Canada’s RV Dealer News Magazine had the opportunity to conduct an exclusive interview with Mike Reuer, CEO of the Westfalia Division of Groupe Rapido, immediately after the announcement that Groupe Rapido has been given the approval from the Ontario Superior Court to acquire substantially all of the assets of the Roadtrek RV brand, formerly owned by the Erwin Hymer Group North America, from Alvarez & Marsal Canada Inc., the receiver handling the liquidation of the Erwin Hymer North America operations.
The process has been very detailed and very carefully structured to enable Groupe Rapido to bring the Roadtrek brand back to the North American market – from the initial letter of intent accepted on April 12, 2019, to the Asset Purchase Agreement on May 31, 2019, and the Transition Services Agreement, to assist Groupe Rapido with resuming Roadtrek operations as soon as possible, everything has been worked out to the finest detail, with the goal of celebrating a Roadtrek renaissance during the summer of 2019, with more than a hundred employees soon to bring the manufacturing facility at 20 Tyler Road, Cambridge, Ontario, back to life.
Here are the questions we asked in our exclusive interview with Mike Reuer, and a summary of the answers:
- Mike, as one of the executives in charge of the due diligence for this project, how will the rebirth of Roadtrek brand affect the existing (former) North American Roadtrek dealers? Will the former dealers be part of the new team of Roadtrek dealers, who will sell and service the vehicles?
Yes, they certainly will be part of the new Roadtrek setup. We count very much on the former dealers from Roadtrek because they have brought up the brand and helped to make the brand what it is today, and we certainly will appreciate the dealers who stick with us – we have already talked to most of them, and they have indicated to us that they will continue with us, and this makes us quite happy.
- What arrangements have you made with the suppliers of the distinctive Roadtrek parts and components, to provide continuity and a future supply of replacement parts for the existing fleet of Roadtrek motorhomes?
That was one of the first tasks that we undertook, to get in touch with the major suppliers to get a feeling of whether they were going to want to continue with us, and everyone has told us that they would continue with us – and this has been a very important asset to the entire acquisition – that the major suppliers would stay on board and work with us in the future.
- How will the Groupe Rapido acquisition of Roadtrek affect current owners of Roadtrek vehicles? Will Groupe Rapido provide any form of warranty coverage for vehicles purchased during the past few years?
We will provide warranty coverage, although we cannot provide the coverage that had been given originally, but we provide a two-year warranty that will be capped at $1,500 and we will look at the warranty work that dealers have already provided, in order to support their efforts.
- Many of the features and design elements of the Roadtrek class B motorhome line were created and patented by Jacob Hanemaayer – will your new Roadtrek models have access to these patented design characteristics?
We have purchased the entire intellectual property that belongs to the Roadtrek brand and the actual models, so we have everything we need to resume production.
- Have you determined which of the traditional Roadtrek models will constitute the 2020 line?
We will definitely continue most of the models in the Roadtrek portfolio, we are thinking about possible discontinuing the Popular series, and we will be developing the models based on the Ford Transit chassis.
- When do you expect to have the first Roadtrek models rolling off the production line in Cambridge?
Optimistically we will be rolling units off the production line in October… although this may turn into November.
- During the months leading up to the closing of this acquisition, many of the Roadtrek owners looked to Jeff Hanemaayer, the former owner of the company, for some hope of saving this iconic Canadian brand. Jeff had mentioned that he would be available on a consulting basis to assist any company purchasing the brand – have you had any contact with him?
Yes, Jeff was one of the first people we met with on our first trip, and he gave us very good advice, which we greatly appreciated.
- How will the acquisition affect the inventory of completed or partially completed Roadtrek vehicles that were on the factory lots when the Erwin Hymer Group North America ceased operations?
We will complete the partially assembled vehicles, and while there were not very many completed units on the lot, some of these will be used for the upcoming RV shows and for the dealer presentations, and any additional units that become available will be offered to the dealers.
- Let’s shift gears for a few minutes, to focus on what many of our readers consider the quintessential camper van – your world famous Westfalia product…
Yes, but not right away, because for us it is important to resume the Roadtrek production with the full portfolio of units, and once this task is achieved, and we can add additional models, we will want to bring Westfalia back to the North American market – this could be in a year or two…
- Very few of the North American RV enthusiasts are familiar with the Groupe Rapido European operations – can you give us a brief description of this very successful French corporation?
Rapido is the fourth largest RV group in Europe, with 12 brands. Rapido is a family owned business, started by Constant Rousseau in 1948, who was joined by his son Pierre in 1976, and in 2014, Pierre’s son Nicholas became the third generation to drive this family business.
- Will you be bringing any of the Groupe Rapido RV models to North America?
This is currently being discussed. For the moment, we feel that the Westfalia line will suit the North American RV market and blend with the Roadtrek line very well.
For your customers who are concerned about the resale value of their existing Roadtrek models, the availability of parts and service, and the availability of a special courtesy “limited warranty coverage”, please refer Roadtrek customers and potential buyers to the RV Lifestyle Magazine
website at www.rvlifemag.com for links to the new Roadtrek and Westfalia websites.
For continuing information and breaking news on the rebirth of the Roadtrek brand as a division of Groupe Rapido, please check back at www.rvldealernews.com