Tag Archives: bill kerola

Girl Camper Talks Serro Scotty with Gary Pirschl

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(image courtesy serroscottytrailers.com)

The history of Serro Scotty trailers dates back to the 1950’s when a retired John Serro built his first trailer. The history of the beloved white and turquoise “everyman’s camper” is long and storied in the annals of the recreational vehicle industry. Podcaster and blogger Janine Pettit had the pleasure of interviewing the grandson of John Serro, Gary Pirschl, in her latest podcast for Girl Camper, her blog and podcast dedicated to the camping lifestyle for the ladies.

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(image courtesy girlcamper.com)

It’s a very good listen and lends some interesting insight into not only the Serro family, but also the history of the company and his thoughts on Little Guy Trailers reviving the Serro Scotty brand in a big way.  The link to the podcast can be found here: http://girlcamper.com/girl-camper-51-gary-perschel-grandson-of-serro-scotty-founder/

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Little Guy Acquires Serro Scotty Brand – Breaks Ties With Pleasant Valley

Green, Ohio based Little Guy Worldwide has announced they will be adding the iconic Serro Scotty trailer brand to their lineup of small travel trailers and teardrops.

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“Scotty trailers are a big part of the rich camping heritage of America,” said Joe Kicos, owner and president of Little Guy in a press release. “We are very excited to add the Scotty trailer brand and history to the Little Guy family.” Little Guy is one of the most well known teardrop trailers on the market since it first rolled out 20 units in 2002.

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The Serro Scotty name dates back to 1957 when John Serro first built, coincidentally, a teardrop trailer. In a short time, Serro Scotty campers became one of the most affordable and mass produced family campers throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, and ultimately had manufacturing facilities in Irwin, PA, Ashburn, GA, and Bristow, OK. After the Ashburn and Bristow plants closed, the Irwin plant burned to the ground in 1997, ending Serro Scotty’s 40 year run of building trailers.

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In 2006, Pennsylvania RV dealer Bill Kerola revived the Serro Scotty brand, having a series of manufacturers build a limited amount of HiLanders and other models of Scottys. Before news of the acquisition of the Serro Scotty brand by Little Guy broke this week, I had confirmed with Kerola that he in fact had not renewed his licensing agreement with the Serro family. Under the Kerola-era of Scotty production, the 16′ HiLander was by far the most popular of the models.

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(2010 Serro Scotty HiLanders)

Having owned a 2010 HiLander for five years, I had a pretty close relationship with Kerola, as well as some other owners of the revived brand. While there was a small dealer network at first, it later moved to a factory direct concept. After going through several manufacturers, all production ceased by 2015.

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(2010 Serro Scotty Silver Pup and 2013 Serro Scotty Sportsman)

Today I spoke with Little Guy Vice President of Operations, Dylan DeHoff. They’re very excited about acquiring the rights to Serro Scotty and the plans they have for it. “The first few models will strictly be retro designed. Our plan to keep the retro look on the outside with the white/turquoise colors, teardrop shaped fender cutout, etc. The outside would also feature some basic RV designs like white framed windows. On the inside a standard unit would not be retro at all, but rather a neutral interior: Neutral colored cabinets, counters and floors. It would feature your typical RV components such as a Dometic stove, fridge, Coleman AC, etc. We plan to make a line of retro models ranging from 13 to 23 feet. For the customers that want the entire retro experience there will be a retro package which will change the flooring, curtains and other cosmetic items to feature a retro design.

“Right now we are prototyping a 16 foot bunk floorplan and next is a 17 foot front queen floorplan, both modeled after the Highlander look with the “bump up” in the roof. Next would be the 13 foot floorplan and the 15 foot floorplan. The 13 foot floorplan would be modeled after the Sportsman Gaucho but we would also like to create an extended 16 foot box version of the Sportsmen.”

To kickstart the Serro Scotty brand, Little Guy has created a new website for the Scottys at http://serroscottytrailers.com, where for now you can add your name and email to receive Serro Scotty updates from Little Guy.

