Two former EverGreen employees told RV PRO they knew the company was in trouble because the RV maker stopped paying its warranty bills in the weeks before the RV maker closed its doors.
Still, those same ex-employees said they were surprised at just how quickly the Middlebury, Ind.-based manufacturer shuttered its doors. EverGreen ceased operations June 10; the two former employees said they didn’t receive any advance notice before being laid off.
Both of the former employees – one in sales and one in administration – said their bosses didn’t tell them why EverGreen was closing. However, they heard rumors that attempts to secure financing or to find a buyer were unsuccessful, details confirmed by the company’s WARN Act filing.
In separate interviews, the two ex-employees said they have not received a final paycheck from EverGreen, and still don’t know whether they will or not.
Both individuals noted that while production on the company’s travel trailer line was stable, production on EverGreen’s fifth wheel line had slowed to a few units a day in the past few months.
“And that’s another issue, because they (workers) are all paid piece rate, so they get paid on what they are building, and when you (cut) production they make less money. So then you start losing people and the production suffers and you have to hire new people that aren’t as qualified,” the former sales employee said.
That same former sales employee noted that some of the RV maker’s business ventures didn’t pay off. For example, EverGreen entered the Class B motorhome market with great fanfare with the launch of the Imperial in late 2014, but discontinued production in 2015 after producing just 15 motorhomes.
“It was beautiful, but it was a real expensive monster,” the ex-employee said.
Likewise, EverGreen’s signature Element travel trailer – which was notable for its heavy use of lightweight composite materials – didn’t find success with its launch in 2010 or its reintroduction to the market in 2014 because it was expensive compared with competing products, according to the former sales employee.
“Unfortunately, in the RV business, price is king,” the ex-employee said. “People don’t want expensive RVs; they just don’t want to pay for (quality). … And EverGreen made expensive travel trailers and fifth wheels. So, it was harder to sell.
“And, you couldn’t see why it was more expensive,” the ex-employee added. “A lot of the expense was hidden in the sidewalls and the frame. They were fantastic units, but they were expensive. And to get across to the customer that this travel trailer may be $3,000 to $5,000 more than the competition – when they can’t see all that steel or aluminum or all of that composite material that makes it more expensive, they don’t care.”
The two former EverGreen employees said they regret that some 270 EverGreen employees are losing their jobs with the company’s closure but expressed their hope that most of those workers will be able to find other jobs given that the RV industry is still riding high.