Report: Erwin Hymer In Tatters Amidst C-Suite Embezzlement

Report: Erwin Hymer In Tatters Amidst C-Suite Embezzlement

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by Jason Epperson

Update – February 24, 2019, 10:00 PM CST: The Roadrek/Ewrin Hymer North America Plants have closed and are in recievership. To date, no evidence has come forward that embezzlement took place, nor have any charges been filed. It seems as though fake invoices may have been created, but in an effort to inflate the profitable image of the company – not for theft. Few details have emerged as Erwin Hymer Group has yet to make any statement.

Update – January 30, 2019, 12:00 PM CST: CTV has reported that work has halted at the Kitchner, Ontario plant.

Update – January 21, 2019, 2:51 AM CST: Erwin Hymer Group has confirmed via a press release that managers have been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation into accounting irregularities. External auditors are looking into the matter while managers from the European parent company have been sent to preside over the company. The company says it will not comment further until the investigation has concluded.

Update – January 21, 2019, 2:51 AM CST: Thor Industries has negotiated to drop the North America subsidiary, including the Roadtrek nameplate, from their purchase of the global Erwin Hymer Group. Read the full story here.

RV Daily Report has published news of a scandal that could shake apart one of the biggest RV Industry deals ever. According to the website’s confidential sources, Ontario-based Erwin Hymer North has fired CEO Jim Hammill, Chief Financial Officer Mark Weigel and Chief Operating Officer Howard Stratton for “financial impropriety,” saying that at least one of the executives was escorted from the company property.

Allegations in the report include 1,700 fabricated invoices worth over $100 million with phony VIN numbers attached. The revenue from those fabricated sales was then funneled into bank accounts of high-level officials at Erwin Hymer and their family members who were on payroll without actually working for the company. [See update above]

The news comes in the wake of the announcement that the company has laid off 100 workers and began withholding vacation pay. Employee William Singleton told KitchnerToday.com that “people have watched their CEO get walked out. Our company’s going through an audit, our accounts are frozen, people are getting laid off; yet there’s no answers, no comments, no nothing.”

The audit Singleton was referring to is a part of a deal with Thor Industries to purchase Erwin Hymer North America and its parent Erwin Hymer Group, making Thor the largest RV manufacturer in the world. That deal could now fall apart.

Singleton also said that no new vans are coming into the building for them to work on. Erwin Hymer North America manufacturers primarily Class B campervans that are converted from Ford or Mercedes Sprinter chassis, including the Hymer nameplate, and Roadtrek, which the company acquired in 2016. Erwin Hymer Group manufactures 25% off all european RVs.

“Everyone’s scared and thinking they’re going to lose their jobs, and looking for new ones. I think the main thing that’s scaring everyone is that not one thing has been said,” Singleton continued.

Read RV Daily Report’s full article here.

About author

Jason Epperson

Jason travels the country full-time with his wife Abigail, and three children in a converted school bus.

Comments
  • Steve Shaw#1

    January 19, 2019

    Well, executives killed a major Telecom company called Nortel. Affected more then just the company and its employees. Many had stock, mutual funds, etc. that became worthless.

    Now, it appears the executives have killed Erwin Hymer North America. We’ll see how badly a little bit down the road (no pun intended). Question is will Thor go ahead with the acquisition? Or wait to see how all of this pans out?

    If the VINs didn’t exist, where did the money come from since no one bought the 1700 false vehicles? Dealers are stating they never bought as many as was claimed. Anyone know how this scam would work?

    Steve

    Reply
    • somebody else#2

      January 22, 2019

      The only thing I can think of (I’ve been involved in govt audits) is not that the entire vehicle price was taken but rather the commissions for each sale. In this case the actual cash loss will be less, but the primary negative effect will be in falsely inflated sales figures and therefore value of the company and future value for companies like Thor. Money may have been stolen and some might be recovered, Thor, however, would have been given false asset and marketing statistics: not surprising they dropped out. I just wonder what happens to the rest of my six year warranty.

      Maybe it’s time for owners to begin a suit to protect our purchases for the upcoming bankruptcy.

      Reply
      • Marsha Poppe#3

        February 16, 2019

        I said the same thing to my husband last night. Our van has been nothing but trouble since we got it. We need that warranty.

