The RV oven shortage, which has frustrated RV manufacturers since November, is not getting any better, according to Carl Pfalzgraf, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Atwood Mobile Products, a major oven supplier.
“It’s not a pretty picture,” Pfalzgraf said today (Jan. 27). “It’s not any better than it was two (or) three weeks ago.”
He said oven valve and thermostat supplier Harper-Wyman is continuing to struggle.
“It’s an absolute mess,” he said.
Because Harper-Wyman, the only supplier of valves and thermostats to the three manufacturers of RV ovens, is unable to supply the industry in the quantities that are needed, Rockford, Ill.-based Atwood is operating its oven assembly plant in Greenbrier, Tenn., on a “day-to-day basis,” Pfalzgraf said. “We schedule our plant (for production) and then the valves don’t show.”
Consequently, Atwood, a unit of DURA Automotive Systems Inc., now is operating its RV oven plant only two or three days a week, which is making it difficult to retain experienced employees, he said.
“This is the 12th to 16th week for this (oven components shortage) and I’m not sure we’ll be better off in two weeks,”
RV builders are feeling the pinch because, in many cases, they have completed units but have delayed shipments to dealers until ovens arrive from the oven suppliers. But now, Pfalzgraf said, order backlogs “are getting huge” and even after Harper-Wyman resolves its problems the oven manufacturers will only be able to build so many per week.
Many of Harper-Wyman’s current problems are related to the move of its production from Princeton, Ill., to near Chattanooga, Tenn., last year. The firm might be close to resolving its move-related quality control problems, Pfalzgraf noted. But even if that occurs, the oven builders and RV manufacturers would still be three to five weeks away from a real change in the current situation.
Harper-Wyman is not producing enough units to meet normal December production schedules for the RV industry. Now the industry’s volume demands are much greater as dealers and manufacturers are starting to gear up for their peak spring sales season, Pfalzgraf said.
In addition to Atwood, the other RV oven manufacturers are Magic Chef and Suburban Manufacturing Co.
To fill their dealer orders and keep their production lines operating, there are RV builders who are installing slide-in, three-burner cook tops with a standard microwave or a more expensive convection microwave oven underneath, as a substitute for a conventional gas RV oven. But in the towable RV sector, many models are not equipped to satisfy the electric power demands of a convection microwave oven, Pfalzgraf said.