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Jayco Inc. Makes Good on Reinstatement Pledge

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March 4, 2010 by   Leave a Comment

The local RV business got another sizable shot of good news Wednesday (March 3), according to the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune.

Starcraft RV, a division of Jayco Inc., announced it will reopen its Topeka, Ind., manufacturing facilities in May.

The reopening of the plant in southwestern LaGrange County means 50 new jobs.

“This calendar year it involves 50 new jobs, but eventually it will be a pretty big deal with as many as 250 jobs over the next two to three years,” said Sid Johnson, marketing director for Jayco.

The plant had been closed since January 2009 as part of Jayco’s corporate efforts to trim costs and production capacity because of the recession.

The company said in its release that initially it will move production of Starcraft Autumn Ridge travel trailers from its Middlebury complex. Over time, company officials said they anticipate that production of most, if not all of Starcraft RV product lines, will be relocated back to the Topeka plants.

“When we consolidated operations into the Middlebury campus last year, we stated that our goal was to reinstate the Topeka operations as soon as market conditions would allow us to do so,” Jim Jacobs, general manager of Starcraft RV, said in the release.

“Now that our business has begun to recover from the recent recession cycle, we believe the timing is right to accelerate these activities,” he said.

Johnson said the 50 workers to be hired will likely be some of the old workers who lost their jobs as well as new hires.

“I am not sure (recalling only former workers) will work for 100% of our needs,” Johnson said.

“Obviously, we would like to have experienced people and if there are qualified, experienced Starcraft workers who are available, I think we would want for sure to be able to talk to them.”

The news is on the heels of the late January announcement that Jayco had begun an expansion of its motorhome manufacturing facility, which will increase production output for the company’s lines of Entegra Coach Class A motorhomes.

That expansion will result in 40 to 50 new jobs at the Middlebury campus beginning in July, and an additional 30 jobs to be created longer-term as production reaches full capacity, Derald L. Bontrager, president and chief operating officer of Jayco, said.

Jayco started the Entegra Coach division in 2008 as a result of its acquisition of the assets of the former Travel Supreme Corp.

The Jayco announcement follows a string of RV expansions that have been announced over the past several months.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported recently that RV sales are rebounding significantly over a year ago.

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