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Riverside Travel Trailer Inc. Ships First Product

July 23, 2009 by Bob Ashley · 2 Comments 

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Riverside Travel Trailer Inc.'s Mark Gerber, Ken Licklider and Kean MacOwan

Riverside Travel Trailer Inc.'s Mark Gerber, Ken Licklider and Kean MacOwan

Fledging RV manufacturer Riverside Travel Trailer Inc., Peru, Ind., shipped its first RV, shown at left,  Wednesday (July 22) to Wratten’s RV’s in Adams, N.Y., following a small ceremony that included state and local officials.

The 130,000-square-foot plant in central Indiana — about 85 miles south of Indiana’s Elkhart County RV manufacturing hub — previously housed Adventure Manufacturing Inc. dba Timberland RV, which closed its doors in January.

Two former Adventure principles — President Mark Gerber and Vice President Kean MacOwan — will lead the new company, with the financial backing of Ken Licklider, owner of Vohne Liche Kennels, an internationally known breeder of trained dogs in nearby Denver, Ind., who will serve as Riverside president.

”We are not looking to be a large manufacturer, but to build high-quality trailers,” said Gerber, vice president of sales and finance for the new company.

Gerber met with Licklider while liquidating Adventure’s assets as receiver for a local bank.

Licklider said it didn’t take long to decide to back the new venture after hearing Gerber’s proposal. ”It took me about 10 minutes to know that I wanted to do this,” Licklinder told about 50 people who attended an indoor barbecue to mark the event. ”I wanted to see things built, and it helps the community; I made the stipulation that the company stay in Miami County. It all fit.”

The local economic development authority also is assisting Riverside with a $30,000-a-year rent subsidy on the property fronting U.S. 31 for the next five years.

Riverside wood-and-aluminum travel trailers will be available in 26- to 37-foot lengths with up to two slideouts. MSRPs will start at $19,500.

”It appears to be a nice product,” said Jim Wratten, co-owner of Wratten’s RV’s about 60 miles northeast of Syracuse, N.Y. ”It’s a solid, practical and useful travel trailer.”

State Rep. William C. Friend, R-Macy, said the addition of Riverside to the local economy is a good sign. ”It hasn’t been pretty for the last couple of years,” Friend said. ”The county and the state are very fortunate to have the Lickliders here. I congratulate them for their leap of faith, and that’s what this is.”

Gerber said that now is a good time to enter the RV market. ”The market is going to recover; sales are going to improve,” he said.

The company’s target is to sell about 600 trailers in its first year. ”After the Louisville Show, we will see what the market brings us,” Gerber said. ”We have the capacity to build between 5,000 and 6,000 units a year.”

Riverside initially will employ 30 people, all former Adventure workers. “We were able to select the best workers from Adventure,” Gerber said. ”They bring a great deal of energy to this company.”

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Riverside Travel Trailers Inc. to Begin Production

June 18, 2009 by Bob Ashley · 2 Comments 

A new RV manufacturer, Riverside Travel Trailers Inc., has begun operations in the former Adventure Manufacturing Inc. (formally Timberland)  factory in Peru, Ind., last utilized for travel trailer production in January.

Two former Adventure executives — President Mark Gerber and Vice President Kean MacOwan — will direct the new company as vice president of finance and sales and vice president of operations, respectively.

Ken Licklider, owner of Vohne Liche Kennels, an internationally known breeder of trained dogs in nearby Denver, Ind., is the new company’s president.

”Through the liquidation process, I talked to a lot of local business people and came across someone who has the heart and soul to fire the company up again,” said Gerber, who had been named receiver by a local bank to liquidate Adventure’s assets. “He (Licklider) feels that the hit the RV industry took this last winter is more of a blip on the radar rather than a change in the business.”

Gerber said he is in the process of contacting suppliers and dealers. ”It will take a couple of weeks to get the parts here that we will need to get into production,” Gerber said.

Wood-and-aluminum Riverside travel trailers in lengths of 30 to 36 feet with single large slideouts are expected to begin rolling off the production line by mid-July, said Gerber. 

Startup production will be 10 units a week at the 130,000-square-foot factory, which has the capacity to build 5,000 units a year.

”We will manage growth in proportion to what the market will give us,” said Gerber, who anticipates having 50 dealers within six months. ”Our business growth will mirror the improvement that is coming in the financial markets. By the time we get our volume up, the banks will be lending.”

The initial work force will be about 30 people, all former Adventure employees laid off when the company finished its production run in January. ”We will have a very motivated and well-trained workforce who will be building high quality units immediately,” Gerber said. ”The goal is to have a modest rate of production though the Louisville Show and then be able to kick it up in the spring.”
 



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Receiver Appointed for Adventure Mfg.

April 3, 2009 by Bob Ashley · 1 Comment 

Mark Gerber, the former president of Adventure Manufacturing Inc., dba Timberland RV Co., has been appointed receiver by First Farmers Bank in Converse, Ind., to sell the assets of a company he co-founded 10 years ago.
”I’ve been hired back by the bank to liquidate the assets,” said Gerber, who left the Peru, Ind.-based towable manufacturer in January.
”Basically, the cause was the credit crisis. If the money flow is destroyed and everything is going out and nothing is coming in, you can’t do much business,” Gerber said.
The company stopped manufacturing units at the end of January and all finished product has been sold to dealers, Gerber said. ”There is still some raw materials to be sold,” he said. ”Everything should be completed within 30 days. We’ve been selling down pretty quickly.”
Gerber said that liquidation will occur via private sales rather than at auction.
Gerber left the company following a change late last summer in Adventure’s majority ownership. Despite his involvement as receiver, there is no plan to resurrect Adventure, he said. ”This is not a reorganization,” Gerber said. ”Adventure is dead.”
About 100 employees were laid off at the end of January when Adventure shuttered its two-building, 130,000-square-foot manufacturing campus about 75 miles south of Indiana’s RV-manufacturing hub in Elkhart, Ind. 
Gerber founded Adventure in 1999 with operating partner Kean MacOwan, also a former Fleetwood executive, to build towables at the top of the entry-level segment. Within two years, the company was ranked 14th in retail sales. Before the company closed down in January, workers completed Adventure’s 13,000th travel trailer.
At its zenith, Adventure employed 300 people building Timberlodge, RPM, Chisholm Trail and Riverside towable lines.

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