The Newmar Story: Company History
Newmar started in 1968 when Marvin Newcomer and Marvin Miller left jobs as vice president of sales and vice president of manufacturing, respectively, for another major RV company with the firm idea of doing things better. The corporate name comes from blending Newcomer and Marvin. They set up operations in an old fire station in rural "Five Points," an intersection of roads about 12 miles from the company's current location. Freemon Borkholder joined the venture a short time later and the company moved to Nappanee, Indiana into a small building that is still used for manufacturing and as part of Newmar's main office.
The Kountry Aire travel trailer was the main product in the early years, becoming known as an affordable, well-made, and comfortable unit. In the early 1970s America was learning about the ease of towing a fifth-wheel travel trailer and Newmar was at the forefront. It introduced the Kountry Aire fifth-wheel travel trailer and production increased rapidly, establishing Newmar as one of the first and largest fifth-wheel manufacturers. The Kountry Aire line is still a part of Newmar's product line-up.
The 1970s saw some changes at Newmar, with the acquisition of Arabian, a delightful little fifth-wheel and conventional travel trailer line that flourished for several years before being phased out in 1979. That year the company also experimented with the Butterfly line, but never developed it. In 1981, Newmar launched the London Aire line, fulfilling a longtime dream of Marvin Miller.
In 1976, Marvin Newcomer sold his share of the company to Marvin Miller and Freemon Borkholder making Marvin Miller the majority stockholder of Newmar. In 1984, Mahlon Miller, then president of Holiday Rambler, purchased Marvin Miller's interest in the company. After resigning at Holiday, Mahlon Miller became chairman of the board at Newmar Corporation.
Under Mahlon's direction the Kountry Klub, an exclusive social klub for owners of Newmar recreational vehicles, was formed in 1985 and quickly grew to be a very important part of the company. Today, the Kountry Klub has over 5,000 members. In 1986, the Kountry Lite line, which had been developed in 1982, was replaced by the American Star and Kountry Star lines. In less than two years, these two related lines became the most successful products ever offered by Newmar with the exception of Kountry Aire.
In early 1990 the Dutch Star product line was introduced, followed a little later in the year by the Mountain Aire brand name, both of which remain important in the company's eight brand-names product line-up. Also in 1990, the company's very popular power slide out room was first offered in Newmar's class A motorhomes and a large power slide out was introduced in fifth wheel travel trailers.
In 1991, Mahlon Miller bought all of Freemon Borkholder's interest in the company and became the sole owner of Newmar Corporation. In 1992, Newmar became a bona fide motorhome manufacturer with the introduction of an even larger power slide out in the class A product and the advent of Newmar's first class A diesel pusher in the Kountry Star and London Aire brand names.
Newmar's products have stayed on the cutting edge of the industry with several innovations throughout the years. These include a patented pull-down stone guard, a patented power awning, and a patented automatic door stop. The company's unique flat-floor power slide out is also patented.
In 1998, Newmar decided to improve the exterior appearance of its units by offering fully painted exterior graphics. This new feature gave the customer a choice of an upgraded look of full paint or the traditional exterior look of vinyl graphics. Newmar remodeled one of its buildings to accommodate this new feature and the journey began. No one could have guessed at how popular this feature would become and in 2000 Newmar built an 18,900 square foot state-of-the-art paint facility in order to keep up with the demand of this new feature. In 2002, the company added three new paint booths and approximately 27,600 square feet to this building to help maintain its position it had assumed as an industry leader in full paint exterior graphics.
In 2001, the company introduced the Mountain Aire Limited Diesel Pusher. This motorhome was a step up from the company’s Mountain Aire Diesel Pusher and was the first Newmar product to offer a triple slide out floorplan. In 2002, the Limited was phased out and the Essex Diesel Pusher was introduced. This high-end motorhome was distinctive in design and built with Newmar’s renowned quality and pride. The Essex redefined the high-end market.
The Scottsdale Class A Gas product was also introduced in 2002. The Scottsdale gave the Newmar product line-up a modernized environment of luxury, comfort, and attention to detail making this product attractive and user-friendly.
The finest recreational vehicles have built a Newmar dealer network that spans the continental United States, Alaska, and all of Canada.
From six people in 1968, the company has grown to employ more than 900. In 1995, Newmar moved into a new, 116,000 square-foot manufacturing facility considered by many to be one of the most state-of-the-art facilities in the RV industry.
The company was founded and has always been owned by Mennonites in a community that is rich with hardworking and talented individuals. It might seem a paradox that Newmar, with its conservative background, is also recognized nationally as an innovator in the RV industry. Yet it is this very combination that has fueled Newmar's success. The company’s mission statement indicates that Newmar applies the Christian principles of honesty, courtesy, morality, fairness, reasonableness, reliability, and integrity in dealing with its customers, employees, suppliers and financial institutions. Newmar also builds the kind of quality, utility, and value into each of its conventional motorhomes and fifth-wheel travel trailers that keeps it among the industry leaders.
Newmar's excellence in quality was recognized nationally in 1996 when the Recreational Vehicle Dealer's Association gave Newmar their first Quality Circle Award. Newmar has won this award many times since.
Mahlon Miller's national contribution to the RV industry was recognized in 1998 when he was inducted into the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Hall of Fame. The late Newmar President, Virgil Miller, was also inducted into the Class of 2001 Hall of Fame.
The Indianapolis Business Journal has ranked Newmar among the top 50 private companies in the state of Indiana based on the company’s success.
RVIA honored the late Newmar Chairman, Virgil Miller, with its 2001 Distinguished Service to the RV Industry Award. Recognized as the association’s highest honor, this award is presented to an individual within the recreation vehicle industry who has set himself apart through outstanding service.
Newmar looks to the future while drawing heavily from the past. Newmar has grown from very humble beginnings to a nationally recognized and highly respected company built on Christian principles. With the inevitable changes at Newmar and the world in general, these principles have not changed. Newmar's objectives continue to be the same: Offer the best in product leadership to its customers; be a conscientious and fair employer; provide a reasonable profit to its owners; and honor God in all business activities.