Keystone RV

Employees at Keystone RV push a Cougar unit down the production line in Goshen in 2019.

ELKHART — Exactly how the coronavirus pandemic will affect Elkhart County’s large RV industry is still unknown, and companies are keeping their cards close as the situation evolves.

“THOR Industries and all of its subsidiaries are proactively taking steps to protect and support our global workforce and the communities where we live and work. To ensure that we are providing the most current guidance to our employees and communities, we constantly monitor updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and other health organizations. In taking these actions, our priorities are to ensure the well-being of our colleagues and our communities,” Thor Industries said in a statement.

But the company would not say whether it will send workers home or how its supply chain is affected. The same goes for Thor’s subsidiaries, which include Keystone RV, Jayco, Dutchmen and a dozen others.

Lippert Components said in a Facebook post this week that the company has no plans to change its production.

“LCI has NO PLANS to disrupt any manufacturing activities unless mandated by the local or federal government,” the post said. “Throughout these trying times, LCI leadership will be in constant contact with our customer partners and keeping them as up to speed as possible.”

Lippert Components would not give interviews. Neither would Dometic or Winnebago, though they did comment through a statement.

“Conditions related to COVID-19 continue to evolve. To this point, Winnebago Industries has taken a number of precautionary steps in light of the situation. Some examples include: only allowing essential visitors to our facilities, the suspension of factory tours, the implementation of social distancing practices to limit group gatherings, and the option for applicable employees to work from home. The Company has also implemented enhanced sanitization protocols that include increased cleaning of common surfaces, hand washing or use of liquid hand sanitizer at the start of each shift, at each break period, and whenever practical.”

RV Industry Association spokesperson Monika Geraci said keeping the industry open is important, especially since some governments are putting in orders for RVs to use as mobile units during the crisis.

“What the industry really is focusing on right now is working with state and federal governments to help in the crisis,” Geraci said. “It is important that the businesses are able to stay open, which obviously keeps people employed in Elkhart in particular.”

The RVIA recently announced the industry’s wholesale shipment numbers for January, showing a strong start to 2020, as the first month of this year surpassed the same month from a year before – a feat rarely accomplished in the last two years. Before the pandemic, 2020 was projected to be about as good a year for the RV industry as 2019.

In order for the coronavirus to have the smallest possible negative effect on the industry, RVIA lobbyists are working with lawmakers to be included in one of the stimulus packages that are expected to come out of Washington, D.C.

“The RV Industry Association’s federal affairs team is talking regularly with our contacts in the Senate and the Administration to provide input and suggestions regarding the inclusion of the RV industry in the proposed stimulus package,” RVIA president Craig Kirby said in a newsletter.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

(7) comments

ImJustSayin456

And, evidently, it's ok for the transport companies to be running all over this united states, draggin back all sorts of germs and viruses! Get ready for this to go on and on and on and on

Joe King

they are not considered essential. They will need to stop picking up RV's tonight at 11:59pm. Report them if they are. Be a barrier and not a carrier.

DingFod

I doubt it... How many dealers are willing to put a delivered RV on its balance sheet that nobody wants now? Not too many I'm guessing...

Marge91

They really think anyone is going to need their RVs when they aren't allowed the leave their houses? Profits over people, for sure. Rv factories have 100+ people a day, working on top of one another just like the other comment said. Instead of taking the 2 weeks, it's going to be 2 months all because some CEOs who dont want to take care of the little guys who make them their money.

Willpr

Money hungry companies in elkhart county is obvious they can careless what happens to the community and their families

NoNameHere26

Have you ever been inside an RV factory? The production employees are basically on top of each other while working. I can assure you that not all RV manufacturers are taking precautions though I can't speak for all of them. It's apparent to me that money is more important than the health of employees. The level of greed that I have seen since this all unfolded is absolutely unreal.

FlyNavy

They are in denial. Profit over responsibility.

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