Wakarusa Gets Hit Again with Navistar Buyout

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May 17, 2013 by   Comments Off on Wakarusa Gets Hit Again with Navistar Buyout

What looked so promising in 2012 with Monaco RV adding 400 jobs in Wakarusa, Ind., is now moving in the opposite direction.

The South Bend Tribune reported that in August, the company will ramp down its operations at its Monaco RV and Holiday Rambler plants and move operations to Decatur, Ind. That’s what about 520 employees at the two plants learned Thursday.

Allied Specialty Vehicles announced Thursday the purchase of Monaco RV, Holiday Rambler and R-Vision recreational vehicles, including the Beaver and Safari brands, from Navistar Inc.

R-Vision is produced in Elkhart and will remain unaffected by the purchase, Jim Meyer, COO of Allied Specialty Vehicles, said Thursday.

But it’s a far different scenario for employees in Wakarusa, 425 of whom work in manufacturing.

“The initial part of the plan is to not take more production orders for Wakarusa,” Meyer said. “We have production now that will run into August.

“We will keep that production here, and then we will begin to ramp down the manufacturing part of the business in Wakarusa.”

Meyer said that American Industrial Partners, the private equity firm in New York that owns Allied Specialty Vehicles, has been interested in purchasing the RV brands for some time. He said the timing was right and their bid was selected.

“The companies are in difficult financial times,” he said. “That’s a fact. We feel very confident in our ability to work our way through the financial piece of this thing and restore these brands back to where they’ve been most of their lives.”

ASV’s attempt to do so, though, means the brands will move to Decatur, near Fort Wayne, where the company’s plants already produce RV brands Fleetwood and American Coach, Meyer said.

“We have a large campus today in Decatur, and the very straightforward and obvious integration is to move this business to Decatur, rather than go the other way for a whole lot of logistical reasons,” he said.

One of the reasons for the move, Meyer said, is the Wakarusa plants’ size.

“There are world-class production facilities here (in Wakarusa),” he said, “but they are too large for the size of the business.”

ASV plans to sell the facilities in Wakarusa, and Meyer’s hope is that many of the workers there will find work at whatever business ends up buying the plant.

“We’re going to have a plan as good as we can make it for each and every employee to help them with this wind down and transition for future jobs,” he said, adding that he’s confident the Wakarusaoperations will be sold.

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