Riverside Travel Trailer Inc.'s Mark Gerber, Ken Licklider and Kean MacOwan

Riverside Travel Trailer Inc.'s Mark Gerber, Ken Licklider and Kean MacOwan

Fledging RV manufacturer Riverside Travel Trailer Inc., Peru, Ind., shipped its first RV, shown at left,  Wednesday (July 22) to Wratten’s RV’s in Adams, N.Y., following a small ceremony that included state and local officials.

The 130,000-square-foot plant in central Indiana — about 85 miles south of Indiana’s Elkhart County RV manufacturing hub — previously housed Adventure Manufacturing Inc. dba Timberland RV, which closed its doors in January.

Two former Adventure principles — President Mark Gerber and Vice President Kean MacOwan — will lead the new company, with the financial backing of Ken Licklider, owner of Vohne Liche Kennels, an internationally known breeder of trained dogs in nearby Denver, Ind., who will serve as Riverside president.

”We are not looking to be a large manufacturer, but to build high-quality trailers,” said Gerber, vice president of sales and finance for the new company.

Gerber met with Licklider while liquidating Adventure’s assets as receiver for a local bank.

Licklider said it didn’t take long to decide to back the new venture after hearing Gerber’s proposal. ”It took me about 10 minutes to know that I wanted to do this,” Licklinder told about 50 people who attended an indoor barbecue to mark the event. ”I wanted to see things built, and it helps the community; I made the stipulation that the company stay in Miami County. It all fit.”

The local economic development authority also is assisting Riverside with a $30,000-a-year rent subsidy on the property fronting U.S. 31 for the next five years.

Riverside wood-and-aluminum travel trailers will be available in 26- to 37-foot lengths with up to two slideouts. MSRPs will start at $19,500.

”It appears to be a nice product,” said Jim Wratten, co-owner of Wratten’s RV’s about 60 miles northeast of Syracuse, N.Y. ”It’s a solid, practical and useful travel trailer.”

State Rep. William C. Friend, R-Macy, said the addition of Riverside to the local economy is a good sign. ”It hasn’t been pretty for the last couple of years,” Friend said. ”The county and the state are very fortunate to have the Lickliders here. I congratulate them for their leap of faith, and that’s what this is.”

Gerber said that now is a good time to enter the RV market. ”The market is going to recover; sales are going to improve,” he said.

The company’s target is to sell about 600 trailers in its first year. ”After the Louisville Show, we will see what the market brings us,” Gerber said. ”We have the capacity to build between 5,000 and 6,000 units a year.”

Riverside initially will employ 30 people, all former Adventure workers. “We were able to select the best workers from Adventure,” Gerber said. ”They bring a great deal of energy to this company.”