An expanded presence: Thor expanding in three cities, adding 400 jobs

Thor Industries corporate headquarters, located at 601 E. Beardsley Ave. in Elkhart Tuesday, July 18, 2017.

ELKHART — The world's largest recreational vehicle manufacturer, and the area's largest employer, is once again investing in Elkhart County, creating up to 400 additional jobs. 

Thor Motor Coach, a subsidiary of Thor Industries, is expanding operations in Wakarusa, Bristol and Elkhart by the end of 2017 in an effort to boost production capacity and expand the overall footprint of their facilities across the county. 

n The company purchased a building in Wakarusa that will allow them to expand the production of class C motorhomes. A new lamination operation will also be housed at the plant, with six lamination lines that will further support motorhome production at multiple facilities, according to a press release. 

n Thor is completing an addition to their class C campus in Bristol to support the production of its Quantum motorhome line. 

n A "major" addition to a class A motorhome plant in Elkhart will enable Thor to have a second production line for some of its highest volume, most in-demand class A motorhomes. 

Company officials were unavailable to comment on the locations of each plant. In all, the company is adding over a half-million square feet of workspace, bringing the total amount of workspace in the county to 2.3 millon square feet, spread across 300 acres. 

"We are expanding our manufacturing footprint to meet the strong consumer demand for our products," said Jeff Kime, president of Thor Motor Coach. "These significant expansion projects will allow us to serve our dealer network with improved delivery times."

Thor said it expects to start production at the added facilities late this summer. 

The company is currently looking to hire 400 additional employees due to the expansion efforts. Thor already employees over 7,500 employees in the county, as of late 2016 that was over 7 percent of the county's total workforce. 

A job fair is planned for July 27 at the Thor Motor Coach plant located at the corner of S.R. 19 and Hively Avenue in Elkhart.

THOR TECHNOLOGY UPGRADES

Along with the expansion plans, Thor has also introduced a new initiative that is aimed at making sure their RV dealers can quickly and efficiently order parts online. 

Called QuickPick, the system will feature: 

n Images for all 2016-2018 model year parts, with expansion to previous models over the next 12 months

n Quick keyword search capabilities

n Common sub-parts set up for each component

n Coach-specific items, such as decals, baggage doors, windows and fascia kits will be easily accessible

n Dedicated staff in place to perpetually update and ensure catalog accuracy

n Live and video recorded training sessions to streamline the ordering process

Thor will also be shipping commonly ordered parts in stock within 24 hours, including same day shipments if ordered before 2 p.m., eastern time. 

“We want our dealers to have all the information for parts ordering at their fingertips, and when they do order, we want them completely satisfied with the service and accuracy of the parts they receive," said Andrew VanSchoick, assistant vice-president of operations at Thor Motor Coach. "We want to provide our dealer body with an enhanced parts ordering system that is made to fit.”

Follow Ben Quiggle on Twitter @BenQuiggle

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