By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
After Monaco in Wakarusa ships its last order sometime in August, the RV production facility, and the 520 jobs its provided, will be gone.
Navistar Inc. officials said Thursday that Allied Specialty Vehicles (ASV) has purchased Navistar RV assets. The sale includes the manufacturing operations for Monaco and Holiday Rambler brand RVs in Wakarusa and for Navistar’s R-Vision and Holiday Rambler towable units in Harrisburg, Ore. ASV has also entered into a multi-year leasing agreement for Navistar RV’s Elkhart facility.
The news comes less than two years after Monaco made the announcement it would be adding 400 jobs to the Wakarusa plant.
According to an Aug. 2, 2011 article in The Goshen News, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Monaco RV, LLC up to $2.8 million in performance-based tax credits and up to $125,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. The Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County also offered incentives to attract the company’s relocation from Oregon.
Now it appears those jobs are headed further down state.
“Right now it’s business as usual,” Laurie Perolio-Bullinger, media spokesperson for ASV said of the Wakarusa plant. “Everything’s still in a transitional phase, however they will eventually be moving the manufacturing operations to ASV’s Decatur campus, but again that’s still in transition. So we’re talking about 520 employees at the Wakarusa facility that will be affected.”
According to Perolio-Bullinger, no additional orders will be accepted at the Wakarusa plant moving forward, though the company plans to honor all existing orders — a plan which will likely keep the Wakarusa facility operating until approximately August.
Current Wakarusa employees will have the option of applying for positions at ASV’s Decatur campus, 22 miles south of Fort Wayne, once the transition is finalized.
“They will definitely have that opportunity,” Perolio-Bullinger said. “And beyond that, there will also be many employment opportunities available through ASV’s associated facilities located across the country as well.”
The McDonald’s located on Ind. 19 is a popular stopping place for factory workers and employees there said the potential job loss would likely affect their business.
Clay Helenburg, manager-in-training at the attached McDonald’s restaurant said, “Navistar would affect us a lot. The fact that we’re the main route through the town we get a lot of factory workers, it would definitely be a hit.”
Helenburg said he knows some people who work at the company and said they’d heard rumors, but weren’t sure if those rumors were true.
When the news hit Cook’s Pizza in downtown Wakarusa, some could relate all too well.
“I know it’s not a good feeling.” Noble Searer said.
He was employed by Uniroyal for 20 years until the day they came in and gave the news they no longer had jobs.
“Twenty years and gone like that” he said, snapping his fingers.
ASV also announced that Mike Snell has been named as president of Monaco and Holiday Rambler. Snell has logged more 20 years with Monaco, serving as a longtime executive for Monaco Coach Corp. and most recently as vice president of sales for Monaco RV under the Navistar umbrella.
“ASV is honored to welcome all of the existing Monaco, Holiday Rambler, R-Vision, Beaver and Safari customers and an exceptional network of dealer partners to the ASV family,” said Peter Guile, chief executive officer of Orlando, Fla.-based ASV.
As for what will happen to the existing Wakarusa facility, Perolio-Bullinger said ASV is currently in the process of contacting other area manufacturing companies that may be interested in purchasing the facility for their own operations.
“They’re actually currently in the process of looking for a company in the industry to possibly purchase the facility,” Perolio-Bullinger said. “Right now their focus is really on making the transition time for the employees as quick as they possibly can.”
As for the Elkhart facility, Perolio-Bullinger said there are currently no plans for changes at the facility at this time.
The Elkhart facility currently has about 143 employees.
Correspondent Denise Federow contributed to this report.