ELKHART — Most RV companies aren’t born with a sterling reputation, but Hank Schrock wants to change that by rolling out a new incarnation of the long-gone Sterling motorhome brand.
Schrock, the owner of the Total Value RV dealership just north of Elkhart, is going back to earlier days as he starts to make the only class A motorhome on the market that will fit in nearly any American driveway and through a 10-foot garage door, and it will be significantly more fuel efficient than most other class A motorhomes. “You can drive it into a regular parking spot at Menard’s or anywhere,” though the length will take up a little more space, Schrock said.
“I used to work for this company back in 1990. I was the national sales manager, and this was built out in California. The era of people that were in that era of time are gone. The people that enjoyed that motorhome were more elderly people. They didn’t want big motorhomes, they wanted something they could go to football games in, go up to an island for a week or a couple of days. This is not a live-in. This is to travel in, go stay in a motel and do what you want to do,” Schrock said.
“Everybody’s forgotten about this unit. I didn’t. I wanted to bring it back to life in a new age,” Schrock said.
He bought several of the old units, stripped them back down to the chassis, and “we built a new box on it, redesigned the front and the back cap.”
It has a wide variety of features and weighs less than 10,000 pounds, but Schrock thinks the suspension may be what makes it most desirable. “I’ve driven it to Detroit now twice. It’s absolutely a little dream. It’s fun to drive,” he said.
While Schrock is negotiating with a company to make the new chassis, the demo unit displayed at the Midwest RV Super Show made a splash.
“Unbelievable inquiries about it, matter of fact I need to buy four more of the old ones, strip them down, refurbish the chassis and put new box on them for people we’ve got them sold to,” Schrock said. “That’s what happened at that show.”
They plan to have the production chassis available before the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s trade show in Louisville later this year.
“It’s going to be built here in Elkhart.” He’s not ready to say how many people production will employ, but said, “It’s going to create some jobs, which is what I’d like to bring to the community.” They’ll start production with one unit a day and ramp up from there.
There’s interest from Europe and Australia because of the narrower roads there, Schrock said.
“I wanted to design it for people who want to hop out of big coaches, that can hop in this little coach and go see their grandkids for a weekend and have the facilities to use should they desire to use it,” he said.
There will be three lines, five floorplans and the company will also build custom versions for people needing handicap-friendly features, Schrock said.