OEM Startup Focuses on High-End, Green RVs
Editor’s Note: The following piece published by the Indianapolis Business Journal offers a followup to the announcement of a new manufacturing company that will build high luxury, high-tech RVs. RVBusiness and WCM obtained permission from the publication to reprint the article.
A member of one of the recreational vehicle industry’s elite families hopes to get a fresh start in Indianapolis by launching a manufacturer of super-high-end RVs.
Charles Hoefer had to close the last RV company he led earlier this year, in Marion, Ind., leaving a trail of unpaid bills and angry city officials.
“What we’re doing here doesn’t even share a footprint with what we were doing in Marion,” said Hoefer, 28. “What I will say, what took place in Marion did give me the advantage to see where all the challenges were with trying to move forward.”
Hoefer, son of Elkhart-area RV icon David Hoefer Sr., and business partner Harrison Ding plan to begin production at Global Caravan Technologies Inc. by mid-2014 in Speedway.
The company has about 15 contract engineers and production workers designing an RV that the owners believe will redefine a rattled industry. The company expects to grow to 300 people over five years.
First, Hoefer and Ding need investors to back their product.
They describe their concept as a “futuristic green super-luxury RV” that will target corporate executives, celebrities and others who have a whole lot of money to enjoy lavishness—and camping. The price tags will run from $160,000 to $500,000.
Hoefer and Ding, who left a job overseeing global supply chains for IBM, devised an assembly process that “will not look like any process that’s ever been done before.”
Hoefer would not share the specifics of the process nor how much the company plans to invest. He said those are part of the trade secrets that will make Global Caravan succeed where his Marion company, which focused on traditional RV business models, failed.
Hoefer’s last job was CEO of Earthbound RV in Marion. His father moved the company there in 2010 after starting it a year earlier near Elkhart. The city backed a $2 million bank loan to lure the business.
But the company failed and officially shut down in January. The city had to pay off almost all the debt.
“We were working with them up until the last days,” said Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold. “Now they’re in Indianapolis starting new, and they’ve left a trail behind in Marion.”
Ding, in a phone interview from an RV fair in China, compared Global Caravan to electric car maker Tesla Motors and how it shrugged off old-school manufacturing practices and used a technology-industry approach to its business model.
“If Tesla was started by somebody within the automotive industry, probably, there would be no Tesla today,” Ding said. Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk founded Tesla.
Global Caravan, which operates on Main Street in Speedway, has hired IndyCar maker Dallara as an engineering consultant.
To read the entire article on RVBUSINESS.com click here.