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Old 12-19-2009, 09:36 PM   #1
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Alpine Coach / WRV history

I am curious if there is a written account of the history of WRV from begining to end? Looks like they built the 1st Coach in 1998, but where did it all start? Were they a manufacturer of towables that made the leap to building motorhomes?

It seems universally accepted that they had the chassis design down to a science. Where did this technology / knowledge come from considering that they were a relative newcomer to the Coach business?

Other than the economy and the build quality issues, what was the biggest contributor to their failure?

Thanks,
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Old 12-22-2009, 10:39 AM   #2
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OK, someone must have some knowledge of where WRV got their start.

If there is no written account of the history currently available, maybe we can piece something together?

If I'm asking a redicules question or if there is a better forum to post it to, please let me know.
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Old 12-22-2009, 11:54 AM   #3
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Refuse1,
WRV started with truck campers then later added 5th wheels. They were in business for a number of years prior to getting into Motor Homes. There are other more conversant with the WRV story that may be willing to chime in. What got WRV into trouble was too much debt, building the Avalanche (a less expensive version Alpine Coach) which turned out to be a lemon, then QC became a problem and THEN the economy slowed down. Monomy Partners bought WRV in late 2006. They are a private equity firm that specializes in turnarounds of small to medium size businesses. They were doing some pretty good work and it looked like WRV was starting to do things right. However, tight credit and the economy going into the tank finished the company.
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Old 12-22-2009, 10:53 PM   #4
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Jeff:

You'll find almost everything you want to know about WRV's history and our coaches by reading back through to the oldest posts. It takes a long time but boy is it packed full of information. Throughout you'll find references to other material and sources. You'll be really glad you did.
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Old 12-30-2009, 06:45 PM   #5
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I have read back through the posts here and cannot seem to find anything that talks about WRV history.

So I was thinking, maybe if I was to offer up some kind of a reward for information leading to knowledge of WRV history, some of you out there would chime in and impart some of that wisdom.

Here's the deal. You get 10 points for every question answered ! Points must be redeemed in the year that they are awarded and cannot be carried forward to the following year.

Lets start with some simple ones:

Who started WRV?

What year was it founded?

Were they always built in the same location?

What made them decide to start building coaches in the first place?
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:48 PM   #6
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Ron's dad. 1970's. Yes. Temporary insanity.
So, what are my 4 points redeemable for?
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Old 12-30-2009, 09:30 PM   #7
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???
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Old 12-30-2009, 09:53 PM   #8
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Jim;
If you are attending the Desert Rat Rally there will be a lot of information available around the evening fire.

Rod Sprague
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Old 12-31-2009, 09:22 AM   #9
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Mike, Points are redeemable for valuable prizes. So far, you have 40 points, although some of your answers are fairly vague, we will let them slide for now.

I have a 2003 brochure that talks about the "strong foundation of a family owned business" with "more than a 31 year commitment to quality, comfort and reliability". If my math is correct, that means WRV must have started in 1972. The brochure also states that they have been building "some of the toughest, most reliable Motor Coaches, Fifth-Wheels and Truck Campers for over three decades". So....maybe they started with truck campers and then expanded to 5th wheels and then coaches in 1998? I wonder when they started the plan to build coaches?

Maybe the guy that designed the Peak chassis has some insight? There has to be some good stories about how this company evolved. They obviously had a great vision and desire to be different than the workhorse/spartan builders. Building your own chassis right out of the chute is an extremely bold move. Just getting that past the 1st few years is an incredible accomplishment.

What are these guys doing now? <----10 points available right there !

So far, Mike has all the points......hope someone can step in and compete !
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Old 12-31-2009, 11:50 AM   #10
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First coach was, I believe, 1997 fwiw.
The chassis designer was hired specifically for the purpose of making a fun, stable driving platform. According to the legend, Ron Doyle made an appointment with Gary Jones to discuss the chassis design. Gary showed up and Rod said "let's take a drive." They hopped into his series 6 BMW, and Ron tore around a twisty course he had chosen for a demonstration. At the completion of the drive, Ron tossed the keys to Gary and told him to keep the car for a while, and while designing the chassis to make it handle like the BMW.
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Old 12-31-2009, 03:14 PM   #11
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E-Mike, I can't wait to sit down with you at the DRR and hear some more stories. We'll share a few 'cold ones' but I don't use the umbrellas - - never could figure mout how to swallow them.
Happy New Year.
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Old 01-01-2010, 01:35 PM   #12
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Regarding what are they doing now...

The current facilities on Ahtanum Road are sitting basically empty. Ron is currently rezoning the 39 acres of bare land closer to Valley Mall Blvd, near the Costco, to commercial with a pending sale for a small retail mall (called Union Gap Promenade) that will include a WinCo grocery store, among other smaller retail stores. According to the local newspaper, he says he is still looking for another manufacturer to take over the WRV buildings.

Happy New Year to All.
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Old 01-01-2010, 02:19 PM   #13
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A brief history, maybe?

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Yakima area was a hotbed of RV manufacturing. Chinook Motorhomes, both larger and the small units mounted on Toyota pickup frames, were manufactured at a site in Union Gap that currently houses Atrium Windows. Bill Doyle had started to manufacture campers and probably trailers in Yakima, and gradually built the large manufacturing complex on Washington Avenue, next to the Airport. Gary Lukehart, and his brother Roger, sold a small van conversion business in California and came up to work for Chinook; Gary as president and Roger as slaes manager. Eventually Chinook closed, but the Lukeharts quickly started another manufacturing company in the 70s called Trailwagons, which did van conversions, and in the early 80s they fired up a new line of small deluxe coaches they again called Chinooks. By this time, Gary had bought out Roger, and eventually he moved to a new facility he built along the freeway at the north end of Yakima.

After Bill Doyle retired, Ron and brother Scott took over. As I understand it, they eventually split and decided that Ron would take over the manufacturing business (WRV) and Scott got the buildings on Washington Avenue. Ron began the process of moving to the new facility he built in Union Gap, although he never got completely out of the Washington facilites, and Scott eventually sold the Washington property a few years ago to a Seattle developer. Part of that property is now a retail lumber yard, and part houses another RV manufacturer from Canada, which now employs several of the ex-WRV personnel. Part still is available.

Gary Lukehart's son, Dan, took over the Trailwagons/Chinook operation in the late 90s, but eventually they closed their doors around 2006, and the facility is now a Coca Cola Distributor. And we all know what happened to WRV in the spring of 2008.

Of course most of this is from memory, which my wife says I have very little of.
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:42 PM   #14
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Terry,

Nice job ! That is terrific info and greatly appreciate. It is very interseting to me that a family business was able to design and build a complex chassis like the peak at a time when there is/was so much red tape required to manufacture a vehicle. I have to wonder how much the 2007 emmisions regulations played a part in the demise of WRV. The systems required to comply are very complex and have caused untold issues within the truck manufacturing industry even with very well capitalized manufacturers.

It would be interesting to know if the previous employees / executives from WRV ever venture here to IRV2 and read any of the forum entries..........
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