Everyone has an interest in where they come from. That same sense of curiosity often applies to relics and artifacts, an antique, or (in our case) a brand new mobile home. So when we were passing through southern Manitoba, it seemed like a good idea to take a short detour to check out MaBel’s birthplace – the Triple E / Leisure Travel Vans factory in Winkler, deep in the heart of Mennonite country. [Editor’s confession: we also heard that Winkler-made sausage was terrific so all the more reason for a diversion.] We phoned the factory and found out there was a 2pm factory tour the following day.
Upon arriving in Winkler, we stayed at the nearby municipal campsite, which had been battered by the same storm we had gone through at Riding Mountain. Many trees were down and there were branches everywhere (we were feeling a little less guilty about not hiking up to Grey Owl’s cabin…). While setting up, we noticed that one of the struts that holds open an exterior storage compartment had come apart and there were also a couple of minor parts to replace on the stove so we decided to drop by the factory early to see if we could get repairs.
When we arrived, ‘Steve’ greeted us, walked out to see the problems, then immediately took the RV in for servicing. It took an hour and a half (mainly so the epoxy on the strut could dry) but it was returned to us good as new. No appointment, no paperwork.
We then joined about 12 people on a 2.5 hour tour through the factory, ending with an inspection of all the 2017 models, which was excellent. Mark the tour guide led us through all areas of production, emphasizing the quality and commitment that goes into each Leisure Van. They produce an average of about 60 units per month, with 80% (576 / year) going to the US. The Unity – Murphy Bed version is their number one best seller. And from the time they receive an order on any Unity model, it currently takes at least 9 months to produce, longer for the Serenity. So those are the numbers for any of you considering a (rather wise) decision like us…
After the tour, we overnighted at their facility along with two other Unity owners from Trois Rivieres, Quebec and Barrow, Alaska. We enjoyed a somewhat lengthy happy hour / tailgate party as well as swapping travel stories and tips and tricks for the RV. We came away with an even deeper appreciation of MaBel’s roots and her fine pedigree. Well done Triple E!
[Final note: we tried some of the locally made Mennonite Farmer’s Sausage, which was good, but not even close to the quality and flavor produced by The Sausage Factory in Smithers, BC. So that was a bit disappointing…]