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Fleetwood Gets 2nd Bid for Oregon Plant

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May 12, 2009 by   Leave a Comment

A second bidder has entered the auction for the defunct Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. travel trailer plant in La Grande, Ore.

Northwood Manufacturing Inc., based in La Grande, has met the statutory requirement by bidding at least $100,000 over the earlier bid submitted by British Columbia RV dealer Craig Little, owner of Arbutus RV & Marine, according to Fleetwood attorney Craig Millet. Little’s bid was $1.8 million. The deadline to submit a bid was last Friday.

Northwood’s owner, Ron Nash, was traveling this week and unavailable for comment. But according to Millet, he understands Northwood would use the former Fleetwood facility to make travel trailers.

Northwood builds travel trailers, truck campers, fifth-wheels and sport utility trailers.

The firm’s business has been “picking up” the past three to four weeks, according to a company spokesman, and all production lines are in operation.

Northwood’s interest in buying the Fleetwood plant means both interested parties will need to attend a hearing on Wednesday afternoon in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside, Calif., where an auction will take place, Millet explained. The highest bider will get the plant. Fleetwood has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since March 10.

The court also will be asked to rule that afternoon on a motion to allow Krystal Enterprises, based in Brea, Calif., and makers of Krystal Coach limousines, to assume all liabilities of the former Fleetwood travel trailer plant in Mexicali, Mexico, and take over the leased plant. Fleetwood began making travel trailers in Mexico several years ago but discontinued operations there and faces a long-term lease liability for the facility.

Fleetwood  had operated the plant in La Grande for about 40 years before closing for good in March. The work force had declined from a peak of about 300 to 160 when the plant finally shut down, according to The Observer, La Grande.

Little is a prominent RV dealer in western Canada and operates five RV dealerships in the province. He has never built RVs but hopes to change that by building travel trailers similar to the former Fleetwood product. Little noted that there is “a strong, highly experienced work force already there” in La Grande and he wants to put it back to work.

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