Decatur, Ind.-based motorhome builder REV Recreation Group hosted an open house Saturday (March 4) for its newest facility, a 160,000-square-foot manufacturing complex on the northeast side of Elkhart, Ind., dedicated exclusively to Class C coach production.
The all-motorized RV manufacturer, following a brief pause in Class C production last year, had unveiled a redesigned upscale C-body lineup at last September’s Elkhart RV Open House.
“We came to Elkhart primarily because of its work force,” said Johnny Hernandez, vice president and general manager of Class C’s for REV Recreation Group. “This was a building that previously built buses for Goshen Coach — another division of REV Group Inc., our parent company — that we reconfigured as the ‘ultimate’ Class C plant.
“It’s set up as a lean manufacturing plant,” he told RVBUSINESS.com during the open house. “All material is stored indoors; it comes in through three loading doors and is spread out throughout the plant where it goes right to the units in each phase of construction.
“This will be a high-volume plant,” added Hernandez, whose business unit currently builds two floorplans of the upscale Fleetwood Jamboree and Holiday Rambler Vesta Class C profiles. “We set it up to build approximately 10 per day. Right now, we employ about 50 people and we’ll ramp that up as we increase production. And we will come out with a lower-price point model shortly, then follow that up with a model built on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis in about two months.”
An RV executive with nearly 48 years in the industry under his belt, much of it with Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., Hernandez last served as president of Winnebago Towables in Middlebury, Ind., before joining REV on Jan 2.
In his first public comments since arriving at REV, Hernandez told RVB that he was pleased to have had the opportunity to take a position with REV Group Inc., a manufacturer of motorhomes, ambulances and an array of other commercial vehicles that went public in January.
“Jim Jacobs, president of REV Recreation Group, called me and asked if we could talk,” Hernandez said. “I didn’t know Jim, though obviously I knew Fleetwood after having spent 28 years with the company. Then, two weeks later, he set up a meeting with myself, REV Group CEO Tim Sullivan and Tom Phillips, REV Group’s COO. It was refreshing, because I really felt a commitment to three things I believe in — safety, quality and efficiency, in that order.
“And it wasn’t just talk,” added Hernandez. “To see the commitment REV Recreation Group has made in its service centers — it’s unlike anything else in the industry. They are putting a lot of money into making sure that their customers truly are satisfied with their products.”
Those ideals were front-and-center at the Elkhart facility, both in signage and practice, as Hernandez mentioned in his brief comments to the open house audience of employees and owners of REV Recreation Group products, including Fleetwood, Monaco, Holiday Rambler and American Coach motorhomes.