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Airstream President and CEO Bob Wheeler conducts tour of new manufacturing facility

Airstream Inc. officials on Friday (Nov. 15) hosted the media and local politicians for an exclusive tour of the manufacturer’s $60 million, 723,500-square-foot production facility, which will also house corporate offices and a Heritage Center & Museum to proudly and properly display the iconic company’s 88-year history. (To view a slideshow of the Airstream tour, go to the RVBUSINESS.com Home Page and scroll down to the “Industry Videos” section.)

A subsidiary of Thor Industries Inc., Airstream will be transitioning production of its travel trailer lines from its current 255,000-square-foot facility into the new plant about one mile down the street over a 10-day period during the Christmas break. At the same time, motorhome production will shift from its 60,000-square-foot current complex of buildings — some of which include Quonset huts dating back to 1952 when Airstream settled in Jackson Center, Ohio — into the newly vacated travel trailer plant across the street.

Completion of the corporate offices and 16,000-square-foot Heritage Center & Museum will follow sometime early next year. In addition, the new facility will have complementary onsite healthcare access for associates and their immediate families, an onsite cafeteria serving breakfast and lunch to associates, and an 11,000-square-foot state-of-the-art training center for professional development for employees and dealers.

The project itself — Thor’s largest and most expensive capital expansion project to date — is impressive by any number of perspectives. Of the 50-acre property, almost 16 acres will be under roof, and the production space amounts to some 623,000 square feet alone. The new facility is the 12th building on Airstream’s campus, and more than doubles the combined 613,000 square feet of the 11 previous buildings. Also of note, the new plant will add a third traffic signal to the village of Jackson Center.

“We were really due for a big upgrade in a lot of different ways,” Airstream President & CEO Bob Wheeler told RVBUSINESS.com. “One, when we first designed and proposed this plant to Thor, we were running well behind what the market demand was and we planned the facility accordingly. Now things have cooled off a little since then obviously, but we didn’t build this manufacturing facility with the next eight months or even the next eight years in mind. We’re an 88-year-old company. We knew that we needed to build it with the next 88 years in mind, and we built it accordingly.”

Other project facts:

• The 723,000-square-foot facility, which will also be completely powered by renewable energy credits, will mean that Airstream has 1.05 million square feet of space in its Jackson Center campus.

• By the end of the project it will be close to 200,000-man hours spent on construction.

• There were 19,000 cubic yards of concrete used during construction. It took about 2,000 concrete trucks to deliver it all. That’s 513,000 cubic feet of concrete — enough to fill six Olympic-sized swimming pools or pave more than 3,200 driveways (40 feet long by 12 feet wide). That much concrete weighs 77 million pounds, as much as 13,000 Airstreams travel trailers.

• More than 17,000 gallons of paint was used during construction, enough to paint nearly 1,900 homes.

• The ceilings are about 30 feet high; it’s actually 35 feet to the peak in the center.

• Total volume of the production space is about 19 million cubic feet. If it was filled with Airstream trailers, floor to ceiling and wall to wall, it would hold about 9,600 trailers.

• There are about 15 acres of blacktop outside the building, which is enough to pave a two-lane road for four miles.

• There are more than 120,000 linear feet of pipe (airline, water line, storm line, etc.) in and under the building. If laid end to end, it would extend 23 miles.

• There are 3,300 tons of steel in the building, which is enough steel to produce more than 2,300 cars or 78 million soup cans.