Industry Veteran Hi-Lo Trailer Co. Closes Shop
Hi-Lo Trailer Co. Inc., Belleville, Ohio., a respected long-term player in the RV industry, has closed its doors.
In a July 6 letter to Hi-Lo dealers, President Jim Beveridge said shareholders ”have voted to liquidate the assets of the corporation and dissolve same, effective immediately.”
”In light of the current economic situation and the downturn in sales of recreational vehicles, Hi-Lo Trailer can no longer continue to operate,” the letter said.
Hi-Lo, the company that originally brought late Thor Industries Inc. Chairman Wade F.B. Thompson into the RV industry, manufactured a unique telescoping travel trailer that used a push button hydraulic system to automatically raise, lower and lock the top that fit over the lower portion of the trailer when in travel mode.
Hi-Lo announced late last year that it had streamlined its 2010 product lineup to include four floorplans based on the Hi-Lo Classic.
The company was founded in 1955 as Snyder’s Hi-Lo Trailer Co. by the late Don Snyder, who engineered Hi-Lo’s basic design because he wanted a popup-like trailer that was safer to tow and had hard sides so that it could be used in the winter.
The company later passed to the founder’s son, Jim Snyder, who remained active in the company after selling it to New Zealand native Thompson, who came across Hi-Lo while working in marketing in New York City.
”I thought this was a neat little company with a great little balance sheet,” said Tompson, who had met Peter Orthwein, now Thor chairman, at a New York conference.
”I called him up and asked if he would help me finance this little company called Hi-Lo,” Thompson recalled in a 2002 interview with RVBusiness. ”He said he could get the financing, but he wanted to be a partner as well.
”We did the deal, and Oct. 28, 1977, we bought the company (and) for the next three years I commuted between New York where my family was — literally every week.”
Thompson ran Hi-Lo for three years before he and Orthwein acquired Airstream Inc. from Beatrice Foods, beginning to build Thor Industries into a national power.
Thompson and Orthwein owned Hi-Lo into the middle of this decade, before quietly selling the company in July 2003.
Efforts to reach Beveridge and recent Hi-Lo executives Jim Snyder and Larry Mills were unsuccessful.