Dutchmen Manufacturing, a subsidiary of Thor Industries Inc., broke ground today (May 30) on of a new headquarters office building, marking the beginning of phase II of an expansion program.
Earlier this year, Dutchmen broke ground on a 98,000-square-foot manufacturing plant on the south side of Goshen, Ind. The 18,000-square-foot office building is on the same parcel as the new plant, which is nearing completion and is scheduled to go into production in mid-July, according to Steve Paul, vice president of sales.
The office building is scheduled for occupancy in late October, according to Dutchmen President Rich Florea.
The new Dutchmen facilities are in the same industrial area in Goshen where its sister company, Keystone RV, has built its headquarters and several new factories in recent years.
The growth of Dutchmen and Keystone is the main reason why Thor is the retail market-share leader in the combined travel-trailer/fifth-wheel category by a wide margin, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. data. During the first three months of this year, units built by Thor subsidiaries accounted for 29.6% of all travel trailers and fifth-wheels sold in the period.
That means the combined sales of all Thor subsidiaries were slightly more than double the travel-trailer and fifth-wheel retail sales of the No. 2 producer, Forest River Inc., which had a 14.7% market share during the first quarter, according to Statistical Surveys.
If RV market conditions follow the expected trend, then Dutchmen will be able to bring its new factory up to full capacity soon after the facility opens in July, Paul said.
Unlike many RV companies that cut production schedules earlier this year, Dutchmen has operated on five-day work weeks all of this year and it currently has no unsold inventory, Paul added.
Dutchmen experienced a one-week slowdown in dealer orders during the first week of the war in Iraq, when the outcome of the conflict was uncertain, Paul said. But volume quickly returned to more normal levels and, in the past week, Paul said, Dutchmen’s order backlogs “started to go up again.”
The new factory will be used to build Dutchmen’s Colorado series of laminated travel trailers and fifth-wheels, which will allow the company to build more of its Dutchmen and Four Winds laminated towables at its other factories, Paul said.
Additionally, Dutchmen completed a 35,000-square-foot expansion of its Aerolite plant in Syracuse, Ind., last month, said Joe Hosinski, Dutchmen’s marketing manager.