VIDEO #2: Lee Outlines Country Coach Plan
One of Lane County, Ore.’s top employers of the past is mounting a comeback.
Country Coach in Junction City is set to re-open in January to service RVs with a plan to eventually expand operations, KVAL-TV, Eugene, reported.
Former owner Ron Lee is investing millions of his own dollars in this new version of Country Coach.
It’s a far from the heyday of the RV industry but the wheels are in motion for a comeback.
The new company is called “Country Coach Corp.”
KVAL News had the chance Tuesday (Nov. 30) to sit down for an exclusive interview with Ron Lee to find out what he has in mind – and why he came out of retirement to do this.
The new Country Coach opens Jan. 3.
It will be a far cry from the pre-recession days of 1,800 workers on the payroll, but Lee says 16 to 20 employees will be hired initially to service RVs, work the paint shop and handle consignment sales.
Lee’s three goals?
“I want to save the property.
“Two: I want to save Country Coach for those (RV) owners that have been loyal to us for years,” Lee said.
And three: Jobs.
“Give them jobs again in Lane County, Junction City – to put my friends back to work here again,” he said.
KVAL’s Tom Adams asked Lee and chief engineer David Diamond, “Gentlemen, how much investment is this going to take to get the doors open and get things moving here - or is that a number you can’t disclose?”
Lee: “Actually, I’m committing roughly $12 million to this project.”
Officials announced their plans on the new company website.
Ultimately, they want to start making RVs again. They said that will take a $5 million state, federal or local grant.
Diamond tells KVAL, “We’re busy; we’re working hard on securing that funding to make things happen and happen as quickly as possible. Nothing is more important, no bigger goal sits in front of me right now than to be an enabler of job creation.”
Jack Roberts, director of the Lane Metro-Partnership, believes the company is taking the right approach in this first phase.
“They’re not going to jump over their heads, but I do think that their goal is to be making coaches again and looking at some other alternatives,” Roberts said.
Even in a tough economy, Lee is confident good things will happen.
“It will happen,” Lee said. “I’m assured. If I wasn’t positive, I wouldn’t go here. I’ve done it once, I can do it again.”
Lee said if they can get a timely approval on their grant request, they could announce plans to resume RV production next summer. That would mean 70 to 75 additional jobs.