Jac Hanemaayer didn’t want to wrestle with a big RV on camping trips — become a “weekend bus driver.” So he designed a compact one and had it built. That 1975 Dodge Ram propelled a fledgling Kitchener, Ontario company to become North America’s premier maker of Class B motorhomes.

The Toronto Star reported that while there are several recreational vehicle manufacturers in Canada and more than 500 in the U.S., it’s interesting that Kitchener-based Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc. is now the undisputed North American camper van king.

At a time of year when interest in RVs starts to accelerate (the Hamilton RV Show & Sale is on this weekend), the Roadtrek’s popularity among owners of B Class motorhomes — those bigger than a VW, but not truck- or bus-based —is so heartfelt it inspired the formation of Roadtrek Club International, a 3,400-member association that organizes annual rallies and tours on both sides of the border.

And it all began with a fledgling Ontario business and a unique entrepreneur, who 41 years ago designed a roomy, yet easy-to-maneuver, motorhome.

“I looked at camper vans but there was nothing designed very well,” said Hanemaayer, now retired and living in Kitchener. “So I designed one myself and had it built by this small company, Home & Park Vehicles. I liked it so much, I bought the company.”

After emigrating from the Netherlands in 1950, Hanemaayer worked in a number of fields that included construction, equipment distribution and waste management, but it was his RV idea that has made Roadtrek the Canadian success story it is today.

“My father always had his finger in four or five different companies and projects at any given time,” said Hanemaayer’s son, Jeff, who is a company director.

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