ELKHART — In his new book “King of the Road: The History of Thor Industries,” Jeffrey L. Rodengen lays out in a highly readable style the origins, growth, failures and success of what has become the world’s largest RV manufacturer. If you think business books – and business history books in particular – are necessarily dull, think again. You’ll likely find this to be a captivating read, complete with hundreds of photos and illuminating infographics.
Beginning with Wade Thompson and Peter Orthwein’s takeover of the quirky Hi-Lo trailer in 1977; the purchase of Airstream with an upfront cash outlay of $1 and the formation of Thor Industries in 1980; then on to the acquisitions of Dutchmen, Keystone, Damon, Four Winds, CrossRoads, Heartland, Jayco and, most recently, Erwin Hymer Group, the author weaves a fascinating and personal story. Rodengen draws on news articles, internal and external reports, and dozens of interviews with industry figures including past and present associates, vendors, and RV dealers.