Posts Tagged ‘RV Business’

Thor Industries LogoThor Industries, Inc. announced expansion plans to support the ongoing growth of its businesses. Thor Wakarusa LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Thor Industries, purchased the recreational vehicle (RV) production campus in Wakarusa, Indiana that was formerly operated by Navistar International Corporation. The land and production facilities, including certain related equipment, are to be purchased from a company owned by New York-based American Industrial Partners (AIP).

Bob Martin, Thor President and Chief Operating Officer, commented, “This purchase marks an important step forward in the growth of our RV business. With this new production complex, we will be better positioned to achieve our long-term strategic growth initiatives. Even more compelling, this purchase will allow us to expand capacity faster and at a lower cost than other options. We are excited about the future prospects of reinvigorating the Wakarusa facilities.”

The purchased facilities are comprised of nearly one million square feet of total production space located on more than 150 acres located in Wakarusa, Indiana. In addition to the production space, the complex includes more than 35 paint booths designed specifically for painting recreational vehicles. Initially, Thor plans to use the facilities for motorized production to better enable Thor Motor Coach to meet current and expected demand, and to vertically integrate paint operations through a facility operated by Thor’s Keystone subsidiary. The facility includes space that offers the potential for additional production as well. Thor expects to finalize transition planning once the seller exits the facilities which is expected to occur late this summer.


2012 Monaco Knight Motorhome

2012 Monaco Knight Motorhome

Navistar International Corp. officials said Wednesday (Feb. 14) they are looking into selling the company’s Navistar RV unit based in Wakarusa, Ind.

According to a report by WSBT-TV, South Bend, Navistar is in the preliminary stages of its effort to possibly sell the company. In a statement, Navistar representative Steve Schrier said:

“Navistar is conducting a comprehensive review of all of our non-core businesses — including our Navistar RV business — to evaluate their potential to drive long-term profitability and significantly improve our return on invested capital (ROIC).

“As a result of our ROIC analysis, Navistar is listening to offers for the sale of its RV business and the sale of the business is a possibility. However, we are still early on in that process and not accepted any offers at this time.”

Schrier added that Navistar is not in a position where it has to sell the RV portion of the company.

“We have a credible turnaround plan for the RV business under way and sufficient cash to continue funding operations, so we have the option to reject any offers that don’t have value,” Schrier told WSBT, emphasizing the company was not cash-strapped.

The company laid off 29 temporary workers in September. At that time, Schrier said that there were no plans to lay off any of the 500 permanent employees who work at the Wakarusa motorized manufacturing facility.

In 2008, Monaco Coach Corp. laid off nearly 1,500 people and filed for bankruptcy. Then Navistar bought Monaco Coach in 2009. When Navistar acquired Monaco, there were only 20 employees left.

In August 2011, Monaco decided to consolidate its Oregon factory with the factory in Wakarusa. That brought about 400 new jobs to Elkhart County. There are currently about 600 workers between the Elkhart and Wakarusa plants.

The recreational vehicle industry and the housing market traveled much of the same road during the last decade.

And when the housing market crashed, the RV industry suffered a similar fate.

Now the RV business model has changed dramatically: Much like the housing market, bigger no longer is necessarily better.

Bus-like gas and diesel motorhomes — many carrying six-figure price tags — dominated dealer inventory five or six years ago. Today, north state lots are full of fifth-wheels and travel trailers.

“The mix for big dealers used to be 70 percent of sales would be motorhomes. . . . Now it’s 30 percent motorhomes and 70 percent fifth-wheel and travel trailers,” said Wayne Barnes, owner of B&B RV Center in Anderson, California.

Not only do the smaller RVs cost a fraction of a new motorhome, but there can be a savings in gas to pull a trailer.

“There was a time that if we saw one tent trailer a month, that was a lot. Now we have two or three tent trailers coming in to be repaired,” said Tom Williams, who has owned Northern Trailer & RV Supply in Redding since 1974.

While the RV industry is still down from its peak in the middle of last decade, sales have started to rebound.

The RV Dealers Association expects 260,200 units to be shipped in 2011, a 7 percent increase over 2010, but down from the 390,500 motorhomes and travel trailers that were shipped in 2006.

“It has become more of a motorized towable industry,” RV Dealers Association spokesman Phil Ingrassia said. “It used to be that between 20 and 25 percent of RV shipments were motorhomes. Now it’s less than 10 percent.”

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