- Sarah Tucker
The History of Tears
Editor's note: Today is the first in a series on the history of teardrops and the tiny camping industry. Marty Boehme has been generous in offering some of his knowledge on the background of teardrops and the men who have built this wonderful pastime of tiny camping.
BILL WORMAN - Founder of Kit Teardrop Trailers
Bill's high school yearbook says he was the most "studious boy". After graduation, he wanted to get out of Spokane, since there were no opportunities there during the depression years. His dad dropped him off on a hill, where he would most likely be picked up by a slow moving truck driver on the steep upgrade. He ended up in Southern California.
He was a self-learned man, putting together a ham radio as a teen. At the age of 19, he was given an electrician journeyman’s book and passed the tests to be a radio technician. He used this talent to work in the movie industry shortly before the beginning of WWII. Always being fascinated with airplanes, he quickly moved to management where he oversaw the building of a basic trainer aircraft for the WWII war effort.
Just after the end of the war, Bill developed the most enduring of all teardrop brands, the KIT Kamper. The company name was KIT Manufacturing Company and was headquartered in the shell of an abandoned fruit stand in Norwalk, California. Bill planned to offer the trailer as a kit (hence that name) but received very few orders in the beginning.
And so with partner, Dan Pocapolia, they began to offer 4 x 8 foot trailers fully assembled at dealer trade shows in February of 1946 for $500. They booked 500 dealer orders and were in business! Over the next year, the men took their initial model and made several revisions both to allow for quicker production and to be able to offer options. By mid-year they had orders for over 1,000 units and were operating two shifts that were producing 40 teardrops a day. By January of 1948, they had designed a larger trailer and the Kit Kamper line was shut down.
Eventually, the company became one of the biggest names in high-end RV manufacturing. Today the Kit teardrop is honored in the RV Hall of Fame museum as one of the founding manufactures of this industry.
After living in the San Francisco Bay Area for a number of years, Bill permanently retired on Orcas Island, Washington and lived there for 40 years. Bill Worman, the founder of KIT Teardrop Trailers, died July 15th of natural causes. Staying at the home of his son, Jack, in Sequim, Washington Bill’s health rapidly declined the last few months of his life. Bill was 93. Bill lost his wonderful wife, Ione about 18 years ago and is survived by three daughters, two sons and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
You can read more about the history of teardrop camping this Douglas Heister's bookTeardrops and Tiny Trailers.
Be sure to check out this special offer from our partners at Extreme Tears!