Saturday, December 01, 2007



RV Business
Saturday, December 1, 2007

Country Coach Inc., Junction City, Ore., this week laid off part of its work force, a move that Vice President Matt Howard described as both “a seasonal and market adjustment.”

“We need to make sure we’re sized properly to stay healthy in a cyclical market,” Howard told Eugene’s Register-Guard on Friday (Nov. 30).

Howard would not disclose how many workers were idled in the layoff, which took place on Monday, the day preceding the opening of RVIA’s 45th Annual National RV Show in Louisville, Ky.

Country Coach is one of Lane County’s largest private employers. The high-end motorhome manufacturer’s work force had more than doubled since 2001, when it had about 769 workers. In June 2006, the company said it had 1,700 workers and was planning to hire 200 more to help build two new motorcoach models.

Howard said the total number employed today by the privately held firm is less than 1,400, but noted the company loses a lot of workers, particularly entry-level employees, through attrition.

Junction City Mayor Dwight Coon said he heard 200 to 300 were laid off. Taryl Perry, executive director of the Junction City-Harrisburg Chamber of Commerce, said one man came in this week and said he was one of 400 workers put out of work.

Both Perry and Coon said the layoffs are unfortunate but not surprising for the economic times. “I feel bad for the employees,” Coon said. “It’s just a reflection of the economy, and layoffs are an unfortunate effect of that. ... (RVs) are high-end, big-ticket items, and I think people are just pulling back a little bit.”

“With the RV industry, they (employment levels) go up and down,” added Perry. “If a business like Country Coach left, that would be devastating. Periodic layoffs, we found, are not uncommon with that kind of industry.”

Howard said the company’s “ultra high-end” models are doing well, but less expensive models are under pressure. “We just need to make sure we stay healthy,” he said.

September retail sales figures from Statistical Surveys Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich., put Country Coach in the No. 9 spot for U.S. Class A diesel sales, with year-to-date market share of 3.1%.

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