The RV oven shortage situation is improving week-by-week, but it appears the problem will continue to hamper RV production until April – possibly late April – according to two significant travel trailer/fifth-wheel producers.
Jayco Inc. Marketing Director Sid Johnson and SunnyBrook RV Inc. Chairman and President Elvie Frey said gas RV ovens are arriving in greater numbers, but not fast enough to make much progress inserting the ovens into the hundreds of units their companies have completed.
They believe the oven supply situation will continue to improve as oven components supplier Harper-Wyman resolves its problems and RV oven manufacturer Atwood Mobile Products begins to ship larger numbers of units made without Harper-Wyman components.
Frey believes SunnyBrook’s oven supply situation might become adequate around April 1, while Johnson estimates Jayco’s will normalize in mid- to late April.
Currently, Jayco has about 600 units parked outside of its factories around Middlebury, Ind., that were completed except for ovens, and the company had earlier shipped large numbers of units to its dealers without ovens, Johnson said.
“It’s been a major annoyance,” he said. “But dealers and customers have been surprisingly patient and understanding.”
Now, Jayco is receiving enough ovens from Atwood, its oven supplier, to build 500 units per week and keep its factories operating five days a week, although output rates have been reduced slightly, Johnson said.
Once Jayco starts receiving enough ovens to finish the units on its production line, it will send ovens to its dealers who have received units that were finished. Jayco redesigned many of its models so its dealers’ service technicians could install the ovens at a rate of 15 minutes per trailer, Johnson said.
SunnyBrook, also in Middlebury, is operating its factory this week on a three-day schedule for the second consecutive week, Frey said.
SunnyBrook has an inventory of 400 units, 200 in its factory yard and 200 at its dealers, that are finished except for ovens, Frey said.
SunnyBrook did not substitute slide-in cook tops for traditional gas ovens, as did many other manufacturers, because most its retail buyers are experienced RVers who believe a trailer without a gas oven would have an inadequate trade-in value, Frey noted.
Once ovens are in adequate supply, SunnyBrook will send employees to its dealers to install ovens in the trailers that were shipped without them. Most of the 200 units without ovens are at four Midwest dealers, he said.
Because the retail market is strong, both SunnyBrook and Jayco, most likely, will work their production people overtime once they have enough ovens.
“This sounds like industry spin, but we’re buried in orders,” Johnson said, adding that Jayco’s workers might work nine-hour days and some Saturdays once ovens are in ample supply.
The oven shortage has had a bigger impact on travel-trailer and fifth-wheel manufacturers because those two towable RV product types accounted for two-thirds of all RVs shipped from factories to dealers in 2003, according to Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) data.
In addition to building travel trailers and fifth-wheels, Jayco also is a significant producer of Class C motorhomes and folding campers.