When the recession hit, it hit Michiana’s largest industry, the RV industry, hard. RV sales declined, factories closed, and workers lost their jobs. Now, the RV business is back and better than ever.
ABC 57 reported that more than 80% of all RVs in the world are built in Elkhart County, and RV manufacturers in the county make up eight of the 10 largest employers.
At the height of the recession Jayco Inc.’s sales dropped 60%, and they had to lay off more than half of their workers.
“We were dealing with a lot of lives of people who we employed, who we saw every day on the street who we just couldn’t employ. It was hard,” said Derald Bontrager, president and CEO of Jayco.
Thousands of RV workers lost their jobs, and Elkhart County’s unemployment skyrocketed to the highest in the country, a staggering 20.3% in March of 2009.
Barack Obama even made his first stop as president at Concord Middle School in Elkhart for a town hall meeting on how to spark an economic recovery.
Fast forward to today and the RV business is booming. The industry shipped a record 504.599 units in 2017, which is triple the number from 2009.
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