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.
Jayco Inc.’s Jayco Motorhome Group announced plans to expand its manufacturing facilities at its headquarters in Middlebury, Ind., adding up to 50 jobs by the end of 2015.
“The expansion comes as a result of the high demand of our motorized products.” said Derald Bontrager, president and CEO of Jayco, in a written announcement.
“The motorized team continues to exceed expectations, leading to enormous growth and success of the division. We’re looking forward to the expansion and the opportunities it will bring,” Bontrager said.
The new building will serve as the Entegra Coach manufacturing facility and will allow the current motorized building to house Jayco motorhomes. Jayco plans to have construction completed by the second quarter of 2015.
Jayco Inc. announced that Mike Aplin has joined the company as senior director of product development for Jayco’s toy-hauler product offerings.
In making the announcement, Brad Whitehead, vice president of Jayco towable sales, said, “Mike is a perfect fit for Jayco. He’s an upstanding professional, he’s driven to win, and he’s widely recognized by dealers and his peers as an industry expert in the toy-hauler segment.”
Aplin has been in the RV industry for 17 years, and has extensive toy-hauler experience, according to Jayco’s written announcement. Aplin spent the last 7 1/2 years at Heartland, where he led their toy-hauler division in sales for seven consecutive years and also led the company in sales four years in a row.
“We’re serious about excelling in the toy-hauler business,” said Whitehead, “and toy haulers are a big piece of our growth strategy. Mike brings a wealth of experience to this position, and he’ll be working very hard to properly position our toy-hauler products and prepare our dealer partners for years of success.”
Aplin will lead Jayco’s toy-hauler product-development team, spearheading the development, execution, and rollout of all new product initiatives, as well as establishing, and executing marketing strategies for all Jayco toy-hauler brands. He will also be responsible for coaching and training Jayco dealers and regional sales managers to grow sales and market share for Jayco’s toy haulers. Aplin will report directly to Whitehead.
Jayco Inc. announced that Chuck Lasley has been named vice president of sales for the company’s motorized division.
“I’m excited to have Chuck back on the sales team” said Tadd Jenkins, president of the Jayco Motorhome Group. “His leadership skills and vast RV industry knowledge will be a great asset to the motorized team.”
Lasley has been with the company for four years, starting as a regional sales manager for the motorized division and then moving to the vice president of corporate marketing.
With Lasley’s departure from the marketing department, Ashley Lehman has been named director of marketing and will assume responsibility for all marketing initiatives for Jayco’s operating divisions.
Jayco Inc. announced that Matt Thompson has joined the company as president of the Middlebury, Ind.-based builder’s towable division, effective May 27.
“We are excited to have Matt join our team,” stated Jayco Corp. President and CEO Derald Bontrager in a press release. “His tenure in the industry combined with his drive and leadership skills will serve the Jayco towable division well.”
Thompson has over 20 years of experience in the RV industry. He began his career working for a supplier in the industry and for the last 10 years he has been with Thor Industries Inc. in various capacities, most recently serving as the vice president of sales at CrossRoads RV.
“Matt brings a new level of excitement and a fresh perspective that will lead the towable division in the right direction” said Bontrager. “I have no doubt that with his strong product background and his focus on the dealer and the end customer, he is a great fit for our team.”
Recently, Baer left Jayco to pursue other interests. Byington will begin his new position effective June 1.
According to a press release, Byington will be responsible for all aspects of sales relating to the motorized division. He brings over 20 years of both retail and wholesale sales experience. Most recently, he served as Jayco’s regional sales manager for the Northwest area of the country. Previously, he managed a chain of successful retail RV stores.
“Ray’s industry experience will serve Jayco and the Motorized Sales Department well. We’re excited to have him join the management team” said Tadd Jenkins, president of the Jayco Motorized Division.
According to a press release, Devon Miller has been appointed vice president of operations for the Jayco Motorhome Group. Tadd Jenkins, president of the Jayco Motorhome Group, noted, “Devon’s tenure with Jayco, his vast product knowledge and his strong understanding and insight for operation processes is exactly what the motorhome division needs to propel it forward and meet the demands of the market.”
With Miller’s move to the Jayco Motorhome Group, President and CEO Derald Bontrager will act as the towable division’s interim president.
Pat Carroll, director of product development for the Jayco Motorhome Group, will now be vice president of product development for the division. Carroll will have full responsibility for new product sourcing, design and engineering.
“Pat’s experience, knowledge and passion is well suited for these additional responsibilities and will result in industry leading products,” said Jenkins.
In addition, Akos Sefcsik was named president of the Starcraft division. Bontrager stated, “Akos has been a great asset to the Starcraft division over the past year. Moving him into this role will provide him the opportunity to pour more of his talents into the division which will continue to thrive under his leadership.”
