The dispute that led to the severance of the long-term relationship between Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. and the Coleman Co. was over the size of royalty payments for the right to use the Coleman name on folding campers, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
What is now the Fleetwood folding-camper assembly plant in Somerset, Pa., was opened in 1966 by Coleman Co. founder Sheldon Coleman. At first, the facility produced snowmobiles, sport bikes and sleeping bags in addition to folding campers, the newspaper reported.
The relationship with Fleetwood began in 1989 when Coleman Co. sold the Pennsylvania factory and folding-camper business to Fleetwood.
The dispute now is in court in Wichita, Kan., and Fleetwood has been prohibited since August, by court order, from marketing folding campers under the “Coleman by Fleetwood” designation.
Earlier this year, Coleman signed an agreement with Coachmen Industries Inc. of Elkhart, Ind., to produce pop-ups under the Coleman name.
Despite the loss of the valuable trademark, Fleetwood, which now markets its folding campers under the Fleetwood Folding Trailers brand, is building 80 to 100 units per day at its 450,000-square-foot facility southeast of Pittsburgh, the Tribune-Review reported.
Fleetwood builds 14,000 to 15,000 folding campers per year and it had the retail market share leadership in the folding-camper category by a wide margin again in 2003. Fleetwood’s share was 41.5% last year, almost triple the No. 2 folding-camper producer, Forest River Inc. of Elkhart, Ind., which had a 15.5% market share in 2003, according to Statistical Surveys Inc.
Meanwhile, Coachmen was No. 3 in folding campers last year at 10.8%, according to Statistical Surveys, an independent market research firm.
In addition to 19 folding-camper models priced from $4,500 to $15,000, the Somerset facility also builds travel trailers and fifth-wheels priced from $16,000 to $24,000, the Tribune-Review reported.
Fleetwood’s Somerset plant employes 680 people, making it the second-largest employer in its general area. About 540 of its workers are members of the United Steelworkers union.
The union president told the Tribune-Review that the union and plant management have a good working relationship.
Because there are no RV industry supplier firms located near Somerset, Fleetwood’s factory in Pennsylvania produces 90% of the components are used in its units, the Tribune-Review reported.