Northwood Investments, which operates RV builders Outdoors RV Manufacturing and Northwood Manufacturing, announced that construction of a new plant is under way in La Grande, Ore.
Ward King, COO for Outdoors RV and Northwood Manufacturing, said the expansion is a result of increased business. “Our business is picking up,” he said. “We continue to have more interest in outdoor products.”
The facility expansion will also bring new jobs to the county. “Probably a minimum of 25 jobs, but more likely all the way up to 75,” King said, noting the operations currently employ 194 hourly employees and about 30 office employees.
The expansion coincides with the introduction of a new fifth-wheel line and new database for dealers. “We’re kind of increasing our footprint in the southern market,” King said. “That includes California all the way to Colorado.”
The 50,000-square foot expansion features manufacturing space and offices at the Outdoors RV location south of the existing main plant.
“Our projection is somewhere in June we should be operational, barring any unforeseen weather,” King said.
La Grande, Ore.-based Northwood Manufacturing Inc. announced that Longmont, Colo., dealer Discount RV Corner has recently become a member of the builder’s expanding dealer network.
“We are excited to be in the greater Denver market with Discount RV Corner,” said Northwoood COO Ward King. “They are commited to a quality customer experience and realize that it all starts with a quality product and superior customer service from top to bottom.”
Chris Sach, vice president of Discount RV Corner, noted, “All of us at Discount RV Corner are looking forward to our new partnership with Northwood Manufacturing. We are very fortunate to be able to bring the quality of the Arctic Fox and Desert Fox brands back to the Denver market. Along with the expansion of our new store, we are excited about this new partnership.”
Northwood CEO Jim Jones added, “We are very enthusiastic about Discount RV Corner’s response to our brands and our shared commitment to quality. It is gratifying to have such fine representation in the Denver market. Discount RV Corner’s attention to customer satisfaction coupled with Northwood’s well-known reputation for quality RVs will serve the consumer public well.”
The Canadian RV dealer who tried to buy Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.’s La Grande, Ore., plant has cast a glance at the bankrupt company’s Pendleton site.
Craig Little, owner of Arbutus RV & Marine Sales on Vancouver Island, offered $1.8 million to buy the 79,000-square-foot La Grande plant. But Little lost out during a sale hearing and auction May 13 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside, Calif. Ron Nash, owner of the La Grande-based RV maker Northwood Manufacturing, bought the property with a bid of $2.05 million.
During a phone interview Wednesday (May 27), Little said Fleetwood has approached him about its Pendleton property, and Tracy Bosen, local economic development director, has discussed it with him as well, according to Pendleton’s East Oregonian.
But so far, there’s only has been talk.
“At the moment, we haven’t got a bid in, let me put it that way,” Little said.
Fleetwood Enterprises shut down its trailer manufacturing division in early March, closing plants in La Grande and Pendleton and laying off more than 400 workers between the two sites. Shortly after announcing the closures, Fleetwood declared bankruptcy.
Little said he knew Northwood was likely to make the move, but he expressed disappointment as to why. He said it seemed as though Northwood, which already has a plant close to the Fleetwood site, is just trying to keep a competitor from locating nearby.
“I’m not sure if that’s the best thing for La Grande, but I understand the business decision,” Little said. “We would have liked to have been a serious employer of that area, for sure.”
Little said he even had a team in place and had arranged for some of the former Fleetwood employees in Pendleton to join the La Grande operation.
Northwood makes trailers, fifth-wheels and truck campers in a plant in the Union County Airport industrial park. The company also recently built a facility for manufacturing trailer axles and chassis.
Northwood wasted little time in getting its new acquisition operating, beginning production May 19 of new towable products. Reports indicate the company brought in some of its workers, but also hired back about 100 former Fleetwood workers and a dozen managers.
Bosen said there has been “considerable interest” in the Fleetwood property in Pendleton. But, as with anything else, the real proof will be when someone puts signature to paper.
The Pendleton facility is on about 24 acres with an assessed value of about $5.47 million and a real market value about $20,000 more. The site has two large manufacturing facilities of almost 100,000 square feet each.
While the property “has a lot going for it,” Bosen also said there are issues compounding any easy decisions.
First off, the property is set up for making recreational vehicles, and RV makers have been going out of business. And the bankruptcy adds another layer, he said. Once the property is in receivership, a bankruptcy court judge will have to take Fleetwood’s creditors into consideration when regarding the property.
For his part, Little said he is now on to “Plan B.”