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 home in Michigan, Loren secured the agreement of two other partners and in 1955 the 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 a modern house trailer serves us today. It is from this, the earliest of mobile home, that we have take the name of our modern travel trailer. We feel 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 outdoors men. They enjoyed hunting, fishing and traveling. Selecting the Romany name seemed fitting: however, the Romany Gypsies in the Michigan are protested in the use of their name on a modern travel trailer. So the name was changed to "Avion" and the few trailers 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 for 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 Stream and others.
In 1956, the second event was a disagreement between the original partners. Larry Zuhl would sell his sharees to Robert Cayo. This resulted in the two Cayo brothers, Loren and Robert, hold major positions in the company. Oral history has the inherent characteristics of idiographic perception that produces factual distortion everytime the story is repeated and these distortions are apparent in the Avion story. Examples are: Romney name (sometimes erroneously spelled Romnaey). The story in the last example: Robert Ligon and Associates acquired the majority interest in the Avion Coach, Inc.. in 1970. Somehow it has been written in various publications and on internet web-sites ad "Legan Enterprises". I can find no evidence that this name was ever used by Robert Ligon in his business affairs.
I have been researching Avion history and involvement of the Cayos in preparation for a book that will be entitled "Silver Avions and Cayos. (note: This book has since been released.) -- A tribute to one of the Best Travel Trailers ever produced and an Extraordinary Family that Made it Happen". The information included in this editorial is being released now in as much as I believe it is needed to help us in the effort to be accurate about Avion history.
I have used the following sources for this information for this information: conversations with and printed materials supplied by Bill Cayo. Chuck Cayo (Bill's son), Charles Adair (who worked for Avion Coach for a number of years). Chris Garlanger (Loren's grandson), early copies of the Avion Travelcade News (1960's and 1970's). and Benton Harbor newspaper clippings.
Robert J. (Bob) Muncy,
Founder and Program Leader
Silver Avion Fellowship
In the early 1950's, Robert Cayo and his family hooked their 19 foot Little Gem Travel Trailer to a 1951 Chevrolet and headed west for a family vacation. At the same time, Robert's older brother Loren and his family headed west in the Packard automobile with an Airstream in tow. The two families set up camp at Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone National Park. As they sat around the campfire, the two brothers talked about how their trailer could be improved.