Celebrating the Life and Work of Philipp R. Ens

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Winkler, Manitoba, May 17, 2024 – Triple E Canada Ltd., along with its local community and wider business community, were deeply saddened by the loss of co-founder and chairman Philipp R. Ens on May 11, 2024. As a pillar of his community and a driving force behind one of Canada’s premier RV manufacturers, Phil’s tremendous impact was felt by all who were fortunate enough to engage with him. Although his presence will be greatly missed, we can celebrate his life’s work and legacy with eternal gratitude.

In Phil’s Voice: A Video Tribute

Vision, Courage, Community

A pivotal moment in Phil’s life occurred in 1965, when his father-in-law, P.W. Enns, invited him to a kitchen table discussion along with his brother-in-law, Peter Elias, in Winkler, Manitoba. Little did Phil suspect that Triple E, the company the three men founded and named for their initials, would eventually celebrate sixty years as an independent RV manufacturer and be famed for the quality of its products.

After Triple E’s initial growth period, which included building more than 300 trailers to meet consumer demand for Expo 67 in Montreal, the three founders saw the need for outside assistance to compete at a higher commercial level. The company was sold to B.C. entrepreneur Jim Pattison in 1969. During the economic downturn of 1974, Phil offered to repurchase the company. Pattison accepted the offer, restoring the company to family ownership. Phil retained the title of president and CEO, a position he held until 1998.

In the early days, Phil’s business philosophy was “to put bread on the table for a growing family and to keep the banker from the door.” This straightforward attitude paid dividends over the following three decades, as he oversaw the expansion of Triple E through acquisitions and new plant openings that enabled the company to become the country’s only manufacturer offering a full line of RVs (Class A, B, C, and towables). A pivotal move for Triple E occurred In 2008, when the company acquired Leisure Travel Vans, a Class B van manufacturer located in Morden, Manitoba just seven miles down the road.

During his final years, Phil moved from active management to elder statesman of the company, supporting and mentoring his employees. He had the unique ability to make people feel seen and appreciated. As a humble man, Phil credited the company’s growth to the community and the dedicated team that continues to share his vision. He remained company chairman until his death.

Determination, Flexibility, Recognition

For a man born and raised on a farm and who studied to be a music teacher, Phil demonstrated extraordinary business acumen. The recreational vehicle industry is vulnerable to market contractions and economic instability; however, Phil and his team showed determination and flexibility as Triple E negotiated a series of significant obstacles throughout the company’s history. His entrepreneurial spirit, steady leadership, and eternal optimism formed the soft-spoken and genuinely caring businessman who helped the company become a respected market leader.

As an ambassador of his community, Phil was deeply committed to Winkler and the surrounding area. During his tenure, Phil refused several offers of free land and tax incentives from outside the community and province. In 2017, Phil received the province’s highest honour when he was invested into the Order of Manitoba for his contribution to the overall welfare of the province.

Family, Faith, Legacy

Family was the bedrock of Phil’s life. As a family business from day one, the close bonds, trust, and respect shared by everyone in the organization reflected Phil’s devotion to his family and the wider Triple E community. He once said, “In a family setting, if ultimately the vision for the future is shared by everybody, then it’s not that difficult to make it work.”

Although music did not become his career as originally intended, it remained a lifelong passion. For many years, Phil and his wife Katy served their church as conductor and accompanist. He instilled the love of music, specifically choral singing, into the hearts and lives of his children. He was a founding member of the Faith and Life Male Choir and sang in the baritone section for 30 years.

As a man of faith, Phil Ens embodied the values and heritage of his Mennonite roots and transposed them to his company and local community. Phil was widely respected as a community builder and philanthropist, with longstanding participation and significant contributions to local, provincial, and national boards and organizations.

As Phil often said, “You can never be too kind or too generous.” Phil’s life was a true reflection of this.

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