In an effort to better position the company for the post-recession era, Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. is restructuring its product lines to focus on volume sales.
The Goshen, Ind.-based Thor division also is taking applications for 50 additional production employees.
”Over the last several months, we’ve been making internal changes within our structure to be able to support increased volume,” said Don Clark, a former Keystone RV Co. executive who stepped into the Dutchmen presidency in April.
”We’ve been repositioning and focusing on our core brands to be able to continue growing our brands in the market place,” added Clark. ”We are confident that we will be able to support higher volume and better support our dealers with their increased demands.”
With the addition of 50 workers, Dutchmen will employ approximately 600 people, down by about half from its peak employment before the national recession struck. The company continues to operate manufacturing facilities in Goshen and Middlebury, Ind., and also Burley, Idaho.
The announcement was issued today (Aug. 26) at Dutchmen’s Goshen headquarters, where the additional employees will work.
In its product realignment, Dutchmen’s towable brands will be trimmed as the company focuses on its Grand Junction, Colorado, Denali, Aerolite, Kodiak, Dutchmen and Four Winds fifth-wheel and travel trailer brands.
Clark said Dutchmen’s product lineup had become too cumbersome. ”At one point, Dutchmen had 24 brands,” he said. ”That is too many in today’s environment. We are paring that down to less than half of that.”
Dutchmen RV will introduce some of its redesigned products at the upcoming Pennsylvania RV Show in Hershey, Pa. Sept. 14-20.
”We also will have entries into the mid-profile laminated fifth-wheel and moderately priced laminated travel trailers,” said Clark. ”We’ll have an economy mid-profile fifth-wheel that will include bedroom slides, and also an economy laminated travel trailer, and then we will be very strong in our entry-level stick-and-tin products.
”We also are going to focus on the ultra-lightweight business. Their growth continues to increase. We have a plan to attack that on a couple of different fronts.”
Clark said that Dutchmen, with more than 600 dealers in North America, is reorganizing as the national economy — and RV industry — begins to recover.
”The economy seems like it is starting to rebound a little bit, and we as a company intend to get a bigger piece of the pie,” Clark said. ”There’s been a thinning of the herd, if you will, which nobody wanted to go through. But thinning the herd isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”
Clark said the industry’s current economic slump has made Dutchmen a smarter company overall. ”If you don’t get smarter, you don’t survive,” Clark said. ”You learn what best practices really are, and you learn to operate more lean and cut waste. Dutchmen will be a much better product and a much better company coming out of this recession.”