Opinion: Hymer stubbornly digs in

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By Greg Gerber
Editor, RV Daily Report

I may have spoken too soon when I penned a column last week that suggested “the Erwin Hymer family name is too valuable to have corporate chuckleheads dragging their feet to provide answers to essential questions.”

It now appears that the Erwin Hymer family may be the biggest chuckleheads of all.

The German-owned company, which has refused every single request for information presented to it so far this year, literally shuttered all of its websites today.

People cannot connect to erwinhymergroupna.com or gohymer.com. In fact, people cannot access some of the Hymer brand websites too, such as caradorv.com and roadtrek.com, while www.americanfastbacks.com is still up. Perhaps the Hymer family forgot they own the American company, too.

Shutting off websites is a funny course of action to take for a firm that claims to be earnestly seeking a buyer. You would think a buyer would want to know all it could about the company and its brands.

But, if Erwin Hymer Group was able to acquire Roadtrek without enough due diligence to uncover the financial irregularities that Thor Industries’ auditors uncovered earlier this year, perhaps Hymer is hoping another sucker acquires its wasteland in the dark as well.

I know some employees are steadfastly defending the Hymer family from any suggestion that they played a role in the demise of the North American operation. However, people — real humans — who have any concern for the people who made them billionaires, do not simply turn their backs on those people.

It now appears the Hymers were out to lunch if the North American operation could have devolved from being a valued partner when their company acquired it Feb. 23, 2016, to one the family can’t even talk to less than two years later.

In the Feb. 23, 2016, story about Hymer acquiring Roadtrek, Martin Brandt, the CEO of the Erwin Hymer Group, said he met former CEO Jim Hammill at a trade show in Europe the summer before and immediately recognized a synergy in the two companies and a shared philosophy in their approach to filling the leisure travel needs of the growing RV markets.

“We kept meeting and talking and we were struck by how Hymer and Roadtrek were so alike in being technology-driven, down to earth and customer-oriented,” Hammill said at the time.

Hammill’s customers are now without warranties and unable to get parts. That’s how customer-oriented he was.

Let’s not forget Hammill called our original report of financial scandal at the company he oversaw an “astonishing” fabrication. Since that false report was posted Jan. 18, Thor Industries turned up its nose at acquiring the firm, and the company fired 800 employees without notice last Friday.

It is really astonishing that a financially healthy company would take that type of action.

When Carolin and Christian Hymer visited the Roadtrek plant Sept. 22, 2016, it was Christian who told the staff, “We are very proud to be here and to have you in our family business.”

A family of billionaires doesn’t turn its back on people, stop talking to them and stop answering their questions. Christian Hymer has a misplaced sense of what a “family business” is all about.

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

  • Jim Anderson says:

    Well Said!
    Guess if you stick you head in the sand far enough you can’t see anything or hear anything. So everything must be doing OK. What a way to run a business……

  • Jeff Bullen says:

    “if Erwin Hymer Group was able to acquire Roadtrek without enough due diligence to uncover the financial irregularities that Thor Industries’ auditors uncovered earlier this year”
    To me this is the key – how could Hymer so naive (or incompetent) to fail to secure their own audit prior to the 2016 purchase, or if it is recent how could they not have installed their own financial controls?

  • Bob Zagami says:

    And that is what they did to the company and their employees. Look at what they did to our dealers who have supported them through the years and sold their product, then think of all the consumers who purchased those products from our dealers – now left without a warranty and being forced to pay a second time for the service and support they would have under the six-year warranty. What a disgrace.

  • Charles Campbell says:

    Great article Great!!!
    This is a downright shame and disgrace!!!
    Untold numbers of reputable dealerships have placed their trust, not to mention their valuable names & hard-earned reputations, in the line by representing the Hymer Family’s RVs.
    And an even larger number of customers have invested their valued resources into securing the RVs that these billionaires have touted as valuable RVs.
    And 800 employees are left searching for answers & jobs, after working so hard, earnestly and diligently to provide these billionaires with more $$$ to add to their already heavily padded financial portfolios.
    The RV Industry as a while suffers a black eye, as future customers may take extra caution and consideration when thinking about purchasing an RV as they might ponder the possibility of the next large and “Honorable” RV Manufacturer falling into the same debacle!!!
    And all of the above due to some apparently dishonest actions by those in charge!!!
    Again-What an absolute shame!!!

