our entire audience. But it was a great show. They had just under 60,000 in attendance that week and we walked miles looking at new RVs. The show occupied more than three football fields and had over 1,400 new RVs of every shape, size and form on display.

MIKE

Next, we head to Elkhart, Indiana, the RV Capital of America. In fact, next week’s podcast will come from there. We will be attending RV Dealer Open House. It’s not open to the public but to RV dealers and sales people. All the major RV manufacturers have displays there and many use the Elkhart event to introduce new products and innovations.  Thus, it’s become a major event for the industry, so we need to be there, too, and will be reporting it for you.

JENNIFER

A couple of Episodes back, Episode 208, we talked about how the RV Lifestyle can NOT be healthy for us because we often sit too much and eat too much. Mike interviewed a weight loss expert and decided then and there to go on a healthy eating program. He’s sharing his progress at 7PM every Sunday night on our Ask Us Anything live broadcast on YouTube. But since that healthy eating program started on this podcast, I think Mike should give a short progress report right now.

MIKE

Well, it’s been very good. I am down 11 pounds from what I was when we recorded that segment two weeks ago. This a very easy program, consisting of lean, organic program and limiting sugars and carbs.

We were a little worried how it would be sticking to it on the road and since I started, we did our Roadtreking gathering at Algonquin Provincial Park up in Canada and the Hershey RV show in Pennsylvania last week. And because we had our own kitchen with us at both events, it was easy to do our own meal prep and then be sure I was eating properly.

JENNIFER

That is so true. Instead of fast food at the RV show, we just went out to our RV in the parking lot, turned on the AC and I was able to fix everything. I don’t know what we would have done of we didn’t have our Roadtrek with us because most restaurants use sugar and heap on the carbs and it’s very hard to eat correctly on the road unless you make your own food.

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RV NEWS OF THE WEEK

Thor to become new owners of Roadtrek/Hymer of North America by purchasing parent company

This is a huge RV industry story and it is breaking today as we record this Podcast, though we’ve been reporting on the possibility for several weeks now.

But now it is official:

Thor Industries Inc., based in Elkhart, IN, and the shareholders of Erwin Hymer Group SE. based in Germany, announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Thor to acquire Erwin Hymer Group, a privately held European-based international company, for an enterprise value of approximately $2.45 billion.

Hymer bought Roadtrek Motorhomes about two-and-a-half years ago and launched the Erwin Hymer Group of North American as a separate company that now builds Roadtreks and Hymer-branded Class B campervans and ultra-lightweight towable trailers.

In terms of RV world impact, acquisition will make Thor the world’s largest RV manufacturer, with the leading position in both North America and Europe and establishes a global sales and production footprint for the company that is absolutely immense in scope.

Consider this, Thor owns the following 18 well-known brands: Airstream;  Entegra Coach; Heartland RV; Jayco RV; Bison Coach, Crossroads Fifth Wheels, Cruiser Towables, high end DRV Fifth Wheels; Dutchmen which in turn builds the Aerolite, Aspen Trail, Coleman, Denali, Dutchmen, Kodiak, Razorback, Rubicon, and Voltage trailers and RVs; Highland Ridge Fifth Wheels and towables; Keystone RVs; and K-Z towables.
Now you can add to that the associated Roadtrek Motorhome and Hymer brands, which also includes Sunlight, Carado, Eriba and more.

So, what does this mean to current Roadtrek or Hymer customers, or those who have been considering buying one of their brands? Nothing. Things will go on just as they have. The same people will lead those companies, including Jim Hammill, the CEO of Roadtrek and the Erwin Hymer Group of North America, who is very well known to the RV community of North America for his accessibility and his involvement in the RV Lifestyle Community.

Jim told me by email and in a letter sent to customers that he thinks this a great situation for Roadtrek and Hymer of North America. Specifically, he talked about Thor’s decentralized. entrepreneurial business model, which has been the hallmark of Jim’s personal leadership style.

It has been widely known for a couple of months that the Hymer family members were open to selling the company and had several suitors, including Thor.

And according to Bob Martin the Thor CEO, who did a conference call yesterday with investors, one of the key factors in the decision to sell by the Hymer family in Europe was the way Thor had handled the acquisition of Jayco, another huge RV company they bought a couple of years ago.

“We looked at Hymer as being very similar to Jayco. It was very important to the family to know that the legacy and the name of Erwin Hymer would continue,” Martin said. ““Hymer has the No. 1 brand recognition in Europe with a family legacy. The family really wanted to turn the company over to someone that they really felt comfortable with carrying on the legacy. And so that’s where a lot of our meetings were about. It was less about price and it was more about cultural fit. We’ve got a proven track record of doing that. Then that’s where I think, for the family, that’s what really hit home.”

Martin stressed that like its North American-based subsidiaries, Hymer would operate autonomously with its management team.

Christian Hymer, son of the late founder, Erwin Hymer and member of the EHG Supervisory Board said, “With Thor Industries, our family has found the ideal new owner partner for the Erwin Hymer Group to successfully continue on its long-term growth and internationalization path. Thor Industries and the Erwin Hymer Group are cut from the same cloth and, in their philosophy, still bear the stamp of their founders. An entrepreneurial mindset, a spirit of innovation and quality leadership are top priorities for both groups.”

