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About 200 people lost their jobs when Carriage Inc. shut down, but there is good news as many of those workers have joined forces to form a new company.
WSBT, South Bend, reported that work is currently under way in Middlebury, Ind., to open a new company known as Lifestyle Luxury RV. It aims to make high-end fifth wheel travel trailers at a vacant factory. The driving force behind the new company is a good number of people who used to work at Carriage in Millersburg, including Greg Kitson who worked at the company for nearly 20 years.
“We have a lot of people on board that have a lot of years of service, a lot of expertise in what they do and great people,” said Kitson. “They are the most loyal people.”
Kitson, along with other former Carriage employees, developed an idea to keep that workforce together and help develop a new company.
“We had a plan and a vision,” he said.
As a group, they approached Evergreen Recreational Vehicles LLC, which has been in business for three years and makes towable RVs. They proposed teaming up with Evergreen to create a new division, to make high-end fifth wheels. Evergreen already had plans to get into luxury fifth-wheels within the next 18 months.
“We were impressed with their cohesiveness,” said Michael Schoeffler, CEO of Evergreen RV. “They had the same values, the same type of business principles that we have as a company, and then they approached us within a week’s time. We put together a plan, hired them, and kicked the program off.”
Lifestyle Luxury RV will be a separate division, operated by mostly former Carriage employees under Evergreen.
For the former Carriage employees and Evergreen, it is a win-win situation. They will have a new product line and a new beginning for some with high hopes for the future.
“Carriage was a great place to work and a great bunch of people,” said Dana Everage, a former Carriage employee. “I am sure we can make this even better.”
They recently purchased 100,000 square foot vacant factory and will spend upwards of $2.5 million on improving the plant.