Loren Cayo
Front Of Business Card
Back Of Card
Robert Cayo
 

The Early Years of the AVION Coach - An Editorial

 
Used with permssion of Bob Muncy.  
In the early 1950s, Robert Cayo and his family hooked their nineteen foot Little Gem travel trailer to a 1951 Chevrolet and headed west for a family camping vacation. At the same time, Robert’s older brother Loren and his family headed west in their Packard automobile with an Airstream in tow. The two familes set up camp at Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone National Park.

As they sat around the campfire, the two brothers talked about how their trailers could be improved. Both admired the aircraft-type construction of the Airstream. But they agreed that they could manufacture a better trailer. Both Loren and Robert had experience in metal fabrication, product design, and the manufacturing process.

Upon return to their homes in Michigan, Loren secured the agreement of two other partners and in 1955 Romany Coach, Inc. was founded. Apparently Robert didn’t have sufficient capital at this time to be one of the major partners. Loren’s other two partners were in the construction business. Two events significantly affected this new company from the very beginning.

First, the name “Romany” was chosen because it reflected the carefree lifestyle of the Romany Gypsies. The following quote is taken from a 1955 brochure:

“. . .the Romany caravans are horse drawn vehicles which serve them in much the same manner in which a modern house trailer serves us today. It is from this, the earliest of mobile homes, that we have taken the name of our modern travel trailer. We feel that there is a little of the Romany in all of us and we have an inherent desire to be ‘free as the birds’. To travel and relax, to laugh and sing, to hunt and fish, to travel to new and far off places, to see what is over the next hill."

Both Loren and Robert were avid outdoorsmen -- they enjoyed hunting, fishing and traveling. Selecting the Romany name seemed fitting; however, the Romany gypsies in the Michigan area protested the use of their name on a modern travel trailer. So the name was changed to “Avion” and the few trailers that were made with the Romany nameplate were called back to have the name changed to Avion.

A rumor arose (of unknown origin) that the name was changed because Airstream had a model called the Romany and threatened a lawsuit.

In an interview with Bill Cayo (Robert’s son who was old enough during the Yellowstone National Park camping trip to remember the early discussions and subsequent company issues) stated that Airstream did bring lawsuit(s) against Avion, but never challenged the use of the name “Romany”. These lawsuits contended that the Avion design was copied from the Airstream, but none were upheld in court.

There were significant differences between the two trailers and also, there were a number of travel trailers that utilized riveted aircraft-construction, i.e., Spartan, Silver Streak, and others.

In 1956, the second event was a disagreement between the original three partners. It was decided that one of the partners, Larry Zuhl, would sell his shares to Robert Cayo. This resulted in the two Cayo brothers, Loren and Robert, holding major positions in the company.

Oral history has the inherent characteristic of idiographic perception that produces factual distortion everytime the story is repeated and these distortions are apparent in the Avion story.

 

 

 

 

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