Carriage Inc., Millersburg, Ind., a producer of mid-to-highline towables, is intending to buy a manufacturer of entry-level towables in order to extend its reach into that segment, according Glenn Cushman, chairman and president.
Last year, Carriage, which Cushman acquired from Clarence Yoder in 1999, attempted to move into the entry-level towables segment with the introduction of its Carri-Sport model. However, the Carri-Sport has been scrapped and, instead, Cushman wants to buy an entry-level towables builder, which would be operated as a separate Carriage subsidiary.
“Carri-Sport was an idea we had to see whether Carriage, the company, could be a medium to low-end producer,” said Cushman, a Phoenix, Ariz., resident who bought a home in Northern Indiana during the past year to spend half his time operating Carriage. “But we can’t, it doesn’t fit, our culture doesn’t allow it. What we put into fit and finish, ours would be too expensive as entry-level models.
“Whenever you go to the lower end (to the price range), you have to sacrifice something, and that is something that our workforce was not trained to do,” Cushman said. “So, Carriage, as a company, will stay in this higher-end until we acquire a low-end producer that we’re happy with.”
The sacrifice required to build lower priced units “doesn’t necessarily have to be quality, but they (lower-priced units) can’t be as well-built as what we’re doing,” Cushman added.
Acquiring a builder of entry-level towables is “a pretty high priority” as far as Cushman is concerned and he added, “We’re talking to a couple of people now.”
Cushman’s desire to buy an entry-level producer comes from a review of industry data, which shows that Carriage models generally are the third or fourth RV unit that enthusiasts buy during their years in the RV lifestyle. “And that’s why we’re looking for an entry-level company to acquire, to help feed this,” he said.
However, Cushman added that Carriage is not desperate to buy an entry-level builder because “the sword cuts both ways. There are people step-up and say, ‘Now, I’m going to buy a Carriage.’
There is room at Carriage’s manufacturing complex in Southeast Elkhart County for an entry-level towables operation, but Cushman said “in all likelihood” it would be located somewhere away from Carriage’s main facilities in Millersburg.