Situation cloudy at high-end RV maker

    Two businesses connected to the RV industry are undergoing changes

    Posted on Oct. 20, 2011 at 1:00 a.m.

    MILLERSBURG — Luxury fifth- wheel-maker Carriage Inc. has apparently stopped production at its manufacturing facility in Millersburg, leaving nearly 200 employees uncertain about their future.

    A Wednesday telephone call went unanswered at the plant and company officials could not be reached for comment. RVBusiness is reporting the manufacturer halted production on Monday and sent about 180 workers home.

    Carriage was founded in 1969 and bought by Glenn Cushman, a former investment banker, in 1999. The company has made no public statements about its situation but RVBusiness reported the business is sorting through financial difficulties and was unable to come to terms with its lender.

    Tiara RV Sales and Service in Elkhart, a dealer that carries Carriage units, has not received any official notification from the manufacturer about the situation. In addition, it has not been able to contact the company.

    “We’re optimistic that they’ll be back up and running but we just don’t know,” said Brian Calhoun, sales manager. “It’s a fine company to work with.”

    Carriage did join with four other Elkhart County RV manufacturers to hold an open house during dealer week in September. The group displayed units on a parcel of land close to the intersection of U.S. 20 and C.R. 17. Also, the company has regularly shown products at the National RV Trade Show annually in Louisville, Ky.

    Calhoun said Carriage makes a “fine, excellent” product and customers are “extremely loyal” to the brand.

    Decorator Industries

    Decorator Industries Inc. which has a plant in Goshen, has voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Company president and CEO Bill Johnson said the business is sound and filed the petition so it could resolve issues at the corporate level.

    “The company is not going anywhere,” Johnson said. “It really is a corporate thing we’re dealing with.”

    Johnson said he hopes the company will have worked through its situation by February or March 2012. At that time, Decorator Industries could look different, either with Johnson stepping back from his leadership role or possibly another company joining as a partner and helping to recapitalize the balance sheet.

    Based in Cooper City, Fla., Decorator Industries supplies the RV, manufactured housing and hospitality segments. It has one plant in Goshen which does business under the name of Speciality Window Coverings.

    “The manufacturing operations are largely unaffected by what we’re doing,” Johnson said. “Nothing is changing (at the Goshen plant) and we don’t anticipate changes there.”

    The bankruptcy filing will enable the company to manage some cost concerns associated with contractural agreements and with going dark (or not publicly disclosing its financial results) on the American Stock Exchange, Johnson said.

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