Is the Indiana RV industry prepared for another downturn? After Elkhart County was hit hard by the great recession in 2008, some major shakeups within the stock market this week raise that question.
ABC 57 reported that the great recession of 2008 rocked the recreational vehicle industry and the Elkhart County community, where 80% of all RVs are built.
Thousands of industry workers lost their jobs and Elkhart County’s unemployment skyrocketed up to 20%.
“I used to have a full head of hair before 2008, so it had an impact on my life. It was devastating for the community,” said President and CEO of Grand Design RV Don Clark. The company, based out of Middlebury, was not around in 2008, but now it is listed as the fastest growing company ever in the history of the RV industry as it employs over 1,700 people.
“It was the perfect storm. In my 38 of experience in the industry, I had never really went through such as dramatic effect, economic effect on our industry,” said Clark. “When ’08 came, some companies didn’t make it, some dealers RV dealers didn’t make it. Some manufacturers were weakened and didn’t survive.”
But Clark says the recession made the industry stronger by teaching valuable lessons.
“Number one, don’t overproduce. Don’t build too hot too long. It’s important that manufactures build responsibly and match the demand for the product.”
The industry bounced back setting records a few years later.
But on Wednesday (Aug. 14), the Dow dropped 800 points after the bond market flashed a warning sign about a possible recession for the first time in over a decade.
Clark says he’s not afraid of the talk of recessionary times.
“I do think our industry is prepared for an adjustment. An adjustment does not have to be a recessionary period of time; it’s just a rightsizing of the retail market,” he explained.
In fact, he is confident that there are more signs of good times ahead than bad.
“Consumer confidence had a tick up in July. Fuel is still at an affordable rate. Interest rates are inline, the sales of light trucks and SUV’s which is very important to our industry are strong,” he said.
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