  • Chris B says:

    I agree and as a 35 year employee of the company to be kicked to the street with no severance or benefits, it is an enormous shame and slap in the face to all the truly hard working people in the company. I guess now with billions in the bank the Hymers have no feeling or care for the little guys that built the company… Their father must be rolling in his grave knowing he raised such a selfish brat!!! As for CEO Jim Hammill, COO Howard Stratton & CFO Mark Weigel, they should be forced to return the bonuses they received for fake reporting of finished & invoiced units and that money should go directly into the severance fund for the employees, and then all three should be put in jail for the fraudulent way they ran this amazing company into the ground!!!

    • Samantha Fast says:

      Is any former employee doing any side jobs of repairing the aktiv MH or have access to knowledge of someone who does know the electric system of this unit?

  • Ticked off Tom says:

    We wonder what will happen with American Fastbacks? A small Disabled Veteran owned company, founded by a man and his wife, employing approximately 80 people. This previously viable company since 2013 (their web info) was purchased on promises of royalties and bonuses and big visions, are they yet another pawn in the game of wealth building by the Hymer family and their North American band of marauders and corporate raiders? At a rally it was heard that within 90 days of the purchase, Erwin Hymer Group North America installed a puppet controller, Henry Cruz, (appointed by CFO Mark Weigel) a VP of Group Operations, Peter Perley, (long time friend and co-worker of Mark Weigel) and set out to produce products that lacked the design and vision of the original founders. This carelessness, led by the corporate squad of goons, set out to over expand, over purchase, over promise and under deliver. Within less than two years they devalued and ruined an American built, Disabled Vet company. Does this company become for sale, just as Roadtrek for a huge discount? Wonder who will benefit from the discounted prices? A true institution of hard work, patriotism and values held close in the United States of America, apparently something too foreign to a greedy German and Canadian company, just looking to line their corporate pant pockets off the blood, sweat and tears of others. God bless all those men and woman who gave decades of their lives to build the Roadtrek brand, who now have nothing and prayers and hopes to the founders and staff members of America Fastbacks, what’s next for them? Another mass firing, bankruptcy? More lives ruined? The saga continues. Folks, this doesn’t pass the sniff test, Google Peter Perley, Mark Weigel, this is not their first company they’ve destroyed!!

    • Dave says:

      Unfortunately this is what happens when small, family owned businesses sell to larger corporations. The large corporations are only concerned with making money for their investors. The care very little about their employees, or customers, for that matter. Look at every industry, not just the RV industry. It is happening every day. I wish the owners of small, profitable companies would keep them and not sell out to the big guys.

    • weworkedthere says:

      it’s obvious there has been a crime committed here, an assassination. Every assassination needs a victim, shooters, motive, people who benefit from the assassination. in this case, The victim being Roadtrek, Shooters being Roadtreks CO’s. The motive being to eliminate Roadtrek… The benefits…Thor Industries would no longer have the threat of OUR class B vehicles as they have had in the past in North America.
      WE WERE #1….
      Would I ever buy from a company using these tactics?? NO, I would be ashamed…..
      I hope I am wrong but I believe you too may have been assassinated along with us…

  • EAW says:

    There is nothing wrong with their website I just checked it and it’s working perfectly fine.

  • RVadict says:

    I think this brand will survive in the long term. I’m sure other manufacturers will be looking to find a way to incorporate Roadtrek into their product portfolio. Perhaps, even, it is an opportunity for Marcus Melonis at Camping world to enter the manufacturing business. Nothing will happen though until the irregularities and those involved are resolved.

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