The following article was posted Jan. 21 by Mike Wendland on the website Roadtreking that he produces with his wife, Jennifer.
I have promised an update on the scandal and disturbing news about financial irregularities swirling around Roadtrek motorhome’s corporate parent, the Erwin Hymer Group of North America. Here’s what we now know.
The blockbuster news is that the North American operation as of today has been excluded from Thor’s plan to purchase the Erwin Hymer Group (EHG), whose worldwide operations are headquartered in Germany. That is a huge development.
Here’s how this has unfolded.
EHG formed a separate North American division – Erwin Hymer Group North America (EHGNA) – that included Roadtrek when it purchased Roadtrek Motorhomes some three years ago. At the time, the company announced plans to expand in North America, with new Hymer-specific vans as well as European-styled travel trailers and perhaps even larger motorhomes.
Hymer vans like the Activ were introduced. The company added some other brands like en entry level priced van called the Carado. After a slow start, a line of ultra light weight towables – the Hymer Touring GT – was introduced. EHYNA seemed to be exploding with new models, new technologies and massive growth.
THEN, THIS FALL, Thor Industries based in Elkhart, IN announced that it had reached an agreement to buy the entire worldwide Erwin Hymer Group and all its operations, including the new North American division. The deal would make Thor the largest RV manufacturer in the world.
All seemed to be moving well with that, until earlier this month.
In preparing a financial audit of the North American operation for the sale, Hymer accountants discovered extremely serious financial “irregularities.” News reports unconfirmed by EHG but so far undisputed by the company allege that they involved false invoices paid to family members of key managers, falsified titles, inflated sales figures, inventory discrepancies and other problems totaling between $70 and $100 million.
As one company manager told me in confidence, “we thought we were working for a successful company that was selling units so fast we had to expand.”