Australia’s graying and increasingly nomadic Baby Boomers are helping bail out Australia’s struggling automotive industry by fueling sales of recreational vehicles, according to the The Australian.
As Aussie car makers pull back on production and parts makers migrate offshore in the face of cheaper Asian imports, RV and van camper maker Jayco is growing, investing $35 million in a major expansion of its manufacturing operation at Dandenong, southeast of Melbourne. The Australian firm is a sister company to longtime U.S. RV builder Jayco Inc., Middlebury, Ind.
The Australian market for RVs has jumped by a staggering 50% in the past 10 years to be now worth about $600 million annually.
The threat of terrorism overseas is only further boosting demand as retirees dump plans for an ocean cruise or European holiday in favor of exploring their own backyard.
And dirt tracks are no longer a barrier for the intrepid grandparents with most fold-down camper trailers compatible with off-road four-wheel-drives.
“Every time a bomb goes off we tend to see it reflected in our sales,” Jayco Managing Director Gerry Ryan told The Australian.
Ryan founded Jayco 30 years ago in a cow shed near Dandenong, initially making fold-down camping trailers. The business is now a $200 million-a-year operation employing 600 people.
Eighteen months ago, Jayco diversified into making van campers and mobile homes, importing Fiat Ducatos and Ford Transit vans from Europe for conversion at its Victorian facilities.
With the market growing, Jayco is aiming to expand its total production of RVs from 8,000 a year to 10,000. Accordingly, it is building additional manufacturing space near its existing operations. It is part of a development that will also include Jayco’s new headquarters as well as parklands and wetlands.
Industrial space is also being developed for other manufacturers, including Jayco’s parts suppliers.
The Jayco expansion will create 150 new permanent jobs, including 25 apprenticeships and traineeships.