Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels yesterday (Dec. 19) delivered his iconic 2004 campaign motorhome — dubbed “RV-1” — to the Heritage Foundation Inc.’s RV/MH Hall of Fame where the road-weary Damon DayBreak Class A will be on display for the foreseeable future while on loan from the Indiana State Museum.
Daniels, who will step away at the first of the year from his elected position to assume the presidency of Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind., drove north from Indianapolis with a handful of aides while TV cameras chased him in his 2003 Class A with its troubled shocks and white exterior covered with thousands of signatures of Hoosier constituents who helped the moderate Republican win election in 2004 and again in 2008.
The drive from Indianapolis up north to Elkhart was for Daniels, he confided in his brief remarks at the Hall of Fame, somewhat of a nostalgic one as he prepares to leave office.
“We’ve just completed a very sentimental journey,” Daniels, considered a likely GOP presidential candidate early on in the recent primaries, told the assembled media. “With me on board during the last drive of RV-1 were the two still-young men who were out there with me for 16 months on the first campaign as well as the second, and Bill Oesterle, who originally came up with the idea of letting people sign it – a stroke of genius.
“So, we had a lot of laughs all the way up,” added Daniels, who’s well known for his penchant for riding motorcycles around the state. “There’s a memory and story behind almost every signature on there and every place it’s been.”
Daniels was welcomed to the Elkhart facility by Bob Martin, president and COO of Thor Industries Inc., which originally built the eight-year-old coach and sponsored a small reception at the Hall on Wednesday, and BJ Thompson, a Heritage Foundation board member who emceed the event.
On the business front, Daniels then singled out the RV industry for its leadership in helping turn around the Indiana economy, and he praised the old Damon motorhome with 58,000 miles on the odometer for the accessibility it offered him in reaching the citizenry of Indiana.
“We went into this recession with a high percentage – maybe 60-some percent – of all the RVs in the country made in Indiana,” said Daniels. “Coming out of the recession, I’m told, that total is more than 80%. What does that say? It says that we had a superior business climate and when companies were put to the test in a tough market — and forced to choose between what (plants) they were going to keep or close — almost without exception they chose Indiana. We’re so proud that this industry is centered even more here in our state than it was a few years ago.
“And if Thor ever needs a personal testimonial for the quality of their products, I’m their man,” said Daniels, adding that people constantly ask him about RV-1 more than they ask him about himself. “We took old Bessie here on trips it was never really designed for. We took it on dirt roads, gravel roads, one-lane covered bridges. There were no leisure cruises for RV-1, but it stood up. We were marveling on the way up, although the shocks are pretty much gone, how well she was still running. It’s a high quality product. That’s the way I know you build them up here.”
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels helped kick off a weekend dealer show at the RV/MH Hall of Fame on a high note Friday (April 27), proclaiming the industry was helping lead Indiana in its economic recovery.
As reported by the Goshen News, Daniels met with executives of the recreational vehicle industry privately Friday morning before meeting with the media and touring the Hall of Fame. Several key companies were represented, including Dometic Corp., Fleetwood RV Inc., Forest River Inc., Jayco Inc., Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles LLC, Lippert Components Inc. and Thor Industries Inc.
He credited the RV industry for having a desire to rise from the economic downturn “sooner and stronger than others.”
Indiana’s RV industry has increased market share to the point where five out of every six recreational vehicles are manufactured in the state. In recent months, local RV manufacturers have committed to hiring upward of 800 people over two years.
The improved standing, Daniels said, was due to some of the best companies in the industry being able to work in one of the best business environments in the nation.
“It’s been a big part of Indiana’s recovery, but that’s reasonably consistent with manufacturing in general,” Daniels said. “I just wish that every other part of the state and so many places elsewhere had a comeback story half as strong as the one that is going on here.”
In a separate report by the South Bend Tribune, Daniels noted, “There’s a reason this area has had a strong economy over the course of time — good companies good leadership, a great work force. And honestly, as hard hit as Elkhart has been, I am confident it will snap back more so than other parts of Indiana, which I think are going to prove harder to bring enough new jobs to.”
Derald Bontrager, president and COO of Middlebury, Ind.-based Jayco Inc., characterized Daniels’ visit as a “conversation with RV officials” and an affirmation for continued growth in the industry.
“We don’t see anything on the horizon that would lead us to believe that we won’t sustain it,” he said. “The industry aas a whole is fairly optimistic for the rest of the year and going into 2013.”
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is scheduled to visit the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum this week to meet with recreational vehicle company executives and tout the industry’s economic recovery, according to a report by The Elkhart Truth.
Mark Bowersox, executive director of the Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council, confirmed the governor would be in Elkhart from 9-10 a.m. Friday. He is expected to first meet privately with company presidents then hold a press conference.
Daniels will be speaking against the backdrop of an RV industry that is rebounding after being ravaged by the Great Recession.
“I think it’s fair to say the industry continues to rebound,” Bowersox said, noting the market has a lot of pent-up demand. “I think there’s more interest than the numbers are showing but interest doesn’t make the factories turn out RVs.”
To read the entire article in The Elkhart Truth click here.
Fleetwood RV Inc.’s growth warranted a visit by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and members of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) board to the builder’s headquarters in Decatur, Ind., today (March 22), according to a press release.
Fleetwood RV, a leading manufacturer of Class A and Class C motorhomes, relocated its headquarters to Decatur in 2009 after consolidating its California and Pennsylvania manufacturing operations. The IEDC invested up to $9 million in performance-based tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants based on the company’s accelerated job creation plans.
The company currently employs 1,106 workers at the Decatur manufacturing facility and recently hired 170 temporary employees to work on a four-month project.
Fleetwood said that much of its success is attributed to an ongoing commitment to innovation in its Fleetwood and American Coach brands. The company recently introduced the Excursion, a 33-foot Class A diesel model that has earned high accolades for its features and amenities.
“Through Gov. Daniels’ leadership, the efforts of the IEDC and the hard-working principles of the citizens of Indiana, this state has become a model for economic growth and job creation,” said John Draheim, president and CEO of Fleetwood RV. “As Fleetwood RV continues to grow, we plan to add more jobs and help to create an exciting future for the people of Indiana.”