Grand Island, Neb.-based Chief Industries Inc. announced Monday (Jan. 29) that its King of the Road subsidiary in nearby York would close immediately.
According to TV station KOLN/KGIN, the fifth-wheel and diesel pusher plant employs 53 people. A call by RV Business magazine to the King of the Road facility confirmed the closing.
The parent company said half of those 53 workers will be employed at other Chief operations.
The corporation cited the high cost of energy and consolidation in the RV industry as reasons for the closure. Chief said workers will complete units currently on line while winding down operations.
King of the Road was founded by Chief Industries in 1983 in Russell, Kan. – the home of former presidential candidate Bob Dole – as a manufacturer of low-end travel trailers.
Over the years, the company moved into the high-end fifth-wheel market and in 1990 discontinued travel trailer production. It currently markets fifth-wheels under the Crown Marquis, Royalite and Royal Villa brand names.
King of the Road entered the Class A motorhome market in 2004 with the 40-foot, $300,000 Genesis diesel pusher.
In October 2000, to expand its manufacturing capacity and be closer to its diversified parent company, King of the Road moved from Russell to York, 220 miles to the north.
In 2002, King of the Road introduced the patent-pending “SlideDeck,” a $2,300 optional retractable porch for fifth-wheels.
With products meant to appeal to full-time RVers, King of the Road in 2004 had 36 dealers, most of which were in the Sunbelt states of Florida, Texas and Arizona.
Because of its location so far from the RV production centers in Indiana and the West Coast, King of the Road manufactured its own fifth-wheel chassis, fiberglass sidewalls and front and rear caps.
Chief Industries, founded in 1954 as a residential construction company, has more than a dozen divisions manufacturing products as diverse as steel buildings, intermodal trailer chassis, railcar accessories, manufactured homes, ethanol and wastewater treatment systems.