The following is a story from a series of four articles in the Elkhart (Ind.) Truth examining the plight of displaced workers since the recession took hold in the northern Indiana manufacturing hub. To view the entire article – a profile of former Monaco Coach worker Ed Neufeldt – and to read the other stories in the series click here.

When he learned four years ago that he’d soon lose his job, it shook Ed Neufeldt’s world.

After all, he had spent 32 years — more than half his life at the time — at the recreational vehicle maker, Monaco Coach Corp. Moreover, the company, a giant in the field, was hardly a fly-by-night operation.

“I was so surprised,” recalled Neufeldt. “We were one of the biggest RV companies and I had thought we would never close the doors.”

Neufeldt, who lives in Wakarusa, was hardly alone. About 1,400 Monaco workers in all were laid off in 2008, among many others in the all-important RV sector here who also got pink slips as industry sales plummeted on the down economy.

Perhaps he would’ve just remained a faceless statistic, one of many here rattled by the economy. But Neufeldt somehow caught the attention of the White House — he put a face on the economic woes faced by many — and ended up introducing President Barack Obama when he visited Elkhart County on Feb. 9, 2009. Unemployment that year spiked to 18% in Elkhart County, about as bad as anywhere in the country, and the president came to discuss his economic stimulus plan, speaking at Concord High School.

To view the entire article click here.