Dometic LLC has announced the promotion of Nick Johnson to e-commerce/web manager for the Americas.
In his new position, Johnson will be responsible for directing the implementation of Dometic’s web projects and e-commerce channel strategies, both business-to-business and business-to-consumer, according to a news release. He will also work in conjunction with Dometic Group web leadership on global Web and e-commerce initiatives.
“I am excited to work with our different customer groups in constructing successful web programs,” said Johnson, who has been with the company for four years. “It has been a rewarding process to communicate with our customers to find solutions to their needs. Dometic will continue to leverage the strength of our global web program, while also focusing on country-, market- and channel-specific initiatives.”
Elkhart, Ind.-based Dometic LLC is making progress on its $10 million expansion in northern Indiana to manufacture refrigerators for the RV and marine markets. RVBUSINESS.com toured the plant recently, some five months after the Elkhart City Council voted unanimously to approve a 10-year tax abatement and incentive package for the project, which will consist of four new refrigerator assembly lines and a cooling unit manufacturing operation in what was a vacant warehouse at the Sweden-based company’s east-side Elkhart facility.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Dometic LLC up to $1.1 million in performance-based tax credits and up to $320,000 in training grants across two projects based on the company’s job-creation plans.
Dometic LLC President Doug Whyte in early August joined Ind. Gov. Mitch Daniels in announcing a $10 million expansion — welcome news for an industry beset at that time by the worst of the 2008-09 recession.
Now, a half-year later, Dometic has hired and trained 52 people — of the total 241 to be hired by 2012 — for assembly of six-cubic-foot units a day on the first of four new production lines in this massive facility on Elkhart’s Industrial Parkway.
The $10 million investment includes more than $6.8 million to move its refrigerator manufacturing operations from Sweden to Elkhart and $3 million to move production from a plant in Mexico, which was lost by fire in April, to Dometic’s LaGrange, Ind., facility, where it will increase manufacturing capacity of retractable awnings, creating 116 new jobs. Eighty people already are at work at the LaGrange facility.
The first two production lines in the Elkhart facility are high-volume refrigerator assembly lines; the third and fourth lines will assemble side-by-side, Elite 2+2 and other Classic-model refrigerators. These larger refrigerators will measure from eight cubic feet up to 14 cubic feet.
Dometic chose to relocate refrigerator production from Sweden to Elkhart rather than China or Mexico — where labors costs would have been far less — in order to be closer to its customer base: 70% of Dometic’s customers are located within 50 miles of Elkhart, explained Whyte.
The move to northern Indiana also improves response times as well as opportunities for customer-specific product development, Whyte noted.
As for the specifics of the project, workers in December began tearing up the asphalt floor in a 100,000-square-foot warehouse on the Dometic campus to make way for a new 8-inch-thick concrete floor requiring 280 truckloads of concrete. The old floor was too weak to support the heavy equipment in the new cooling-unit manufacturing plant.
Concrete work should be finished by the end of February, with equipment installation in May and June, according to Jim Menefee, director of operations.
Some 35 sophisticated, highly automated robotic stations will be installed for cooling-unit manufacturing, which should be operational by July. This facility will be a major energy consumer, making it one of the major electrical customers of American Electric Power Co. in northern Indiana, Menefee noted.
When complete, total space for the new Dometic operations will be about 5 1/2 acres with 100,000 square feet for the cooling-unit manufacturing and 150,000 square feet for refrigerator assembly.
This expansion includes a state-of-the-art test “oven,” an incubator-like laboratory which is kept at a constant 95 degrees to test the efficiency of the finished refrigerators over a six-hour period. Dometic has installed two 4,000-gallon tanks that tower over the refrigerator production area and a $500,000 safety-management system that monitors and regulates the flow of the highly volatile chemicals used in the manufacturing process. Outside, a 9,200-gallon tank, submerged in a thick concrete vault, stores the most volatile of the foam-making chemicals.
Because the new production operation has usurped all of the pre-existing warehouse space, Dometic has leased a 125,000-square-foot warehouse in nearby Goshen, conveniently located near two of its major RV customers.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels today (Aug. 4) joined executives from Dometic LLC, an international manufacturer of recreational vehicle accessories, and praised the company’s plans to expand its manufacturing operations at two northern Indiana plants, creating more than 350 combined jobs by 2012.
