The legendary Country Coach brand is about to make a comeback on the American road as a high-end, production-type Class A motorcoach if all goes according to the plans of Country Coach Corp. President & CEO Ron Lee.
Lee is the younger brother of Bob Lee — founder and CEO of the original Junction City, Ore.-based Country Coach Inc. that was liquidated after bankruptcy in 2009.
Ron Lee purchased the company’s assets and intellectual property in 2010 and, with a handful of employees based out of the same Junction City facility, reintroduced the Country Coach nameplate in January of 2011 as a service center specializing in the repair and sales of Country Coach motorhomes as well as Prevost bus conversions and other motorhome brands.
But Lee, who was also an executive with his brother in the original company, has maintained all along that his aim has been to see the Country Coach brand back on the street. “I’ve had three goals all along: Save the property (at which Country Coach was originally manufactured), save the name of the Country Coach brand by getting back into production and bring back jobs to this area,” Lee told RVBUSINESS.com.
It now appears that Lee, 73, may make good on all three goals. “I can’t give too many specifics because nothing is signed yet, but we’ve found investors,” he said. “The company we’re working with, we’re targeting having this project together within the next 60 days. It’s imminent.”
For several years, Lee and his team at Country Coach attempted to gain funding for production through government channels such as grants and the EB-5 immigrant investor bill. When that didn’t work out, he decided to build his own prototype coach in an effort to resuscitate the brand that originally dated back to 1973.
“I decided a year ago that I needed a different approach, so I personally funded this prototype and we started building it,” he said. “It’s not funded by cash flow or anything, I just decided to fund it myself.”
After a year of re-engineering and manufacturing, the Country Coach team recently completed the prototype, a 2016 Country Coach Allure, a 45-footer with four slideouts and a 500-hp Cummins engine housed on the company’s proprietary Dynomax chassis.
“Since I was just building it for myself I just built it the way that I would want it,” Lee said. “I designed the exterior color scheme, the interior look and chose the equipment I like. It’s basically me [in a coach].”
The new Allure prototype was recently shown to the Country Coach Friends Inc. owner’s club members as well as to interested investors, and Lee said the plan is to continue to bring it to dealers and shows – ideally as the first of many to come.
“If we can close the deal within 60 days, I would say that [the investors] are going to want to start production with what we have on the Allure by the first of the year,” said Lee. “I’d say it’s possible to have 400 to 500 employees here a year from now. This is the most promising of the many, many opportunities I’ve worked on. This is by far the best.”