> SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! 

The RV market appears much improved in April as consumer confidence is rising as a result of U.S. military success in Iraq, according to Dan Shea, co-president of Gulf Stream Coach Inc., Nappanee, Ind.
“We’ve seen a tremendous surge in (dealer) orders the last two weeks and we think people (consumers) will be buying RVs in April,” said Dan Shea, president of the company’s travel trailer and fifth-wheels assembly operations. “Dealers are saying (lot) traffic and sales are up tremendously since April.”
The improved market conditions in April come after a strong first quarter for Gulf Stream, according to Dan Shea and his brother, Brian, the other co-president of Gulf Stream and president of its motorhome operations.
Gulf Stream’s motorhome wholesale shipments were up 52% and its towable RV deliveries to dealers were up 44% during the first three months of this year, the brothers reported.
As a result, Gulf Stream has expanded some facilities is adding to its workforce.
During 2002, in terms of retail market share as compiled by Statistical Surveys Inc., Gulf Stream climbed to No. 4, from No. 6, in Class C motorhomes and the company added 10,000 square feet of space during January to its Class C assembly plant in nearby Goshen, Ind., Brian Shea said.
Gulf Stream’s motorhome operations, which include Class A motorhome assembly facilities in Nappanee, worked some four-day weeks in February, but the plants operated on five days a week schedules most recently, Brian Shea said.
“Our dealer attitudes are pretty good, the only negative has been bad weather in the Northeast,” Brian Shea said. “We’ve not been able to supply our dealers as much as they wanted.”
The company currently is interviewing job applicants and might expand its motorhome assembly workforce to around 450 people, from the current level of 350 to 400, Brian Shea added.
Gulf Stream also opened a new lamination facility to supply its towables assembly operations along with four new travel trailer and fifth-wheel assembly lines, Dan Shea said. As a result, Gulf Stream will hire 60 to 80 more people this month to work in the towables department and it might hire more people in May and June “depending on demand, which now looks pretty good,” Dan Shea said.