The company, which makes accessories ranging from air conditioners to sanitation systems for the RV market, will invest a combined $10 million to increase production capacity at its Elkhart and LaGrange manufacturing operations. That includes more than $6.8 million to move its refrigerator manufacturing operations from Sweden to a 150,000-square-foot facility in Elkhart, creating 241 new jobs, and $3 million to move production from a plant in Mexico, which was lost to a fire in April, to Dometic’s LaGrange facility, where it will increase manufacturing capacity of retractable RV awnings, creating 116 new jobs.
“We’ve never had a doubt. RVs will be back. Elkhart will be back, and will resume its place as a major center of economic strength for our state,” said Daniels.
The company currently employs 60 workers at its Elkhart operations and plans to begin hiring assembly, welding, maintenance and management associates immediately as the facility is prepared for production launch later in the fall.
“Our growth is a direct result of our product quality and the dedication of our associates. This new RV refrigerator factory in Elkhart allows us to serve over 70% of our customers located within a 50-mile radius,” said Doug Whyte, president of Dometic.
The company will sponsor a jobs fair early next month and plans to begin production by early November, Whyte said.
Daniels made a point that the two expansions were examples of Indiana insourcing jobs from other countries, and that the two Hoosier communities were in competition with cities in China and Mexico.
“Don’t tell me we can’t compete efficiently with the world,” Daniels said.
Elkhart’s (and Indiana’s) central location with excellent transportation connections make both ideal places to do business, Daniels added. He called Elkhart “a great part of Indiana to do business” and added that though the county fell fast and hard, “all the elements are there” for a strong recovery.
Daniels was cautious in predicting when the economy will turn around, however. He does not expect the economy to “roar back,” but he sees signs of an upturn.
Including today’s announcement, projects announced for Elkhart County so far this year are expected to create more than 2,000 jobs. That includes Electric Motors Corp. (EMC), a manufacturer of electric power drive systems for heavy trucks, which will partner with RV manufacturer Gulf Stream Coach Inc. to invest more than $80 million to establish manufacturing operations in nearby Wakarusa. The partnership holds the potential to create more than 1,600 new jobs.
EMC CEO Will Cashen was present for today’s press conference and drew praise from Daniels, who called his EMC plans “fantastic” news for the community.
Dometic, which was founded in 1958 as a division of Electrolux, now holds operations in 10 countries and employs more than 4,200 associates. In addition to refrigerators, the company manufactures retractable awnings, climate control systems and sanitation systems for the RV, automobile, heavy truck and marine markets.
Whyte said Dometic has made 35 acquisitions in the past 37 years and continues to look for other businesses to acquire to add value to its business.
“We are pleased that Dometic has selected Elkhart as the site for the relocation of its Swedish production facility. This announcement and the subsequent creation of up to 241 net new jobs to the area could not have come at a better time,” said Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore.
“While the job losses that we as a community have experienced over the past 16 months have had a negative impact on our local economy, I am confident that better times lay ahead. We are a resilient community which has both faced and overcome adversity in the past. By partnering with the state, the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County and the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce, we will leverage this success and will work diligently to bring additional positive economic development news to the community,” Moore said.
Moore said the Dometic announcement was an example of the “great news to tell” President Obama who is scheduled to visit nearby Wakarusa, Ind., on Wednesday and announce major economic assistance for the county.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. (IEDC) offered Dometic LLC up to $1.1 million in performance-based tax credits and up to $320,000 in training grants across the two projects based on the company’s job creation plans. The Elkhart City Council late Monday approved additional property tax abatement for the project at the request of the Elkhart County Economic Development Corp. The town of LaGrange will consider additional property tax abatement.
“Dometic has been a great partner in the LaGrange community and we’re excited that they have chosen our county as the appropriate place to grow their operations,” said Keith Gillenwater, executive director of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp. “We look forward to working with Dometic as they grow.”
The IEDC has at least four other deals on the table for new business ventures coming to Elkhart County, David Behr, senior project manager for the IEDC’s North Central Region, told RVBusiness.
Dometic Group is a customer driven, world-leading provider of leisure products for the caravan, motorhome, automotive, truck and marine markets. Dometic supplies the industry and aftermarket with a complete range of air conditioners, refrigerators, awnings, cookers, sanitation systems, lighting, mobile power equipments, comfort – and safety solutions, windows, doors and other equipment.