Signs of slowdown in RV industry after Keystone RV Company announces plant closures

Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 4:45 PM EDT
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GOSHEN, Ind. (WNDU) - There are growing signs that the red-hot RV market appears to be cooling off.

Those signs include two planned plant closings.

“Yeah, everything was going really well, and it seemed like, all the sudden, it just, we dropped in units, and, but it was still enough to keep us, keep us going and everything,” Keystone RV Company Plant 41 worker Robert Davis told 16 News Now. “But then, just all the sudden, it came to a halt.”

On Sept. 23, Keystone RV Company plans to close Goshen plants 41 and 705, eliminating 334 jobs from production to plant management, from quality control to receiving.

When asked if company officials explained why, Davis said, “The high fuel prices, and the dealers don’t want to buy, buy the units that that we’re producing. So, I guess a lot of them is just sitting. And so, with the fuel prices the way that they are, we no longer have orders.”

While Keystone is walking the walk, Winnebago Industries is talking the talk.

During a June earnings call, Winnebago President, and CEO Michael Happe warned of persistent macroeconomic headwinds, including fluctuations in interest rates, gas prices, inflation, and consumer sentiment.

Winnebago expects retail RV sales to likely fall 17 percent this year compared to last. The company will ensure that its shipments are aligned with those sales. The company has identified days or weeks “we will be taking off, or down.”

The RV Industry Association has revised its forecast for wholesale shipments, predicting an 8.4 percent drop in 2022 compared to 2021, although shipments hit a record high last year.

The latest statistics show Elkhart County’s unemployment rate in May was 1.8 percent and not all the economic news there is bad. Barletta Pontoon Boats, a Winnebago subsidiary, announced plans on Tuesday to build a new 180,000 square foot production facility on its Bristol campus. The expansion is expected to create 200 new jobs.

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