Chinook Set to Go Into Full Production in 2019

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November 8, 2018 by   Leave a Comment

Chinook President and CEO Phil Rizzio

Chinook Motor Coach Corp. (CMC) has been quietly building its entry into the Class B motorized and towable RV markets over the past 18 months. 

In July of 2017, reported that the Las Vegas, Nev.-based Class B motorhome builder was setting up shop in Elkhart, Ind., investing nearly $2.5 million to potentially create over 100 manufacturing jobs. The company stated at that time it did not know when full production would begin, facing the hurdles of completely retooling and updating its facility and acquiring licensing to operate in Indiana.    

During September’s Elkhart RV Open House in 2017 the company announced the “rebirth of the legendary Chinook motor coach” brand with an an event featuring prototype Class B motorhomes at the newly purchased facility.

Then in February of 2018, Chinook Motor Coach Corp, and its subsidiary Chinook Motor Coach LLC announced the purchase assets of Peru, Ind.-based towable builder Vohne Liche Manufacturing (VLM).

Today, the Chinook Motor Coach plant is nearing completion.

“We’re not in production just yet,” said Jeff Butler, general manager of plant production. “We are just prior to full production. We will be building Class B and B-plus products here sometime after the first of the year.”

Butler explained that the plant has been completely remodeled. “Our task was to refurbish this plant inside and out with complete new siding, roofing, painted interior and cleaned up to meet the standards of our owner. Now that we have accomplished that we are in the planning stages for our manufacturing phase early next year.”

Chinook was one of the most recognizable brands in the Class B camper van segment for more than 60 years until the bankruptcy of the Wash.-based firm in 2005.

The resurgence of the brand was accomplished through the efforts of entrepreneur and RV dealership owner Phil Rizzio, now president and CEO of Chinook Motor Coach and it’s subsidiaries. Rizzio, owner of Wagon Trail RV in Las Vegas, Nev., Creston RV in Kalispell, Mont., and Van City in St. Louis, Mo., purchased the Chinook holdings from the Lukehart family in 2013 that included trademarks, designs, molds and intellectual property. After initially exploring the idea of producing Chinooks at the Country Coach facilities in Junction City, Ore., he turned to opportunities in Elkhart.

COO David Murray is overseeing the two expansions. spoke to Murray at the this week’s RV Dealers Convention/Expo in Las Vegas, Nev., where the company also prototypes its products.

“We will go into production on the motorized side after the first of the year – probably more like February,” he said. “We are just finishing off one of our prototypes and we have two more on board and we have four more that we have finished so we are getting pretty excited.”

Murray shared that two of the new Chinook Motor Coach models will be called the Concourse and the Premier. “The others we don’t have a name for just yet. We will obviously build on the Sprinter chassis but will also build on the Ford Transit chassis and we are going to build a few on the Ford Super Duty E-350 and E-450 chassis.” 

“On the towable side we are going to come out with six new models under two lines,” he added. “We are also working on an RPM model and we are revamping the Dream models so we almost have those ready to go. I wish I could be more specific with you today.”

Motorized product will be built in Elkhart with the new travel trailers in Peru. He said that the towable products would not have the Chinook name but rather the RT Trailer Corp. brand. 

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