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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.
While the early history remains unknown at the time of this writing research to-date points to 1962 as the year Trimline entered the camping trailer market. From 1962 through 1964 Trimline manufactured it's trailers under the brand name Gator. Use of "Gator", a registered trademark, was done so under agreement with Peterson Bros., Inc. Jacksonville, FL. Trimline, clearly a marine "style" name, most likely manufactured boat trailers prior to 1962. A first year AD eludes to Peterson Bros. either owning, or sub-contracting through Trimline. It might be that Trimline manufactured Gator boat trailers first, then used that relationship to acquire the Gator brand name thus allowing them to penetrate the camping trailer market that was rapidly emerging. Whatever the case it is clear that some kind of relationship existed between Trimline and Peterson Bros. Inc.
Beginning in 1965 Trimline dropped Gator as their brand name for their trailers and took on their own name, It is uncertain as to why, but most likely Trimline had become established in the marketplace and could operate independently of Peterson Bros. Inc. It could also be a breakdown in the relationship between the two companies, assuming Peterson Bros. Inc. did not own Trimline. 1965 also saw the introduction of the Sierra, Trimline's first hard-top camping trailer. 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 acquire 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 Witchita, KS until 1969 when he returned to Milwaukee to work for Heath.
If anyone has information pertaining to Trimline's early history, 1962-1965, please contact me through this website. 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? It'll be a great story when the missing pieces are in place.
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Website created by Joel Silvey, 2009