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Following over a year of jumping through procedural hoops, Country Coach Inc. received the final go-ahead in March for expansion on a 74-acre parcel of farmland adjacent to its Junction City, Ore., complex.
Matt Howard, director of marketing and public relations, said the motorhome builder diligently made its case at the city, county and state levels. In addition to rezoning the property and also extending the city’s “urban growth boundary,” Country Coach had to show its commitment to be a “responsible neighbor.”
“The city was extremely accommodating, but we did have to make sure our immediate neighbors understood that we were going to minimize the impact to them of a larger manufacturing facility,” Howard said. “At the county level, the biggest hurdle was showing the commission that we would be responsible about emissions and be a positive impact on the community. And then we were pleased with the state’s expeditious approval.”
He added, “The whole process was actually pretty interesting. It basically was an audit of our current and future business practices and ultimately was validation that we’re headed in the right direction.”
Howard emphasized that despite the prolonged approval process, the company envisioned a much lengthier period for development of the property.
“Realistically, we’re looking at a 10-year development plan carried out in several phases,” Howard said. “To date I have personally seen at least 12 different variations for the first stage of development. Many details are still being worked out.”
Howard said that one of the options under consideration would be to lease space to RV suppliers.
“We expect our plans to change as we move forward, but it makes sense to bring more suppliers into the area,” Howard said.
In the near term, Howard said Country Coach is intent on adding manufacturing capacity, both to improve overall efficiencies and help accommodate production of two recently introduced motorhomes that “hit new price points” for the high-end builder. He expects the company to break ground on a new facility this year and add 200 workers in the next four months.
“Currently, our facilities cover about 10 city blocks,” Howard said. “It’s very apparent that we need to consolidate and streamline production.
“The first part of the expansion is motivated by our commitment to build a consistently quality product. Increasing capacity is a secondary goal to ensuring constant quality improvement. The new property gives us the ability to expand as market conditions dictate.”
Howard noted that current conditions remained challenging in the motorhome sector.
“Right now, we’re cautiously optimistic,” he said. “The Country Coach brand is very well received with consumers, so we feel confident about the demand for our product. We are also confident about our dealer network’s ability to sell our product.”