On a snowy Indiana morning that was clouded with the past, the future emerged bright as Syracuse, Ind.-based Redwood RV, a division of Thor Industries Inc., purchased the brand names, trademarks and intellectual property of venerable RV manufacturer Carriage Inc. Tuesday (Feb. 21) during a court-ordered liquidation of Carriage assets.
Carriage, a luxury fifth-wheel manufacturer established in 1969, was ordered into liquidation following protracted discussions between company executives and its lenders, primarily PNC Bank out of Indianapolis. Ultimately, PNC filed suit Oct. 18 to take possession of Carriage, which reportedly owed the bank more than $5 million.
More than 700 bidders had reportedly registered with Ross, Ohio-based Myron Bowling Auctioneers Inc. for the one-day event. Bidding for the Carriage intangible assets was the high point of the event, which also included everything from lots of axles to finished fifth-wheels.
“It’s a historic brand, it’s been around for more than 40 years, and we think there’s a place for historical brands in this industry,” said Don Emahiser, president of both Redwood RV and Topeka, Ind.-based CrossRoads RV. “And we think we’re a company that’s up to the challenge of continuing its legacy.”
Emahiser told RVBUSINESS.com that the Thor division had its eye on the Carriage brand since the former Millersburg, Ind., company had faltered last fall and it became evident that the intellectual property might become available.
“Once the company shut down, we knew the name would be available and, yes, there was an attraction there,” Emahiser noted. “But up until then, no, because Redwood’s been doing amazingly well.
“It’s (Carriage) a brand name we felt we could do something with — and if it became available, who better than us to carry on the tradition?
“But it wasn’t something we planned until Carriage went out of business.”
Emahiser said his own personal link to Carriage — he was president of the builder prior to moving to Thor two years ago and helping to establish Redwood — was an element in the decision to acquire the Carriage brand.
“Not only that,” he added, “but we have a lot of Carriage DNA throughout Redwood and CrossRoads. Likewise, the changes we have going on here have attracted people with Carriage in their background.
“We have, beyond myself, in other executive positions, group leaders, foremen, all the way down to entry-level spots. So we have a good amount of the carriage DNA here. When the brands became available to us it was almost a natural to try to make a play for them.”
According to Emahiser, there is no timetable or firm plans to announce when the Thor division will bring back the Carriage name, which was reportedly purchased for $100,000.