As big as the news is of Little Guy reviving Serro Scotty, probably bigger is news of their pending separation with long time manufacturer Pleasant Valley Teardrops. The agreement between Little Guy and Pleasant Valley ends on April 1, 2017. While details are a little murky on the separation, what is known is that Little Guy has secured a 169,000 square foot manufacturing facility (rumored to be in the Elkhart, Indiana region) that will handle current and new product lines, with another 200,000 square feet of space in reserve for anticipated future expansion. But what is not known is how this split will affect all the brands that have been built by Pleasant Valley and marketed and distributed by Little Guy: T@B, T@G, myPod, Little Guy Teardrops (5-wide, 6-wide, Silver Shadow, and Rough Rider), and Cirrus truck campers. Some are owned by Little Guy and some are owned by Pleasant Valley. Obviously this is a pretty big deal and I’ll be gathering more information and sort it out for you all in a separate post here on The Small Trailer Enthusiast. Look for much, much more on this in the months to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First Hi-Lo Prototypes Completed

Last month I shared some pics of a couple of the reintroduced Hi-Lo trailers from their production facility in Pennsylvania. Those two prototypes are now complete and have arrived at the Transfer, Pennsylvania lot of Kerola’s Camper Store, where owner Bill Kerola heads the Hi-Lo Trailers effort.

Per the Kerola’s Camper Store Facebook page, the two units are available for viewing if you’re in the area. One unit, the Wanderer RB, can be seen at the nearby Shenago Valley Mall in nearby Hermitage, PA. The Wanderer SD should be available at the Kerola’s Camper Store at 3610 N Hermitage Road (Highway 18) in Transfer. However, if you’re driving from any substantial distance to see either one, it’d be best to contact Kerola’s at (724) 962-4561 to confirm either Hi-Lo will be available to be seen.

First off is the Wanderer SD. It comes equipped with a rear queen bed and side dinette. It has A/C, furnace, stove, and 3 Way Refrigerator.

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The Wanderer RB also features a rear queen bed and side dinette A/C, furnace, stove, and 3-way refrigerator. Note: All pics above are courtesy the Kerola’s Camper Store Facebook page.

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Reintroduction of the Hi-Lo Brand Set for 2016

It was just over 4 years ago in the same month The Small Trailer Enthusiast hit the internet that I posted a story about a deal between Pennsylvania RV dealer Bill Kerola and the Snyder family, owners of Hi-Lo Trailers. Despite plans to have prototypes being built in the winter of 2012, things got sidetracked and put on the backburner. imagesNLIVU32KHowever, things picked up late in 2014 and pictures on the Kerola’s Camper Store Facebook page started to pop up, which resulted in a follow-up post by me here.  Throughout this year there have been a few more pictures surface and I finally contacted Bill Kerola to get the latest. “The Hi-Lo project had to get on the back burner but is now very close to reality. I have not prepared any press releases at this time but as you know we have posted some teasers and the new models are close. Very close.”

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“I have begun on design of the new website and need the new models for the website and brochures. After initial prototypes I will test camp in them and a production run will start. Some basic important stats are that we are building the exact same lift system that was the original lift system they used, the original front caps (with improved lift struts on the rock guard). I am extremely excited with the way it is progressing.”

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“The RV legend of Jim Snyder has been intricate in the new design. Believe it or not Mr. Snyder does all of his CAD work himself! I do plan on the Hi-Lo being offered for purchase in the Spring or sooner of 2016.”

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The initial model set to be released is the 16 foot Wanderer and will have two floor plans, the Wanderer RB and the Wanderer SD. Both floorplans will have a rear bed, Fantastic Fan, 3.0 cubic foot 3-way refrigerator, 2-burner stove,  propane furnace, 6,000 BTU air conditioner, fresh water tank, water pump, sink, and awning.

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“We are projecting a dry weight of 2600 lbs and a tongue weight around 270 lbs, but won’t know for sure until complete and tested”.  

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One important note is that the Hi-Lo will initially be offered as factory direct only, meaning no dealer network. However, Bill tells me that could change in the future. “As we grow I would consider a distributor network, perhaps a western and southern outlet. It’s sufficient to say that will be a future consideration.”

