It’s no secret that RV manufacturers in a strong growth market have been scrambling lately to acquire real estate and facilities in an effort to add production capacity at a pretty impressive rate – a prime example of which is the new 185,000-square-foot, Jayco Motorhome Group plant currently nearing completion on the southwest side of Jayco Inc.’s sprawling Middlebury, Ind., campus.
The new steel-sided plant will accommodate about a third of the motorhome group’s 400-plus employees and will be dedicated to the manufacture of Jayco’s high-end Entegra Coach Class A’s, including the Aspire, Anthem and flagship Cornerstone brands, according to Jayco Motorhome Group President Tadd Jenkins.
The new plant, by the same token, enables Jayco to better utilize the three production lines in its nearby existing 250,000-square-foot motorized plant for product development and expanded production of an array of laminated-sidewall motorized products, including the company’s Jayco, Redhawk and Greyhawk-brand Class C’s as well as Seneca Super C’s and Precept gas Class A’s.
The net result? “Increased capacity across the board,” Jenkins told RVBUSINESS.com during a recent tour of the new facility. “We will be able to build as many as the market will sustain for the Entegra product. Then, we’ll be able to meet the market’s needs for other new laminate products down the line.”
The implied message of all this is that business is pretty decent right now, agrees Jenkins, and looks to remain that way for the foreseeable future.
“We see a lot of opportunity on the horizon,” he said. “We aren’t seeing pull back. We see sales going up in motorized product across the board — from our lowest Class C’s to our highest priced Class A’s. I see people spending those dollars for this type of activity.
“Again, we just aren’t seeing the pull back. The Jayco name is synonymous with quality, integrity and those things people want to buy from. When you have that, we are on a wave. These more expensive coaches are a segment that Jayco hasn’t focused on previously to this degree. Five years ago when I came to the company, they were just starting on Entegra and diesel and people doubted that they’d make it.
“The reality is that we’ve bridged those gaps. We showed people we aren’t just a trailer manufacturer anymore,” added Jenkins. “Now, trailer manufacturing is a great thing, it’s where we began and how we built the Jayco name into the Chevrolet of RVs. It’s just a fact.”
But the growing market acceptance of Entegra Coach, a lineup that’s proven to be competitive with the likes of Tiffin Motorhomes Inc., Newmar Corp., Thor Motor Coach, Winnebago Industries Inc. and American Coach among others, has changed the game to an “almost mind-boggling” extent, said Jenkins, who feels that the personalized approach with which his staff deals with consumers on plant tours and otherwise has played a key role in growing the Entegra Coach nameplate.
“Entegra has redefined what we do. It shows we can build high end, but with the quality at that level that is unprecedented because of our processes,” he added.
The 77,752-square-foot expansion of Jayco Inc.’s Entegra Coach manufacturing facility at the company’s campus in Middlebury, Ind., is completed.
According to a report in the Elkhart Truth, the expansion positions the company to meet a surge in demand for motorhomes as data from Statistical Surveys Inc. showed a 28% rise in year-over-year sales during May. Last November, Jayco reported that the added production capacity would create up to 65 new jobs by 2015.
“The market for our products is strong and growing,” said Derald Bontrager, president and chief executive of Jayco. “Our order backlog for motorhomes has increased to the point where it is putting pressure on our ability to provide products to our customers in a timely manner. We’re confident that this increased production capacity will allow us to take better advantage of the opportunities presented by the improving marketplace.”
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