Thor, Forest River Stepping Up in COVID-19 Fight

By: RVBusiness|Published on: Apr 29, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News

Thor Industries Inc. donated 10,000 KN95 masks for use by front-line first responders and in long-term care facilities in Elkhart County, Ind., according to reporting today (April 29) by WSBT-TV, South Bend.

And South Bend’s ABC-57 is reporting other companies – including Forest River Inc., which provided a travel trailer  – are helping Bashor Children’s Home serve at-risk kids throughout the region.

Jen Tobey, Elkhart County Emergency Management director, made the Thor announcement, saying, “That was phenomenal.” She added that while the donation will greatly help, more masks are needed as demand is on the rise. “I am pretty excited about that. We probably could use 20K, but we are gladly taking 10. It puts a very big dent in the (shortage of) supplies that we can offer to our front-line, first responders as well as our long term care facilities,” she said.

Elkhart, Ind.-based Thor Industries Inc., through its subsidiaries, is the world’s largest manufacturer of recreational vehicles.

Bashor Children’s Home in Elkhart County has been a residential, educational and preventative service provider for at-risk children for the past 97 years. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the state tasked them with creating an isolation zone where kids could live if they or their families contracted the illness, without spreading the illness to others on campus. They say they were able to make the necessary changes within days all because the community immediately answered to help.

“We reached out to the community which has been so generous and gracious to us “said Director of Development, Steve Riikonen “People were making masks, donating face shields, making gowns for the staff to wear. We also reached out to Forrest River who loaned us a travel trailer because the one thing our campus didn’t have was a shower for the kids.”

Since Bashor is considered an essential business – with 70 kids already living on campus plus many staff members – a safe, clean quarantine space was an immediate need. The facility couldn’t just shut down due to the pandemic. “We have 70 kids to look after. We can’t just say everyone is going home and working from home” said Riikonen “We still have to show up everyday.” He said the generosity of Elkhart County businesses “stands the test of time. They respond to the need of the community. They are so very generous and so willing to help out where ever they can.”

Click here for the WSBT story.

Click here for the ABC-57 report.

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/thor-forest-river-stepping-up-in-covid-19-fight/

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REV Group to Ramp Up Production Next Two Weeks

By: RVBusiness|Published on: Apr 27, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News|

Specialty vehicle manufacturer REV Group announced today (April 27) it plans to resume operations at its recreation vehicle facilities that manufacturers the American Coach, Fleetwood RV, Holiday Rambler, Lance Camper, Midwest Automotive Designs and Renegade RV brands.

Normal production at the four plants, located in Indiana and California, was suspended March 23. Midwest Automotive Designs started production the week of April 20, and Renegade RV began Monday, April 27. Production of American Coach, Fleetwood RV and Holiday Rambler motorhomes is scheduled to begin Monday, May 4. Lance Camper, located in Lancaster, Calif., has a tentative restart date of Monday, May 18.

“The recreation supply chain is starting to open up again with several key suppliers returning to work this week,” stated Ian Walsh, chief operating officer, REV Group. “Our plan is to slowly ramp up production over the coming weeks, while also protecting the safety of our employees, at a cadence that is in line with material supply and customer demand across these recreation brands and facilities.”

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Dometic Donates Mask Straps to Healthcare Workers

By: RVBusiness|Published on: Apr 23, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News|

During this unprecedented time of COVID-19, many companies have been an aid in gathering materials and making masks for heath care professionals to use; Dometic is doing their part as well, the company announced today (April 23).

Two Dometic engineers have been using this time to create mask straps on 3D printers. The idea came from a student who sent a request for help creating these mask straps that help relieve pressure from behind the ears when wearing them all day.

Clayton Meyers, an engineer at Dometic’s Elkhart, Ind., Verdant office has been able to produce about 300 mask straps so far. A portion of the masks have gone to a local school system as they have been providing free lunches to students. The rest of the masks are intended for local hospitals and nursing homes.

