November '18

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112 • RV PRO • November 2018 rv-pro.com B U S I N E S S Refresh By David MacNeal Refresh combines the best of RV PRO's breaking news daily website reporting with additional information, context and insights available in magazine format. Thor becomes a transcontinental RV maker with the purchase of Hymer; the RV Tech Institute seeks to make tech education matter. A fter a month of speculation, Thor Industries announced in mid-September that it was acquiring prominent European RV manufacturer Erwin Hymer Group (EHG). With the $2.4 billion acquisition of Germa- ny-based EHG, Thor gains a major foothold in the growing European RV market. Beyond the imme- diate value of the deal itself, the EHG acquisition potentially marks the beginning for more "organic growth over there through acquisition," Thor CEO Bob Martin told RV PRO in an exclusive interview following the announcement of the deal. "We have a lot of the same suppliers. There are a lot of suppliers in the U.S. that are looking to expand globally," Martin said. "So, for us, it was part of the strategy as a company to take that step when we were ready." That doesn't mean Thor products will neces- sarily cross the pond. U.S.-made 40-foot motor- homes would be understandably hard to navigate on many of Europe's narrow, cobbled streets. Also, pickups capable of hauling heavy trailers are not as popular in Europe as they are in the U.S. However, the U.S. might see more Europe- an-styled EHG brands making it over here. "We frankly see that a lot of the things (EHG) is doing with the smaller units and the younger buyer," he says. "It was interesting to find they were looking at the younger buyer as well, and that's what they're building – smaller trailers and motorhomes." In his visits to EHG's headquarters in Bad Waldsee, Germany, Martin was particularly impressed with the advanced technology used in units, such as zone lighting. Another innovation was on a minivan-sized product designed with a kitchen that could be swapped out with backseats, a selling point highlighting the RV's potential daily use. Another aspect that caught Martin's attention was that Hymer has an autonomous Roadtrek. Despite Erwin Hymer Group's acquisition by Thor, Germany- based Hymer's bigger motorhomes aren't likely headed to North America anytime soon. However, the U.S. might see more European- styled EHG lightweight towables making their way to U.S. shores. Thor CEO Bob Martin says he sees ways Thor and Erwin Hymer Group can help each other, including operational efficiencies and advances in how RVs are constructed. PHOTO COURTESY OF CARAVAN SALON

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