MIDDLEBURY — While this is a busy time of year for the locally based recreational vehicle industry, it’s an especially busy September for EverGreen Recreational Vehicles.
They’re starting production in a third facility after doubling the company’s size and tripling the company’s workforce in the last year.
They’re preparing to welcome their newest partners, the Carriage Travel Club, which joined with EverGreen’s Lifestyle Luxury RV brand in the wake of the demise of Millersburg-based Carriage RV.
They’re getting ready to unveil three new brands as they go to four RV shows from Pennsylvania to California in just over three months, plus the dealer open house event in Elkhart.
“EverGreen is ever growing,” said Mark Boessler, president and chief operations officer of the company, founded in 2009 by Kelly Rose and Mike Schoeffler.
EXPANDING THEIR PRODUCTION
The company is ramping up production in their third facility, which adds 45,000 square feet of production space on their campus north of Middlebury.
The new production will add 35 new jobs to the 270 employees of EverGreen, Boessler said.
A year ago, EverGreen had 90 employees, Boessler said. The new facility “will also aid in employment as well as the dedication to our community,” he said.
They’ve added staff in order to stay ahead of the growth curve in the industry. Towable RVs are up 10.8 percent through July compared to the first seven months of 2012, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. EverGreen’s workforce growth has allowed them to ramp up ahead of demand so they’re not scrambling to keep up, Boessler said.
TEAMING UP WITH CARRIAGE OWNERS
Even as one of the largest RV shows in the country happens in Pennsylvania, EverGreen is welcoming 190 rigs to Elkhart County as the Carriage Travel Club comes to the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds in Goshen for its Grand National Rally Sept. 9-13.
When Carriage went under, the travel club was without a manufacturer.
EverGreen picked up former Carriage employees and started their own high-end brand, Lifestyle Luxury RV, which attracted the Carriage club.
“We’re tickled the Carriage owners’ group has chosen our company to continue,” Boessler said. “They chose us over other incumbents” who bought the Carriage name and engineering. “When we looked at Carriage, we looked at putting Lifestyle together. We repurposed the workforce into a new, higher-end brand,” he said. “The Carriage owners’ group decided to hitch their wagons to us,” he said.
To thank the group, the Wednesday of the rally is “Lifestyle Day,” with EverGreen’s service department at the fairgrounds to help customers, and capped off by a hog roast by Rose, the company’s chairman, and entertainment.
EXPANDING THEIR PRODUCT LINES
When Boessler joined the company about a year and a half ago, EverGreen was a three-brand company that had only been around a couple of years. EverGreen focuses on as much composite construction and as little wood as possible. “It’s worth it in terms of one’s health and resale ability,” Boessler said.
The company remains small enough to make quick changes based on customer needs, but this fall they’ll be a 10-brand company. “We’re hitting 80 percent of the market,” up from only a small slice a couple of years ago.
GROWING THEIR SHOW PRESENCE
The company will have 30 RVs at the Hershey, Pa., show from Sept. 9-15 on triple the square footage of last year.
They will have 10 lines of RVs at their open house show Sept. 17-19 in Elkhart, compared to the three they offered 18 months ago. They’ll have 50 units on display for dealers on 45,000 square feet, and they expect more than 500 dealers.
At the RV Dealers Association show in Las Vegas Oct. 1-5, EverGreen will have the largest display. “We made a significant commitment there,” he said.
After that, at the show in Pomona, Calif., they’ll have new toy-hauler fifth wheel and travel trailer RVs.
Then, to cap off the fall show season, “we’ll have double the space that we’ve ever had” at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s 51st national trade show in Louisville, Ky., in early December.
GROWTH PLANS IN THE FUTURE
“We have big plans for 2014 as far as growth goes,” Boessler said.
“Our aspiration is not to be the biggest company. We aspire to be the number one quality company, the number one reliability company, the number one consumer happiness company,” he said.
The company’s growth, he said, is due to two things.
First is to Rose and Schoeffler. “It is a testament to them and the way they run a company and their credibility,” Boessler said.
The other is the company’s employees. “We know we’re here because of our people and we’re relevant because of our people,” he said.
Those people have built great relationships with suppliers, dealers and customers, and they have a good process in place to build RVs, he said.
“It’s our people, our process and our product that make our company unique in my opinion,” he said.
“I respect Thor, I respect Forest River. They’re great companies, great competitors. We’re doing our own thing on the same board table, finding our own path,” he said.