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Editor’s note: I received the following note from Jim Hammill the afternoon of Jan. 19. It is the only comment, statement or rebuttal we have received from an official company spokesperson or one of the individuals mentioned in the report.
“Hello Greg, I was texted your article this morning and I am astounded that you have written something that is fabricated like this. Absolutely astounded.” — Jim Hammill
KITCHENER, Ontario — An swirl of rumors involving Erwin Hymer North America this week may prevent the acquisition of the company by Thor Industries, RV Daily Report has learned.
Officials from Erwin Hymer North America and Thor Industries have not yet responded to multiple inquires made by RV Daily Report today. However, several people familiar with the situation, but who are not authorized to speak on behalf of the company, were able to confirm some details.
CEO Jim Hammill, chief financial officer Mark Weigel and chief operating officer Howard Stratton have been terminated effective immediately. At least one of the executives was escorted from the company property.
An investigation was launched regarding financial impropriety. The charges are far reaching and could have devastating consequences for the firm’s future worldwide, the sources noted.
Among the allegations are charges that 1,700 invoices may have been fabricated in that the vehicle identification numbers for the Class B motorhomes do not correlate to any vehicles produced by the firm.
Some dealers have begun questioning company figures that show their businesses selling more Roadtrek RVs than the dealers ordered from the Erwin Hymer North America in recent months.
The fraudulent invoices could exceed $100 million in total value, with money redirected to bank accounts tied to high-level officials with Erwin Hymer North America or their family members, some of which were on the payroll, but did not officially work for the company.
Forensic accountants have been summoned to the firm, with additional attention being directed toward Erwin Hymer North America’s recent acquisition of American Fastback, although a representative at the American Fastback display in Tampa said the transaction had not yet been finalized.
Sources indicated that the acquisition of American Fastback was made by officials with Erwin Hymer North America using company funds, but without full knowledge of officials with Erwin Hymer Group’s corporate office in Germany.
The point of the transaction was to improve the position of Erwin Hymer North America for acquisition by suggesting the company was in better financial shape than it appeared, a source explained.
The employee count at Erwin Hymer North America ballooned from 300 to nearly 1,000 in recent years. However, it appears several employees may be related to high-level officials at the company — if they exist at all — and they were paid for their work, but had no official duties with the firm.
Sources also suggest that forensic accountants have uncovered a number of bogus invoices paid by the company into bank accounts owned by relatives of corporate officials.
According to a news report published by CTV Canada, 100 workers at the company were laid off this week and reportedly told it was due to an “economic downturn.” The report also noted that vacation pay was being withheld due to an internal audit.
A source told RV Daily Report that all but 50 employees may be furloughed soon as an investigation into Irwin Hymer North America’s financial situation is carried out.
Erwin Hymer North America issued a press release Aug. 16 boasting that the firm had a strong 2017, landing on top of the North American market for Class B Motorhomes with over 32.5% retail market share in North America and over 56% retail market share in Canada alone, as reported by Statistical Surveys, a Michigan market research firm.
According to the RV Industry Association, Class B motorhomes were the second fastest growing segment in 2018 with deliveries up 12.6 percent, behind truck campers at 22.1 percent. All other industry segments reported year-to-date declines in December.