John N. Dodgen, with brothers Joe and Jack, founded Dodgen Industries in Ft. Dodge, IA.
C.W. Dodgen, the boy's father, joined Dodgen Industries as the 4th partner.
The four partners manufactured agricultural equipment.
Operations consolidated from Ft. Dodge, IA to Humboldt, IA.
Founded Born Free, Inc., a subsidiary of Dodgen Industries.
Born Free started building detachable motorcoaches.
Born Free built their first molded fiberglass, aerodynamically styled, detachable motorcoach.
John obtained a lion cub, named Zaki, who became the mascot for BF Motorcoach.
Jim Gibson was hired to take BF Detachables, with Zaki, to RV shows everywhere.
Lost 92% of business due to oil embargo; lost 50 dealers across the US.
Dodgen Industries almost closed when President Nixon closed gas stations on Sundays.
Started factory-direct selling business model.
Designed and built the first Class C Born Free Motorcoach.
Built the first molded fiberglass Class C Born Free Motorcoach.
Dodgen Industries almost closed when President Carter declared war on energy.
Dodgen Industries almost closed when Fed Chairman Paul Volcker pushed interest rates to 20%.
Canceled dealership network because they defaulted on 100 unit orders in stock.
John's son, C.T. Dodgen, began his career with Born Free, working in a number of jobs.
Changed to a more streamlined Born Free Motorcoach design.
C.T. and Dean Olson implemented the Team Concept to build motorcoaches.
C.T. became President of the company.
C.T. left because he did not see eye-to-eye with his 64-year-old father.
Initiated a 40,000 sq ft plant expansion and increased workforce to 120.
Started the Born Free Club with 47 members.
Recession caused John to send letter to customers offering heavy discounts.
Established eight Regional Motorcoach Display Lots throughout the US.
Annual sales reached $20M and about 300 units/year with about 100 employees.
Updated fiberglass molds to produce a more aerodynamically styled motorcoach.
Showed first Born Free Motorcoach with a slide-out at the National Rally.
Trail-R Lodge trailer production began and continued through 2014.
C.T. Dodgen returned to Born Free as President/CEO, replacing John N. Dodgen (age 86).
John's grandson, Brandon Dodgen, started working at the factory.
John Dodgen received a Gift of Appreciation from 1,200 Born Free owners.
Updated motorcoach with a new, roomier, cab-overhead nosecone.
C.T. Dodgen came down with a severe illness.
John Dodgen sold the assets of Dodgen Industries (including Born Free) to HBF Investments.
John Dodgen retained the real estate and continued to lease it to Born Free.
John Dodgen passed (age 89).
HBF Investments appointed Jeff Butler President of Born Free Motorcoach.
C.T. Dodgen passed (age 57).
Born Free factory closed in May after 70 years (48 years building motorcoaches).
The above information has been collected by Dee Dee McClain, Club Historian, and was taken from articles published by Dodgen Industries, business publications and newspapers and is assumed to be reasonably correct, but not guaranteed. Please contact Dee Dee McClain or Nick McClain if you have any additional information that can change or corroborate the above information.