Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC has begun the first phase of an aggressive hiring initiative at its headquarters in Elkhart, Ind., as management announced today (Nov. 17) the addition of more than 400 workers by the end of the first quarter in 2010.
The builder, which launched production in 2004, said the expansion was mandated by a spike in unit sales – particularly during the fourth quarter – that has produced a healthy backlog in dealer orders. Heartland said it is in the process of hiring around 200 production workers and projects another 200 will be added by March of next year, bringing the company’s total work force to 1,200 employees.
“We’re looking for a big year in 2010 and Heartland is already preparing by beefing up our production work force,” said Brian Brady, president and CEO of privately-held Heartland.
Brady noted that another key for Heartland to successfully keep pace with demand was applying a “flexible assembly model” that allowed similar models to run down the same production lines.
“Similar products running down the same assembly lines gives Heartland the ability to ‘accordion’ our production in response to current demand,” he said, adding that the company’s sprawling complex on the north side of Elkhart has grown to include over a half-million square feet of manufacturing space. “We believe that production model gives Heartland a sustainable advantage over our competition. Production capacity has not, and will not, present a problem for Heartland and our dealers as we grow sales.”
Brady said that as part of the hiring initiative, Heartland also addressed an increase in volume for its customer service, parts and warranty operations with the addition of 13 workers in October.
The hiring phase comes as the builder readies for the 47th Annual National RV Trade Show, hosted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Dec. 1-3 in Louisville, Ky. In addition to displaying its full line of travel trailer and fifth-wheel products, the company will unveil five all-new brands at the trade-only show, upping its total to 15 separate brands. Product debuts at Louisville, four of which sport Heartland’s new high-gloss, platinum fiberglass exteriors, include:
- MPG teardrop travel trailer: The MPG represents Heartland’s first entry in the popular lightweight, teardrop market.
- Cyclone HD: The fifth-wheel is the latest addition to Heartland’s strong-selling line of Cyclone toy haulers.
- Caliber: The brand offers a full-featured travel trailer in the growing ultra-lightweight fiberglass travel trailer sector.
- Greystone: The Greystone lineup hits a new price point for Heartland in the popular mid-profile fifth-wheel market.
- Focus: An entry-level, lightweight laminated travel trailer line with five 7 1/2-wide floorplans and three hybrid tent-end models.
In addition to the all-new lines, Heartland has “revamped nearly every brand with over 30 industry-first features and innovations,” according to Coley Brady, director of fifth-wheel sales.
“Heartland has never slowed when it comes to R&D, even when the market was down,” he said. “That’s why we have been able to grow so quickly in just 5 1/2 years.”
According to the latest report from Statistical Surveys Inc., Heartland rapidly established itself in the fifth-wheel market with incremental jumps in market share, and ranked No. 3 among fifth-wheel builders in terms of retail sales through August. In May 2008, the company entered the high-volume travel trailer market with its ultra-lightweight North Trail line and has continued to gain ground in that sector with several new offerings.
“We are focused on being a full-line towable manufacturer,” said Coley Brady, “and we are starting to see the same type of gains in the travel trailer market that we saw after we came into the marketplace as a fifth-wheel builder. I think dealers are recognizing that we are one of the fastest growing RV companies, and they are also recognizing the reasons why we have had so much success.”