An auction has been set for tomorrow (April 23) to dispose of a 42,000-square-foot factory and its contents belonging to the Xplorer Motor Homes division of Frank Industries Inc. – a Michigan manufacturer of high-end van campers and minimotorhomes with roots going back to the early days of RV manufacturing.
A deal to sell the Brown City, Mich., company fell through, according to Clint Holmes, city manager of the east-central Michigan community.
“We think that it’s unfortunate that an alternative to closing the door was not found,” Holmes said.
The company shut down with little fanfare late last year, but the Brown City factory had been expected to reopen and continue to manufacture motorhomes, according to Holmes.
“Xplorer put a deadline on getting the deal done and the Indiana company that was thinking about buying it backed out,” Holmes said.
The factory employed about a dozen local workers at the time it closed, Holmes said.
Repeated efforts to contact company officials were unsuccessful. Brown City, a community of about 1,300 people, bills itself as the “Birthplace of the Motorhome” on signs welcoming visitors.
Xplorer was founded by industry pioneer Ray Frank as Frank Motor Home Corp. in 1958 when motorhomes were still called “house cars.”
The company’s name was later changed to Travco Corp., and in 1979 was sold to Foretravel Inc., Nacogdoches, Texas.
That same year, Frank founded Frank Industries Inc., which did business as Xplorer Motor Homes. Ray Frank’s son, Ron, sold controlling interest in Frank Industries in 1995 to Joe Murray, the company’s national sales manager at the time, and David Bockstanz, a Michigan Chrysler dealer.
Most recently, Xplorer was producing the Xcursion van camper, based on the imported Mercedes-Benz Sprinter commercial van, and an Xtreme “chassis mount” minimotorhome on a Dodge or Ford cutaway chassis.