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California’s MVP RV Plans Aug. 28 Job Fair

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August 12, 2010 by   Leave a Comment

MVP RV, a Moreno Valley, Calif.-based company that tried to enter the electric car market last year, plans to hire hundreds of workers to staff two former Fleetwood Enterprises plants in Riverside, Calif.

MVP plans a job fair Aug. 28 and wants to bring in 80 new employees to start work in September, Brad Williams, CEO of the company, told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

The company hopes to add 150 more positions in October and incrementally hire people over about six months until it employs as many as 800, company officials say. Currently about 110 people make towable RVs at MVP’s factory in Moreno Valley.

Now, company officials are gambling that they will be ready to sell more trailers when the recession-ravaged public, which has not been spending on big-ticket items, is ready to buy again.

Williams said MVP needs assembly-line workers, administrative and human resources personnel, financial managers and others. Thousands of people in Southern California used to make RVs but lost their jobs when companies such as Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., National RV Holdings Inc. and Weekend Warrior Trailers Inc. went out of business in the past three years.

“As our volume increases, we’re going to be hiring people from all walks of life,” said Roger Humeston, MVP CFO and corporate secretary. “There are a lot of people out there with the skills, and they’ll be thrilled to see an RV company come back.”

Humeston added that the people who used to make RVs understand that the sales market is still at a low point. But he said when the market improves, so will the lives of MVP’s workers.

The deal for the former Fleetwood plants, on Fleetwood Drive and Via Ricardo, closed escrow Friday, said Finn Comer, senior vice president with Lee and Associates, the broker representing Fleetwood’s bankruptcy trustee in the sale. MVP bought the two buildings for $18.6 million, Comer said.

Fleetwood, once the Inland area’s only Fortune 500 company, filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2009. The two buildings encompass about 460,000 square feet.

“Those buildings are very well outfitted” for making RVs, Comer said.

Williams, Humeston and Pablo Carmona, the chief operating officer, are all industry veterans who started MVP two years ago, at the factory that used to make towable RVs for Thor of California. MVP was forced to shut the plant in 2009 but reopened in March after securing new financing.

About a year ago, MVP created a wave of optimism in the area when it announced a deal with CT&T United, a South Korean firm, to manufacture small electric cars at its Moreno Valley facility. That deal stalled, and MVP found another investor to help the company revive its RV operations.

Redlands-based economist John Husing said that in its heyday Fleetwood drew other RV manufacturers to the area. This, in turn, drew companies that sold supplies to the industry, and if MVP can duplicate even a small part of that, the region would benefit.

Husing said his concern is the state of the RV market. Sales have been dismal for more than three years, ever since home prices began to decline and most homeowners could no longer refinance their houses and use the money on an RV.

“If they’re going to manufacture RVs, and if there’s a market, then it’s really good news,” Husing said. “The question is how fast the RV business will recover.”

Despite the huge drop in sales, analysts say they’ve seen small signs of recovery recently.

Williams said MVP plans to market its products abroad as well as domestically. The company recently displayed products at an RV show in South Korea, he said, and Stropkai said that despite the perception of the RV as an American phenomenon, there is growing interest globally.

“I know there are markets out there,” Stropkai said. “A lot of manufacturers go to Europe and Australia now, and I know China is starting to get interested.”

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