Bill Rimel, an engineer located at one of Dometic’s manufacturing sites in Big Prairie, Ohio, has also been making mask straps, which have also gone to area hospitals and nursing homes.

”We want to do as much as we can to support our healthcare and essential workers during this unprecedented period,” says Scott Nelson, president of Dometic Americas. ”Our Engineers have been dedicating their time and talent for producing these mask straps. They have been able to utilize the resources that Dometic has available and provide relief from the current shortage of masks.”

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/dometic-donates-mask-straps-to-healthcare-workers/

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RV/MH Hall of Fame Seeking Class of ’21 Nominations

By: RVBusiness|Published on: Apr 21, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News|

With much of the country locked down during the COVID-19 pandemic, RV/MH Hall of Fame President Darryl Searer is urging members of the RV and manufactured housing (MH) industries to consider using this time to nominate someone for induction into the RV/MH Hall of Fame Class of 2021.

“Most members of the two industries know someone who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and this downtime would be an excellent opportunity to nominate that person. When the industries get back to work, you may be too busy to think about it so I’m hoping those considering nominating someone that they should start working on their nomination,” Searer said. “Even though the deadline for nomination is still months away (Oct. 31), it’s really not too early to start the process of nominating a deserving individual, so I urge those who are considering a nominee to download the guidelines and forms, so their nominee can be considered for the Class of 2021.”

The nomination guidelines and forms available online at www.rvmhhalloffame.org/pages/nominations.cfm.

According to the guidelines, anyone can nominate a person to the Hall of Fame that meets the eligibility requirements. To be eligible, the nominee must be, or have been, an active participant in any segment of the RV, MH or campground industries for a minimum of 25 years. Canadians can also be nominated. The only people who may not be considered are those who currently serve on the Hall’s Selection Committee.

Also, the nomination form must be filled out in its entirety and must be accompanied by three supporting letters (no more, no less) that meet the Hall’s guidelines for these letters. Incomplete nominations cannot be considered. When evaluating a potential nominee, the selection committee will consider the nominee’s overall contributions to the good of the industry, to include both his or her positions, accomplishments, and innovations on the job as well as volunteer work both inside and outside the industry, with special emphasis on volunteer work done on behalf of state and national associations and owner groups, the Hall of Fame itself and other industry-related organizations and causes.

If a completed nomination form and three properly-prepared seconding letters are received by Oct. 31 of any year, the nominee will be in the pool of candidates considered for the following year’s class and for four years beyond that if not selected that year. If the nominee is not selected within five years, he or she remains eligible only if the nomination is resubmitted and refreshed with additional information.

The Hall’s Selection Committee will announce its selections in January 2022 and those chosen will be inducted at the Hall’s annual Induction dinner in August. The Hall’s bylaws allow for up to 10 inductees per year.

“The Hall welcomes nominations from all RV and manufactured housing sectors – manufacturers, dealers, campgrounds, housing communities, suppliers, user groups, trade media, associations, etc. – for the class of 2021 and beyond,” Searer said,.

The nominating committee is especially interested in receiving nominations for deserving early pioneers who may have been forgotten, passed over or overlooked in the past.

“The Selection Committee is made up of an equal number of members of the RV and manufactured housing industries, and members will only vote on nominees from their respective industries,” Searer said.

Once the nomination form and supporting letters have been completed, the nominations may be submitted by mail, in person at the Hall, or by fax at 574-293-3466.

Nominating Committee
RV/MH Hall of Fame
21565 Executive Parkway
Elkhart Indiana 46514
800-378-8694
574-293-2344
574-293-3466 (Fax)
e-mail: rvmhhall@aol.com
www.rvmhhalloffame.org/pages/nominations.cfm

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/rv-mh-hall-of-fame-seeking-class-of-21-nominations/

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Bill and Kristin Fenech Donate 10,000 N95 Masks

By: RVBusiness|Published on: Apr 15, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News|

The COVID-19 Community Response Fund, created by United Way of Elkhart & LaGrange Counties and the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, has received a gift of 10,000 N95 respirator face masks, donated by Bill and Kristin Fenech, according to reporting in the Goshen News.

