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BRISTOL, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A new competitor in the northern Indiana recreational vehicle industry has manufactured and delivered its first unit. Bristol-based Ember Recreational Vehicles celebrated the milestone Tuesday while also cutting the ribbon on its new 88,000 square foot headquarters and production facility.

The company was founded earlier this year by Ashley Bontrager Lehman, the granddaughter of Jayco Inc. founders Lloyd and Bertha Bontrager. Jayco is now a subsidiary of Elkhart-based Thor Industries. (NYSE: THOR)

Ember RV has entered the marketplace with lightweight travel trailers for off-road and off-grid capabilities.

“In the early days of Ember, we learned we must celebrate the mile markers along our journey. Today, we’ve achieved a critical goal for Ember – delivering our first production unit to a valued partner, Haylett Auto and RV. We are now one step closer to achieving our mission. We are challenging the status quo, making a positive impact on our industry, and building a better RV by building a better RV company,” said Bontrager, president and chief executive officer of Ember Recreational Vehicles.

The first unit went to Haylett Auto and RV, an independent dealer based in southern Michigan.

In August, the company said it would hire 150 workers by the end of 2023.

BRISTOL, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Iowa-based Winnebago Industries Inc. (NYSE: WGO) has completed its acquisition of Barletta Pontoon Boats in Bristol. Winnebago says the $255 million deal could come with additional cash and stock considerations if certain milestones are met.

The acquisition was first announced in July. Barletta will operate as a business unit of Winnebago with its manufacturing facilities remaining in Bristol. Founder Bill Fenech will remain as president.

The company says if Barletta achieves performance milestones at the end of the year, it will pay Barletta an additional $15 million in Winnebago shares. Also, if certain growth objectives are met through 2022 and 2023, Barletta could receive up to an additional $50 million in cash.

“Barletta’s commitment to quality, innovation and service in addition to their strong dealer relationships has allowed them to become the fastest-growing pontoon boat manufacturer in the industry and makes them a natural fit into our portfolio,” said Michael Happe, chief executive officer of Winnebago. “We are excited to work with the talented Barletta team and their high-quality dealer partners to bring our now extended portfolio of premium products to families looking to create great outdoor experiences on land or on water and drive new growth opportunities and significant value creation for our employees and shareholders.”

Last year, Barletta detailed plans to invest $7 million to build a new production facility and create up to 250 jobs.

BRISTOL, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A new competitor in northern Indiana’s vast recreational vehicle industry has announced plans to invest $4 million to grow operations in the Elkhart County town of Bristol and add 150 jobs by the end of 2023. Ember Recreational Vehicles Inc., a startup RV manufacturer, is entering the marketplace with lightweight travel trailers for off-road and off-grid capabilities.

The company says it is building an 88,000 square foot plant, an upgrade from its current 18,000 square foot facility in Bristol. Ember expects to complete the construction project next month.

The company was founded earlier this year by Ashley Bontrager Lehman, the granddaughter of Jayco Inc. founders Lloyd and Bertha Bontrager. Jayco is now a subsidiary of Elkhart-based Thor Industries. (NYSE: THOR)

“The craftsmanship, dedication and work ethic of the local workforce has proven, over decades, to be unmatched,” said Lehman, Ember president and chief executive officer. “We strongly felt to build a better RV, we need to build a better RV company first. We’re excited to bring a fresh approach to the RV Industry and where better to do it than Indiana?”

Ember says it has started the prototype process and has already hired two dozen workers. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Ember RV up to $1 million in conditional tax credits based on job creation plans. IEDC says the town of Bristol is also offering incentives valued at $425,000.

BRISTOL, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A Dallas-based industrial wood products manufacturer is expanding its Elkhart County operations. MJB Wood Group LLC has broken ground on a 500,000-square-foot facility near Bristol and plans to double its workforce by adding 50 jobs.

Specific financial details were not disclosed, however MJB says it is investing tens of millions of dollars into the project. The company says the new facility will boost its ability to meet the sourcing needs of customers in the Midwest, including in the recreational vehicle industry.

“We are excited to invest in this new facility because of MJB’s commitment to the vibrant RV industry in Northern Indiana and the surrounding areas,” Scott Griggs, president of MJB, said in a news release. “This new facility will improve the efficiency of inbound and outbound freight, which will allow MJB to deliver more freight on time, while respecting the tight receiving window of customers.”

