A busy Wednesday (March 29) auction of tooling and varied factory equipment apparently represented the final chapter in the story of Forks RV Inc., a small family-held firm located on U.S. 20 west of Shipshewana, Ind., in the heart of Hoosier Amish country, that started out manufacturing commercial buildings and police command centers in 1991.
The company subsequently established a strong reputation with its upscale Continental Coach brand of “custom-made, premium luxury ” fifth-wheels and travel trailers that ultimately made a national mark, allying with Teton owners after the demise of high-line towable maker Teton Homes Corp. and garnering national TV coverage on the Travel Channel’s “Extreme RV’s” show.
Forks RV had ceased manufacturing at the first of the year, according to Eric Stutzman, former director of operations for Forks RV whose father, Howard Stutzman, started the company in 1991.
And while the Continental Coach brand name is also being sold off — though not at this week’s auction — Stutzman said it wasn’t the firm’s RV sales that precipitated its closure as much as the international fluctuations of the oil industry into which it sold mobile office trailers.
“We did a lot in the oil industry,” said Stutzman, noting that Forks RV’s employment pretty much peaked in 2013 and 2014 at about 50 to 60 people. “And then at the end of ’14 the oil market dropped and it just shut things down pretty quickly for us and that was kind of the pivot point for us.”