Bill Fenech is a former Thor Industries Inc. executive and co-founder of Grand Design RV. He currently serves as president and co-owner of Barletta Boat Company LLC, a pontoon boat manufacturer located in Bristol, Ind.

The protective face masks will be distributed to Elkhart General Hospital, Goshen Health and local nursing homes to protect health care workers from contracting and spreading the novel coronavirus, United Way officials state in a news release. Demand for the masks is outpacing supply nationwide.

Representatives from both Beacon Health System and Goshen Health indicated they welcome the gift of masks, which are essential items of personal protective equipment to help fight the spread of COVID-19. United Way and the Community Foundation began distributing masks Tuesday in accordance with the donors’ request.

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/bill-and-kristin-fenech-donate-10000-n95-masks/

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$3M in fiber projects part of $7M plan, RDC hears

By JORDAN FOUTS jfouts@elkharttruth.com

Apr 11, 2020

GOSHEN — The Elkhart County Redevelopment Commission has approved $3 million in funding to install nearly 40 miles of fiber optics around Elkhart city.

Board members voted to appropriate $3 million and $10,000 from two special taxing districts toward the installation of backup fiber lines, in preparation for putting the two projects out for bids. The work is part of an estimated $7 million worth of installations planned for the Elkhart area in the next few years.

They authorized the money Thursday during a meeting held over videoconferencing. Their share of the money comes from two tax increment finance districts that border the city.

Natasha Kauffmann, redevelopment program coordinator, said they were asked to contribute funding toward one part of the larger, long-term fiber goals held by the county. The plan prioritizes public and commercial users but will eventually reach residential customers.

She remarked on the sense of urgency behind the fiber builds.

“These are projects that are, because of the way that the fiber team is focusing their work, they’re trying to get as much built in the next two, possibly three years, as possible,” Kauffmann said. “So these aren’t amounts that they’ll be asking for us in the next four or five years – they’re asking for our help now, up-front, because they’re trying to get as much infrastructure built now, as we’re really seeing a need for digital connectivity in these times.”

She said one project area is the Middlebury Street industrial area off C.R. 17, estimated to cost about $1.5 million. The other is a redundancy build connecting the county’s Northeast Corridor and Northwest Gateway TIFs, estimated at just over $1.5 million.

“And that helps to not only connect between the two TIFs, but it allows so that there’s a redundancy loop for the overall system going through,” she said of the second project. “It will also allow, over time, for the county to have more users of the county dark fiber over time in that area. This is a county asset being built within the area of Elkhart City and overlapping with areas of county jurisdiction.”

Elkhart County has been expanding its fiber network in recent months while also developing the infrastructure needed to manage it. That includes writing new policies for companies that lease strands of fiber and hiring staff to oversee daily operations.

Ben Miller, who was hired as dark fiber consultant for the county, said they’re preparing to deliver monthly reports to show things like the number of subscribers, usage, growth and revenue.

He noted that about 38 miles of fiber will be installed between the two projects that the RDC was asked to help fund.

That includes 20 miles going along S.R. 19, from Jeanwood Drive in the north to just past Mishawaka Road in the south, with a loop at California Road and Bypass Road. Another 18 miles will go into the Middlebury Street and C.R. 17 industrial area.

He explained how the build-out will benefit some City of Elkhart and county facilities, as well as making it possible for more users to connect in the future.

“We have a lot of customers that have approached us, potential users that want to use dark fiber directly, that are on the commercial side. There are some new internet service providers who want to start providing service in those areas, and they have asked us as well,” he said. “We also are rolling out a plan for small businesses now, not just the medium to large commercial customers.”

