Hymer’s continued silence is deafening

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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:

  • Roadtrek
  • Simplicity
  • Zion
  • E-Trek
  • Adventurous
  • SS Agile
  • Popular
  • Activ
  • Touring GT
  • Carado:
    • Axion
    • Banff
  • Sunlight
  • Cliff Ride
  • American Fastbacks:
    • Badlands
    • Defcon
    • Force Recon
    • Stryker

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?

Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber

A journalist who has covered the recreation vehicle industry since January 2000, Greg Gerber founded RV Daily Report on April Fool's Day in 2009. He also serves as the editor of the publication and website. As an Eagle Scout, he has enjoyed camping for decades and has visited every state except Hawaii. A DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three young women, he has two grandchildren as well. He currently splits his time between Wisconsin, Texas and Arizona. Greg can be reached at editor@rvdailyreport.com.

Leave a Comment

  • Wayne Lowe says:

    We are owed several hundred thousand dollars by Hymer and can get no information on when we will be paid. It is causing havoc in our company with our suppliers and employees
    As you say their silence is deafening.

  • D says:

    Fired everyone today, in receivership. Former employee.

  • Iworkedhere says:

    They terminated us and went into receivership but not before their employees did the inventory, asked our opinion on how to improve production for next week, up until the last half hour of the shift. Oh, by the way, Owners of Erwin Hymer vehicles , you may want to check your VIN, it might belong to someone else!

  • Captn John says:

    So the parent company has been sold and no longer exists and the NA portion is broke. It sounds like what is left will be sold and creditors will get a spilt of what is left. Sad so ,any impacted. Any Canadian laws violated? Thor due diligence probably asked questions to get the ball rolling.

  • Clyde says:

    They just shut down. All 900 employees have been laid off.

  • Ted says:

    I make my comments based on my career as a Controller and Credit Manager responsible for extending credit and collecting commercial receivables. I am not familiar with Canadian laws, only those in the USA. Looks like it will be a long haul for the trustee in receivership to collect any funds disbursed fraudulently. It could be years before any vendor receives a distribution. Even then my guess that if anything is paid out it in the next few years that it will be pennies on the dollar. Management is gone as well as all the talented and experienced employees. It does not appear that neither Hymer nor Thor has any interest in continuing the operation. That leaves the other Class B manufacturers who have their own brands to promote. This is just one less competitor for them. The possibility of Roadtrek continuing is some form seems impossible to me. There is no real viable parts business to be had since most components and appliances come from other vendors and are readily available. The only thing unique to Roadtrek is the body, the tanks holding liquids and the cabinetry. Unless the trustee can get an amount set aside for warranties, there will be none from Roadtrek and if there is it would be somewhere in the distant future. Thus, there is talk of Roadtrek owners buying extended warranties. My position on warranties as a Controller was to never buy them unless it included periodic maintenance which does not apply with our Roadtreks. The reason is that a significant portion of the warranty cost goes to the salesman as commission. The premium you pay for the warranty also has to cover all of the company’s expenses for claims, all their administrative expenses and their profit. Then you have to get the warranty company to pay your claim. They already have your money and anything they pay out will reduce their profit. They are in business to make money so many of these firms will fight you tooth and nail and deny your claim. They have the money and you have to try to get it away from them.
    How are you going to do that? They normally are third parties and have nothing to do with the dealers selling you this coverage. The dealer’s interest is in making that commission. If you can afford a Roadtrek, you can afford to be self insured because the coverage is expensive compared to what it covers. I feel sorry for the Roadtrek dealers who paid for Roadtreks and now have no warranty. That is a stiff financial blow. And, anyone who paid in advance, may be out of luck and have status only as an unsecured creditor with a very low likely hood of receiving payment. The employees were very fortunate to receive their wages and vacation but that may have something to do with the laws in Canada. In the US, only the first $2,000 of wages would be classed as a secured creditor with the balance holding the status of an unsecured creditor.
    I also feel sorry for the unsecured vendors sitting on substantial receivables from Roadtrek. If they receive anything (which I doubt they will) it will be more than 4 months, longer than any financial institution will recognize as collateral for loans, thus putting a severe financial strain on those vendors which may put them out of business.
    I do hope that any individuals that were party to any fraud receive long prison sentences and loss of assets. It will all depend on the facts and how aggressive the trustee in receivership is.

    • Ted says:

      I meant to add that if you made a down payment to a dealer, the dealer would be responsible for refunding your deposit depending upon the terms of any contract you signed. You may need to talk to your attorney.

  • AL says:

    The IP license that allowed EHGNA to manufacture and sell Hymer, Carado and Sunlight was terminated at the time of the Thor transaction. (You can find this on page 29 of Part I of the motion materials: https://www.alvarezandmarsal.com/content/erwin-hymer-group-north-america-inc-motion-materials) Presumably the brands now belong to Thor, and they will have an interest in protecting the brand reputation. Those who own one of their models may get a better/faster result working with Thor than they will trying to chase down money through an EHGNA insolvency.

    • Greg Gerber says:

      Al, I can assure you that no Hymer North America brands belong to Thor Industries. That entire company was segregated from the deal for Thor to acquire Erwin Hymer Group. Thor Industries was only really interested in gaining a foothold in Europe. The Hymer North America would have been a nice addition to Thor’s portfolio, but the company did not and likely will not acquire Hymer North America’s brands, debt or assets.

      Editor, RV Daily Report

      • AL says:

        Yes, but the licenses issued by EHG to EHGNA to produce Hymer, Carado, and Sunlight, were terminated as of the carve-out transaction that sold EHGNA to Corner Flag (January 31) the day before EHG was acquired by Thor (February 1). Hymer, Carado, and Sunlight were not EHGNA brands. They were simply licensed by EHG to produce those vehicles.

        All technicalities aside, I feel quite confident that EHG, now owned by Thor, retained all rights to the Hymer brand.

  • Brad says:

    Has the American Fastback brand been affected by this?

  • Samantha Fast says:

    We purchased our new Hymer in July 2018. We are now having problems with the batteries. If possible can anyone share the electrical system of the Activ 2.0 with us in order to find problem with our coach? Would be so appreciated. Otherwise our new unit is not a working vehicle. Thank you all, Samantha

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