FROM RV PRO
A unique experiment mixing capitalism within a religious and socialistic culture is unfolding on the plains of southeast South Dakota, where a colony of Hutterites is seeking to help sustain their community of 140 followers by manufacturing TrailManor collapsible folding trailers.
The TrailManor brand, established in 1983, was once a successful Tennessee-based product, but fell on hard times after the Great Recession.
In June 2017, the Old Elm Spring Hutterite Colony, based in Parkston, S.D., stepped in to take over the RV manufacturer. They incorporated under the name TM Industries and moved production from Hartington, Neb., to a 36,000-square-foot metal fabricating facility in a neighboring colony.
Thanks to a TrailManor’s low profile, combined with a trailer weight of less than 4,000 pounds, it can be towed with a properly equipped minivan, crossover or SUV, according to TrailManor’s CEO Paul Wipf. Meanwhile, while setting up some pop-ups can be akin to assembling a complex tent, a TrailManor can typically be set up in about two minutes. When collapsed, it can be stored in most garages.
LIKE TRADITIONAL TRAVEL TRAILERS, TrailManor models (there are three, each available in three different floor plans) are self-contained and equipped with most common features found in standard models. Eight torsion bars permit the trailer – which is a bit less than 80 inches tall when collapsed – to expand to 116 inches for camping.
Under Hutterite ownership, there are some limitations. For one, all employees must come from the Hutterite Colony. Secondly, it is almost impossible to fire a worker, and anyone who leaves the workforce must be replaced with another Hutterite from a very finite labor pool.