Thor says going forward, once the deal is finalized, there will be sharing of best practices among all the Thor properties including Roadtrek and the Hymer North American operation, in such things as production methods and streamlined operations that will provide major benefits in design, engineering and manufacturing excellence.

Martin said: “Knowledge sharing and R&D will accelerate development of technology, innovation, and ensure new technologies or features are rapidly adopted in North America and in Europe.”

Bottom line here: What does that mean for people who own a Roadtrek or Hymer product or have one ordered or are planning to do so.

I have spent a lot of time talking to my Roadtrek and Hymer sources on and off the record and the answer to that question is that nothing will change in day to day operations.

The six-year warranties from Roadtrek will continue. New models will keep being made and dealers and customers will be getting everything they have ordered. Consumers should see absolutely no change and, if anything, faster production, continued innovation, new models and styles.

I’ve already said existing top management will stay in place. There will be no plant closings or job cuts. In fact just the opposite. Roadtrek and the North American Hymer brand will continue to grow with new products, new innovations and new lines.

I think Jim Hammill sums it up best. He said: “We are the same great company today as we always have been, we are not going to change our formula as it’s that formula, great people, and great innovative products that made us so desirable for someone to acquire us.”

All right, now on to more. Animals were sure making a lot of news this week!

JENNIFER:

Monarch butterflies descend on Canadian park by thousands, covering trees, bushes 
If you are anywhere near Ontario's Point Pelee National Park between now and mid-October, be sure to stop by to see thousands of monarch butterflies as they stop on their way to Mexico. The Canadian park is on a strip of land that reaches into Lake Erie and is a favorite resting spot for migrating birds. But what makes it truly unique this time of year are the monarch butterflies which descend by the thousands, often waiting on this last bit of land for the weather to be just right before they take off over the water. To learn more and see pictures click here or here.

MIKE:
Mountain goats blindfolded, airlifted out of Olympic National Park
Did you see the pictures of the blindfolded and bound mountain goats dangling through the air while being airlifted by helicopter from Washington's Olympic National Park?  It was quite the sight. The mountain goats were brought to Olympic in the 1920s and are not a native species. They've become quite a problem, destroying the vegetation and ecosystem. And they've become aggressive towards humans, goring a man to death in 2010. The goats are native to the North Cascades, about 100 miles away. So plans have been in the works for years to transfer several hundred of them there. The plan started last week and it included airlifts. To read more click here or here.

JENNIFER:
Oregon officials wait to see if the cougar they shot is the one who killed hiker 
Officials with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are waiting for test results to see if a cougar shot last weekend was the same cougar who killed a woman hiking in the state's Mount Hood National Forest. Cougar attacks are very rare and last week's death was believed to be the first cougar caused death in the state. To read more about what happened, and what you should do if you come across a cougar while on the trails, click here or here.

MIKE:
Elk charges man at Yellowstone National Park who got too close
Another story about people getting too close to wildlife came out of Yellowstone National Park last week. This time two bull elk were sparing, and a crowd formed to watch. One of the bulls seemed to be concerned his cows were separated from him, so he ran through the crowd, charging one of the men watching, to get to his cows. The man did not appear to be seriously injured. Yellowstone officials require people to stay 25 feet away from large animals, like elk, and 100 feet away from animals like bears. To read more click here or here.

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LISTENER RV QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

Questions this week:

A listener asks about how we use a dog seat belt for Bo.

We refer her to our recent “Bo on the Road” video on our YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel in which we demonstrated its use. The seatbelt goes with a safety harness.  Ours came from a company called Mighty Paw. Their safety belt uses the same specifications for securing child car seats and you can directly connect it to the frame of the vehicle for better security. The safety belt is available at http://bit.ly/2oix4WG. We like these over other models out there because other dog seat belt systems can easily be released by your dog stepping on the buckle button, but this cannot happen with the Mighty Paw safety belt. Also, keep in mind, many states now require dogs to be in a crate or on a leash while in a vehicle so if you get pulled over without either then there's an annoying ticket to deal with. For your dog's safety, the seatbelt should also be attached to a safety harness vs. directly to your dog's collar. This is much safer for your dog, especially in an accident or if you'll be leaving him unsupervised. This is the one we have http://bit.ly/2LExtvU

Here is an email questions we received this week:

We are heading from Virginia to Phoenix tomorrow and are wondering what you have found to be the latest best apps or website for weather, flooding on roads, and road closure info.  Thanks in advance and we love your newsletter – Barbara 

Here are my favorite apps for traveling.

MyRadar – This is hands down the best weather app you can find to see what weather is coming your way, to track storms with high def radar, to get NOAA weather alerts. This is an extremely fast way to get an overall at-a-glance check at potential radar precipitation headed your way. It’s free and works on all platforms.

Accuweather –  This is my favorite for checking weather forecasts. Set whatever location you want and it gives you the forecast. Also free and for all platforms.

