Despite a weather-induced delay in construction, Forest River Inc. should be opening three of its eight new buildings by the end of March at the company’s Goshen, Ind., manufacturing complex.
According to a report in the Elkhart Truth, the remaining five structures should be completed by the end of May.
“It was a mess there for several weeks because it was quite a rainy fall,” said Pete Liegl, president and CEO of Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River.
The construction delay hasn’t translated into a downturn in sales. According to Liegl, for the first five months of the company’s current fiscal year, production is up 26% over the same period the previous year.
“This is an exceptionally good start and I think this year is going to be phenomenally good,” Liegl said.
Along with expanding current production lines, the new buildings also will be used to manufacture two new models. Liegl did not release details about the new products, which will be unveiled sometime in April or May, other than to say one is a motorhome and the other is a towable product.
Although some analysts are predicting another summer of rising fuel prices, Liegl doesn’t foresee that as causing a negative impact on the RV business. Indeed, he expects gas to top $2.50 a gallon.
“Price is not the problem,” he said. “It’s availability.”
If availability becomes a problem, Liegl predicted customers will shift their buying habits but not necessarily stop buying RVs. They would buy camping trailers and small, light-weight towables rather than Class A motorhomes, he said.
Forest River now employs 5,400 workers, according to Liegl. The expansion will add another 700 to 800 workers and hiring will be carried out in two phases.