Jim Schoenfeldt, the human resources manager for Forest River Inc.’s travel trailer manufacturing plant in Dallas, Ore., said his job — at least one facet of it — was easier in 2013.
“Typically in the winter months, we are slowing down. People are being laid off,” Schoenfeldt said during a factory walk-through in late December. “There is always that ‘black Friday’ where 25 people on a list have to come see me, which is unfortunate. But not this year.”
The Polk County Itemizer Observer reported that the factory has been increasing production for a year now, to the point where 12 travel trailers are being built each day. With plans to increase production to 18 trailers by April, the factory will add to its work force this winter instead of reducing it — an estimated 50 to 70 positions.
The result? A bustling factory floor, so loud people have to shout to one another to communicate. That is music to the ears of Paul Eskritt, the plant’s general manager.
When he took over in November 2012, the plant was in crisis. It had lost money — millions of dollars in five years — since 2008. Orders, and therefore shifts, had been inconsistent and there were no back orders to fill. He needed sales and needed them soon. He made a last-minute sales push at a recreational vehicle show in Louisville, Ky.
“We wrote 10 to 12 weeks (worth) of orders and the plant has never looked back,” Eskritt said.
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