Sefcsik has been the general manager and vice president of the division for over a year and during that time Starcraft has seen upward movement in both sales and market share.
In making the announcement, Bontrager said, “These changes are in line with the vision for a new structure that will facilitate flexibility and accountability of each individual division and insure that we have the right person in the right position here at Jayco.”
Jayco Corp. President and CEO Derald Bontrager has introduced the leadership team of the newly formed Highland Ridge RV, a result of the company’s recent acquisition of Open Range RV Co.
The Middlebury, Ind.-based company reported in a press release, that Highland Ridge officers will include: Randy Graber, president; Bill Flint, general manager and vice president of sales and marketing; and Chris Good, director of administrative services. Graber is the former president of Open Range.
Day-to-day activities will now operate under the new corporate name, Highland Ridge RV, while product will continue to be branded as Open Range. Jayco’s intention is to build upon the strong foundation Open Range has built over the years and said that production will continue with no anticipated disruptions.
“We are truly excited to be producing Open Range branded products,” said Bontrager. “Open Range is a recognized leader of innovative products. We are confident great things will come of this for both parties involved.”
Graber commented, “There is no doubt we made the right decision to join forces with Jayco. Their strong history, market share, and unmatched reputation in the industry will benefit Highland Ridge RV and continue the growth and future success of the Open Range brand.”
Highland Ridge RV will continue to operate and produce out of its Shipshewana, Ind., facilities.
Jayco Inc. announced the rollout of a new responsive website. The redesigned site, www.Jayco.com, features new interactive elements and is designed to automatically optimize across all user devices, including desktops, smartphones and tablets.
Jayco said in a press release, that the site has a fresh design and provides an optimal user experience with helpful tools fitting with the “family fun” position of the Jayco brand. Using responsive design, Jayco’s website automatically detects a user’s viewing device, screen size and device orientation. The site then seamlessly adjusts for optimal viewing, minimizing the amount of resizing, panning and scrolling needed to view information.
The redesign of Jayco.com was focused on improving the mobile shopping experience and users’ overall experience on the site. The new site is packed with a host of interactive tools, including:
• Enlarged floorplans and photos for optimal viewing.
• Extensive standards and options with photos where available.
• “Save and Compare” feature with the ability to save and compare favorite floorplans.
• Buyer’s Guide to help the customer find the right floorplan for their camping adventures.
• Enhanced build and price.
Additionally, the site features a map feature to locate hot spots nearby, camping trip location ideas, camping resources plus much more to help families plan and prepare for their next great camping excursion.
“We wanted to update our website to reflect our family fun focus, both in look and in features provided,” said Chuck Lasley, vice president of corporate marketing. “Additionally, we know our customers rely on our website for product information, and we know more of them are using mobile devices to access our site. We wanted to make sure our customers have the best possible experience regardless of the device they use.”
The site also features beautiful photography, product information, videos, and over time will have 360-degree tours as well. To view the new website, visit www.Jayco.com on any web-capable device.
Three years into the EcoAdvantage sustainability program, Jayco Inc. is making strides in meeting its aggressive companywide goals. To help promote Earth Day, the RV manufacturer is announcing its 2013 results from the EcoAdvantage program, which outlines a number of ways to build better RVs using fewer natural resources.
The company reported in a release that through combined efforts between employees, suppliers and community partners, Jayco Inc.’s three operating divisions — Jayco, Starcraft and Entegra Coach — recycled 1,284 tons of wood, 13,221 tons of scrap metal and 1,801 tons of cardboard and paper in 2013. These efforts helped Jayco Inc. conserve:
• Enough gas for Americans to drive more than 845,600 miles.
• Enough electricity to power 1,129 homes for a year.
• Enough landfill airspace to accommodate 42,500 people.
• And enough water to meet the daily fresh water needs of 117,787 Americans.
Through these aggressive efforts, Jayco also saved 59,900 mature trees
Since the program’s launch in 2011, Jayco has met or is close to meeting a number of long-term goals:
• Several production facilities and assembly departments within Jayco Inc., are
• 98% landfill free. Jayco aspires to be 100 percent landfill free by 2015.
The company completed its energy-efficient goal in 2012 — two years early — accomplishing a 40% energy reduction that preserved 67,300,143 kilowatt-hours of energy since the initiative’s launch.
In the fall of 2013, Jayco began partnering with the Middlebury Community School Corp. to maintain a recycling program. Creating awareness about sustainable efforts has been a key goal of the Jayco EcoAdvantage program, the company said.
Jayco continues to produce lighter, more efficient RVs, including the lightweight Jay Feather SLX and the economical Eagle Touring Edition in 2014.
Chairman Wilbur Bontrager noted, “We began this program several years ago to protect the environment where families use our products. It only makes sense that we should strive to be good stewards of the environment. We are committed to meeting our goals and continuing the EcoAdvantage program so that families can continue to enjoy the great outdoors for generations to come.”
