Thor taking over Wakarusa RV complex being vacated by Navistar
Posted: 06/03/2013 at 4:44 pm
By: Justin Leighty
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Thor, seen here participating in a trade show in Louisville, Ky., is expanding its RV production to a complex in Wakarusa, Ind., it was announced Monday, June 3, 2013. (Photo Supplied)
Bob Martin, president and chief operating officer of Thor, said, “This purchase marks an important step forward in the growth of our RV business. With this new production complex, we will be better positioned to achieve our long-term strategic growth initiatives. Even more compelling, this purchase will allow us to expand capacity faster and at a lower cost than other options. We are excited about the future prospects of reinvigorating the Wakarusa facilities.”
They’re taking over nearly 1 million square feet on more than 150 acres, including dozens of RV paint booths.
Thor will roll out motorized production to help Thor Motor Coach meet demand, and they’ll also vertically integrate paint operations through Keystone. They will have options to use additional space for more production, according to Thor’s announcement.
Thor will finalize transition planning when Allied Specialty Vehicles, which purchased the Navistar RV business from Navistar, moves out this summer.
Jeff Kime, president of Thor Motor Coach, said, “We are pleased to add the Wakarusa facilities to our existing motorhome campus in Elkhart, as this significant increase in capacity will help us continue our rapid growth. We have been looking at a variety of options to meet the surging demand in the motorized RV market and purchasing the Wakarusa facility was an ideal solution to expand our motorhome production. In addition, it will enhance our ability to provide our outstanding dealer network with greater and more innovative products in the future.”
Keystone President Matt Zimmerman said, “The addition of 35 paint booths will ease some of the capacity constraints we are feeling with our current outside suppliers and provide ample opportunities to grow our business, particularly in higher-end fifth wheels. The ability to provide enhanced full-body paint on our product offerings should help us maintain and build on our industry-leading position in the towable market.”
The move makes the second time in six months that a RV powerhouse jumped at the chance to fill vacant production space in Wakarusa.
Thor’s biggest rival, Forest River, is taking over the Utilimaster campus on the east end of Wakarusa as Utilimaster moves to its new Bristol facility.
Both RV giants are trying to keep up with production booms as the industry continues surging ahead. According to numbers released Monday by the RV Industry Association, RV shipments saw 13.3 percent growth for the first four months of this year, and the industry is expected to keep growing for the next two years.
The industry has seen double-digit games in travel trailers, class A motorhomes and class C motorhomes this year, according to the RVIA.