ELKHART — In a surprise move, Monaco RV shut down its Elkhart manufacturing operation on Monday, Feb. 10, a company spokeswoman confirmed.
The plant had produced the R-Vision and Holiday Rambler towable recreational vehicle models, said Melissa Schober, office manager at Orlando, Fla.-based Allied Specialty Vehicles.
"There is no change to our other motorized RV business, which is growing and profitable, including American Coach, Fleetwood RV, Holiday Rambler and Monaco," Schober said, referring to products that are made elsewhere. "We will continue to honor our warranty obligations for our towable products."
ASV closed the 2700 S. Nappanee St. plant, costing 85 full-time workers their jobs, because it sold the business to an unnamed buyer, according to a Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification, or WARN, notice that ASV sent the city of Elkhart on Monday, said Barkely Garrett, manager of the city's economic development department. Those employees will receive two months' severance pay on Feb. 28, the notice said.
"We're disappointed any time any of our employers shuts down operations," Garrett said. "We'll do the best we can to encourage (the buyer) to keep those jobs here in town."
WARN notices typically do not include figures counting part-time and temporary workers.
ASV in May 2013 bought the Monaco assets from Navistar International Corp., which acquired them from Monaco's bankruptcy in 2009. In May, ASV's chief operating officer, Jim Meyer, told The Elkhart Truth that the company would move Monaco's Wakarusa production operation to ASV's Decatur, Ind. site, and would invite Wakarusa's 520 employees to apply for jobs in Decatur. But Meyer then said the Elkhart operation would not be affected.
Schober said she could not comment on the apparent change of plans regarding the Elkhart operation. She also declined to say how many jobs the Elkhart closure affects. Schober directed a reporter to Meyer's secretary. He did not return a call Monday seeking comment.
Sherm Hansen, advancement director with the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County, said ASV had not contacted his office about the closure.
"I'm really shocked," Hansen said. "This kind of blindsides us."
Hansen said the EDC will try to contact ASV and learn whether it can offer any incentives to keep the operation in the Elkhart area. The EDC did just that in 2011 when Utilimaster agreed to move its manufacturing plant from Wakarusa to Bristol, rather than out of the county, saving about 1,000 jobs.