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Newly formed EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC has purchased a former Coachmen Industries Inc. facility in Middlebury, Ind., to produce its Ever-Lite line of fully composite, lightweight travel trailers and fifth-wheels, according to a report in the South Bend Tribune.
“It’s a state of the art facility,” said Doug Lantz, the company’s president and COO, noting the complex features three interconnected buildings and encompasses 146,000 square feet. “It’s set up turnkey for all our processes.”
Lantz, along with Kenny Mahaffa, Kevin Slater, and Steve Crawford, developed the groundwork for the Ever-Lite product while working at now defunct Pilgrim International Inc. They joined with Kelly L. Rose and Mike Schoeffler, former executives at Starcraft Automotive Group, to establish EverGreen in December.
“We had been working on for the last three years a new type of construction product called, ComposiTek,” Lantz said of the trademarked construction material he described as consisting of various types of composite materials that are green, formaldehyde free and water and mildew resistant. “It’s replacing wood in the construction process to give us lighter weight, stronger more durable and thus a higher quality product.”
The Tribune reported that EverGreen secured the equipment it needed by purchasing it through the Pilgrim bankruptcy.
The first prototype goes online and starts manufacturing next week, Lantz said, and EverGreen plans to start full production the first week of March. The towables are in the 4,000- to 5,000-pound range retailing under $20,000.
By this summer, Lantz hopes to have 50 people working there and be producing five units a day. The company already employs 18. And by the summer of 2010, the goal is to employ 100.
Considering the first 18 people are all former RV personnel who were laid off at other companies, yet have more than 200 years’ combined experience in the industry, Lantz has high hopes.
“We were able to take the good things we worked on and were able to put people back to work and continue moving forward with ComposiTek materials and processes we were working on then,” he said. “We will actually be able to take it to the next level very quickly with Kelly Rose and Mike Schoeffler with us. They are all about doing things right.”
In fact, the company plans to take advantage of the current slow market for RVs and work on building the company properly, Lantz said.
“One of the things we are focusing on is people, processes and the product,” he said. “We understand the market is subdued right now. We are focusing more on structure and getting the system down.”
Another focus is green, he said.
“We are focusing on the eco-friendly process, not only in how we build and manufacture at the plant but the product itself,” Lantz said. “For the consumer and the environment it’s win-win. It’s better for everybody.”