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Thor excited about move to former Monaco plant

The plan by Thor Industries to expand two of its subsidiaries to Wakarusa is good news for the company and good news for the town.
Justin Leighty
Posted on June 4, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on June 4, 2013 at 11:27 a.m.

WAKARUSA – When Jeff Troxel picked up his printed copy of The Elkhart Truth Tuesday morning, June 4, he got some very exciting news: Thor Industries is taking over the beleaguered campus that used to house Monaco Coach on Wakarusa’s south side.

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.”

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