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Fleetwood Travel Trailers of Texas is relocating operations back to its former manufacturing site in Longview.
The News-Journal, Longview, reported that production is set to begin on Nov. 13, and the current plant is up for sale.
General Manager Al Snyder said although it’s a smaller facility – 100,000 square feet versus 300,000 square feet – levels of production and employment will be maintained while having an operation that will be more manageable and save money.
Fleetwood has 325 employees in Longview, Snyder said. That is slightly below employment levels at the plant before a contractor for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) hired Fleetwood to make Emergency Living Units (ELUs) for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The local plant employed about 650 people when it produced 1,899 ELUs between September 2005 and April. During that time the plant also produced 4,022 of its typical travel trailers.
Fleetwood, which has had a presence in Longview since 1971, considered moving the plant out of Longview in 1997. The Longview Economic Development Corp. got involved, and instead the company moved and expanded its operation in Longview.
The current plant has consistently produced about 1,000 units a quarter during the past four years. The building, though, has the capacity for 2,500 a quarter.
“We don’t need that much,” said Snyder, who has overseen the facility since May, noting that portions of the plant were unused after management reduced the number of production lines from three to one.
He said that after the move, the company will still have the ability to expand by hiring more employees or working more than one shift.