The RV industry’s ongoing growth curve is prompting a wave of expansion projects, and there’s no better example of that positive turn of events than the main Goshen, Ind., campus of Keystone RV Co., where, from all appearances, a building boom is underway.
Not only is the 5,000-employee Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary in the middle of a substantial construction project at its administrative offices “” including a 20,000-square-foot addition and another 20,000-square-foot office remodeling that will double its administrative footprint “” the towable-only manufacturer is also building two new 85,000-square-foot production facilities off Corey Drive on the south end of its Goshen campus.
Upon that project’s completion this spring, Keystone will oversee 42 plants occupying 3.6 million square feet in northern Indiana and, to a lesser extent, Pendleton, Ore.
“We’ve outgrown our headquarters facility,” said Keystone President Jeff Runels. “So, along with all the other plant expansions, we’re going to update our main office facility and accommodate all of the administration personnel, accounting, engineering, bill of materials, sales. Every department’s getting touched, and we’ll have a state-of-the-art facility when it’s all done.”
And there’s no question that the American consumer’s shifting preference for travel trailers “” now accounting for 65% of national shipments “” is a contributing factor in the plant expansion at Keystone as companies from Airstream Inc. to Lance Camper Mfg. Corp. to Grand Design RV Co. and Jayco’s Highland Ridge have also added capacity lately.
Although a majority of Keystone’s annual output still entails fifth-wheels, Keystone CEO Matt Zimmerman said his company’s management has recognized that trailers are “surging” right now and, as a result, has made some internal strategic moves beyond the expansion projects involving the movement of different brands within plants over the past two or three years to accommodate more travel trailer production.
And while trailers currently represent close to 40% of Keystone’s capacity, Zimmerman can foresee the day when these generally more affordable RV lines could reach 50%.
“We purchased about 50 acres a few years back, knowing that we were probably going to need more room to expand at our Goshen campus,” stated Zimmerman. “We love this campus. Our infrastructure is here. We have lamination, warehousing, support facilities, maintenance, customer service all in this campus and it’s crucial to us to continue to expand it. So, when we purchased that 50 acres we knew at some point we would need to utilize it. We probably didn’t realize we’d need to utilize it this quickly.
“So, about a year ago, we started looking for opportunities to get increased production, specifically in our travel trailer segment, especially in stick and tin,” added Zimmerman. “We actually looked at purchasing another facility to get to it a little bit quicker because of the construction timelines. However, we worked closely with some construction partners of ours and accelerated the construction timeline. We broke ground this past fall for two brand new facilities that will be home to Springdale and Hideout (travel trailers), in addition to their existing facilities that are right here on the campus, with scheduled completion dates late spring, early summer.”
The Goshen plant additions, with the 300 new jobs they’ll bring, involved an array of infrastructure upgrades with regard to sewers, water and roads as well as annexation issues. “So, between that site plan and the office expansion among other capital investments that we’re putting into the campus, we’ve got a lot going on right now,” added Zimmerman.