The more than 400 employees of Suburban Manufacturing in Dayton, Tenn., received news this week that the recreational vehicle industry that it serves is on the path to recovery from the depths of the economic downturn, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
“Sales have doubled” for the industry, said Mel Adams, president and CEO of Airxcel Inc., Witchita, Kan., Suburban’s parent company.
Adams made his comments as he visited the Dayton plant in observance of what the recreational vehicle industry is promoting as its centennial year.
The deep economic recession caused people to tighten their budgets and habits, but the RV industry has seen people adjust to fluctuations with gas prices, he said.
“They may not go as far,” Adams said, but “boomers are still coming and retiring.”
Airxcel acquired Suburban in March 1998 and made the Dayton operation a division. Airxcel manufactures heating appliances and air-conditioning and other specialty applications. The company began as Recreational Vehicle Products Inc. in 1991 and changed its name in 1997.
Suburban Manufacturing Co. began in 1948, originally making clothes dryers and heaters. Later it introduced RV gas furnaces and cooking appliances to its product line.
Adams thanked employees for their contributions in the RV industry. He additionally offered special congratulations to the 76 people who had worked 30 years or more with the company.
“It’s a great place to work for a local boy,” 41-year employee Clayton Conley said. “Suburban sets a standard to work by” for their employees and products, he said.
“We’re so proud,” said Adams as he handed a plaque and gift certificate to Jesse Fine, an employee since 1960. “It’s an outstanding achievement.”
“I was never one to quit a job,” Fine said.
Concluding the celebration, Adams said, “The future needs to be on the people” who build the chassis and water heaters.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) held another successful Trouble Shooter Clinic March 9-13 at Ivy Tech Community College in Elkhart, Ind., continuing 20 consecutive years of providing expert instruction on key RV systems.
The week-long hands-on program was made possible through the support of Industry suppliers Norcold/Thetford, RVP/Suburban Manufacturing, Marshall Gas Controls, Manchester Tank & Equip. Co., Cequent Performance Products, Parallax Power Components LLC, Shurflo, Atwood Mobile Products, Cummins/Onan, Dometic Corp., Dexter Axle Co., RVP/Airxcell, and Equalizer Systems.
The clinic focused on basic electricity, propane theory and safety practices, with each supplier offering in-depth instruction on design, operation, maintenance and trouble shooting procedures for their products and providing units for demonstration and hands-on student work. The intensive workshop courses are designed to give service technicians the latest in diagnostic trouble shooting procedures and increase service proficiency to benefit RV owners, dealers and manufacturers alike.
Immediately following the clinic an RV Service Technician Certification test was given to those seeking to become Certified and Master Certified Technicians. The program is designed to assist RV owners and industry members in identifying those professionals who have demonstrated the knowledge and ability to satisfy established standards in RV diagnostic and repair procedures.
Service technicians came to the Elkhart clinic from numerous locations, traveling from as far away as Nevada, Texas, Florida and Canada to take part in the program.
The clinics will begin again in the fall and are currently scheduled to be held in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Texas and Indiana.
For more information on the program, contact the RVIA at (703) 620-6003 or visit www.rvia.org.