Editor’s Note: The following is an article from the Elkhart (Ind.) Truth featuring industry veteran Ed Kinney detailing the demise of venerable builder Carriage Inc. To view the entire story and accompanying pictures click here. Kinney can be contacted at (574) 596-7444 or [email protected]
On a recent morning inside his studio, Ed Kinney was gluing pebbles onto his latest creation, a fairy house, and listening to a recording of singer Tony Bennett. Behind him sat a barber chair, sink and large mirror for the times when someone drops by for a quick haircut.
Kinney is an artist, a barber, an entertaining talker and a former RV industry executive who watched Carriage Inc. crumble from the inside. He harbors sadness and anger over the demise of the luxury fifth wheel maker, admitting he had a difficult time coming to terms with the company’s closure.
Yet when he talks about Carriage, the stories that come out first are the happy ones.
“Carriage, I always told people it was a magical place because of the people,” he said. “They took the time to do things right. They had a schedule but if something was wrong, they stopped the whole line to fix it. They had a lot of pride in what they were doing.”
Founded in the late 1960s, Carriage produced well-built, high-quality recreational vehicles at its Millersburg campus. In October 2011, production abruptly halted and then a few days later, PNC Bank filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer, stating Carriage was in default of its obligations to the bank.
The real estate has been put into receivership at the request of PNC and the assets were auctioned in a marathon session that lasted 14 hours Feb. 21. Kinney, the former vice president of sales and marketing, said he attended the sale long enough to see CrossRoads RV, a division of Thor Industries, purchase the Carriage intellectual property, including the name and fiberglass molds.
Ironically, Kinney’s RV career ended at the same place it began, Carriage. He had just closed his small barbershop to pursue a job offer in the manufactured housing industry that quickly turned sour. Kinney was then thrown a lifeline by Clarence Yoder, the founder of Carriage, who offered him the opportunity to learn about making and selling fifth wheels.
“Carriage was special because it was a great company with incredible people,” Kinney said.
To view the entire story and accompanying pictures click here.