        Reply
        • Dan Vetor#4

          February 26, 2019

          There were some customer vans in the plant at the time they told us we were all terminated. 1 was half painted. I feel bad for the people who purchased vans.

          Reply
  • Dawid K#6

    January 22, 2019

    Hymer makes some very nice class b’s, we have seen them at the rv shows. It looks like the company is going to have real problems as a result of this. I am an accountant and it seems to me like there was a real internal control problem here and that at least 2 high level figures were working to defraud the company. The story highlights even more issues like fake employees and people on the payroll who didn’t have any official duties. Hopefully, the company can recover as I think competition is great and rv’s need to keep improving in quality.

    Reply
  • Mike b.#7

    January 22, 2019

    I’ve had some personal dealings in the past around youth hockey with Jim Hammill and I can say I am not surprised. Hope they can turn it around and continue making the quality product they are known for, and the workers are not affected by this.

    Reply
  • Bob F.#8

    January 24, 2019

    If you’ve ever met or dealt with Jim Hammill you’ll no some or all of this is true, He is one of the biggest wind bags I have ever met. His side kick Howard wasn’t much better. The thing that surprises me is how can a quality company like Erwin Hymer get hood winked like this? A complete lack of oversight leading to patients running the asylum. It shocks me that ownership could be so inept.

    Reply
  • Jane#9

    January 24, 2019

    It saddens me to hear all of this. So many people are area adversely affected.

    Reply
  • John S#10

    January 27, 2019

    What amazes me is that the upper management who were embezzling funds thought they could get away with it. It’s a pity that these white collar criminals are free to run rampant and the little people are the ones to lose their jobs. The upper management should be crucified, made an example of so no one in the future would try a committing a similar crime.

    Send them all to jail, including their family members who were recipients of money in this crime. Better yet, just bury them alive because they arent worth the tax dollars that will let them sit in jail, the bullet of a firing squad or the chemicals of a lethal injection.

    Imagine if Canada took a stance like that on criminals, I bet people would reconsider before committing crimes!

    Reply
  • Brenda#11

    January 29, 2019

    Wow I’m about to close the deal with purchasing a Roadtrek van. Maybe I shouldn’t. This has been my dream. I don’t know what to do. Who will accept the job with the warranty? I’m a single lady.

    Reply
    • Jason Epperson#12

      January 29, 2019

      We’ve had a few people mention they are already having a hard time getting warranty work because dealers are worried about getting paid. That said, I think this will sort out. I think the likeliest scenario is that Roadtrek will still be purchased by Thor for a lower price once everything comes to light. I can’t reccomend you buy a Roadtrek immediately, I’d hold off a week or two until there is more info.

      Reply
  • Steve Shaw#13

    January 29, 2019

    Hi, yes, I would wait before proceeding. I’ve read on other forums where people had orders placed with a dealer and changed them to a different manufacturer. By waiting, you won’t turn your dream into a nightmare.

    BTW, what financial gain does Thor obtain if they purchase EHGNA after the fact? There’s value in the Road Trek IP but Thor don”t need the Ontario factories, employees, dealers or warranty headaches. If they do nothing, there’s a good possibility that they just eliminated a competitor.

    Steve

    Reply
    • Jason Epperson#14

      January 29, 2019

      Could be, but Thor also has a shallow bench when it comes to Class Bs. From what I understand the factory is leased, so that’s not really part of the purchase anyway. EHG would have to eat a lot of debt to make it work, but they’ll have to do that to sell it to anybody. The other way this may play out is that they shovel off a bunch of their own debt into the company and bury it in bankruptcy, but they seem to be operating under the assumption that they’re going to stabilize the company.

      Reply
      • Steve Shaw#15

        February 17, 2019

        Hi, appears they chose the latter. It’s no longer a financially viable company with $300 million in liabilities. Not to mention the potential for lawsuits.

        Reply
        • Dan Vetor#16

          February 26, 2019

          Once the debt is wiped out , it’s a fire sale any potential buyer. There is interest in the company. So it is possible it may be floatable again.

