Tiffin was founded by Bob Tiffin in 1972 and just celebrated their 50th anniversary. Van Tiffin (Bob’s son) and Leigh Tiffin (Van’s son and Bob’s grandson) started Vanleigh in 2014. In December of 2020 it was announced that Thor Industries acquired the Tiffin group for $300 million dollars. Many owners during that time had been concerned with the private family owned company being controlled by Thor however they were also assured that Tiffin was still a family business and continue to run the operations.
We started looking at purchasing a VLRV in November of 2020 and the acquisition made us a bit hesitant however there are many other companies that run under the Thor umbrella. I had always equated the purchase of VLRV to that of Airstream which has been under the Thor umbrella since 1980. We continued to research and look at and eventually purchasing our Vanleigh Beacon.
During our time at the plant we met many Vanleigh staff members that have been employed for several years at Vanleigh and some had family working at the plant. VLRV was built in the small town of Burnsville, MS and we were told by Vanleigh staff that a large portion of the town depended on VLRV for employment. Losing VLRV in that community is likely a big impact to those families and our prayers are with them.
For those VLRV owners that are outside of the warranty likely this announcement comes with some adjustment and maybe some disappointment but little impact. There may be some changes in the future as those individuals try to source parts however the RV industry uses the similar or the same components across many of the brands and models.
Likely the larger concern is for those that are currently in the purchasing process or have just purchase and may be worried about how their unit will be covered for the duration of the warranty period. VLRV comes with the standard 1 year warranty and 3 year structural. The memo clearly states that this wont be a concern and the Tiffin group will continue to support and give warranty support consistent with historical practice. Even with that statement it may be a hard pill to swallow if you are a new owner or likely may change your mind if you are purchasing a new unit.
For us we still have close to 100 outstanding warranty items; some of those are small that I can address, some can be addressed by a mobile technician if needed however a large portion of our warranty items will require “shop time” either at Tishomingo or at Redbay. This includes things like our broken frame, our slide that we have been told needs rebuilt or all of our wiring that needs replaced.
We did make contact with the support staff at Tiffin this morning to verify that our warranty items that we are currently working toward resolution are not going to be impacted. We have been working with a third party to facilitate repair of our broken welds at which time we will also have Lippert involved for inspection. The Tiffin technician – somebody we are familiar with and have worked with on many issues assured us that our issues are well documented and will continue to be worked on in the future.
As of this writing there has not been an official press release from Tiffin or VLRV regarding the plant closure outside of the memo sent and referenced above. A member of the support team at Tiffin did comment in the VLRV Facebook groups this morning amongst the confusion to validate that the memo posted was accurate.
We were told from an employee that there are currently 18 units on the line at the Vanleigh plant and after those units have cleared the plant this will officially close production.
**Update – As of April 2023 Vanleigh had vacated the premises of the plant and Baymont Bathware had taken over the plant as their new production facility.
Not only is it sad for the employees but it is sad for the RV industry to lose a RV manufacturer that had the potential that Vanleigh RV had. Even with all of the issues we have had we have always thought that Vanleigh could be a market leader with their motorhome DNA packed into a fifth wheel.