Industry Icon Mat Perlot Launched Safari Brand
Well-known RV industry entrepreneur Mathew Murray “Mat” Perlot, 77, passed away Oct. 5 in a Portland, Ore., hospital after an extended illness. A funeral celebration is tentatively planned for Nov. 10 in Bend, Ore., the time and location for which will be announced, according to son Martin Perlot, president and owner of industry supplier SilverLeaf Electronics Inc., Albany, Ore.
A resident of Scottsdale Ariz., Perlot was born in Portland and raised in Portland and Welches, Ore., later serving in the Army as an MP and paratrooper. He then worked for Thurlow Glove Co. and Columbia Sportswear as a production supervisor before leaving Portland in 1968 to start his own outdoor clothing company, Western Trails, in Bend.
Perlot then left the garment business for the RV arena and went to work for northwestern U.S. motorhome builders Beaver Coach Inc. as well as Monaco Coach Corp. and Country Coach Inc. as a marketing manager.
Perlot ultimately launched motorhome builder Safari Motor Coaches Inc., which eventually grew to include Beaver and Harney Coach Works. Perlot, who sold both Beaver and Safari to Monaco in 2001, also established Silver Creek Ranches in 1997 in Riley, Ore., where he ran cattle and grew alfalfa.
“I think the two things that Mat would best be remembered for would be, first of all, founding Safari and building Safari into one of the major motorhome manufacturers,” Martin Perlot told RVBUSINESS.com. “The other would be rescuing Beaver through bankruptcy and saving several hundred jobs before he retired in 2001.”
Perlot is survived by his wife, Connie Perlot; sisters Marianne, Leila and Susan; brother Jerry; sons, Mike (Kathy), David, Gordon and Martin (Myra), and grandchildren Chris, Robert, Taylor, Danielle, Peter, Molly, Greg, Little Mat, Justin, Brianna and Shay. Perlot was preceded in death by his father, Leonard, mother, Muriel and sister Jan.
In retirement since 2001, Perlot spent time in Arizona, Mexico and Alaska, where he would entertain friends and family on his fishing boat and was always orchestrating the next great fishing adventure.
“Through his long stay at the hospital at the end of his life he was jovial and doing his best to entertain visitors,” the family reports. “Mat was always very giving. He paid for the college education of several of his employees’ children on the ranch and in Mexico and was a generous entertainer. Mat’s fish camp is closed. We will miss it very much.”