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While the details of Trimline's early history remains vague at the time of this writing 1962 is the year the Gator Camping Trailer was introduced. The trailer came in 4 models, 500, 1000, 1500 and 2000. The use of "Gator", a registered trademark, was done so under agreement with Peterson Bros., Inc. of Jacksonville, FL. They were the manufacturer of the popular Gator and Champ boat trailers. Trimline was a separate company either owned by Peterson Bros., or affiliated with them through contractual agreements. Initially Gator camping trailers were sold and serviced by Gator dealers throughout the U.S.A. Research to-date leads me to believe that Trimline, clearly a marine "style" name, was created by Peterson Bros., Inc. with the intent to manufacture and sell camping trailers in the rapidly expanding RV marketplace of the early 1960s. Many of the boat and boat trailer manufacturers were expanding their product lines into the camping trailer market during these years.
Midway through 1963 Trimline released its first new model, 1200, featuring key industry design innovations such as screened v-shaped windows strategically placed and washable vinyl mattresses. The Model 800 followed beginning in 1964, which was the economy trailer but with the new features incorporated into the design. The original three models were dropped from production. Sometime early 1963 the brothers Frank and Walter Peterson sold Peterson Bros., Inc. The new buyers changed the name of the business to Gator Trailers Corporation. Trimline, Inc. continued to use the registered trademark name "Gator" for their trailers through the end of 1964. It can be assumed the agreement either expired and was not renewed or Trimline's owners intentionally rebranded their camping trailers with their own name with the intent to sell the business. Research to-date leads me to believe that Trimline began to establish its own dealers to sell and service the trailers in 1964. It is possible they continued to use Gator Dealers with separate agreements.
In addition to rebranding the trailer name 1965 saw the introduction of the Sierra, Trimline's first hard-top camping trailer with a powered roof lift system. Also in the new model lineup was the Skylark and Skylark Custom. All three trailers featured further industry innovation designs where trailers were longer and opened up front and back resulting in more living space. 1965 brought about further change when Trimline was acquired by the Regis Corp. on September 22, 1965.
Regis Corp., located in Elm Grove, WI, was founded by Patrick J. Regan sometime around 1956 as a manufacturer of office equipment, lockers and other metal furnishings. E. B. Shurts, a Waukesha industrialist and civic leader, was brought out of retirement at the age of 77 in 1963 as a consultant to Regis Corp. Under his guidance Regis acquired Trimline, consolidated operations and established itself within the marketplace. Serving as the President of Regis-Trimline with Patrick Regan as the Vice President he led the company through the acquisition by Coleman in 1966. He then retired for a second time at the age of 80. Patrick J. Regan remained on as an engineering manager until operations were moved in 1967. He transferred to Wichita, KS until 1969 when he returned to Milwaukee to work for Heath as a consultant. He was promoted to Vice President in June 1971.
While the Coleman company officially entered the camping trailer market in 1967 under their own brand name they can actually trace their roots back to the acquisition of Regis Corp. and its affiliated company Regis-Trimline on April 21, 1966. Regis was acquired for about 4000 shares of Coleman's common stock valued at $185,000, or $2,500,000 in 2016 dollars. The two companies were consolidated as the Coleman Camping Trailer Division headed up by Walter E. Lewis, former executive assistant to the President of Coleman. In 1967 manufacturing operations were moved to Somerset, PA.
Many questions remain unanswered with regards to both the early years and the Coleman acquisition. Of interest are who the early "players" for Trimline were. Who founded the company, was it Peterson Bros. or family/friends? Or were the founders unrelated to Peterson Bros. in any way, just a smart business deal? And why did Coleman need Regis-Trimline? They had much expertise in the field already and they built an entirely new, massive manufacturing facility in another state. My guess is they were buying the Gator dealer network and the business relationships established there-in.
Patrick J. Regan
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