          Reply
  • Jeanne Congdon#17

    February 4, 2019

    Can you please give me some idea how to get parts for a 2006 Roadtrek 190 Versatile on Chevrolet Chassis? Theparts@erwinhymer.com gives nothing. We pulled into what we thought was a snow bank and it was solid ice. So the entire front bumper cover., ie groundeffects??? anyway front needs replaced. VIN1GC1TG39U351203925

    Reply
    • Jason Epperson#18

      February 4, 2019

      You may be able to call Roadtrek for help if they get back to business, but you also might be out of luck for an exact replacement for something that old. You might have to try to find a junked one. But luckily, since it’s just a Chevy van, you can get a regular chevy bumper to fit.

      Reply
      • Steve Sipos#19

        February 16, 2019

        I have a 2005 C210P. You can remove all the ground effects from the front bumper. You should find the original chrome bumper under the plastic. I took all of mine off. It looks great. I ordered the wind deflector for $40.00 and attached it to the bottom of the bumper. It is a win win fix.

        Reply
  • Karen Pitts#20

    February 5, 2019

    We purchased a 2019 Roadtrek in December and brought it to a dealer in Florida last week to have some minor warranty work performed on it…Roadtrek would not authorize any warranty work due to this embezzeling mess….Roadtrek makes a very nice Class B van and I hope this all gets sorted out….

    Reply
  • jchandsaker#21

    February 17, 2019

    I have called RoadTrek at least a dozen times this last month hoping to find out if they can place an “under-the-hood” generator in my 2013 RT RS Adventurous; and, which I purchased a month ago. Leaving a voice message each time, I’m feed up and ready to drive there from Portland, Oregon to get an answer. I understand audits are stressful, but yet business must go on….right?

    Reply
  • David Tenney#22

    February 17, 2019

    Contact See-Grins to restart the warranty 888-683-4652

    Reply
  • Tim Grensewich#23

    February 18, 2019

    I hope Jim Hammill, Howard Stratton, and Mark Weigel get what they deserve. They should be thrown in jail and have to pay back all the of the millions of dollars? Scum like this shouldn’t get off scott free!

    Reply
    • Steve Shaw#24

      February 18, 2019

      Hi Tim,

      white collar crimes take a while to sort out. If guilty, Canada’s courts won’t hesitate to send anyone to jail.

      I know of a case where a Ford rep defrauded Ford themselves over warranty work. He worked in collusion with some staff at a dealer to perpetuate this fraud. The Ford rep and the others were charged and, the Ford rep went to jail for sure. Fairly certain the dealer’s Service Manager did as well.

      This will all play out as it should.

      Reply
  • Steve Shaw#25

    February 26, 2019

    @Dan Vetor … what company has expressed the interest in taking care of the $300 million in liability and buying the remnants of RoadTrek?

    I would love to see this happen but it’s unlikely.

    Reply
  • Steve Shaw#26

    February 26, 2019

    @Jason Epperson,

    your latest update stayes no evidence of embezzlement has been found to date. So, is this the fake news or was the original statement of embezzlement fake news? Where did the original statement even come from??

    News keep stating “financial irregularities” but the Receivership document stayes “reporting irregularities.” There is a fine line between the two.

    If, your latest info is accurate, that begs the question as to whether or not Jim Hammill et al were ordered by EHG to make EHGNA look better prior to the Thor transaction? Hmmmm

    Cheers, Steve

    Reply
    • Jason Epperson#27

      February 26, 2019

      What we know is this: An anonymous EHGNA employee told RV Daily Report that there was embezzlement with fake invoices. We know that top execs like Hammill were suspended immediately. And we know it all came to light because of a routine audit as a part of the Thor sale. No arrests have been made, and no mentions of embezzlement have been filed with court papers. So, speculatively, it’s still possible embezzlement happened, but it’s also very possible that the original source misunderstood the cooked books to mean more than it did. We can safely assume there were major flaws in recordkeeping. We don’t know the nature of those flaws. It’s hard to imagine that Hymer orchestrated what was going on and suspended managers to shift blame. Perhaps the books were cooked in order to trigger executive bonuses or something. We just don’t know. But I did feel it important to point out that it’s looking less likely that millions of dollars were funneled into personal bank accounts as weeks go by without charges filed or arrests made.

      Reply
  • Steve Shaw#28

    February 26, 2019

    Hi Jason,

    for anyone at the company to truly know if there was embezzlement, that person would need access to not only the financial records but also HR and the employee records.

    Seems more likely that your assessment of fake news is correct.

    Reply

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