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Travel trailer, fifth-wheel and truck camper manufacturer K-Z Inc. broke ground in Shipshewana, Ind., Wednesday (June 9) on a 133,000-square-foot building that will help the company double its production by spring 2005, the Elkhart Truth in Indiana reported.
The new building, K-Z’s third in three years and seventh overall, will allow the company to hire an additional 150 employees by the October completion date, bringing its work force close to 500 and making the 32-year-old firm the largest employer in LaGrange County, Ind.
K-Z ranked No. 8 in retail market share among the builders of travel trailers and fifth-wheels during the first quarter of this year, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., an independent market research firm. K-Z had a 2.7% share of the retail market for travel trailers and fifth-wheels and its dealers sold 31% more of its units during the first three months of this year than during the first quarter of 2003.
In comparison, the combined travel-trailer and fifth-wheel retail market grew by 20% during the first quarter of this year.
“K-Z experienced its best year ever, producing 6,200 units from June 1, 2003, to June 2004,” said Bob Schroeder, sales manager. It started the new production year with a backlog of 1,000-plus units, he added.
Owner-co-founder Daryl Zook praised a loyal dealer body, some of whom have been with the company since its formation in 1972, and a dedicated work force committed to producing a quality product, for the company’s continued success.
Zook and partner Sam King started K-Z in a building north of Middlebury, Ind., and their first product line was pickup campers, sold mostly in the eastern U.S. Over time, the company added travel trailers and fifth-wheels and moved to its present location in 1979.
K-Z now sells its products through 160 dealers in the U.S. and Canada and one in The Netherlands.
“The groundbreaking for Plant 7 is an investment in the future and a commitment to our dealers to get product to them in a timely manner,” Schroeder said. The two lines will turn out 40 units a day.
K-Z markets its travel trailers and fifth-wheels, truck campers and hybrids under the Sportsmen, Frontier, Durango, Coyote and New Vision brands. The firm also recently introduced its new top-of-the-line Escalade fifth-wheel series.
Zook has been sole owner of K-Z since 2002.