In the community of Middlebury, Ind., just about everyone knows someone who is been laid off from work in the RV industry.
“My dad was,” said Krysten Mishler. “His hours were cut and then he was completely laid off, and I know it was really hard for them.”
But now things were picking up, according to WSBT-TV, South Bend. Mishler’s dad once again has a job in an RV factory, and he is far from alone. Since last summer, Jayco has recalled or hired more than 200 workers, and this week Derald Bontrager, the company’s president and chief operating officer, announced Jayco is increasing production rates as a result of “higher than anticipated levels of incoming orders.”
“As a result of improving market conditions, lower dealer inventories, and retail incentives provided to dealers, Jayco needs to significantly increase our output in order to meet rising demand for our products,” said Bontrager.
Last spring, the company was producing approximately 75 RVs a day. Today, company officials estimated it to be about 130.
“We went from wondering how we were going to keep people busy these couple of months here, especially November and December, to a sudden turnaround of ‘how are were going to get them all built?’” said Jayco line supervisor Devon Miller. “It’s definitely a bit of good news.”
And Jayco isn’t the only manufacturer to see light at the end of the tunnel. In August, Dutchman Manufacturing Inc. in Goshen announced it was ready to hire 50 more workers.
Last week, Cozy Traveler in Elkhart said it would be hiring to keep up with demand for lightweight RVs.
Sales were up 13% industrywide for the second month in a row compared to the same time last year. The industry expects a 27% jump in shipments for 2010. And while that’s positive news after a devastating year, Bontrager said he’s not ready to strike up the whole band just yet.
“We certainly are aware both nationally and globally that the economy isn’t on really solid footing yet in many areas, so there are some unknowns out ahead of them, and I think some things we have to work through,” he said.
But locals say the increasing demand is a great start.
“It’s a beginning,” said Sandy Harter, who lives in Middlebury. “We’re hopeful.”