Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Business

October 22, 2011

Millersburg's Carriage Inc. may have a plan to stay open

A bank that filed a lawsuit to take possession of Carriage Inc. in Millersburg may be open to a deal to turn the company around, according to a Carriage consultant.

“We got to have our meeting with the bank,” Rick Van Es, a business turnaround consultant, said Friday afternoon. “I think we are on a positive track right now.”

PNC Bank of Indianapolis filed a lawsuit in Elkhart Superior Court 1 Tuesday asking for control of Carriage, which the bank says owes it more than $5 million. Glenn Cushman is the owner of Carriage Inc., which has been based in Millersburg for the past 45 years. The company manufactures luxury fifth-wheel recreational vehicles. Cushman has been unreachable for comment on the legal developments.

Van Es said the situation is headed in a positive direction right now. He said there is still a lot of work to do on working out a restructuring of the company that the bank will agree to.

And Van Es admits the Millersburg community is very worried about the possibility of losing a traditional company and the 200 jobs there.

“We have all been fighting for this company and these jobs in Millersburg,” he said.

He said while there are 200 jobs at Carriage, each of those jobs have a positive effect on Millersburg eight to 10 times over.

“It’s not over yet,” he said, “but I believe it is headed in the right direction.”

Van Es said the bank found defaults in the legal covenants in its agreements with Cushman, but not with Cushman’s payments.

“The company always made their payments on time,” Van Es said.

He said PNC Bank is the only senior secured lender the company has.

Despite the financial and legal issues, Carriage has popular RV products that are in demand through about 90 dealers nationwide, according to Van Es.

“(The Carriage brand) is very much in demand,” Van Es said. “It is a marquee brand. We have had an outpouring of sentiments from dealers cheering us on. It is a good feeling to have everyone pulling for you.”

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