Why Did Evergreen RV Go Out Of Business?Anthony Day
Did you purchase an Evergreen RV but notice that the company is no longer making recreational vehicles? Why did Evergreen RV go out of business?
After all, you’d like to know about the company that built the camper that you have sitting in your driveway, so you have some idea of what to expect. The last thing you want to do is to be stuck with a metal monstrosity and not a company to turn to should there be an issue. The fact that the Evergreen you purchased was pre-owned just complicates matters because now that the company has gone belly up means parts could be harder to get, or at the very least more expensive.
Evergreen RV went out of business in June 2016, finding itself in severe financial trouble after overextending itself. The company could not secure a buyer to continue its operations, and the RV maker closed its doors unexpectedly, not informing any employees or dealers until the day it closed.
The folks at the RV center failed to mention Evergreen's demise, and you are kicking yourself for not researching before you laid your hard-earned cash down. What was Evergreen RV? What kinds of RV did they produce? Why did they close their doors if they were making a great trailer?
This article will explore the topic of Evergreen RVs and why you may have some options concerning your ownership of this particular RV.
What Was Evergreen RV?
Evergreen RV began operations in 2008 by making lightweight travel and fifth-wheel trailers in a facility near Middlebury, Indiana. The company began its operations during the recession of 2008 when many RV manufacturers found demand for their units falling due to high unemployment and home loan defaults. The company's top management was comprised of several RV leaders from other companies who chose to formulate a new type of RV trailer made of more composite and eco-friendly materials. The lightweight materials called Composit-Tek did not include formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds which had been discovered to produce cancer.
Evergreen purchased a large portion of the defunct Pilgrim International manufacturing assets. It announced with grand fanfare that they would be opening the plant in Elkhart County, Indiana, which at the time had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. When so many companies were laying off workers at the time, here was an example of a company reversing the trend by making a difference in hundreds of families in a small town in the Midwest.
Part of the appeal to Evergreen models was that they were made with mold-resistant, labeled Composit-Tek, billed as more eco-friendly materials that were about 20% lighter than their competitors' plywood construction. The reduced weight coupled with an aerodynamic design allowed many families to enjoy the RV lifestyle by towing a trailer without investing in the cost of a pickup or large SUV. For an excellent review of one such trailer towed by a car, see rvlifemag.com.
Popular Evergreen Models and Company Accolades
There have been some popular models - Over the years, many models have been snatched up by consumers, but 2012 proved to be a banner year for the company.
- 2012 Evergreen Ever-lite 31RLS - winner of “best buy” from Consumer Digest (view prnnewswire.com for press release) and the winners of the “Certified Green Emerald” rating by TRA certification, Inc. for using eco-friendly manufacturing techniques, including the management of wastewater. (Evergreen was the first RV company to win this prestigious environmental award) See the brochure for 2012 here.
- 2012 Evergreen 369RL Bay Hill - winner of Best RV Debut, Best of Show by RV Promagazine (Check out the article from rvbuisness.com. here)
- 2013 Evergreen is named the fastest growing RV company by Statistical Analysis
- 2015-16 Evergreen I - Go Travel trailer Series - Sales doubled in 2015 from the previous year and garnered the attention of RV business magazine. See this article for more information.
What Kind of RVs did Evergreen Produce?
Evergreen was known for making light-weight travel trailers, fifth-wheels, and toy haulers (RVs with a built-in garage for hauling ATVs, Dirt bikes, kayaks, and the like). From the outset, they intended to build their units with eco-friendly and environmentally sound components. The company labeled these materials Composi-Tek, made of aluminum framing and other non-mold resistant materials. Unfortunately, the cost of making these kinds of trailers was about $5000 more than other RV models. Many of their trailers were more lavish than the homes of the people purchasing them.
Evergreen RV Operating History
The company formed in 2008 as the Great Recession was pressing American families and pushing unemployment through the roof. Evergreen was established by the heads of other defunct RV companies and began acquiring land and space for their manufacturing site. They chose a large section of land north of Middlebury in Elkhart County, Indiana, and announced the hiring of 100 workers.
Buoyed by the success of early press, the company purchased a Coachman Industries facility in early 2009 and hired more workers to produce its Ever-Lite series. Evergreen began to introduce more and more configurations, which required the hiring of additional staff.
In 2011, Evergreen bought the assets of Carthage, Inc., a nearby luxury RV maker, which led to the beginning of Evergreen’s Lifestyle Luxury RV division. Evergreen added another brand to its development with the acquisition of Skyline in 2014, expanding its facility in 2016. The company was considered an excellent workplace and did not have much turnover.
When Did Evergreen RV Go Under?
June 2016, company officials notified approximately 270 employees that they would not need to come back to work. The news surprised many employees, and hardly any dealers were given advance warning.
Why Did Evergreen RV Close Down?
There are various reasons why Evergreen RV had to shut its doors. Even though company officials told reporters that the reason was that they could not secure financing, that is only half the story.
Despite the glowing reports, many RV companies were struggling with sales and how to retain workers. In later years, more complaints were pouring into the factory about shoddy workmanship. Reports of leaks, faulty plumbing, parts not secured correctly and forced Evergreen to initiate a “buy-back” program. While there are no figures on how many trailers dealers were forced to repurchase from consumers,
The luxury models of the Evergreen were very lavish, sometimes much more stylish than the homes of the people who were purchasing them. This philosophy, along with the higher costs of labor and materials, pushed the price above what most American’s considered a reasonable price. Dealers could not create the “value” that most buyers needed to feel to justify the additional money required to purchase.
There was decreased demand for the Evergreen product. Massive complaints and buybacks soured the general public on the company. Many dealers were losing repeat customers. The sales for luxury RVs were plateauing as more Ameicans watched the gasoline price increase, and a lack of good service repair cost the company too many resources it could ill afford to lose.
The primary issue plaguing the company is that they were suffering from the financial burden of buying back vehicles that were not very well built. In addition, expanding plants that required additional capital did not produce the sales the company had anticipated. At the time of closing, the plant employed about 270 - 300 workers.
Failure to Secure a Buyer
The company told news outlets that they could not secure a buyer for the company, but not many people (employees, media, or dealers) knew that the company assets were for sale. A fresh influx of capital might have extended the life of Evergreen for a short period but would likely not have made much difference in its future.
Where is Evergreen RV Now?
Most of the assets of Evergreen were purchased by Dutchman, a division of Keystone RV. The purchase included a 22-acre property, including a 100,000 sq ft facility, a week after the plant closed. The plant continues to produce RVs and employs about 150 workers.
About THE AUTHOR
Hi, my name is Anthony, and RVs are what I'm passionate about. I bought my first RV when I was 21, and I've been hooked ever since. I'll guide you on how they work, how they can be used in different environments, and how they fit into our everyday lives.Read More About Anthony Day