Wakarusa, Thor both benefit from move into old Monaco campus
Posted: 06/04/2013 at 11:31 am
By: Justin Leighty
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The former Monaco Coach plant in Wakarusa, seen here Tuesday morning, June 4, 2013, will be the site for expanded operations of two Thor Industries subsidiaries in a few months. Thor President Bob Martin hopes to bring production levels to what they were at Monaco’s height. (Truth photo by Justin Leighty)
Navistar, which had purchased the assets of the defunct Monaco and rebranded it as Navistar RV, announced the sale of the business last month to Allied Specialty Vehicle. ASV quickly announced it plans to move all motorized production out of Wakarusa, leaving workers and the community wondering what comes next. Monday, June 3, Thor announced its plans, answering the question.
“This is awesome. I’m ecstatic. It couldn’t be better for us,” said Troxel, the Wakarusa Town Manager. “It adds stability to the town. We haven’t had stability on that side of town for years.”
Bob Martin, president of Thor, said it’s too early to know how many jobs will be added with the expansion of Thor Motor Coach and Keystone into the old Monaco site. “We’ll have a clearer picture of what our plans are. I know it always, people want to know how it’s going to affect people in jobs, but long term it should be good for the county and the community and we’d like to see it come back to production numbers it was at years ago.”
The move will mean new production for Thor Motor Coach and won’t reduce any of those jobs in Elkhart, he said. “It will be in addition to our plant in Elkhart. The Elkhart workforce will stay the same,” Martin said.
“It’s a great move for the company, With our recent move of corporate to Elkhart we are definitely an Elkhart-based company and this helps expand our footprint in Elkhart County. For our managers it’s not too much further for Elkhart, so it is a good fit. We’re hitting the point that we need capacity and for us we would’ve needed to build a facility, which would take longer. The timing of this worked out great for us, and the size of it … at one time there were three production lines in that facility.”
Martin said he wants Thor Motor Coach to take production in Wakarusa back to what it used to be in Monaco’s heyday. “There will be opportunities for people who are there and even others. As this continues to grow it could be a nice opportunity for many across the county. Overall long term, it may take a little bit of time, it should be a good thing for the county and for sure Wakarusa.”
Wakarusa has seen some ups and downs, between Monaco and Navistar RV problems and the move of Utilimaster. However, Thor’s move into town follows a move of its biggest rival, Forest River, into the Utilimaster campus, and Troxel sees good news with the two RV giants settling into town.
“We get some bad news, but it usually comes out better in the long run,” Troxel said. “We usually come out with a smile on our faces.”