Monday, December 17, 2007



RV Business
Sunday, December 16, 2007

Atwood Mobile Products LLC announced Friday (Dec. 14) the closure of an Elkhart, Ind., production facility and the loss of 152 jobs. The action is expected to occur during the latter part of the first quarter of 2008.

The Elkhart Truth reported that the Creation line of recreational vehicle, shuttle bus and horse trailer windows made at the plant on is being phased out and will be discontinued altogether primarily because of an "exceptionally competitive" market, said Kip Ellis, vice president of sales and marketing at Atwood.

Along with the Creation brands, the closed facility is the site for production of windows for the “Sprinter platform.” The Sprinter line and the employees who work on it will be moved to another Elkhart plant.

The closure has nothing to do with the sale of the truck cap division, which happened in October, nor the ongoing slowdown in the recreational vehicle market, Ellis said. Instead, he reiterated the company's press release that said the closure is a "strategic decision" following a lengthy evaluation of the position those Creation brand products have in the market and their "negative financial performance."

In September, Atwood was acquired by private equity firm Equity Insights I LP from Dura Automotive Systems Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in October 2006.

Atwood officials told impacted employees of the company's decision Friday morning. Their jobs will continue for at least another 60 days as stipulated by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

"Our first priority is to be professional and fair with our employees," Ellis said.

In addition, the company wants to continue manufacturing the Creation products long enough to enable its customers to shift to another brand.

"We're giving our customer base adequate time to identify another source for supply," Ellis said.

This announcement comes a little more than two months after the company announced the sale of the Creation Windows truck cap business to Starquest Products of Goshen, Ind.

During that transaction, Atwood terminated the employment of nearly 50 workers and is shifting manufacturing of other products to several Atwood facilities, leaving the Goshen site empty. Atwood said it is still undecided on plans for the plant.

Atwood said it will continue to run production at its three other plants in Elkhart.

"We recognize and regret the difficulties this announcement creates for many of our employees and customers, and we wish to emphasize Atwood reached this decision following an extensive evaluation of all of our options," Tim Stephens, president of Atwood, stated in a release. "Following this transition, Atwood will be better able to commit our resources towards specific products, affording Atwood greater growth potential in the future."

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