Wichita, Kan.-based RV Products, a supplier of heaters and air conditioners, will shut down production for six weeks because of economic conditions.
The shutdown affects 161 workers, according to a report in the Wichita Eagle. Their last day will be Friday, and they are scheduled to return to work Jan. 5. They will not be paid during the shutdown but will retain benefits.
Another 45 office and service employees will remain at work.
The company has trimmed 50 employees from its work force since January.
Chief executive Mel Adams cited the credit crunch and the weakening economy for the cuts.
Sales began slowing significantly in the spring, when the cost of gasoline started rising. But sales remained “OK until the credit crisis hit in September and banks tightened lending standards,” Adams said.
“Once that started to unravel, many consumers were no longer qualified,” he said.
At a recent trade show, he ran into an RV dealer who had 10 potential deals but was able to qualify only one for a loan.
Adams said he sees 2009 and 2010 at about the same as 2008. Sales will return to 2007 levels in 2011, he said.
The Eagle reported that local dealers in Wichita tell a mixed story about RV sales.
Ted Kimble, owner of Flint Hills RV, said he’s actually sold more in November than in the same month a year ago.
He hasn’t seen much of the credit problem, in part because local banks continue to lend.
But 2008 overall is down, he said, because high gas prices scared people away during the summer selling peak.
Clayton Craig, sales manager at Lydia Craig RV, said traffic has dropped sharply in recent months.
“Our sales the past three months has been pretty much nonexistent,” he said. “We’re keeping the doors open because of the service department.”
RV Products was founded as a division of Coleman Co. executives, led by Adams, bought the division in 1991. New York private equity firm Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co. bought the company in 2005.