Once popular travel trailers now being made at Hutterite colony

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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.

A TrailManor trailer in its “up” position.

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.


Once extended, the interior is much like any other hard-sided travel trailer

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.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. We own one and love the fact we are able to pull it with our F150, without sway and wind buffeting. The square footage and amenities are equal to far larger and heavier units. The resale market is alive and well on these units, they don’t last long on the market if they are in good condition and fairly priced.

  2. We had a Trail Manor 34King for many years. Pulled across country from VA to Oregon three times and loved it. Had to get used to seeing fellow RVers in parks peeping out windows to watch us raise it. We really loved our TM.

  3. I hadn’t seen anything about these units for years. Glad to see they are still around. My guess is, assuming the Hutterites operate similar to the Amish, they will be well-built units.

  4. I have never used one, but i love the idea of the trailmanor. Compact, efficient, clever. Easier to tow with half the wind resistance, so you get better gas mileage and less wear on tow vehicle. Good luck to the hutterites. Hope they find success.

  5. I wondered what happened to Trail Manor. I saw them years ago at a trade show and thought they were very neat. The price was high even then. But if the new owners keep the quality up, and back up their work then the units would be worth it. Anyone who buys an RV with the idea of making money or breaking even after a couple years is living in a dream. You buy an RV for the long term. The money you “lose” divided over the years of use, count as the cost of ownership. But if you have an RV, you need to find ways to use it. Good luck to Trail Manor and I hope to see them down the road.

  6. A Very interesting article! I thought this company had gone the way of the DOE DOE (spelling) Bird!

    Our second RV we owned was a TrailManor. Back when they were made at a very small facility in Tennessee! We actually had the largest Unit they made a Dual Axle 36 ft. model (when opened). We did not have to many problems with it, other than the fact it was NOT designed for Cold Weather Camping at all. So, this begs the question if they have improved the insulation in these made in South Dakota. Also, with the way they open and close, you have to cover up the holes on the side of the RV with a Velcro FLAP. This was fine, except when we went to Mackinaw, MI and stayed in a Campground there. The Campfire smoke at this Campground EASILY Finds its way into the RV. That was the beginning of the end for our TrailManor.

    The Trade in Value of these things are minimal and like most RV’s you end up losing money on a Trade! Plus, there just isn’t a market for these units out there! Similar in nature to the HI-LO Trailers (which are still made, surprisingly)

    I am very surprised that this company has survived this long! I mean even THOR didn’t try to take them over!

    Anyway, we had our EXPERIENCE with TrailManor and to say the least it was a Learning Experience!

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