Inside INdiana Business

RV makers suspend production amid COVID-19 concerns

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Another major industry is starting to feel the effects of COVID-19 pandemic. Recreational vehicle manufacturers Thor Industries Inc. (NYSE: THO), headquartered in Elkhart, and Iowa-based Winnebago Industries Inc. (NYSE: WGO) have announced plans to suspend operations nationwide, including at several Indiana facilities.

Thor President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Martin says it is temporarily shutting down production at all of its facilities in North America, as well as a “substantial portion” of its European production.

Martin says he is confident the company will be able to ride the wave caused by the pandemic.

“We believe the long-term RV market will be robust once again, and when that time comes, we will take advantage of our flexible business model to quickly resume production to meet dealer orders,” said Marin. “As we look to the future when we are past the coronavirus pandemic, we remain optimistic about the long-term outlook for both Thor and the RV industry.”

Thor did not provide an estimated timeline for resuming production.

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Winnebago Industries Inc. (NYSE: WGO) operates several recreational vehicle manufacturing plants in Elkhart County, including the Grand Design RV operations based in Middlebury and Newmar Corp., based in Nappanee.

The company says the steps are designed to lower the probability of coronavirus exposure to employees and adjust future production output relative to fast-changing market demand.

Each of the businesses will suspend production during the week of March 23. The company says based on present conditions the manufacturing suspension is currently anticipated to last through April 12.

“We are also seeing demand for our products shift dramatically as the nation takes appropriate action to curb the spread of the coronavirus,” said Winnebago Industries President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Happe. “This decision is not an easy one, but we are confident it is in the best interests of all our stakeholders.

Winnebago Industries and its businesses will remain open and perform essential activities for its dealers and end customers, including remote retail support for dealers, along with technical care, warranty administration, and parts fulfillment.

The company says it is providing base pay and benefits for the first two weeks of the shutdown.