Peterson Industries shuts its doors

SMITH CENTER, Kansas — Peterson Industries, manufactures of the Excel brand of recreation vehicles, announced today the company was closing its doors immediately. The company markets products under the Winslow, Limited and Wild Cargo lines.

In a message posted on Facebook, the company noted:

“Peterson Industries, Inc. has been a pillar of the RV industry and our community for nearly 50 years. Founded in 1966 by Vaughn and Leonard Peterson, the Excel brand has survived crisis upon crisis and always bounced back, beginning with the fuel shortages in 1974, when people stood in line for hours just to get gas. Followed by the interest rate crisis of 1979, when interest rates jumped to a staggering 21 percent.

“Next, we had a fire in 1983 that burned our main plant to the ground. Operating out of five locations around Smith Center, we produced our first unit within 30 days after the fire.  Then came 9/11 and the softening of the RV markets during the Gulf war.

“And finally, the greatest recession to hit America since the 1930s, caused by the sub-prime mortgage crisis that began in 2007 and lasted for a staggering six years for the RV industry. Coming into the 2007 recession, Peterson Industries was positioned quite well to sustain a moderate downturn. This however, was in no way “moderate!” The recession began with approximately 15 RV manufacturers building in the “high end” market, until finally there were only two left: DRV and Excel.

“After a diligent search seeking a buyer or investor proved fruitless, I am so sorry to say that the last seven years has left Peterson Industries undercapitalized and unable to continue. Therefore, Peterson Industries is closing our doors, effective immediately.

“To our friends in the community . . . to those who have worked for us over the years and instilled your personal pride into building the finest RV in the industry . . . to all who have supported us in various ways, and to our valued Excel family members, on behalf of Vaughn and Duana, Bryan and Deb, and Curtis and Martha, we want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for your loyalty and for giving us an opportunity to be a part of your lives and a part of this great community.

“Words cannot express our gratitude. We will miss you all so very much!”

Callers to the companies headquarters hear a voice message from a distraught woman announcing that the company was forced to close.

SOURCE: Peterson Industries announcement

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

  • BILL says:

    We started selling Winnebago motorhomes in Kansas in 1966-the same year Peterson Industries started building Excel RV’s in Kansas. A great family-owned company, they have built high-quality products for 50 years. We will miss them.

  • Sue says:

    And Washington keeps telling us the economy is doing great. Yeah, right. Everything that comes out of Wasington is a lie, the unemployment rate, the inflation rate, promises about the Healthcare bill. Just a sign of the times and probably only the beginning. NuWa in Chanute also went out of business and now just sell sob’s, plus used Hitchhikers.

  • Stephanie says:

    A family based company with a huge number of longtime employees says something about the way they did business. If you added up the years and divided by the number of employees I doubt that you could find another manufacturer out there with the number years average that Peterson had. These are people that you make a real connection with. So sad that they have been forced to call it quits. And what’s with the theatrics with the writer of your article. “a distraught woman” OH SERIOUSLY, get a job with CNN.

    • Terry Mishler says:

      I’m the 2nd owner of a 2014 Excel 37SDF. I have learned the slide-out gear racks have 18 teeth gears but LCI changed production in 2013 to 15 teeth gear racks. Dexter Axle from my photos said I needed to replace majority (list of parts required) to make my RV safe. Removing parts it was discovered there were two different lengths of shocks and the leaf springs were not the same as on Dexter Axle build sheet. I’m trying to locate owners of 2013 and newer EXCEL’s to compare. Mr. Peterson and mr. Ralpf Brnett at EXCEL’s SERVICE CENTER refuses to reply to my emails. There are major frame issues also. I would appreciate help on this matter with others. Please email me SUBJECT: BAD EXCEL to terry.mishler@gmail.com

  • Elise says:

    so sorry to hear this. I agree with the above poster that there’s no truth coming out of Washington on any issue. And it just seems to get worse. It’s a shame these people who have been with Peterson for so many years now have to start over like so many others. Thanks to a corrupt administration that continues to make bad financial as well as every other kind of decision. To all of the employees and to the Owners my deepest apologies and prayers for you all.

    • Morgan says:

      All RV manufacturers are reporting significant sales volume increases since 2010. And last year most surpassed 2007 sales. The dealer I work for is up 75% this year over last year and last year was a record year.. The times have changed as to what the consumer wants. Excel failed to recognize the coming change or refused to except it. To blame Excells demise on the policies of this administration is nonsense.

  • Gary says:

    Peterson was simply caught up in the delayed reaction. The larger players buy cheaper and can sit on product longer.
    Things are not getting better for the average RV buyer . This is just what is coming down the road.

  • max hammer says:

    Excel built an exceptional unit with focus on extreme all weather use. You could even hang a 1000# m/ c on an optional lift behind their < 35' 5 ers.
    That quality of build placed Peterson Ind. in a unique market that has shifted away from extreme weather units.
    Sad.

    • Terry Mishler says:

      Sorry! But Peterson Industries built all their RV’s having several code violations, some of which were life threatening. Worse yet! They knew all along about the RV’s they were manufacturing. Friends??? You may consider thinking again.

