Peace and love were in the air—and so was entrepreneurial spirit. In 1968 Lloyd and Bertha Bontrager set out to make a family dream a reality in their quiet corner of Northern Indiana. Let the fun begin!
Lloyd developed his own prototype camping trailer with a unique lifter system for fold-down campers.
In January of 1969, Al Yoder joined the company as a partner. During this first year, we grew to 15 employees and sold 132 camping trailers.
While families gathered around the newfangled video boxes (TVs of course!), we began to make a name for ourselves too, acquiring competitors, delivering new products and selling internationally for the first time. Look out, TVs! We’ve got an idea for family time too.
- Lloyd launched the first Jayco Dealer Seminar to introduce new units and to give dealers and employees the opportunity to get to know one another.
- We opened plants in Kansas and Canada in an effort to better serve our growing roster of western dealers.
We entered the travel trailer market, building 1,100 in the first year.
Jayco entered the fifth wheel market. Three Cs, maker of Wonderland fifth wheels in Three Rivers, Michigan, was acquired.
The energy crisis of the 1970s had a lasting impact on the RV industry. The shortages forced Jayco to discontinue building motorhomes for several years and close plants in Kansas and Canada.
Al Yoder became Executive Vice President of Jayco. The same year, the company was ranked among the country’s top ten RV manufacturers for the first time. Later this year, Jayco Australia was formed, making Jayco an international company. Gerry Ryan, one of the founding partners, remains the managing director of Jayco Caravan Manufacturing to this day.
First on the market with the stand-up area in the front bedroom of fifth wheels. This allowed for easier movement and greater comfort.
Jayco entered the Class C motorhome market with the JayMini motorhome series.
We built the first Mackinac Island trams. These horse-drawn trams are still used for large group tours around the popular tourist destination.
As parents powered up personal computers and kids their video game consoles, Jayco established itself among the powers of the RV industry. The tragic loss of our fearless leader, Lloyd, in a plane crash couldn’t stop the momentum—and we doubled down on his vision for family fun.
Jayco introduced a wagon gear travel trailer, which was called the Jay-Trek. This trailer served the purpose of taking hitch weight off the tow vehicle.
Jayco introduced the Jay Tiki tent camper, a different type of fold-down product in which the living area flipped out of the trailer and onto the ground. It was introduced to the industry with a great deal of interest.
- We built and shipped our 100,000th unit.
- Tragedy struck on Easter Sunday when Lloyd, along with son Wendell, Nelson Hershberger and his son Marcus were killed in an airplane crash.
- Al Yoder was appointed President and Lloyd’s oldest son, Wilbur, became Executive Vice President. Bertha became Chairman of the Board.
Al Yoder was presented with the RVIA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.
Cell phones, pagers and the internet (Jayco.com included) all took root, changing how we communicate forever. A lot may have changed since the beginning, but the simple idea of fun with friends and family would propel us into the future.
Starcraft RV was acquired. Jayco took on the RV division under its overall corporate umbrella. Starcraft RV is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected builders of campers.
- Jayco introduced the Esprit tent camper. A trendsetter for the era, the Esprit was a 10-foot fold-down, which featured bright and bold tent fabrics.
- After many years at Jayco, Al Yoder retired from his position as President. Bernard Lambright became President. Wilbur became Chairman of the Board and Bertha became Chairperson Emeritus.
- We built and shipped our 200,000th unit.
Lloyd was inducted into the RV Hall of Fame.
Al Yoder was inducted into the RV Hall of Fame.
- We built and shipped our 300,000th unit.
- We opened a state-of-the-art customer service center in Middlebury, Indiana. that included a parts warehouse, service bays and customer service.
- We took to the World Wide Web with www.Jayco.com
- Our new corporate headquarters facility in Middlebury, Indiana. was completed.
- Wilbur assumed his role as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for RVIA.
It was a time of exciting change. The same can be said for Jayco and the RV industry. We found smart ways to weather some tough times and emerged on the other side, primed to launch into what would be a Golden Age for Jayco. Fun and family always prevail!
Jayco introduced the Kiwi, a lightweight travel trailer. This trailer was later named Jay Feather.
- Jayco introduced the Jay Flight trailer brand. As of today, Jay Flight has been the #1 best-selling travel trailer in North America for thirteen years straight.
- Bernard Lambright retired as President. Derald Bontrager, Lloyd and Bertha’s son, was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer of Jayco.
- We built and shipped our 400,000th unit.
We became the first company to offer surround sound system components in all products, including entry-level RVs.
We opened a new manufacturing plant in Twin Falls, Idaho. This allowed the company to accommodate the growing need in the western markets of the US and Canada.
- We built and shipped our 500,000th unit.
- Jayco introduced iPod® adapters on various products including toy haulers and camping trailers.
- Jayco introduced the first lightweight toy hauler travel trailer built with a wider exterior stance, known first as the Talon.
- We acquired the assets of the former Travel Supreme and launched the Class A diesel-pusher Entegra Coach division.
- The Jayco family celebrated 40 years of success.
- Wilbur Bontrager was inducted into the RV Hall of Fame.
Connectivity, tech and affordability have made RV travel more appealing to more people than ever. Here’s to many more Generations of Family Fun!
Jayco became the world’s largest privately-held RV manufacturer.
We introduced our new tag line – Generations of Family Fun. Adopting this as a brand promise reinforced Jayco’s commitment of providing family fun to employees, dealers, suppliers and customers for generations.
- We entered the gasoline Class A market with the introduction of the Precept.
- We acquired the assets of the former Open Range and renamed the division Highland Ridge RV.
- Derald assumed his role as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for RVIA.
- We opened a new manufacturing plant for Entegra Coach, freeing up manufacturing space for Class C and gasoline Class A motorhomes to meet growing demand.
- We commemorated Jay Flight being the #1 selling travel trailer in North America for 10 years.
- Bertha accepted the RV Dealers Association’s (RVDA) prestigious Titan Award on behalf of Lloyd and herself.
- We celebrated building our 1,000,000th unit in total between the four divisions of Jayco, Starcraft RV, Entegra Coach and Highland Ridge RV in May.
- Jayco Corporation, including all of the brands of Jayco, Starcraft RV, Entegra Coach and Highland Ridge RV, was acquired by Thor Industries on July 1st.
- Eagle celebrated 25 years, the industry’s longest running trailer brand.
- Derald Bontrager was presented with the RVIA's highest honor, the Distinguished Service to the RV Industry Award.
- Our workforce grew to the largest in the company's history with nearly 4,000 employees.
A global pandemic reawakened everyone's desire to get outside and sparked another golden age for the RVing community. With eyes toward a bright future, Jayco, Entegra Coach, Highland Ridge and Starcraft unified as the Jayco Family of Companies.
- Jayco announced that Ken Walters, formerly Vice President of Sales and Product Development, was promoted to President of the company.
- Jay Flight awarded the #1 selling travel trailer in North America for 15 consecutive years.
Jayco, Inc. rebrands to the Jayco Family of Companies to better encapsulate the four divisions - Entegra Coach, Starcraft RV, Jayco, and Highland Ridge RV.