Since announcing on Monday that it would be hiring 200 workers to staff a 140,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Goshen, Ind., Keystone RV Co. has taken in more than 1,000 job applications.

“We expect to take in 3,000 (applications) before this is all over,” Bob Martin, executive vice president, told RVBUSINESS.COM today (Aug. 19).

Keystone beefed up normal hiring procedures to handle the steady flow of applicants, he explained.

Applicants normally apply in a lobby but now fill entire hallways, with dozens filling in applicaitons at any given time, Martin said.

“The stories you hear are amazing. There still is a lot of need out there,” Martin said, referring to the area’s high unemployment rate which remains near 16%.

Keystone is known to pay near the top of the prevailing wage scale for RV factories, which is yet another reason for the huge response.

Some white collar positions also will be filled.

Keystone will give preference in some cases to former Keystone employees who have been laid off. “We’re going through those first,” he said, “but people will be looked at on merit. We want to make sure we get the right people back.”

The plant will produce “stick and tin” and laminated products that are experiencing high backlog levels, Martin continued. These backlogs, depending upon the brand, can reach 12 weeks or beyond, he said.

“Typically we shut down for two weeks in the summer,” he said. “This year we only shut down some plants for a week and are working six days a week through the summer.”

This rebound in towables began approximately 10 weeks ago, he estimated.

“Some dealers who hadn’t sold units in months picked up instantly,” he said. “Some dealers were caught off guard.”

He said Keystone is “scrambling” to take care of those retailers who have depleted their inventories to near historic low levels

Martin expects to begin production at the plant in October or November and slowly ramp up to meet expected demand when RV shows begin early next year.