RV/MH Hall of Fame News
For over 30 years, he has served as keeper of the “official” scorecard for production and sales in both the RV and manufactured housing industries. In over 20 years on the RVIA Market Information Committee he has led the distribution of retail data to the industry. 10 years ago he began accumulation and distributing the information to now also serve the Canadian market. Over 25 years, his information distribution has progressed from a quarterly journal in print to 24 hour immediate digital access.
An innovative manufacturer, he introduced affordable diesel pushers to the industry. He created the electronic “magic bed” that rose to the ceiling to greatly expand the living space in his smaller coaches. His use of side-aisle floor plans opened the door for a wide variety of interior designs. His introduction of automatic awnings was a well received convenience for RVers. Identified as an industry rebel for his unconventional approach to the industry, he was honored as the 1994 RV Industry Executive of the Year.
In 48 years of service, starting by reconditioning used homes in his back yard, Claude became a leader in housing retail for southern New York and northern Pennsylvania, he developed his own community, and created Custome Modular Homes to manufacture unique custom units for his residents. He was the first in his region to offer land/home financing packages to his customers. Through the years he has received top dealer recognition from many manufacturers including Skyline, Fairmont, Liberty, Commodore and Fleetwood.
A recognized industry pioneer and innovator, he became President in 1968, and led Guerdon during a dynamic 6 year growth period into the nation’s largest home builder with 57 manufacturing plants nationwide. He led the move to provide overseas outlets for manufactured homes. It is said that one of Tom’s greatest contributions was his ability to recruit and develop top leaders to the industry. In 1984, he founded Meyers and Associates Consulting providing his unique services to many industry companies.
Beginning his company in 1955 with two employees, he built it into the largest component supplier in the industry. He provides everything from frames and chassis to roof materials for both homes and RVs. He introduced the welded “I” beam to manufactured housing frames. His products have included axles, countertops, mattresses, draperies and furniture. Now the patriarch of a third generation family led company, he is recognized for building a generous corporate citizen employing over 4500 workers in 12 states.
An early motor home manufacturer who started with a home-made coach built for personal use in his driveway, he was one of the early users of fiberglass front and rear caps and side panels. He pioneered dual roof air conditioning units, and was the first to build monocoque “uni-body” coaches. He was one of the first to build type A diesel pusher coaches. He pioneered an 8 bag air suspension system. He promoted the concept of factory stores by placing sales operations in key cities around the nation. He was one of the first to develop an owners club to provide communication and services for his consumer body.
Kirwan co-founded Custom Coach in 1955 with his father, and his company was the first to commercially convert buses into RVs. He has served on the Family Motor Coach Association’s Commercial Council since the mid 1960s and was chairman from 1990 to 1999. In 1956, he installed the first automatic transmission in an inter-city bus shell. He installed the first back up cameras in RVs in 1965 and was the first to install cruise control in buses in 1967. As the “father of the bus conversion industry”, he has for over 50 years, been a leader in introducing hundreds of musicians, sports figures and other celebrities to the benefits of luxury tour bus travel.
Since 1968 she has led her company in retail sales of both HUD code and modular homes and the development and management of communities providing over 600 home sites in Maine and New Hampshire. As president of Burlington Homes, a HUD code manufacturer, she is the only woman to be the active leader simultaneously in all three divisions (retail, community and manufacturing) of the industry. She is a founding member of the Maine Manufactured Housing Association and a board member of the Manufactured Association for Regulatory Reform.
He founded the first publicly traded company to operate land-lease communities, establishing credibility for housing communities on Wall Street that grew to provide over 12,000 home sites. He successfully lobbied for creative zoning for senior citizen communities in Colorado. He represented MH communities on an advisory council to the small business administration. He has also created a very upscale RV resort providing a unique brand of luxury to the RV world. He created a concept of fractional time shares where a resident of one of his communities could share access with residents of other communities.