Packing furniture, cabinetry and millwork into a small-scale home on wheels, recreational vehicle manufacturers face booming sales, and the need to expand. They are just like regular home builders, except they also produce and install the beds and the rest of the furniture.
Thor Industries, parent of Airstream and other brands, is benefiting from the market uptick, driven by low gasoline prices, the strong economy, and the crest of retiring baby boomers who are among key buying segments. Product lines include travel trailers, fifth wheels, specialty trailers, and Class A, B and C motor homes - all of which have some sort of cabinetry, furniture and millwork built in.
Among the most luxurious models is the Airstream Land Yacht, designed by engineers of Airstream and the famed Riva boat designer Mauro Micheli from the studio of Officinia Italiana Design. Modeled after Italian luxury watercraft, it features elegant curved cabinetry and sumptuous padded surfaces with detail-stitching.
Thor, which says it has 35 percent market share (it's biggest competitor is Forest River with 36 percent and Jayco with 14 percent) will hire 120 people at its Jackson Center, Ohio manufacturing operation, according to the Dayton Business Journal.
The company currently employs 630 there, and has been increasing production over the past year from 50 trailers per week to 75.
Thor Motor Coach managers say CNC routing allows the motor home company to develop products "that fit together better," with protoype components moving into production in a week or less.
Thor Motor Coach managers say CNC routing allows the motor home company
We can make the systems on the fly with the CNC router and we can have it in production in a week or less," says Chris Carter, product manager at Thor Motor Coach. The company operates a C.R. Onsrud Pro series CNC in Elkhart, IN.
Darrell Weaver, CNC department production manager, says, "We make intricate, detail parts such as kitchen cabinets, counter tops, and other production parts." The company needed to pick up production for three additional plants, with the CNC capacity supporting a total five plants.
Wood components and other hardware and materials for recreational vehicles are a hot spot for wood manufacturing companies. Patrick Industries has been growing dramatically following a series of acquisitions that increased its capacity for sales to the RV sector.
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