Junction City, Ore.-based Country Coach Corp. continues to make strides in its comeback under the guidance of President Ron Lee, according to a press release.
One of the original founders of now defunct Country Coach LLC, Lee purchased the intellectual property and opened a 200,000-square-foot service center one year ago as the company marked its first anniversary on Jan. 3.
“We started with motorhome service. We can work on any motorhome but specialize in Country Coaches,” Lee said, noting that the company had reestablished all of the departments necessary to service and repair motorhomes. “This year we have been very busy working on all types of Country Coaches and Prevost conversions along with many other brands.”
In addition, Country Coach has added OEM parts, consignment sales and even an apparel store. Starting out with 10 employees, the firm’s work force has grown to about 25 workers.
Lee said that the first year was spent not only rebuilding the company infrastructure but also rebuilding the poorly maintained buildings.
“When it rained, more water came in than the roof shed,” Lee said. “We reestablished all of the manufacturing departments on the remaining 34 acres and 200,000 square feet of buildings. These included offices with server, computers and phone systems, paint department with state-of-the art downdraft booths, fiberglass and steel fabrication shops, cabinet shop, Dynomo meter, and a brake and laser alignment center.
After receiving a dealership license from the State of Oregon last January, the company is building its consignment business, selling only “very well maintained used coaches,” according to Lee. Currently, the consignment sales department, headed up by Glenn Norris, has a wide selection of coaches in the showroom with several more coaches on the way in preparation for the spring and summer travel months.
“We have really noticed the increase in calls this past week or so. It is like the switch has been turned on,” said Norris.
Country Coach also set up a website, www.countrycoach.com, and a Facebook page, and just released its third edition of the online eMagazine Country Coach Destinations, which offers owners valuable technical advice, news about CCC and even recipes. The latest edition, Winter 2012, can be found at http://destinations.countrycoach.com.
Lee said that he had three goals when he purchased the intellectual property back in 2010 after the company folded. His first priority was to save the property and buildings – with Country Coach LLC in bankruptcy, they had stopped paying the rent on the buildings. Goal number two was to save not only the brand name but the culture. “Bringing back the culture and information to Country Coach owners, who had nowhere to go, was of high importance,” he said.
The third goal was to bring jobs back to his friends at Country Coach and to a community that was devastated by the economy. So far, Country Coach has paid over $750,000 in payroll to employees who were previously employed by Country Coach. “Creating jobs in Junction City was and still is a top priority,” Lee said.
With still many new accomplishments and challenges in the near future, the next goal will be to start manufacturing new product. “This has always been the plan, to build jobs and new motorhomes here at Country Coach,” Lee said.
One of Lane County, Ore.’s top employers of the past is mounting a comeback.
Country Coach in Junction City is set to re-open in January to service RVs with a plan to eventually expand operations, KVAL-TV, Eugene, reported.
Former owner Ron Lee is investing millions of his own dollars in this new version of Country Coach.
It’s a far from the heyday of the RV industry but the wheels are in motion for a comeback.
The new company is called “Country Coach Corp.”
KVAL News had the chance Tuesday (Nov. 30) to sit down for an exclusive interview with Ron Lee to find out what he has in mind – and why he came out of retirement to do this.
The new Country Coach opens Jan. 3.
It will be a far cry from the pre-recession days of 1,800 workers on the payroll, but Lee says 16 to 20 employees will be hired initially to service RVs, work the paint shop and handle consignment sales.
Lee’s three goals?
“I want to save the property.
“Two: I want to save Country Coach for those (RV) owners that have been loyal to us for years,” Lee said.
And three: Jobs.
“Give them jobs again in Lane County, Junction City – to put my friends back to work here again,” he said.
KVAL’s Tom Adams asked Lee and chief engineer David Diamond, “Gentlemen, how much investment is this going to take to get the doors open and get things moving here - or is that a number you can’t disclose?”
Lee: “Actually, I’m committing roughly $12 million to this project.”
Officials announced their plans on the new company website.
Ultimately, they want to start making RVs again. They said that will take a $5 million state, federal or local grant.
Diamond tells KVAL, “We’re busy; we’re working hard on securing that funding to make things happen and happen as quickly as possible. Nothing is more important, no bigger goal sits in front of me right now than to be an enabler of job creation.”
Jack Roberts, director of the Lane Metro-Partnership, believes the company is taking the right approach in this first phase.
“They’re not going to jump over their heads, but I do think that their goal is to be making coaches again and looking at some other alternatives,” Roberts said.
Even in a tough economy, Lee is confident good things will happen.
“It will happen,” Lee said. “I’m assured. If I wasn’t positive, I wouldn’t go here. I’ve done it once, I can do it again.”
Lee said if they can get a timely approval on their grant request, they could announce plans to resume RV production next summer. That would mean 70 to 75 additional jobs.