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The Coachmen Recreational Vehicles Co. subsidiary Coachmen Industries Inc. is expanding its output capacity with an eye on building more diesel Class A motorhomes and lightweight towables, according Claire Skinner, the parent company’s chairman, president and CEO.
CRV recently started production of various towable RV brands in the factory building it acquired earlier this year in Fitzgerald, Ga., and it will begin Class C motorhome production in a new plant in Middlebury, Ind., around July 28, said Mike Terlep, CRV’s president.
In addition to increasing the company’s Class C output capacity by around 50%, the opening of the new 127,000-square-foot factory in Northern Indiana will allow CRV to expand its Class A motorhome production capacity by about 50%, Skinner said in an interview at CRV’s national dealer seminar in Dallas.
The gathering ended Tuesday (July 15).
Currently, CRV builds Class A’s “basically in a plant and a half” in Middlebury, she explained. Once the new Class C plant opens, “We’ll be able to move all the Class C’s into one plant and free up the half plant for additional (Class A) production.
“The result will be one plant for building diesel Class A’s exclusively, and another for building gas Class A’s exclusively.
“But in addition to that, the old minihome (minimotorhome) plant will also be made available for different product lines. We’re still in discussion as to what those products will be, but most likely, it will be the smaller and lighter-weight towable products.”
Concerning CRV’s Class A opportunities, Skinner said, “We see great growth potential in both gas and diesel. For us, with our focus on the new diesel product lines that we’ve been introducing in the last couple of years and the advancements that were made (in the 2004 lineup introduced in Dallas), we really look to have a lot of growth in the diesel category.
“The diesel category now is 44% of total Class A (retail) registrations. Our company, historically, has done very well in the gas product line. We have not been as strong as we could be, and will be, in the diesel product line.”
CRV opened a new diesel Class A assembly plant in Middlebury in 1999 but the company, as was the case with virtually all RV manufacturers, had to lower production rates during the industry’s downturn in 2000 and 2001.
Now, Skinner said, “We’re back on track, really, with what we had intended in terms of really growing in the diesel category.”
In Georgia, CRV’s new plant, which opened last month, allows the company to build all nine of its Coachmen and Shasta lines of travel trailers and fifth-wheels in Fitzgerald. Previously, CRV only had capacity in Georgia to build four of its travel-trailer and fifth-wheels lines.
Currently, the Coachmen Spirit of America and the Shasta Oasis are CRV’s lightest-weight travel-trailer and fifth-wheel models.