Vaughn Peterson, founder of Peterson Industries, passed away on Monday (Sept. 23) at the age of 88. Vaughn and his father Leonard Peterson began building slide-in pickup campers under the Excel brand name in 1966. Throughout the years Peterson Industries was known for high quality travel trailers and fifth-wheels. Peterson also produced Class C motorhomes and camper haulers in the late 70’s and early 80’s, according to people who worked with him at the time.
Vaughn built Excel to be one of the most respected brands in the industry. Excel was a pioneer of many firsts in the industry, one of the most significant being the drop frame in the fifth-wheel. Vaughn and his team introduced the first drop “Z” fifth-wheel frame in 1992, which has since become the standard for fifth-wheels.
Vaughn was an inspiration to all who knew him and a mentor to many. He had undying optimism as well as a unique ability to overcome adversity: from a near life-ending auto accident, to a fire in 1983 that burnt his facility to the ground, to surviving three major recessions.
His favorite activity was to spend winters in his Excel fifth-wheel in Texas with his loving wife, Duana. They also loved their Excel family of customers, often traveling with them on the many Excel caravans throughout the United States and Canada.
Vaughn was truly one of last great pioneers in the early generations of the RV industry and will be missed tremendously by all who had the fortune to know him.