ELKHART — The RV industry in Indiana has been deemed an essential industry and can keep rolling, according to the RV Industry Association, although another round of temporary plant closings was announced Wednesday.
Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home executive order requires all non-essential businesses to send employees home for at least two weeks starting Wednesday. But the RVIA said it received word from the Governor’s Office that RV manufacturers are essential.
“Based on the information RV Industry Association has received from Indiana state officials, RV manufacturing qualifies as an essential business in the state of Indiana under Governor Eric Holcomb’s March 23 Executive Order,” a statement from the RVIA said.
A spokesperson pointed to the manufacturing section of Holcomb’s order, which says that the following businesses are considered essential:
“Manufacturing companies, distributors, and supply chain companies producing and supplying essential products and services in and for industries, such as health care, pharmaceutical, technology, biotechnology, chemicals and sanitization, agriculture, waste pickup and disposal, food and beverage, transportation, energy, steel and steel products, fuel, mining, construction, national defense, communications, and products used by other Essential Business and Operation.”
Though the RV industry is not specifically named, the RVIA said it is essential because of its importance to governments and medical workers who are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“RVs are uniquely able to be used as mobile staging units, testing facilities, command centers, sleeping units, mobile medical clinics, bathroom trailers, laundry facilities, and more. RV dealerships must be able to perform critical maintenance and repairs for consumers who are currently RVing and provide liquified petroleum gas refills for heat and refrigeration. Moreover, there are RV mobile medical clinics already on the road now that may need service,” the RVIA said.
Not all RV manufacturers will stay open. Winnebago announced on Monday, before Holcomb issued the stay-at-home order, that it would suspend production temporarily because of the virus.
After the order became official, Thor, Dometic and Lippert Components also suspended production. Thor president Bob Martin specifically mentioned Holcomb’s stay-at-home order in his reasoning for suspending production.
Lippert said it is suspending production at “select manufacturing facilities across the U.S. and Europe” in order to align production with demand and adhere to federal and state mandates.
“As the impact of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are suspending production at certain manufacturing facilities, with 15 of our sites anticipated to remain open after the end of the week,” president and CEO Jason Lippert said in a release. “We have also implemented a number of actions to ensure we are adhering to guidelines set forth by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We are monitoring the situation closely and are poised to promptly re-start production at closed facilities as soon as OEM and dealer partners see a less restricted consumer environment.”
Lippert did not say whether any of the 15 plants that will remain open after this week are in Indiana.