Forest River Inc., already the No. 2 producer of travel trailers and fifth-wheels, is building three new towable RV production plants in Goshen, Ind., which would give the Elkhart, Ind.-based company an additional 250,000 square feet of manufacturing space.
The new facilities are scheduled to open in May and they will be used to build the Salem, Sandpiper, Sierra and Wildwood brands, according to Forest River spokesman Jeff Rowe.
The new factories also will allow Forest River to increase production of its All American Sport, Salem LE and Wildwood LE models in existing facilities, Rowe added.
Forest River founder and President Pete Liegl made good on his promise to return his company to the No. 2 position in the combined travel-trailer/fifth-wheel market in 2002. During the first 10 months of last year, the most current data available, Forest had a 14.3% share of the combined retail market for travel trailers and fifth-wheels, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., an independent market research firm.
That means Forest River passed Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., which had a 13.6% share of the travel trailer/fifth-wheel market in the first 10 months of 2002, Statistical Surveys reported.
After Fleetwood there’s a sharp drop-off to No. 4 Jayco Inc., which had a 6.3% share of the combined travel trailer/fifth-wheel market for the first 10 months of last year, Statistical Surveys reported.
Thor Industries Inc. has been the leader in the travel trailer/fifth-wheel market by a wide margin since its acquisition of Goshen-based Keystone RV Co. in November 2001. Thor, also the parent of Goshen-based Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., had a 28.8% retail market share in travel trailers and fifth-wheels in the first 10 months of last year.
Meanwhile, Forest River has applied to the Indiana Department of Commerce for a grant to pay for half of the estimated $200,000 cost for extended roads and utilities to serve the three new factory buildings.
Forest River also dropped its request for a tax abatement from the city of Goshen. Instead, Goshen officials said they most likely will create a tax incremental financing (TIF) district which, basically, would reimburse Forest River for the higher property taxes the company will pay as a result of improving the property where the new factories are being built.
Goshen officials support Forest River’s request for the creation of a TIF district because the new factories will create 150 and 200 new jobs.