ELKHART — Thor Industries announced Tuesday, Feb. 18, that it has bought the Elkhart plant recently closed by Monaco RV and will begin producing motorhomes there.
The Elkhart-based company's Thor Motor Coach subsidiary said it will use the 220,000 square feet of space at 2700 S. Nappanee St. to meet continued strong demand for its motorhomes.
Area economic development officials said they were surprised Feb. 10 to learn that Orlando, Fla.-based Allied Specialty Vehicles, which bought Monaco last year, was closing the Nappanee Street plant because the towable RVs it made there were not profitable.
Thor spokesman Jeff Tryka said the company did not yet know when it will start production in the plant but it will be before July 31, the end of Thor's fiscal year.
Tryka said he wasn't sure how much the plant will need to be modified.
"The good news is that facility used to produce Roadmaster (motorized) chassis for Monaco ... it's a big plant."
The acquisition follows Thor's purchase last year of Monaco's Wakarusa plant.
"We are pleased to once again have the opportunity to expand our motorized operations in Elkhart County," Thor President and CEO Bob Martin said in a statement. "We view this expansion as an important step to meet both our immediate production needs and long-term strategic goals for our motorized business."
About 85 full-time Monaco workers reported for work the morning of Feb. 10 to learn they had lost their jobs. It was unclear whether those workers might find employment at the new Thor plant. Tryka said those workers won't have any more of an advantage in the hiring process than anyone else would, besides being immediately available to start work if they are still jobless.
"We'll interview them but there's no guarantees," Tryka said. "There's a lot of commonality in the skill sets required (for towable RVs and motorized RVs) but we're going to be looking for people who can handle motorized production. Everything starts new from a clean slate."
Thor announced Feb. 4 that its sales of motorized RVs had increased 44 percent to $339.3 million for the first six months of its fiscal year that began in September.