Waze – I use this for keeping track of driving conditions, accidents, road construction, traffic jams, etc. on my route. It is very current, crowd-sourced by other drivers in whatever area you are traveling through who share real-time traffic and road info.

If you want a bunch more recommendations, check out this review of road trip apps.

This part of the podcast is sponsored by Steinbring Motorcoach, Roadtrek’s newest dealer and a third generation family business in Minnesota’s beautiful Chain of Lakes region built on quality motorhomes and excellent pricing and service.

TRAVELING RV TECH TIPS

By Andy Choi

Verizon Wireless

Summer's just about over, students are back in school, football season is in full swing. But let's not forget it's an exciting time for new tech with some hot new devices released for your enjoyment. So let's dial into Verizon's latest and greatest phones.

First there's the Moto Z3 by Motorola, also known as the world's first 5G upgradeable smartphone. The Moto Z3 will be the first phone to run on Verizon’s 5G network when paired with the 5G Moto Mod — the mod set for release at a later date. With up to 10 times the speed of today’s technology, you won't have to worry about live-streaming sports or downloading movies. Not to mention, the Moto Z3 is compatible with previous mod attachements, such as the Insta-Share Projector and the JBL speaker mods.

If you're all about taking notes with your phone, how about Samsung's Galaxy Note9. The Note9’s new S-Pen boasts improved accuracy for taking notes and Bluetooth functionality, allowing you to remotely control and listen to audio recordings or your favorite jams. The device’s upgraded dual aperture system and improved battery life will allow users to capture the best photos and videos in any situation without having to worry about a total loss of power.

Of course, we couldn't forget our friends at Apple with the recent release of the I-Phone XS and the I-Phone XS Max. featuring 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch Super Retina displays with 60 percent greater dynamic range in HDR photos. The XS and the XS Max bring an improved dual camera system, an A12 Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine, faster Face ID, wider stereo sound, longer battery life, and splash and water resistance. Both i-phones will be available in stores starting September 21st.

For more information on these or more great devices, head to verizonwireless.com. With this week's traveling technology tip, I'm Andy Choi with Verizon.

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 112 million retail connections nationwide.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH RV REPORT   

By Tom and Patti Burkett

Patti and Tom Burkett

We'd enjoyed an overnight and a visit with family in Bloomington, Indiana and were heading out of town.  Bloomington, a bit south of Indianapolis, is home to Indiana University and, as college towns often do, boasts some great food and some unusual attractions.  Not for us, though, as we had our GPS set for Evansville on the Ohio River.  Passing through a nondescript residential area, we noticed a small sign that caused us to turn around and head down a side road.

A mile or two along we turned in at the entrance to the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center.  The first thing we encountered along the drive was a stupa.  We, of course, didn't know what it was until we'd looked at a map and read a description.  On the grounds, there are two of these brilliant white structures roofed in gold.  On contains a beautiful Buddhist sand art mandala protected under glass.

Another building houses a set of Tibetan prayer wheels–cast bronze cylinders mounted on rods which allow them to rotate at a touch.  Practitioners walk along one side of this row and down the other, spinning each wheel and making a prayer.  Across a lawn is the monastery, where we found the saffron-clad monks and a number of guests attending a study group led from an Ipad by a leader who was being skyped in from far away.  A monk was stationed just inside the door to greet visitors.  “Feel free to go on in,” he said, noticing we were reticent because of our late arrival, “the wisdom isn't only at the beginning of the lesson.

Walking down the road we came to the Happy Yak gift shop and cultural museum.  The museum was mostly an illustrated history covering three walls of a large meeting room, but there was an impressive library covering one wall, and a large display of intricate butter art.  These works, traditionally made from yak butter mixed with flour, have a limited lifespan.  Like the sand mandalas, the spiritual value is in the creation, not the viewing.

In the gift shop I purchased a colorful woven cord to use for a fan pull at home.  As I left the shop, I was engaged in conversation by a monk, who eventually asked if he could hold the cord.  He closed his eyes and, after a few moments, handed it back.  “I've prayed that the room in which this hangs should be full of enlightenment and harmony,” he told me.  That certainly seemed the vibe of this beautiful, colorful, peaceful place.  Opened in 1979 by a retired Indiana University professor, it aims to promote understanding of this far away, exotic culture.

It's become nearly a truism of our travels.  See a sign, spend half a day doing something you never expected to do.  We encourage you to include enough time in your schedule to allow for surprises.  A plan is good.  Sometimes a busted plan is even better.

Off the Beaten Path is brought to you this week by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country

RV SHOWS THIS WEEKEND

 

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There are

2 comments

  1. Gene Bjerke

    I was upset to learn that the Thor takeover has actually happened, Thor has a well-established reputation for producing and selling crap (to use a more-acceptable word). I know that Jim Hammill has said that the company will continue to operate as before, but whoever owns the company sets the budget, and lower budgets mean lower quality. We will see how things progress from this point. But right now I am glad I own an older, well-built Roadtrek. I hope Roadtrek is able to maintain its stellar engineering and quality.
    We will just have to wait and see.

    Reply

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