I’ll be updating this story over the next few months as Bill gets the Hi-Lo website up and running and the prototypes get tested and tweaked. With any luck, I’ll be able to make a trip out to Pennsylvania to get an up close look at one. Hi-Lo is one of the classic trailers that is well known in the industry. Their 55 year run from 1955-2010 left a lasting imprint in the RV industry, and now that the return of Hi-Lo is imminent, it’ll be worth watching their growth and how well they’ll be accepted. With former Hi-Lo exec Jim Snyder part of the process, I believe it should be a well built and thought out product. With the recent wave of reissued and retro travel trailers from the past, the time may be right for Hi-Lo to hit the market again with a fresh set of eyes and a new direction. Stay tuned…

 

**NOTE**: All pictures courtesy Bill Kerola

 

 

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Serro Scotty HiLander production update (or lack of)

I tend to get quite a bit of web traffic for those of you searching for information on the Serro Scotty HiLander. Like clockwork, I can count on at least one person every day doing  a search whose phrase either includes “hilander” or “highlander” .

What’s more, I also get the occasional e-mail from those of you who follow The Small Trailer Enthusiast and have for some time. A few of those e-mails have been on the topic of the HiLander and what the production status is of it. As some of you may recall, in March of 2012 I reported that Serro Scotty had lost its third manufacturer of the popular HiLander. The Serro Scotty web site has been going on with no updates of any kind. After talking with Bill Kerola back in August, the plan was for the guys building the redesigned Sportsman to also tackle building the HiLander once the Sportsman got out of the prototype stage.

This past week I decided to write Bill to see what the latest was. I was less than optimistic with his reply: “Unfortunately as of this moment, I do not have a projected date on when we will have the Hilanders back up in production. Hopefully I will know more in the near future.”. I’ve seen nothing to suggest the Sportsman is even moving along as well: No web site updates and no announcements about it at all.

I won’t go come out and say I think Serro Scotty is on life support, but I’m reasonably confident we won’t see a new HiLander available for purchase anytime in the foreseeable future. With that said, if you’re desperate to have a new generation HiLander, I’d suggest joining the Yahoo Group for the new generation Serro Scottys at: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/sierra_scotty_trailers There have been some that have become available by those members of the group who own them. If not there, then keep your eyes peeled for Craigslist and ebay, where you may just find your pot of gold.

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Sneak peek: The 2013 Serro Scotty Sportsman prototype

Recently Serro Scotty Worldwide introduced the 2013 Serro Scotty Sportsman prototype at various rallies. I had a chance to see it recently at the Big Little Rally in Transfer, PA, and many of you will see it for the first time here.

 

Serro Scotty president Bill Kerola told me over the weekend there are a lot of things that will need to be tweaked with the next prototype. However, there’s no doubt the Sportsman has received an extreme makeover from the previous model that existed from the 2008-2010 model years.

Some savvy Scotty devotees might notice at first glance it’s similar in styling to that of the now defunct Serro Scotty Pup, which lasted from 2009-2011. While the Pup (pictured below in the foreground) was smaller than the ’13 Sportsman, the design resembles that of the Pup more than that of the previous Sportsman.

While the Serro Scotty website currently does not have any info on the ’13 Sportsman, one spec that I can share is it weighs in at an impressive 1700 lbs. Impressive in that it’s very lightweight for its size. The previous Sportsman checked in at a base weight of 2100 lbs. Kerola tells me there are many composites in the ’13 Sportsman. So many composites that it could probably pass as a “green” RV.  Another attention-grabber is the skylight that stretches over the back of the trailer, above the gaucho sofa. Currently the prototype’s floorplan consist of a toilet and fridge in the front. However, another floorplan is being developed that will feature a dinette in the front and bed in the rear. I was impressed with the headroom as well. I’m a tick over 5’10”, and I’d guesstimate the headroom in the ’13 Sportsman to be around the 6’3″ range.

