Listen to this story
By Greg Gerber
Editor, RV Daily Report
Four weeks ago today, RV Daily Report published a story relating news of a major financial scandal involving Erwin Hymer Group North America, the company that produces Roadtrek Class B motorhomes among other brands.
Although the company never formally responded to the report, former CEO Jim Hammill called it an astounding fabrication.
However, a few days later, Erwin Hymer Group announced that it was conducting an internal audit after uncovering some “irregularities in the company’s reporting.”
The company noted that it was acting in accordance with it’s “zero tolerance policy,” whatever that means. The firm never did disclose what that policy pertained to, whether it was zero tolerance of misreporting financial statements, drug/alcohol use, inappropriate touching or speech, or any of a dozen of other things for which companies today seem to adopt “zero tolerance” policies.
The same day the audit was reported, Thor Industries announced that it would no longer include Erwin Hymer Group North America as part of a deal to acquire Erwin Hymer Group in a package that would make Thor the largest RV manufacturer in the world.
Ten days later, the deal was done. However, two weeks later, uncertainty remains regarding Erwin Hymer Group North America and the company still won’t answer questions.
Hardly a day goes by when RV Daily Report doesn’t get a question from an employee, a dealer, a supplier or a potential customer seeking information about the situation. I explain that although we pose questions to officials, the company stonewalls us, and we’re still in the dark along with everyone else.
All we know for sure is that Thor Industries does not own Erwin Hymer Group North America and has nothing to do with the sale of or maintenance of motorhomes manufactured under these brands:
- SS Agile
- Touring GT
- Cliff Ride
- American Fastbacks:
- Force Recon
To the best of our knowledge, the above brands still remain fully in control of Erwin Hymer Group North America. None of the above brands have anything to do with Thor Industries.
And, again to the best of our knowledge, none of the above brands will be acquired by Thor Industries once Hymer’s internal audit is completed.
However, if RV Daily Report must serve as Hymer’s unofficial spokesperson in managing rumors, saving deals and reassuring employees and customers, then we’ll need more information than we’re getting from the company. Perhaps a company insider can shed some light on these questions.
Here are the questions we have asked already for which we are still awaiting answers:
- Following the sale of Erwin Hymer Group to Thor Industries, what happens now to Erwin Hymer Group North America?
- Does Erwin Hymer Group still have any control over the North American subsidiary? The answer to this question determines who pays employees and suppliers, and stands behind the company’s warranty.
- Is Erwin Hymer Group North America entering bankruptcy?
- When will production resume? It had reportedly stopped several weeks ago, which the company never officially confirmed as well. RV Daily Report has received conflicting reports as to whether it has restarted, or if the lines remain closed.
- Has the company accounted for all its manufactured motorhomes by associating them with appropriate and unique vehicle identification numbers? The point of shutting down the production lines was supposedly to allow company auditors to physically account for each motorhome on the line or awaiting delivery. Perhaps the auditors need a new abacus to help with counting inventory.
- Will Erwin Hymer Group, or what is left of it, sell the North America division to another firm?
- Were any managers or executives from Erwin Hymer Group North America arrested in the past 60 days in connection with financial irregularities at the firm?
- How many family members of key leaders worked at the company, and in what capacity?
- Vendors are reporting that they have not been paid – some for months in amounts exceeding $100,000. When will those payments be made?
The answer to vendors being paid is important because if vendors have to shut down, lay off staff and file bankruptcy because they aren’t being paid, then it makes it much harder for Erwin Hymer Group North America to ever resume operations.
In addition to the questions RV Daily Report has asked, others have been seeking answers to the following questions as well:
- Who owns Erwin Hymer Group North America? This is a critical question that should be answered in two seconds. The financial disclosure statement filed by Thor Industries with the Securities and Exchange Commission Feb. 1 contained this statement: “Among other revisions to the purchase agreement, the amendment documented the fact that EHG (Erwin Hymer Group) sold and transferred the North American operations to be excluded from the transaction prior to the closing….”
- If Erwin Hymer Group North America has been sold, who owns it? Because the answer to that directly impacts some other questions, such as:
- Is my Hymer warranty still good? Really, this is a yes or no answer, not subject to counting motorhomes.
- Is the roadside assistance plan that came with the vehicle still in effect? Consumers don’t want to find out that they don’t have coverage when they are stranded on a highway looking for help.
- Other people suspect that the company is likely to file bankruptcy, which leads to the question that if the company goes out of business, will customers still be able to get replacement parts?
- When will people receive the RVs they purchased at the Tampa RV Supershow and other spring RV shows?
- We are hearing reports that it is harder for dealers to attain funding to order RVs from Erwin Hymer Group North America. How many banks have told the company the lenders will no longer offer floorplan financing for Hymer’s North America products?
- Are extended warranty companies offering new coverage for the North American Hymer brands?
- When will the internal audit be complete, and will the results be made public?
- Can dealers place orders for new units? Some customers are being told the lead time is six weeks to order an RV. But, if the production lines are not in operation, how can any RVs be built?
Theresa Hübschlee, Erwin Hymer Group’s press officer for corporate communications, always closes every press release with these helpful words, “Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.”
It is time for someone at Erwin Hymer Group North America to step up to a microphone, swallow hard, and answer these nagging questions before dealers, owners, lenders, suppliers, prospective buyers, the media and general public lose all confidence in the management of the company.
The Erwin Hymer family name is too valuable to have corporate chuckleheads dragging their feet to provide answers to essential questions.
Every moment of silence continues to erode confidence in the leadership as well as the value of the company and its products. Right now, the company’s credibility is dwindling after every day passes during which corporate officials do not communicate with an anxious public.
The microphone is open. Who will step up to address the audience?