    • Terry Mishler says:

      Non sense! Peterson didn’t even build their RV’s having a furnace air return duct. Without air return duct when a vent fan or furnace ws operated outside air would be drawn inside the Peterson RV.
      (NFPA) National Fire Pretection Association, RVIA requires RV’S to be manufactured to codes such as the required furnace air return duct. Want to breath CO2 while inside your RV operate a furnace and or a vent fan and if CO2 is present then it will be entering you lings.
      Keystone RV offered to buy back my 2014 Mountaineer for what I paid for it or they would pay me $15,000.00 and let me keep my Mountaineer if I would sign a release, releasing them of all liabilities. I did not agree to either. Following our decision my wife and I began rebuilding our Mountaineer eliminating all of the code violations. We are now in the process of eliminating the code violations in our 2014 Winslow. After I emailed Peterson photos of issues I had with Dexter Axle running gear parts Peterson emailed me as don’t tow RV until repairs are made. When I tried to contact them again I was notified Peterson had cloed their doors.

  • CHARLES & PEGGY BASSETT says:

    WE BOUGHT OUR 3RD RV NOVEMBER 2014, AN EXCEL WINSLOW 34IKE. WE HAD SET AN APPOINTMENT TIME FOR APRIL 20TH, 2015 FOR SOME NECESSARY REPAIRS. WE DISCOVERED YESTERDAY, THAT PETERSON INDUSTRIES HAD CLOSED ITS DOORS. DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS ON WHER OR HOW TO ABTAIN THESE REPAIRS.

  • CHARLES & PEGGY BASSETT says:

    WE HAVE SINCE 3/24/2015, DISCOVERED THAT NO WARRANTY WORK WILL BE PERFORMED ON OUR UNIT BY EITHER PETERSON INDUSTRIES, MANUFACTURER, OR DEE’S RV, COLORADO SPRINGS, CO., DEALER. WE HAVE SOME SERIOUS PROBLEM WITH THIS UNIT, AND ARE SEEKING SOME MEANS TO WHICH THESE REPAIRS MAY BE ACCOMPLISHED, WITH OUT MONIES FROM OUR POCKETS. AFTER ALL, WE HAVE PAPER WORK THAT STATES WE HAVE A 2 YEAR FULL FACTORY WARRANTY. WE HAVE FILED A COMPLAINT WITH THE KANSAS AG OFFICE AT, http://www.inyourcornerkansas.org. WE SUGGEST ALL OWNER OF NEW EXCEL RV’S CHECK WITH THEIR DEALER CONCERNING WARRANTY REPAIRS, AND IF NECESSARY, FILE A REPORT TO THE LINK ABOVE..

    • phredstoner says:

      A lot depends on how Peterson is shutting down, but generally you will be at the back of the line, behind every lender with a secured loan.
      What that means is you almost certainly have a piece of paper that is worth only it’s value for recycling and you get to pay your repairs yourself.
      Now I know of Excel dealers that are honoring the warranty themselves, your bad luck you have a dealer that will not.

    • Terry Mishler says:

      Don’t ever buy a new or used RV unless an RV tech first performed the required (PDI) Pre-delivery Inspection. My wife and I provided Bennett’s RV a down payment check exceeding $54.000.00 for a Peterson Industries 2015 Wild Cargo. After I talked with Peterson president Bryan T. at an RV show in Dallas Fortworth Bennett’s RV reused to sell me the RV we ordered. A selling agreement was signed. Because of this my wife and I are experiencing cc debts traveling to RV show etc.
      As for warranty…Keystone refused to authorize warranty work on our 2014 Mountaineer because I refused to eliminate my list of discepancies. When I met with Keystone tech mgr. at Holiday World Katy, Texas on Jan. 5, 2015, after Keystone mgr. instructed me 5 or more times to agree to his terms or take my RV off Holiday Worlds lot I felt helpless so I called Waller County Sheriff Departmen. That report was written exceptionally honestly and supportive. The selling dealer Gibb’s RV in North Bend, Oregon did sell me a slide out seal but refused to install it. Before I took delivery off Gibb’s RV lot I requested a torque wrench from maintenance to check wheel lug nuts. (Keystone owner’s manuals states the RV owner is responsible for lug nut torques) Majority of torques exceeded max. torque so I required them to install new hubs. Following this I discovered Dexter Axle mfg. of the hubs reuires matching bearing and beaing cups beinstalled in matched sets. Service manager Tony at Gibb’s refused to install matched sets. When I shared with him I didn’t believe him, he brought me a brown paper bag having loose mixed together possible maring surfaces bearings and bearing cups. Dexter Axle could not believe they stored as they did. Gibb’s RV installed before taking delivery an optional a/c unit in bedroom. Again, owner’s manual states RV owner is required to check all maintenance services performed by techs on owners RV. I requested the tech to remove the lower cover from bottom of a/c unit. It was obvious the tech failed to perform ops check for the fabric air duct remained shoved up inside a/c fan wheel. If usint was operated it would have chewed up the fabric duct. Gibb’s still refuses to provide me with a copy of the (PDI) Pre Delivery Inspection guide dealers are required to perform.
      Please let me add the following…RV Manufacurers info that I have read cautions, warns etc.only qualified techs should perform RV maintances but yet Keystone and possibly other mfg. require RV owners to check out and approve maintenances. Why?

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