Kerola tells me he’ll be sending out a press release in the next couple of months, so we should know more about this as well as what the production of the popular HiLander is looking like. The Sportsman is being produced by a group of former Coleman pop-up trailer employees in Somerset, PA.

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Redesigned Serro Scotty Sportsman debut set

The weekend of May 11-13 marks the debut of the newly redesigned Serro Scotty Sportsman. It is scheduled to be introduced in Hermitage, Pennsylvania at the Shenango Valley Mall RV Show. The look of the new Sportsman has been kept under wraps, so what it will look like is known by just a handful of folks.

The 2007 Sportsman was the first model reintroduced by Serro Scotty Worldwide when it was formed in 2006. It had a more rounded look to the bodies, similar to the Sportsmans of the original era Serro Scottys of the 1960’s.

That lasted about a year. When production moved from Yoder Toder to Sierra Motor Corporation in 2008, a new body style for the Sportsman came with it, which was a little taller and had more of a squared look to it when compared to the 2007.

When I talked to Serro Scotty Worldwide’s Bill Kerola in December, he told me the new Sportsman would go back to a rounded look, but I suspect it will look different from the 2007 version. He mentioned it will have hints to the former Serro Scotty Pup, but a little larger.

If all the stars align during my return trip from the east coast this coming week, I hope to be able to come through Hermitage and get a first hand look at the show.

The Shenango Valley Mall is located at 3303 East State Street, Hermitage, PA. The show will be held outside the mall. Admission is free and hours are Friday: 12 Noon – 8:00 PM; Saturday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM; Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

 

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Serro Scotty Worldwide Loses Third HiLander Manufacturer

What appears to be a familiar situation Serro Scotty Worldwide president Bill Kerola would rather not be in, he faces the task of lining up a new manufacturer for the popular Serro Scotty HiLander. When one is acquired, this will make the fourth manufacturer of the HiLander since Serro Scotty Worldwide was formed in 2006.

A few weeks ago, current manufacturer Cozy Travler, the HiLander’s manufacturer for less than a year, ceased production of their units, and along with it the HiLander.  Kerola had an order over the winter for 20 HiLanders to be built to create a solid inventory at his Transfer, Pennsylvania dealership. However, that order wasn’t fulfilled and currently there are just a couple of 2012 HiLanders available between Kerola’s Camper Store and Randy’s Trailer Town in Collinsville, Illinois.

In a phone conversation today, Kerola had just received word from a potential manufacturer in Indiana that they would not pursue building the HiLander due to the investment it would’ve taken to start building. His next step in the process is to approach the manufacturer of his Serro Scotty Sportsman model, which is currently building the first prototype of the new design. It’s under construction in a section of the old FCTA plant in Somerset, PA, which is where Coleman pop-ups were last built before closing in January 2011. The crew is comprised of mostly former Coleman/FTCA employees. Should they choose to stick with building only the Sportsman, Kerola tells me he’ll then “hit the streets” to line up a new manufacturer.

Taking production “in house” doesn’t appear to be an option just yet. Serro Scotty Worldwide general manager Tom Benedek explains, “It would take 150 units a year to make it work financially”. And demand for the retro travel trailers isn’t to that point. Where ever production of the HiLander lands, it will take approximately two months before they hit the market, due to engineering and getting familiar with them by the new manufacturer. The third unit in the Serro Scotty line, the Scotty Lite, continues to be built in central Florida by Trekker Trailers.

We’ll have more on the story as it develops over the coming months.

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A Couple of Updates….

I spoke with Hi-Lo and Serro Scotty president Bill Kerola this week to see what the latest production news was for his two companies.

He’s still working on finalizing a manufacturer for Hi-Lo. Offers have been made and it’s at the point where a decision is close to being made. Depending on who the manufacturer is will depend on whether Hi-Lo will be sold factory direct or through a dealer network. As well as setting up a manufacturer, Kerola’s also been busy with the Hi-Lo’s mechanism that raises & lowers the trailer. He’s had a few different designs for that and is currently whittling his choices down. Still with these decisions to be made, the first Hi-Lo prototype is planned on being rolled out by April 2012.

