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Jayco Inc. executives admit they were caught by surprise by the sharp increase in wholesale demand early this year, so they have increased production 45% and more will follow, company President and COO Derald Bontrager told the 1,200 attendees at Jayco’s international dealer meeting.
“I can tell you without denial that it (the industry upturn) caught us off guard — and I am sure many of you (dealers) were caught flat-footed as well,” Bontrager said Monday night (July 15) in South Bend, Ind. “Our low inventory, in combination with low inventories on your lots certainly played a major role in the overall availability of product for our customers.”
Jayco responded by hiring 120 more production workers and “we immediately went to more hours, including overtime and Saturdays,” Bontrager said. “We opened up our last two buildings that had been vacant, by moving existing production lines from smaller, less efficient facilities to the new lines for increased output.”
Jayco now is averaging 400 units a week, up from 275 units a week at the beginning of the upturn, he said.
After having excess plant capacity for a few years, now Jayco needs more space, Bontrager said. Jayco, currently, is expanding its lamination, metal fabrication, sewing and wiring harness operations and the company is “making plans to open yet another towable production line in Middlebury (Ind.), and re-opening our Lagrange (Ind.) production facility. Our goal is to have all this additional capacity in place and operational before the first of this year.”
Additionally, Jayco will combine its two folding camper production lines into one to “allow us to start a new, high-volume production line in that space manufacturing towable products,” Bontrager said. “We expect this line to be up and running sometime in October.”