Are you thinking about buying an RV? You may have considered Forest River RVs, as they offer a wide variety of models in different sizes and configurations. But do you know who makes them?
Here, we’ll explore the company behind the brand to help you decide if Forest River is right for your needs. We’ll discuss who makes Forest River RVs, their pros and cons, where they’re built, and much more.
Read on to find out if Forest River RVs are worth considering.
What Is Forest River RV?
Forest River RV is a vehicle manufacturer best known for its RVs and camper vans. Founded in 1996, the company aimed to provide quality camping equipment at an affordable price.
Over the years, Forest River grew in popularity. It expanded its product line to include anything from small pop-up campers to massive fifth-wheelers. Today, Forest River produces some of the most prevalent RVs on the market. There are countless floor plan options and amenities suited for everyone from single adventurers to large families.
From Class A, B, and C motorhomes to folding tent campers, Forest River RV offers unique RVs for any lifestyle or budget. While having a reputation for being lightweight and affordable, Forest River has started to dabble in the higher-end RV market.
Who Owns Forest River RV?
Forest River RV was founded in 1996 by an Amish entrepreneur from Indiana named Pete Liegl. Officially Forest River Inc. is now a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., an investment and holding company led by Warren Buffet that acquired Forest River RV in 2005.
Liegl, however, still runs the company. According to RV News, when Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffet purchased Forest River RV, he famously told Liegl to just keep doing what he was doing.
About Berkshire Hathaway
Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. is a massive holding company based out of Omaha, Neb., headed by well-known billionaire investor Warren Buffet. The company has investments in many industries, most notably the railroads. However, one of the biggest contributors to their bottom line comes from the RV market through their subsidiary Forest River RV.
In 2021, Zippia.com estimated Forest River to have contributed $5 billion to Berkshire’s total revenue.
Forest River RV is technically the only RV company that Berkshire Hathaway owns. However, Forest River had already purchased other RV businesses by the time Berkshire Hathaway acquired them in 2005. They have also added several more RV businesses to Forest River RV since the acquisition.
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How Many Brands Does Forest River RV Own?
Forest River Inc. has more than 30 RV brands under its umbrella. Although the company also counts buses, cargo trailers, commercial trucks, park models, and pontoon boats among its listings.
The company’s RV brands are Aurora, Berkshire by Forest River, Cardinal, Cedar Creek, Charleston by Forest River, Cherokee, Dynamax, EVO, Flagstaff, and Forester. It also has FR3, Georgetown, IBEX, Impression, Independence Trail, No Boundaries, Ozark, and Riverstone.
There’s also Rockwood, R-Pod, Sabre, Salem, Sandpiper, Sandstorm, Shockwave, Sierra, Solera, Stealth, Sunseeker, Surveyor, Vengeance, Vibe, Viking, Wildcat, Wildwood, Work and Play, and XLR.
That’s not even counting many of the popular models within some of those brands. Many are almost more recognizable than their parent brands. These brands include Arctic Wolf by Cherokee, E-Pro by Flagstaff, or Heritage Glen by Wildwood.
Some people ask what the difference is between all of these brands. Sometimes the differences are slight, like just paint jobs or interior design. Sometimes they can be significant, like different chassis and construction materials. Some of the Forest River RVs are 4-season, meaning they are more designed for extreme weather with better insulation and climate control. Other brands are best only during the traditional camping season of May-September.
Where Are Forest Rivers RV Manufactured?
Forest River Inc. is in Elkhart, Ind. Forest River RV’s main manufacturing facility and operations are in Elkhart. But that’s not the only location for the company.
Having acquired so many RV brands over the years, many of those brands are still manufactured in other locations outside Elkhart. In fact, according to Forest River Inc., they have manufacturing facilities throughout the Midwest and the West Coast.
Forest River insists that all its brands undergo random and extensive testing at its 20,000-square-foot pre-delivery inspection building. This is in addition to the on-site inspections of each unit at its manufacturing site.
Pros and Cons of Mass-Produced RVs
Mass-produced RVs like Forest River are becoming increasingly popular among travelers seeking the freedom and flexibility of exploring the open road. Most of the RVs are produced by just three companies: Thor Industries, Forest River RV, and Winnebago. Indeed, these RV makers offer various options, from all-inclusive packages to relatively simple, budget-friendly choices.
