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Randy Graber, Highland Ridge president, cuts the ribbon at the plant with the help of Derald (to his right) and Wilbur Bontrager of Highland Ridge parent company Jayco as they’re surrounded by Shipshewana, LaGrange County and Indiana officials

Randy Graber, Highland Ridge president, cuts the ribbon at the plant with the help of Derald (to his right) and Wilbur Bontrager of Highland Ridge parent company Jayco as they’re surrounded by Shipshewana, LaGrange County and Indiana officials

Nine years to the month after Randy Graber founded Open Range RV, he officially cut the ribbon this morning (Sept. 19) at its main campus in Shipshewana, Ind., to dedicate the newest plant for the company – now operating as Highland Ridge RV following its acquisition by Jayco Inc.

The 92,000-square-foot facility will be used for building the Open Range Light travel trailers and fifth-wheels and the Open Range Ultra Light line of travel trailers. “We’ll be able to double our capacity. We’ve got plenty of room to grow,” Graber said.

Production will move out of a much smaller leased facility south of town, and the subsidiary of Thor Industries-owned Jayco will add 65 new jobs to the division in the next couple of years. Graber officially cut the ribbon at the plant with the help of Jayco’s Wilbur and Derald Bontrager and a large number of Shipshewana, LaGrange County and Indiana officials on hand for the event.

Derald Bontrager told the attendees, “I think this investment represents our confidence in the industry. It’s the longest consecutive run of growth in the industry since we started tracking in the 1970s.”

The RV industry as a whole is attracting a lot of younger first-time buyers, Bontrager said, and Graber noted Highland Ridge is shifting to meet those new customers with its light products that attract first-time buyers. “We’ve been focused on Baby Boomers for so long, and now we’ve got to focus on Millennials,” Graber said.

Coming out of strong shows in Hershey, Pa., last week — despite what Graber described as a poor location in that show — and in Springfield, Mo., over the weekend, Highland Ridge personnel are looking for a strong Elkhart RV Open House showing this week. Highland Ridge’s lines will be exhibited with the other Jayco Industries companies in a large display area at the entrance to the RV/MH Hall of Fame.