It appears the shortage of RV oven thermostats and valves will continue until the end of this month, according to Art Klee, marketing director at Suburban Manufacturing Co., one of the three RV oven suppliers in the country.
On Wednesday (Jan. 7), executives from Suburban, located in Dayton, Tenn., visited Harper-Wyman, the sole supplier of RV oven thermostats and values. Harper-Wyman moved its factory from Princeton, Ill., to near Chattanooga, Tenn., last year but it has experienced production and quality-control problems since making the move.
Harper-Wyman officials hoped to reach an adequate production rate by now, but Klee said, “That didn’t happen. They are still struggling. They feel the pipeline will start flowing at a full rate by late January.”
However, because Harper-Wyman has missed its targets in the past, Klee said, that could happen again.
Harper-Wyman currently is shipping components to Suburban and the other two RV oven manufacturers, Atwood and Magic Chef, but at a rate that is below the current level of demand from RV builders. Consequently, Klee estimates that the oven manufacturers are about two weeks behind in their shipments to the RV builders.
To fill their dealer orders and keep their production lines operating, there are RV builders who are installing slide-in, three-burner cook tops with a standard microwave or a more expensive convection microwave oven underneath, as a substitute for a conventional RV oven. Consequently, the impact on industrywide RV shipments for the months of November, December and January is difficult to measure at this time, Klee explained.