About Us - Our History

Our History

A rich history powering an exceptional outlook.

Spartan motors History

Spartan Motors, Inc. got its start in 1975 outside of Lansing, Michigan, when a small group of automotive engineers who lost their jobs due to a bankruptcy decided to draw on their collective expertise and launch their own company. Their formula was simple: build a high-quality custom product for a specific consumer, sell it at a fair price and provide great service. The team designed, built and delivered its first custom fire truck cab and chassis a few months later – and Spartan Chassis was born.

How It All Began

This unswerving dedication to quality, value, service and innovation has been a hallmark of Spartan’s growth over the past four decades. In the 1980s, Spartan Chassis leveraged its considerable engineering expertise in the fire apparatus market and began designing and building custom chassis for Class A motorhomes. A pioneer of the rear-engine diesel-pusher market, Spartan Chassis captured – and cemented – its leadership role in the RV market by introducing enhanced performance features, such as independent front suspension and Spartan Active Ride. Among experienced RVers, the chassis is a key factor in the purchase process, and many ask for the Spartan brand by name.

Expanding Product Portfolio – Emergency Response

In the 1990s, SMI broadened the depth of its product offerings by acquiring three of its long-time emergency-vehicle customers: Luverne Fire Apparatus, Quality Manufacturing and Road Rescue. In 2003, Spartan consolidated Luverne and Quality under the Crimson Fire brand in order to leverage and strengthen its engineering, design and manufacturing expertise in the fire apparatus market. With manufacturing operations in three states, the Emergency Vehicle Team, or EVTeam, designs and manufactures custom fire apparatus and emergency vehicles for cities and municipalities across the United States.

Defense Contract Manufacturing Boom

Building on the strength of its expertise in heavy-duty custom chassis, Spartan Chassis began assembling and integrating key chassis components for military vehicles in 2005. Spartan Chassis is now a key supplier to the companies that manufacture vehicles for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, program and Iraqi Light Armored Vehicles, or ILAVs.

Utilimaster Acquisition

In late 2009, Spartan Motors acquired Utilimaster Corporation from John Hancock Life Insurance Company. Utilimaster is a dominant manufacturer of specialty vehicles made to customer specifications in the delivery and service market, including walk-in vans and hi-cube vans, as well as truck bodies. Its remaining revenues are attributable to commercial truck bodies, along with service, parts and accessories.

Strengthening the Spartan Motors Brand

To eliminate brand dilution and focus strength around one brand in the Emergency Response market, Crimson Fire and Crimson Fire Aerials were consolidated and renamed Spartan ERV (Emergency Response Vehicles) in April of 2012. That same year, Spartan announced the relocation of Utilimaster from Wakarusa, Indiana to Bristol, Indiana.

The Path Forward

2014 marked the end of an era for Spartan Motors, as John Sztykiel announced his retirement from the Company in December after being with SMI for over 30 years. Daryl Adams was named Sztykiel’s successor, taking Spartan Motors into its 40th year of manufacturing in 2015 as President & CEO.

Spartan Motors employs approximately 1,800 at facilities in Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Indiana, Mexico, and Peru. The Company is dedicated to a stakeholder model of operation that seeks to establish strategic partnerships with its core stakeholder groups: associates, OEMs, dealers, suppliers, consumers, shareholders and the communities in which we live and work.