RV industry brings 400 new jobs to Elkhart County

By: Kevin Lewis Email
By: Kevin Lewis Email

After making headlines for having the highest U.S. unemployment rate, Elkhart County is now being praised for just the opposite.

This week the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics deemed Elkhart County the number one place nationwide for increasing employment at 6.2 percent.

Compare that to Indiana at 1.9 percent, the national average of 1.3 percent and St. Joseph County, Ind. at .7 percent.

"I think the optimism helped. We said, ‘yes we're going to get out of this, the manufacturing is going to come back and we're going to lead the way.’ Now finally we're getting news reports that others recognize that as well,” said Kyle Hannon of the Greater Elkhart Chamber.

On Tuesday, furniture manufacturer Wieland Designs announced plans to add 120 jobs to its Goshen workforce.

On Wednesday, sister RV companies Lippert Components and Kinro said they too are growing, by 380 positions.

"We went from building 30 doors a day to today we're building 700 entry doors a day,” said Steve Jenkins, Director of Manufacturing.

In fact Lippert and Kinro have seen increased orders for nearly every item they make, including ones they didn't use to.

"We produced our first awning this week and by this time next year, I want to produce 1,000 awnings a day,” Jenkins added.

Extra work means there's a need for extra labor, 360 full-time positions at Lippert and another 20 at Kinro, all to be filled by early 2012. Combined, the near 400 new jobs will pay out more than 11 million dollars annually in salaries.

"I love coming to work everyday. It's very exciting time for us to be in Elkhart County compared to where we were two years ago,” Jenkins concluded.

Lippert Components plans to have its first 50 positions filled by the end of the month. If you'd like to apply, stop by its Goshen facility located at 2703 College Avenue.

Although insiders are remaining tight-lipped with the details, plans for more local jobs will be announced at Goshen’s city council meeting on Tuesday Oct. 18.

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