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