“The new leadership structure will provide greater autonomy for our four operating divisions; Jayco Towables, Jayco Motorhome Group, Starcraft, and newly formed Highland Ridge RV which produces the Open Range family of products,” Derald Bontrager explained in a press release. “Each division will be led by its president and a dedicated operating management team with a laser focus on creating the best, most innovative models within their product range. Our four division presidents will now report directly to me, as we have flattened our organization and moved away from the need for a corporate COO.”
He added, “Our new structure will enhance the speed to market, flexibility and accountability of each Jayco operating entity. With our recent acquisition, we felt it was important to our employees, dealers, customers, and our future success in the marketplace for the Bontrager family to get even closer and more involved in the day to day leadership of our businesses.”
Wilbur Bontrager noted, “The values that formed Jayco nearly a half century ago by our parents, Lloyd and Bertha Bontrager, have been critical to our historical success, and become even more important as we grow and look to the future. Derald and I are looking forward to directly influencing and inspiring our business leaders with those core values every day as the foundation of our success in the marketplace.”
Jayco Corp. announced today (Feb. 24) that it has entered into a Letter of Intent (LOI) to acquire Shipshewana, Ind.-based Open Range RV Co.
According to a press release, the letter of intent “contemplates a transaction between the two companies and is subject to the execution of a definitive agreement between the two parties.”
Open Range RV will operate as a wholly owned and separate subsidiary while Randy Graber will remain as president. “The two companies are a natural match,” said Graber. “Culturally speaking, both Jayco and Open Range enjoy strong relationships with their dealer body, recognizing the importance of maintaining a partnership style association.”
With growth in excess of 20% annually, the management of Open Range recognized in order to maintain and further increase that type of growth, it was necessary to partner with a larger organization. “I am extremely excited to be able to take Open Range to the next level. It’s a dream come true.” said Graber.
Derald Bontrager, president and CEO of Middlebury-based Jayco, noted, “Open Range will be a perfect addition to the Jayco family. We are thrilled to partner with someone like Randy Graber who has such vast industry experience and innovative product knowledge.”
Jayco Inc. approved the launch of its new Jay Smart, a line of Euro-styled, ultra-lightweight RVs. According to a press release, the new line of towables is slated to be built on Jayco’s campus in Middlebury, Ind.
Jayco displayed a prototype of the Jay Smart during the 2013 Louisville Show. The company reported that dealers’ reaction was “overwhelmingly positive” to the modernized, easy-to-tow and lightweight travel trailer.
“With the knowledge and experience we’ve gained from building this new family of lightweight products, we’re confident our dealers will gain an even stronger competitive advantage in the marketplace,” said COO Jim Jacobs. “It wouldn’t surprise me if along the way we find ways of incorporating some of the design and engineering elements discovered in building the Jay Smart into our other product offerings.”
Formal introduction of the Jay Smart will occur at Jayco’s annual Homecoming event taking place in San Antonio, Texas, the week of June 23.
Initial offerings of the Jay Smart will include four floorplans in 19-, 22- and two 26-foot lengths. Each unit will be built with the same streamlined, contemporary look highlighted at Louisville.
Brian Donat, an industry veteran, will continue as a product design consultant for the Jay Smart. Donat’s knowledge of the European marketplace is a valuable asset and contributed greatly to the positive response from the dealer network, the company said.
The relocation by Jayco Inc. of its toy hauler travel trailers and fifth-wheels to a refurbished 55,000-square-foot building has created 30 jobs already and could result in 30 more in the next 12 months.
According to a report by the South Bend Tribune, the move will allow Jayco to better meet the current demand for its Octane and Seismic toy hauler units.
The company currently has about 1,600 employees at its 373-acre Middlebury, Ind., campus, Sid Johnson, a company spokesman said. The first 30 jobs at the refurbished facility were added over the past four months.
The completed expansion is separate from the one the company announced in November of 2012. As part of that project, Jayco invested $2.9 million to add a 77,000-square-foot extension to an existing 62,000-square-foot facility on its campus.
That space is being used to build the Entegra Coach, the company’s high-end motor home. The company already has added about half of the 65 jobs that were projected by 2015, Johnson said.
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Jayco Inc. announced today (Jan. 15) that it has relocated manufacturing operations for its toy hauler travel trailers and fifth-wheels to a 55,000-square-foot facility on its main campus in Middlebury, Ind.
According to a press release, the toy hauler production line was moved to dedicated facility to focus on growth in the segment.
“The increase in our production capacity will allow us to better meet the current demand for our Octane and Seismic toy hauler units,” said Rick Gallmeyer, operations manager.
Company officials said that 30 new jobs have been created, with another 30 expected over the next 12 months. Production in the new plant began last week.