One of the major pros of mass-produced RVs is the price – thanks to their expansive production capabilities, these vehicles tend to cost significantly less than their custom counterparts. This allows individuals to find RVs that fit their needs at a more affordable rate. A large manufacturer like Forest River offers a wide selection of models, builds, and floor plans to meet just about any design you might imagine.
Another pro of mass-produced RVs is that a large network of dealers usually offers them. With such a vast assortment of brands under one roof, finding a nearby dealer is typically easy.
However, a potential con of mass-produced RVs is the build quality. A common complaint among many customers is that mass-produced RVs tend to get pushed out the door too quickly, leaving craftsmanship lacking.
RV manufacturers owned by larger companies are often under pressure to cut costs and increase profit margins. Cutting costs doesn’t always but can often mean cutting corners. This can manifest in a number of ways in an RV, from using poorer-quality materials to reducing steps in the manufacturing process.
What Are the Most Popular Forest River RVs?
With so many brands, Forest River has an RV for just about anyone, regardless of your requirements. Whether you’re looking for a small, lightweight travel trailer or a larger, luxurious fifth wheel, Forest River has something that will suit you. They have Class A, B, and C motorhomes (including Super Cs) that range from basic necessities to a mansion on wheels.
On the Class A side of motorhomes, it’s no surprise that the Berkshire by Forest River brand is consistently amongst the most popular models the company sells. The Berkshire combines all the luxury and performance you could want in a large motorhome.
If you’re looking for a smaller motorhome, Forest River’s Sunseeker line-up offers all you could need in a smaller package and at an affordable price. Sunseeker has long been popular among those wanting a more modest motorhome primarily because there are so many layouts and a range of options.
At some point, you’ve probably seen an R-Pod or an E-Pro rolling down the road. That’s because they are the ultimate travel trailers where form meets function. These are popular models because they fall at the more affordable end of the spectrum, have a small footprint, and are towable by various vehicles.
Another very popular model is the Cherokee Arctic Wolf. This fifth wheel is made to be lightweight for its size and has efficient floor plans and modern amenities. It can withstand the elements of all four seasons.
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Forest River in the News
Forest River RV has been in the news frequently over the past few years due to recalls, lawsuits, and supply chain issues.
The company was the target of a proposed class action lawsuit in 2022 dealing with some of its fifth wheels. The lawsuit claims that Forest River manufactured the RVs without safely insulating and protecting wires from the tow vehicle to the fifth wheel’s battery. That resulted in the increased potential for a short, which is one of the most common causes of RV fires.
Forest River was also the subject of high-profile recalls in 2022. They had to recall over 12,000 Coachmen trailers due to a faulty breakaway switch and nearly 20,000 other RVs across several brands due to an electric retractable awning defect.
A much less widespread recall affected about a couple hundred motorhomes that Forest River recalled because of the potential for an LP (liquid propane) leak. Though fewer in number, the motorhomes affected in this recall included high-end motorhomes from the Dynamax and Coachmen brands. That could be much more critical, as there may have been incorrect connections with the LP tanks.
Though Forest River had supply chain issues, just like most companies across the country, they have emerged relatively unscathed. The RV industry set records for shipments, and Forest River, in particular. It continued to add billions of dollars in revenue to Berkshire Hathaway’s bottom line.
Are Forest River RVs Good Campers?
If you’re in the market for a new RV, Forest River is definitely a manufacturer to keep in mind. With so many different brands and options under their umbrella, there’s bound to be an RV that fits your needs and budget.
However, remember that mass-produced RVs have cons. Forest River often caters to consumers looking for affordable camper options, and as the old adage goes, you often get what you pay for. For the lower price tag, you have to give up some things on the quality side.
So, are Forest River RVs good campers? The answer depends on what you’re looking for and which of the many camper styles and models they make you choose. Our advice is no matter what RV you’re considering purchasing, check it over thoroughly and don’t rely on the brand name alone to make a decision.
Would you consider buying an RV from Forest River? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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