Popup Campers - Where Have All The Colemans Gone?
The name "Coleman" has long been associated
with quality outdoor products. Coleman coolers and lanterns are two of their
most well-known products.
In the popup camper world, Coleman popup
campers have been considered by many to the "gold standard," with them known,
for the most part, for being manufactured to high standards, being of high
quality, long lasting, and having a good resale value.
Even though popup campers with the Coleman name
are no longer being manufactured, people still look for Coleman campers.
Why are there no longer Coleman popup campers?
The story is a little complicated. Here's
how I understand it.
I'll start at the beginning. The Coleman
company had its origins over 100 years ago when W.C. Coleman established a
lighting service in Oklahoma. By1903, the first Coleman lamps were being
sold. Over the years, the Coleman company grew and expanded its product
line. In 1967 Coleman manufactured their first popup camper. From
1967 to 1989 the popup camper division of Coleman was known as the Coleman
Camping Trailer Division.
In 1989, Coleman sold the factory, patents,
designs, inventory, etc. to Fleetwood and also licensed Fleetwood to use the
Coleman name on the popup campers. Although the campers still had the Coleman
name on them, Coleman Camping Trailer Division's company name changed to
Fleetwood Folding Trailers Inc.
When Fleetwood purchased the Coleman popup
camper division, Coleman campers accounted for nearly one third of all
campers sold. Coleman popup campers had gained the number one market share
in popup campers in 1979 and by the late 1980's accounted for nearly half of the
United States market for popups.
In 1999 the license agreement came up for
renewal between Fleetwood and Coleman. For several months, while the new
agreement was being negotiated, the Coleman name was not put on the popup
campers being manufactured by Fleetwood. Instead of the red Coleman
sticker on the campers, a Fleetwood folding trailer sticker was used.
Then, in the early 2000's Fleetwood started
manufacturing a new line of travel trailers they called their Caravan line.
Fleetwood put Coleman stickers on the Caravan campers. The
people at the Coleman company apparently didn't feel that the Caravan line was
covered under the licensing agreement and wanted a higher royalty payment for
The disagreement between Fleetwood and the
people at American Home Corporation, who now own the Coleman name, led to a
lawsuit. Fleetwood was required to remove all references to the Coleman
name from their website which resulted in the online manuals for the Coleman
campers being taken down. In order not to punish dealers who might still
have Coleman popup campers in their inventory though, they were allowed to use
the Coleman name in their advertising as long as they had at least one Coleman
camper in their inventory.
During all this, American Home Corporation
apparently entered into an agreement with Coachmen Corporation to use the
Coleman name on a new line of popup campers. and in anticipation of that
happening Coachmen built a new factory to manufacture their new Coleman line.
That didn't happen however, at least not yet
because I don't think there is a final resolution to the situation. As it
stands right now, Fleetwood has control of the Coleman name for popup campers
but cannot use it without an agreement from American Home Corporation which they
don't have. And, American Home cannot enter into a Coleman popup camper
licensing agreement with anyone else because Fleetwood has control of the name.
Fleetwood has not used the Coleman name on any
of its popup campers since 2003.