When Phil Daniels wanted to buy a roomy recreational vehicle for his family to use camping in the British Isles, he couldn’t find one. So he hopped aboard a jet, flew to a Texas RV show and met Brian Donat of Goshen, Ind.
According to a Goshen News report, the two men hit it off right away and decided what was needed to solve Daniels’ problem was a new line of RVs for European consumers. So they birthed the new company Eterniti Caravans.
The new company is offering two versions of a sleek, lightweight RV that can be towed by small, fuel-sipping automobiles on the narrow roads of Europe.
“We feel we have brought something new and fresh to the market,” Daniels said during a stop in Goshen Thursday.
After a year of planning, designing and building a new company from the ground up, Eterniti delivered its first RV to a couple in England a week ago. And there will be plenty more such deliveries based on orders received at the NEC show, which is the United Kingdom’s national RV show, according to Daniels.
“The product we have just brought to market has just blown away the show,” Daniels said. “We just took $2 million of business in our opening show.”
The Eterniti travel trailers are offered in 26- and 22-foot models and feature a 13-foot slideout. That slideout is built in Elkhart County and shipped to the company’s plant in Widnes.
Donat said he has been shipping two 40-foot cargo containers of parts from Goshen each month to build up a supply of components for the Eterniti travel trailers.
Two separate votes by the Goshen City Council could lead to 96 new jobs in the RV industry.
According to a report in the Goshen News, the council supported proposals benefitting a pair of RV companies — one a start-up venture, the other an established supplier with expansion plans.
Carl and Shirley Van Gilst had sought a two-year tax abatement for the building at 2502 Dierdorff Road. The Van Gilst plan is to lease the 23,000-square-foot facility — vacant since 2008 — to Eterniti RV Co. In other action, council members also took the next step toward a tax abatement sought by Lippert Components Inc. Company officials are looking to expand manufacturing operations at 3048 Skyview Drive in Goshen.
Lippert plans to invest $175,000 in new manufacturing equipment and will hire 80 more employees by the end of next year. The new hires would bring total employment at the site to 825.
Lippert is seeking a phase-in yielding tax savings of $4,768 over three years on equipment purchased for the project.
Council members determined Lippert was eligible for a phase-in. Final action will take place at a future council session.
According to information presented to council members, Eterniti is a start-up recreation vehicle manufacturer that intends to export RVs to Europe and Australia. The products will be built to European and Australian specifications, and frames for the RVs will be imported from Germany.
Eterniti officials anticipate 16 employees at the Dierdorff location earning an average annual wage of $36,317.
Van Gilst said the project will not only bring jobs and money to Goshen, “it also takes money from Europe and delivers it to the United States because they’re exporting RVs.”
The abatement will save the Van Gilsts close to $27,000 over two years.
Council members approved the phase-in in a 6-0 vote. Councilman and GOP mayoral candidate Don Riegsecker, Van Gilst’s stepson, recused himself from the vote.
Tuesday’s City Council action wasn’t the group’s first on a tax abatement at 2502 Dierdorff. Last year, Van Gilst sought and received a phase-in for an RV start-up at the building to be run by Ray Belcher.
However, Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman vetoed the resolution after Belcher’s criminal history came to light. Council members didn’t override the veto, and Belcher told The Goshen News at the time he’d chosen not to pursue creating the company.