Businesses react to RV Production leaving Wakarusa - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Businesses react to RV Production leaving Wakarusa

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Monaco and Holiday Rambler RV's will no longer be produced in Wakarusa.  Navistar is selling its RV business to Allied Specialty Vehicles, which is moving production to Decatur.  That's potentially 800 jobs on the line.  This also comes a year after Utilimaster announced it was leaving town.

People in Downtown Wakarusa told us this isn't a good thing.  Karen Hundt said, "here we go again."  Hundt has been working at the Shortstop Inn in Wakarusa for years.  She's sad to hear production of Monaco and Holiday Ramblers will be rolling out of town.  "It's so hard for us, that's our lunch crowd," said Hundt.

And she's not just upset about the potential loss of business but also for the employees who have become her friends.  "A lot of those people have been coming in for 20 years...you work all those years in a factory you think you're gonna retire," said Hundt.

Mac McNally, co-owner of the Wakarusa Dime store, also has sympathy for the employees.  "anytime a place closes and people lose jobs it's really not a good situation."  But he doesn't for see much changing for his store.  "As for direct impact on our business I don't think it's gonna have much," said McNally.

There's no doubt thought that things will be changing at the Monaco and Holiday Rambler facility.  Jim Meyer, the Chief Operating Officer of the new owner, Allied Specialty Vehicles, said, "the business as it is out of this manufacturing footprint is just not sustainable."  He said that's why they're moving to Decatur, that's where they already produce two brands of RV's.  "A great day and great future for Monaco and Holiday Rambler the company...it's also a pretty tough day for the employees," said Meyer.

Meyer said about 800 people currently work in the building in Wakarusa.  "We'd love to keep everybody employed either here with a new owner or in one of our other companies," said Meyer.  He said they are planning on selling the facility in Wakarusa to another manufacturer.  McNally remains optimistic about that.  "Change sometimes makes things better."

But Hundt says even with a potential new owner there will be a noticeable transition period.  "It just takes time.  Three, four years." 

A meeting was held Thursday morning with all employees in Wakarusa.  Friday they will start individual meetings to talk specifics about the future.

Allied Specialty Vehicles will continue production in Wakarusa through August but they are winding down production there so they will not be taking any new orders.

 

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