On the Serro Scotty side of his business, things have been busy there. As we discussed in September, the Scotty Sportsman was to be redesigned. The new design will look a bit different than the previous Scotty Sportsman…

and also the discontinued Scotty Silver Sportsman.

Bill told me that it’ll be about the same size, but have more of a rounded shape, but gave no further details. So in the spirit of fun speculation, it could look a little more like the Sportsman that was first produced in 2007….

or maybe it’ll take on the shape something similar to an oversized Scotty Pup, which means it could look something like the now extinct Campfire 15.

What is known about the future of the Serro Scotty Sportsman is that it will have its own manufacturer. They’ll be made by a small outfit in Pennsylvania. If all goes according to plan, the first prototype will be ready sometime by early February 2012.  So if you’re keeping score at home, all three models of the Serro Scotty family will all have their own manufacturer. The HiLander is still being produced in Goshen, Indiana by Cozy Travler

(photo courtesy Les Borde)

and the Scotty Lite will still continue to be built in Central Florida by Trekker Trailers.

(photo courtesy Bill Kerola)

Bill says he’s working on creating a better inventory of both the HiLander and the Lite at his Transfer, Pennsylvania dealership. As of December 12, 2011, he currently has 2 of each on his ebay store, as well as three new discontinued Scotty Pups.

With winter upon us and sales typically slowing down, this should be a good time for Kerola’s to start filling their lot with that Scotty inventory. As always, we’ll update you when details develop.

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A Tribute to the Campfire & Bak-Pak Camper

In 2008 when Sierra Custom Interiors of Bristol, Indiana became the manufacturer of Serro Scotty Worldwide trailers, it wasn’t long before they too came out with their own line of small campers for the 2009 model year called the Campfire…

and the entry level Bak-Pak:

(photo courtesy Missouri Teardrops)

Designed by Sierra owners Mike & Greg Greene, the 12’9″ trailers were a throwback to the old canned ham trailers from the 1940’s-60’s. They featured air conditioning, furnace, and optional microwave, toilet, and range. Serro Scotty also got in on the act with their 2009 line-up featuring the Serro Scotty Pup…

(photo courtesy Shane Wolfe)

and the Silver Series Pup:

Both Serro Scotty models were identical to the Sierra versions with respect to shape, floor plan and everything else except the badging and, in the case of the Silver Pup, the silver aluminum. Also, the regular Pup featured the signature Scotty turquoise and white.

For the 2010 models, Sierra came out with the Campfire 15, a longer version of its 13 model, that featured a toilet and optional wet bath.

The final entry in the Campfire lineup was the Campfire XL, a 16′ unit with a similar floor plan to that of the Serro Scotty HiLander.

You may notice that I’ve been speaking of the Sierra Campfire and Bak-Pak in the past tense. Unfortunately, that’s the case. Early in 2011, the Greenes decided to pull the plug on their travel trailer ventures and stick with building custom interiors for horse trailers. As we wrote in September 2011, this decision not only included their own line of trailers, but also meant all Serro Scotty models as well, leaving Bill Kerola to find a new manufacturer for the entire Scotty line.

Neither the Bak-Pak nor the Campfire were mass produced, but those who own them are loyal to their camper and get many inquiries from the curious at the campgrounds. There aren’t many other campers on the market (with the possible exception of the T@B ) that offer a compact, lightweight package like the Campfire and Bak-Pak do. And while a rebirth of the Sierra camper division is unlikely, current owners cling to the hope that one day they can remove their orphan label. Afterall, it wouldn’t be the first time a brand came back to life.

The Campfire website, once a fine site with plenty of pictures, specs, and floor plans, now reads more like an obituary. But all is not lost. There are still Campfires, Bak-Paks, and even a few brand new Scotty Pups (at present time) still available for purchase on ebay, Craigslist, or rvtraderonline.com. There is also a Yahoo Group where owners of the Sierra-built Scottys and Campfires/Bak-Paks can congregate for discussion. And so we say so long to yet another line of campers that didn’t make it…for now.


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