In an earlier post Vogel Talks RVing reported that Forest River Inc. was embroiled in a dispute with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over its handling of records related to product recalls, safety, and warranties.
Following an investigation it opened September 30, 2014, the NHTSA found that Elkhart, Indiana-based RV manufacturer Forest River Inc. appeared to have violated its Early Warning Reporting obligations repeatedly.
Forest River Inc. is a division of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
This past Thursday (July 9), NHTSA fined Forest River Inc. $5 million due to safety violations leaving consumers at risk of fire.
Regulators said Forest River was slow to report some required data and failed to swiftly launch two safety recalls after problems were found in nearly 1,000 of its travel trailers.
In the recalls, Forest River initially failed to order recalls immediately and instead just sent safety bulletins to its dealers about the problems. The company also failed to report everything to regulators as quickly as the law requires once it knew about problems.
According to NHTSA, Forest River failed to report the mishandling of recalls for a number of recreational vehicles—726 Rockwood and Flagstaff travel trailers and 200 Palomino travel trailers.
Regulators detected loose wiring that could lead to fire hazards in the Rockwood and Flagstaff vehicles and discovered a defect of the exhaust in the Palomino vehicles which could potentially raise carbon monoxide exposure and reduce fresh air intake.
Forest River Inc. will pay up to $30 million in additional fines if regulators find any additional violations in the next three years.
In 2014, the company generated $3.8 billion of revenue.
Forest River claims they are working with officials to resolve the inquiry and will hire an independent monitor to administer safety requirements and enhance security procedures. In addition, the company will hire an in-house consultant to oversee reporting operations as part of the settlement.
The company will adopt and promote “best practices” standards for the recreational vehicle industry and enforce its guidelines to become the industry model in safety.
“Safety is a critical shared responsibility, and when manufacturers fail to meet their responsibility, the Department will enforce the law,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.
Forest River, Inc. was founded by Peter Liegl in 1996, which today makes all classes of recreational vehicles, cargo trailers, utility trailer, pontoon boats, light and medium-duty buses (primarily shuttle buses), portable offices, and structures to use for temporary schools.
The company operates 60 manufacturing facilities throughout the Mid West and West Coast and employs 5,400 workers.
Forest River currently manufactures motorhomes (Berkshire, Charleston, Forester, Georgetown, Lexington, Sunseeker, and Tsunami), towables (Cardinal, Cedar Creek, Cherokee, Day Dreamer, Flagstaff, r-pod, Rockwood, Salem, Sandpiper, Shamrock, Sierra, Surveyor, V-Cross, Wildcat, and XLR, Wildwood), park models (Kabana, Quailridge, and Summitt), and modular and hud homes (Sterling and Hart Homes).
Forest River is owned by Warren Buffett’s Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate. Berkshire Hathaway owns nearly 90 different subsidiaries, including clothing, furniture and jewelry firms. It also has major investments in such companies as Coca-Cola Co. and Wells Fargo & Co.
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