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After surviving the Great Recession by downsizing from 400 employees to fewer than 100, Marathon Coach is firmly back in growth mode.

As reported by the Register Guard, the Coburg, Ore.-based luxury RV manufacturer plans to build at least 20 new RVs this year, nearly twice as many as it made four years ago and after a few years in the depths of the Great Recession when it built just three or four a year. Even 20 vehicles might seem a low volume. But given that these are ultra-luxury items that retail for up to $2 million apiece, each unit takes months to produce.

Marathon employs about 225 people today, 190 at its Coburg plant and 35 at its sales and service centers in Florida and Texas. And it is looking to boost production and hire 75 workers over the next year, from electricians and cabinet-makers to service technicians and office positions.

“Our business is without a doubt the strongest it has been since the recession,” said Steve Schoellhorn, president and owner of Marathon. “The RV market is strong from top to bottom. It’s been a steady increase.”

Privately held Marathon was always the smallest of Lane County’s “big three” RV makers, which, along with Junction City-based Country Coach and Coburg-based Monaco Coach, employed 4,600 Lane County residents in the mid-2000s, when RV sales nationwide were booming.

Battered by the recession and a staggering drop in demand for costly consumer goods such as RVs, the three companies together employed just 500 by 2013. Monaco Coach and Country Coach had spiraled into bankruptcy. Monaco operations were sold or liquidated and moved to the Midwest. Elements of the Country Coach business were eventually purchased by Winnebago Industries Inc., which set up RV production in the former Country Coach factory in Junction City.

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