Monaco RV LLC has rehired about 800 workers to build motorized and towable RVs in Oregon and northern Indiana, Monaco President Kay Toolson told RVBusiness following President Obama’s visit Wednesday to Monaco’s Wakarusa, Ind., facilities.
About 400 workers have been called back in Wakarusa, Ind., with the balance working out of Monaco’s headquarters in Junction City, Ore.
”The production of motorhomes (in Indiana) has already begun,” Toolson said. ”We are building two a day in this plant. Towables, we are building eight a day starting this week, and we are moving another line up here to do another eight a day next week.”
President Obama was in Wakarusa to announce a $39 million federal grant to Navistar International Corp., Monaco’s new parent company, to develop and build all-electric delivery vehicles that will bring jobs to Elkhart County, Ind., which has been hit severely by the downturn in the RV industry.
Navistar intends to build 400 all-electric vehicle in 2010 and will produce several thousand vehicles annually within a couple of years, creating 700 jobs.
Navistar formed Monaco RV LLC in June after buying some of the assets of Monaco Coach Corp., which filed for bankruptcy in March. Navistar retained a number of Monaco Coach executives, including Toolson, to run the new company.
”We brought back about 400 people here in northern Indiana, and we will keep adding to that as production continues to increase,” Toolson said. ”From zero to 400 is a lot and we’ve done the same in Oregon. I’m really proud to have our people back to work. That’s the most important thing.”
While the federal grant won’t directly help Monaco or the RV industry, anything that brings jobs to the area is a positive, Toolson noted.
”That $39 million is for the commercial electric vehicle that Navistar is going to build here in northern Indiana,” Toolson said. ”That doesn’t go directly to the RV part of the business, but that certainly helps us as a company totally and also northern Indiana.”
Toolson said Navistar hasn’t determined whether the all-electric vans will be built in Elkhart or Wakarusa but that regardless, the area is in for an economic boost. ”It’s a huge, huge opportunity for northern Indiana,” he said.
Even in the midst of recession, the RV industry customer base ”is still strong,” Toolson added. ”(Consumers) still want to buy, but the banks have not been willing to finance,” he said. ”The biggest thing that is going to help our industry and most industries is to get money flowing again.”