Forest River is one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of recreational vehicles. Based in Elkhart, Indiana, the company has been an industry leader since 1996. Its massive production facilities assemble a vast array of RVs. They include travel trailers, motorhomes, truck campers, and more.
And behind the successful company is one of the world’s richest people. His financial backing and knowledge of the growing industry place Forest River in a competitive position in RV manufacturing.
The Forest River product line
As the RV industry continues to experience record sales, Forest River announced plans to grow its workforce and expand the 20-acre manufacturing complex, The Goshen News reported last year. Employing close to 10,000 people in 10 locations, Forest River is one of the largest RV manufacturers.
Founded by Peter Liegl in 1996, the company began offering only travel trailers, pop-up tent campers, fifth wheels, and park models. But today, Forest River says it manufactures “Class A, B, and C motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, toy haulers, pop-up tent campers, truck campers, park model trailers, destination trailers, cargo trailers, commercial vehicles, buses, pontoons, and mobile restroom trailers.”
The extensive product line consists of 46 brands. Each floorplan offers unique features and benefits.
Among its notable models, the Forest River XLR debuted in 2020, receiving an RV News award for Best Fifth Wheel Toy Hauler of 2021. According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), to meet consumer demand for the popular model, the brand spent $3.5 billion to expand an existing production facility.
And the luxurious Berkshire diesel Class A motorhome is undoubtedly a nod to its parent company, Berkshire Hathaway. The high-end coach starts around $350,000 for those who want to cruise in style.
Forest River’s owner
Warren Buffett is the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, the company that owns Forest River.
“Like most people who buy recreational vehicles, Warren Buffett made his decision quickly. He heard about Forest River in the summer of 2005 and bought the company just seven days later,” Bloomberg reported.
Known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” Buffett is a consummate deal-maker. At the time of purchase, he told Forbes, “We are very excited about the growth prospects of Forest River. Pete Liegl and his strong management team have built a remarkably successful company that is well-positioned for further growth.” The savvy investor added, “Forest River’s focus on building quality leisure vehicles at fair prices represents a strong opportunity for the company’s dealers and customers throughout the U.S. and Canada.”
Liegl, who continues to run the RV manufacturer, responded, “With Berkshire’s strong reputation and financial backing, we now have the firepower to make investments and acquisitions at a rate that otherwise would not have been possible.”
The world’s sixth-richest person
Buffett is the world’s sixth-richest person, with an estimated $100 billion net worth, USA Today reported in early March. Despite the pandemic’s negative effect on most Americans, the 90-year-old financial genius added about $13 billion to his net worth last year.
For those wanting to do business with Buffett, stock in Berkshire Hathaway is available for around $399,000 per share. That’s not a typo.
Berkshire Hathaway has the funding needed to ensure Forest River continues as a leader in this exploding industry. Buffett, once again, made a wise choice investing in a profitable business venture.