Source: https://www.elkharttruth.com/hometown/3m-in-fiber-projects-part-of-7m-plan-rdc-hears/article_fb162eda-e356-5e14-aa6b-6ff88a948ee1.html

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NextLevel Jobs: Employer Training Grant Update 3.19.2020

Effective March 19, 2020, the Department of Workforce Development is delaying the NextLevel Jobs: Employer Training grant until July.  They will continue to process reimbursements to employers completing training and will extend “Active” funding obligation agreements from nine to twelve months when applicable. 

On a case-by-case basis they will process current employer applicants in “Pending” status but will no longer accept new employer applicants.  DWD remains excited to move into NLJ 4.0 this summer and hope to do so in advance of July 1st

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South Bend-Elkhart earns Talent Region designation

Area recognized for efforts to attract, develop and connect talent.

– TRUTH STAFF | Jan 17, 2020

SOUTH BEND — The South Bend-Elkhart Region has been named a 21st Century Talent Region by Indiana Secretary of Career Connections and Talent Blair Milo.

The designation is given to Indiana communities focused on working collaboratively to attract, develop and connect talent, the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnerhship said.

“The South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership has been instrumental in driving innovation across northern Indiana, partnering with local, regional and state leaders through various education and workforce development opportunities such as the Regional Cities initiative,” Milo said. “As a 21st Century Talent Region, the South Bend-Elkhart Region continues to build upon these partnerships to further connect the cities and towns of Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph counties, working to create a more talent-driven region.”

The Office of Career Connections and Talent, with support from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and technical assistance from CivicLab, launched the 21st Century Talent Region initiative to encourage local governments, businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits, and economic and workforce development partners to create and implement plans to increase educational attainment, raise household income and grow the population in a region.

Through a comprehensive approach, these regions should be able to improve quality of place, upskill their workforce and connect Hoosiers with businesses seeking to fill high-wage jobs.

Regina Emberton, president and CEO of the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership, accepted the award Friday on behalf of the partnership that spans Elkhart, St. Joseph and Marshall counties. 

“The South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership seeks to unify and collaborate so that together, the communities across the region work together to achieve what cannot be done individually,” Emberton said. “The tools and resources provided through the 21st Century Talent Region designation process have been instrumental in creating a common framework and set of metrics for use as we implement our talent attraction, development and connection strategies.”

According to a news release, the 21st Century Talent Region initiative builds on the momentum created by the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative, which dedicated $126 million in matching funds to three regions in order to advance long-term plans focused on talent attraction and quality of place investments. The funds support 65 projects, leveraging $1.22 billion in additional co-investment from other public and private sources.

Spearheaded by the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership, the region identified key priorities through the 21st Century Talent Region initiative, including:

  • Establish a digital Center for Work-Based Learning through the development and launch of a Regional Innovation Asset Portal in support of regional industry advancement, entrepreneurship and talent development initiatives.
  • Grow student and adult career coaching through Career Pathway initiatives.
  • Launch a regional brand and implement talent retention and attraction marketing strategy.
  • Adopt a diversity, equity, and inclusion focus with the intention of narrowing the opportunity gap for disadvantaged and/or minority populations that have been historically underserved across the region.

Source: https://www.elkharttruth.com/hometown/elkhart_county/south-bend-elkhart-earns-talent-region-designation/article_14bb4500-c399-58c6-9128-1656f36c4038.html

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RV Industry Forging Ahead Despite Some Headwinds

By: Rick Kessler | September 9, 2019

While declining wholesale shipments have apparently
triggered a firestorm from Wall Street analysts, RV Industry Association (RVIA)
officials are quick to point out that the past couple of years, when filtered
through a historical context, represent some of the industry’s best on record.

The bottom line: The sky is hardly falling. In fact, data
supports the notion that dealers have successfully been selling excess
inventory and the industry is about to see the line graph intersection of
retail demand vs. production rates.

