WAKARUSA — The announcement of the purchase of Wakarusa’s Livin’ Lite RV sits well with Jeff Troxel, the town’s manager.
“I think it’s great, I really do. I talked with Scott (Tuttle, founder of Livin’ Lite). He’s excited about this,” Troxel said Wednesday, Aug. 28, the day after Elkhart-based Thor Industries made the announcement.
“I think it’s a win-win,” Troxel said. Between Forest River’s purchase of the Utilimaster campus, Thor’s purchase of Livin’ Lite and the old Monaco campus, the addition of a downtown gun shop and a downtown refurbishing business, plus growth in two other local businesses, “things are good around here,” Troxel said.
The RV industry continues to see significant growth, and Livin’ Lite fits in with what Thor’s Bob Martin described earlier this month as the company’s growth strategy.
Livin’ Lite focuses on lighter models that can help serve as entry models, a key niche for Thor’s overall recreational vehicle strategy.
“People focus on the baby boomers, but we’re seeing generation X, generation Y coming in, and we build the entry level products that they can afford. We’re focused on the whole spectrum, because we build everything from the entry level trailer to a $300,000 motorhome,” Martin said.
“Once they join the Thor family, we want the experience to be good so they can continue on.”
Thor’s deep pockets can help companies move to the next level. “We have different acquisitions, mergers, things going on at all times,” he said.
Though Thor wasn’t interested in the Monaco and Holiday Rambler brands, Martin’s glad the company was able to buy the campus on Wakarusa’s south side from Allied Specialty Vehicles, the company which picked up the brands and moved motorhome production to Decatur.
“The Wakarusa expansion, there aren’t as many motorhome companies to buy, so we’ve had organic growth there. We needed production space. That was the answer. The one building is over 600,000 square feet. We can get one to two lines in there quickly,” Martin said.
They also plan to utilize the paint shop to help Keystone, Thor’s largest single brand. “Keystone alone produces over 200 units a day,” Martin said.
While the biggest growth lately has been in the motorized market, “We’re still feeling energy on the towable side. There’s still room for growth there,” Martin said.