The new facility includes a 100,000-square-foot fabrication area that will allow for custom services, including cut-to-size, CNC machining, moulding, kitting and light assembly, according to the company. 

Construction is underway and the facility is expected to open in the first quarter of 2022.

BRISTOL, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — An Elkhart County-based camper manufacturer that launched last year says it will invest $2 million to grow its headquarters and add 50 new jobs by the end of 2023. Skinny Guy Campers LLC produces overland, self-contained truck bed campers, which serves off-roaders, minimalists, and mountain bikers.

The company was founded by Jason Bontrager, the grandson of Lloyd Bontrager who founded Jayco Inc., a leading recreational vehicle manufacturer located in Elkhart County.

“The SGC is less a camper and more of a tool that we designed to allow overland truck enthusiasts like us the ability to explore longer and camp farther off the beaten path,” said Jason Bontrager, founder and chief executive officer of Skinny Guy Campers.

The camper weighs approximately 800 pounds, 50-80% less than other truck bed-based camping products. It includes a kitchenette, dinette seating, interior shower and faucet, flushing toilet and full-size bed.

“It’s easy to put on a truck, only impacts fuel economy by 0.5 miles per gallon, easy to set up at camp and is easy to take off, all while maintaining a minimal footprint when in storage,” said Bontrager. “We believe we’re onto something great and are happy to call Indiana our home.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Skinny Guy Campers up to $400,000 in conditional tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans and up to $130,000 in conditional tax credits from the Hoosier Business Investment tax credit program based on the company’s planned capital investment in Indiana.

The company says it currently employs a small team in Bristol and will begin hiring for engineering, operations and office functions this summer.

BRISTOL, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Elkhart County manufacturer Utilimaster will Wednesday host its second drive-thru job fair of the summer. The company, a subsidiary of Michigan-based The Shyft Group (Nasdaq: SHYF), says it is looking to fill additional positions at its Bristol campus to meet increasing product demand from customers.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Bristol.

Utilimaster says it is looking to fill additional positions at its Bristol campus to meet increasing product demand from customers. For public health reasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interviews will be offered in both car-side and open-air formats and masks will be required.

“We continue to experience growing demand for last mile delivery fleet vehicles, as more and more consumers are shopping online simultaneously increase the delivery of both essential and non-essential goods, direct to their doorstep,” said Chad Heminover, president of Shyft Fleet Vehicles & Services. “As a result, we’re looking for even more new team members to join us in Bristol and help us build the vehicles and upfits our customers need.”

The company says it’s offering competitive wages, and positions for hire include full-time, day and night shift general assembly. Both shifts include full benefits, which include tuition reimbursement, 80 hours of holiday pay, as well as traditional medical and wellness benefits.

You can learn more about the available positions by clicking here.

BRISTOL, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — An Elkhart County manufacturer is looking to grow its Indiana footprint. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says Ameri-Kart Corp. plans to invest more than $10 million to build and equip a 234,000-square-foot facility in Bristol and create up to 210 jobs by the end of 2022. The company says the move will consolidate its Michigan and Indiana operations under one roof.

Ameri-Kart is a subsidiary of Ohio-based Myers Industries Inc. (NYSE: MYE). The company, manufactures custom plastic parts for the recreational vehicle, marine, agricultural, construction, manufacturing and safety industries, currently employs more than 220 between its Indiana and Michigan locations.

“We are excited to be making this investment in our community,” Kristian Stankiewicz, president of Ameri-Kart, said in a news release. “The larger, modern facility will allow us to continue delivering highly innovative products and quality service to our customers and provide an improved work environment to our employees.”

Construction on the new facility has begun. Ameri-Kart plans to begin relocating its existing employees in phases this fall and be fully moved in by early 2021. The company also expects to begin hiring for professional and production jobs in late September.

“Ameri-Kart has been a great business partner for many years, with their current facility located just outside Bristol town limits, so when they approached us about building their new facility in our North Industrial Park we were more than excited and supportive of their project,” said Bristol Town Council President Jeff Beachy. “We look forward to seeing the new facility as it springs to life from the once vacant property, into a thriving business.”

The IEDC has offered Ameri-Kart up to $1.4 million in conditional tax credits, as well as up to $400,000 in Hoosier Business Investment tax credits, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs.