Yet another RV manufacturer is entering the marketplace this week (March 26-29) with the debut of lightweight Earthbound travel trailers from startup Earthbound RV LLC at the Quebec City RV Show in Quebec City, Canada.
“One of our goals was to meet a demand that wasn’t being met for full-size lighter weight trailers that are ecologically friendly,” said Bill Hughes, Earthbound vice president of operations.
Founded in January, Earthbound RV is operating from a three-building, 108,000-square-foot manufacturing campus on U.S. 20 in Middlebury, Ind., once occupied by Pilgrim International Corp., which went out of business in September.
“There are approximately 11 million minivans and small-size SUVs on the road looking for something they can tow,” said Hughes, the former head of Pilgrim’s service, warranty and parts department. “Earthbound will be lighter weight, but we haven’t had the weights confirmed yet.”
Limited production of Earthbound travel trailers sporting aluminum superstructures and painted aluminum sidewalls laminated to a lightweight CosmoLite composite material from TekModo LLC is scheduled to begin next week.
“We took design cues from the automobile industry, particularly on the front and rear caps, and the full use of LED lighting,” Hughes said.
A prototype of Earthbound’s 29 1/2-foot “Golden Ridge” floorplan is being unveiled at the Canadian RV show.
“We expect that by June we will be producing 10 units a week,” Hughes said. “The market will dictate where we go beyond that.”
Earthbound RV currently has 16 employees and eventually expects to have 60 workers, Hughes said.
Earthbound trailers will be offered in seven 25- to 30-foot floorplans, four of which are available with a single slideout, brushed aluminum interior walls, dual-pane acrylic windows, aluminum appliances, U-shaped booth dinettes, laminated countertops, vinyl floors and heat pumps. Cabinets have a vinyl wrap laminated to a sheet of aluminum that is laminated to a polyurethane composite.
Earthbound RV also is exploring the use of adhesives not traditionally used in RV applications. “We are committed to innovation and we are developing resources toward that,” Hughes said.
Company principals are industry veterans Hughes; President Ken Geljack; Canadian RV dealers Andre Levesque of A.S. Levesque, Ste-Helene, Quebec; Ken Friedenberg and David Hill, owners of ArrKann Trailer and RV Centre, Edmonton, Alberta; and Elkhart, Ind.-area businessman Ted Holland. Former Pilgrim Chairman David Hoefer Sr., who originally launched the Dutchmen brand, is a consultant.
“A small group of us approached Dave (Hoefer) last fall and asked him to give us some insight,” Hughes said. “He allowed us to use some of the plans he had. Dave is a visionary.”
Hughes said the company has verbal commitments from about 40 dealers – half in the U.S. and half in Canada.
“We don’t need 200 dealers to be successful, and we don’t need to build 10 units a day,” Hughes said. “We are focused on providing quality beyond anything that’s been experienced in the past.”