Another winter blast stalls Elkhart County RV industry

With windy conditions, drifting snow and frigid five-degree temperatures reminding area residents more of the Alaskan tundra than the flatlands of northern Indiana, many companies involved in the manufacturing and component supply chain of RV production were operating Monday (Jan. 27) on limited hours and some were closed down altogether.

The area’s roads, with travel emergency declarations in place, were dangerous to say the least.

“Our offices are closing at 2 p.m. today,” reported Jim Mac, director of marketing for Keystone RV Co. Inc., headquartered in Goshen, noting that some roads on his way into work this morning were like sheets of ice. “Production plants were closed today and will not be reporting for work tomorrow. Whether the office will be open tomorrow is undecided.”

The picture was similar some 15 miles to the north near the Indiana Toll Road in rural Middlebury at the facilities of Grand Design RV Co. Inc., where a skeleton crew was in place with no production work planned for Monday or Tuesday.

“The weather is horrible,” Grand Design President Don Clark told RVBUSINESS.com. “We’ve had such incredible response to our product in the early shows, it’s disappointing to have this almost record-breaking weather hamper our production efforts.

“That being said, we are not going to put our employees in jeopardy,” said Clark, whose 380-employee company experienced a one-day, weather-related shutdown earlier in January. “All the volume in the world isn’t worth that. So, we’ll try to increase our production to make up for lost days.”

First shift personnel, meanwhile, were at work on Monday at Elkhart supplier MOR/ryde International Inc., but, from what we’re told, only because the snow emergency was declared at about 8:15 a.m. today after production workers at the 500-employee plant had already arrived.

“We are open here until the end of the day,” reported receptionist Kelsey Shrock. “It’s just that our second and third shift people won’t be coming in.”