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Making things out of wood from Oregon’s vast forests remains Lane County’s chief occupation. But building recreation vehicles is catching up fast as about a third of the jobs added to the local economy during the last two years have been related to manufacturing transportation equipment, according to the Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.
Lane County is headquarters to high-end motorhome manufacturers Country Coach Inc., Junction City, as well as Coburg-based Monaco Coach Corp. and Marathon Coach Inc.
Since spring 2003, the RV industry has accounted for about 800 new jobs out of some 2,300 positions added to the local economy.
“That’s pretty substantial for any single industry,” said Brian Rooney, a labor economist with the Oregon Employment Department.
In a broad ranging story on the local RV companies, the newspaper reported that Monaco shut down production for two weeks – instead of one – over the the winter holiday and has scheduled several no-production days in January and February to adjust for a decline in shipments.
However, according to spokesman Craig Wanichek, Monaco expects in 2005 to outpace the industry. Economist Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan, a consultant for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, has projected a decline of about 3% in shipments for the coming year.
Country Coach, meanwhile, is preparing to add production capacity and hire 67 new employees – mostly in production – in May. “We aren’t feeling the pinch that Monaco is feeling,” said representative Carol Taylor Clay.
Marathon, according to President Steve Schoelhorn, expects to increase production by at least 15% in 2005 and is planning to build 72 or more high-end motorhomes – up from 62 from last year – and hire 30 or 40 new employees by the end of the 2005.
The Register-Guard reported that area RV dealers also are expecting a strong year.