Friday, October 24, 2014


Dale Newcomer, CDR Construction, drills holes in the concrete floor of the new Lippert Components plant in Goshen Friday March 28, 2014. Lippert Components is moving into the old Cequent plant on College Ave and hopes to be operating by July 2014. (J. TYLER KLASSEN)

This undated photo shows the exterior of the former Cequent Performance Products factory in Goshen that is being taken over by Lippert Components. (Larry Tebo/The Elkhart Truth, File)

Lance Branam, drills holes to mount a steel beam into the floor in the old Cequent plant in Goshen Friday March 28, 2914. Lippert Components hopes to be working in the building by July 2014. Branam works for Hershberger Steel. (J. TYLER KLASSEN)

A part of the old Cequent plant in Goshen photographed Friday March 28, 2014 before cleaning and outfitting for production. Lippert Components has moved into the building and is getting it ready for production. (J. TYLER KLASSEN)

Chad Hershberger (left) waits on a towmotor as Brandon Wolfinger finishes fastening a steel pillar in place in the new Lippert Components building in Goshen. Lippert Components moved into the old Cequent building and hopes to be in production by July of 2014. Hershberher and Wolfinger both work for Hershberger Steel. (J. TYLER KLASSEN)

Denise Kruger paints a pillar in the new Lippert Components plant in Goshen Friday March 28, 2014. Kruger works for Lippert Components . Lippert Components moved into the old Cequent plant on College Avenue and hopes to be in production by July 2014. (J. TYLER KLASSEN)

The main production area of the College Avenue Lippert Components plant is shown in this Friday March 28, 2014 photograph. Lippert Components has moved into the old Cequent building on College Avenue in Goshen. (J. TYLER KLASSEN)

Kelly Reynolds, Lippert Components, applies dry wall mud in a room Friday March 28, 2014. The room will be part of the human resources department for Lippert Components in Goshen. (J. TYLER KLASSEN)

Lippert Components vice president Jeff Few talks on the phone Friday March 28, 2014, in a room that will be the kitchen and bathroom showroom when it is finished. Lippert Components has moved into the old Cequent building on College Avenue. Few is vice president of automation and manufacturing systems. (J. TYLER KLASSEN)

Denise Kruger moves a scissors lift around the Lippert Components building in Goshen Friday March 28, 2014. The wall behind Kruger shows the new paint scheme Lippert Components has for the area behind the production area. Lippert Components has moved into the old Cequent build and is hoping to begin production in the building by July 2014. (J. TYLER KLASSEN)
Lippert moving into vacant former Cequent plant
Posted on March 28, 2014 at 12:08 p.m. | Updated on March 28, 2014 at 5:10 p.m.

GOSHEN — An Elkhart-based recreational vehicle supplier is breathing new life into the Goshen facility vacated last year by Cequent Performance Products.

Lippert Components Inc. is consolidating its "interiors" division, which makes mattresses and furniture for the RV industry, into the 366,000-square-foot building at 2600 College Ave. that Cequent vacated last year when the company moved local operations to Mexico, said Jarod Lippert, Lippert's marketing and media manager.

The new building will be known as "Plant 50." Furniture and mattress production will be moved from two of Lippert's existing Goshen facilities: Plant 50, 3325 Hackberry Drive, and Plant 54, 2475 E. Kercher Drive.

"Our interiors division hit $100 million in sales last year, so it's an incredibly fast-growing division of ours," Lippert said. "We'll have everything under one roof for the first time. We can set things up the way we need to set things up."

The move will not affect the size of Lippert's workforce. The mattress line now shares Plant 54 with Lippert's steel fabrication division, so moving out mattress production will create room for future steel fabrication expansion, should the company decide that's needed later, Lippert said

"It's improving efficiency, helping improve quality, having everything under one roof, introducing more automation and lean production," he said. "It should help the bottom line. That's the goal."

Since LCI is owned by Drew Industries, a publicly traded company, Lippert stressed that his reference to efficiency improvements ultimately helping the company's profits is a "forward-thinking statement."

Lippert declined to say how much it's spending to renovate the former Cequent building, or how many people will work in the interiors division. The company has sandblasted the floors, which were very dirty from Cequent's heavy welding and steel operation, and repainted about one-fifth of the plant.

"We're making a considerable investment into the building to bring it up to a world-class furniture operation. It will be a showcase building when we're done. It will be a beautiful plant in about 60 days."

Mark Brinson, community development director for the city of Goshen, praised Lippert for continuing to expand into existing buildings.

“A lot of times what you see is companies wanting to build anew because they want a facility that was designed for their use,” Brinson said. “Lippert has shown they know how to get creative and make existing buildings function for their business.”

“We’ve been fortunate in Goshen to have good, solid demand for buildings, but this was one of our concerns because it’s very large. There are not many companies big enough to come in and quickly make use of buildings that size.”

Cequent's decision to move the trailer hitch maker's 450 Goshen jobs to Mexico didn't go down easily with its labor union, the United Steel Workers International, which tried unsuccessfully to block the move in federal court.