Scott Stropkai, president of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based
Statistical Surveys Inc. (SSI), the RV industry’s leading provider of market
data, offered, “While wholesale shipments are a good barometer, the real health
of the RV industry is determined by retail sales. If consumers are still buying
units at historical high levels, which they are, then wholesale shipments will
follow.

Furthermore, while retail sales are down 9.14% through July
of this year officials said 2019 still presents a robust market as Stropkai
noted, “So far, 2019 is the third best year in recorded history for retail
sales of RVs,” adding that, “2018 was the best year ever, so are comparisons
this year are versus the strongest market in history so we need to put that in
context when looking at this year’s numbers.”

According to SSI’s latest report, retail has outpaced wholesale by 49,943 units YTD through July, indicating inventories are declining. As a comparison, last year through July retail outpaced wholesale by 16,427.

“August and September are typically months where retail
outpaces wholesale while the last quarter of the year are inventory build
months as dealers prepare for the following year,” Stropkai related.

As far as wholesale shipments, the industry is expected to
total 401,200 units in 2019, off 17.1% from 2018, according to independent RV
industry analyst Richard Curtin, director of Surveys of Consumers at the University
of Michigan. However, the rate of decline will ease substantially in 2020 with
RV shipments projected to be down 3.5% at 387,400 units.

This forecast comes after the industry topped 504,000
wholesale shipments in 2017, the culmination of an unprecedented period of
growth following the 165,000 units in 2009 during the Great Recession.

“So are we at 504,600 units right now? No — but that is an
all-time record high. But just because you’re seeing a little bit of a retreat
on that all-time high over the last couple of years, that doesn’t mean we’re on
our way to 160,000,” said RVIA Senior Director of Research Bill Baker.

Baker pointed out that even if 2019 finishes with the
predicted 401,200 wholesale shipments, it’s still the fourth best year on
record. Likewise, the projected 387,000 units in 2020 would represent the sixth
best year on record. And both figures, he added, would dwarf the 30-year
average of 294,700 units, the 20-year average of 331,200 units, and the 10-year
average of 332,200 units.

Baker pointed out that even if 2019 finishes with the
predicted 401,200 wholesale shipments, it’s still the fourth best year on
record. Likewise, the projected 387,000 units in 2020 would represent the sixth
best year on record. And both figures, he added, would dwarf the 30-year
average of 294,700 units, the 20-year average of 331,200 units, and the 10-year
average of 332,200 units.

“So, is the market falling from an all-time high? Yes, it
is. But, put in context, it’s still good a market in any comparable record when
historically looking at wholesale shipments,” Baker told RVBUSINESS.com.

“As you look at the life cycle of the industry over the last
30 years,” he continued, “it’s just one of those periods where you’re going to
see shipments received from a high, find a new level for a few years and then
start heading back up. ‘An expected cyclical reset’ would be a good way to term
it, and that’s sort of the big picture of where the market stands now.”

He added that while there is a bit of turbulence — tariffs
and domestic political uncertainty being two of them — all economic indicators
remain favorable.

“In the grand scheme of things, the overall economy is still
healthy. It’s still expanding. It’s still growing. Consumer spending is really
strong right now and inflation rates is not an issue — and it’s anticipated the
Fed will continue to keep an eye on that to keep the economy on a growth path,”
Baker said.

“And then if you look in the long-term picture,” he
continued, “you’ve got Millennials that have shown they have a great interest
in RV travel and camping. They’re the biggest segment of the workforce now and
they’re just now entering their ‘family-building, RV-buying’ type of years. The
Boomers still have a tremendous impact on the market, and Generation X — which
is a pretty big demographic — are buying RVs, too.

“You have three generations buying RVs now, so from a long-term
perspective — and with all that RVIA and RVDA does to help promote the market
and promote ownership through Go RVing — we still have a very bullish outlook
for the next decade and beyond.”

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/rv-industry-forging-ahead-despite-some-headwinds/

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