Elkhart Site in Running for Startup Nexus RVs
In a market that’s been somewhat limited for U.S. motorhome builders, startup minimotorhome manufacturer Nexus RVs LLC will begin hiring key personnel within the next few weeks and plans to produce a prototype unit to display at the Florida RV SuperShow in mid-January.
”That way, we can get into the biggest show of the year and set the tone,” said Nexus President Claude Donati, who resigned in mid-June as vice president of motorized for Gulf Stream Coach Inc. to form his own company.
Donati, who has temporarily located Nexus’ corporate headquarters in the University of Notre Dame’s Innovation Park, said the Elkhart City Council on Monday will consider tax abatement on a 109,000-square-foot production facility in an industrial park at Indiana 19 and the Indiana Toll Road on the north side of Elkhart.
”That doesn’t mean that we’ve selected that property,” Donati said, adding that the Nexus also is considering space in the Edwardsburg, Mich., area, about two miles north of the Indiana state line.
”Our hope is to be in Elkhart, but we also are looking in the southern Michigan — in the area where Georgie Boy was — which has a solid workforce,” he reported. ”And we want to stay close enough to the vendors.”
The decision on where to put Nexus’ plant will be determined by which location makes the best sense financially, Donati said.
In a filing with the Elkhart City Council, Mayor Dick Moore recommends that Nexus receive abatement for five years on $1 million in equipment, saving the company about $38,600. The mayor said the average pay for Nexus’ workers will be about $22 an hour.
Nexus’ application for abatement filed Sept. 21 says the company anticipates annual sales of $20 million, and that a second phase will include building a destination RV campground.
Initially, Nexus will assemble standard and ”B-plus-style” Class C motorhomes on Ford chassis.
”We think we really understand that market, and the tooling costs are a little less expensive than if we were manufacturing a full-blown Class A,” Donati said. ”It’s a little more complicated to get into that segment.”
Donati said that by the end of October Nexus will hire a plant manager, engineer, purchasing agent and controller. ”Shortly after that, we will bring in key leaders on the production line,” he said.
The company expects to hire 50 people in its first year and be in production by late winter.
”We have some product design stuff that will be different than what is out there now,” Donati said. ”We are going to make sure that every inch of the floorplan is used properly.”
Donati anticipates Nexus pursuing steady, controlled growth. ”We won’t be a high-volume producer right away,” he said.