Friday, April 18, 2008
WINNEBAGO SHUTTING DOWN ASSEMBLY LINES FOR ONE WEEK
Friday, April 18, 2008
Winnebago Industries Inc.'s plants will shut down next week, a spokesperson for the Forest City, Iowa-based motorhome manufacturer confirmed Friday (April 18).
The Forest City Summit reported that the shutdown will impact all three plants in Forest City, Hampton and Charles City, although one line will remain open in Charles City, Kelli Harms said.
"We have to make adjustments on what the market is telling us," she said. "The RV market is slow right now."
Harms said the company makes productions adjustments daily, but fuel prices and other factors are currently hurting sales.
"Interest rates have come down but we haven't seen that translating," she said.
The shutdown comes about a month after Winnebago announced it laid off 200 employees. Harms said no other layoffs have taken place since.
Around 3,000 people work at the three plants. Employee benefits will continue next week, but workers won't be paid. Harms said employees can choose to collect unemployment for the week.
COUNTRY COACH EMPLOYEES TO GET PAY CUTS
Junction City, Ore.-based Country Coach Inc. is implementing a 5% wage cut for all employees while President and CEO Jay Howard will take a 25% cut, according to a report by KVAL TV, Eugene.
Country Coach, which builds high-end Class A motorhomes, in March laid off around 100 line workers in response to the market. The TV station reported that the company employs around 1,100 people.
Motorhome sales have slacked off during the past couple of years, but recent economic conditions coupled with soaring gas prices have heightened softness in the sector.
Statistical Surveys Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich., recently reported that February motorhome sales were down 24% from a year ago and that Class A registrations declined 25%. Within the Class A market, diesel registrations fell 21% while gas sales retreated 29%.
WESTERN RV SHUTS DOWN
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Reportedly strapped for cash and struggling in a down market, longtime recreational vehicle manufacturer Western RV, Union Gap, Wash., shut down Tuesday (April 15), giving workers little hope for future employment with the company.
According to the Yakima Herald-Republic, the longtime company said in a news release that its operations have been temporarily suspended due to a market slowdown.
"During this short break in manufacturing, Western RV will review our alternatives and determine the best course of action going forward," company President Bob Wert said in the statement. "Once a plan has been developed or a suitable buyer for the business is identified, we intend to resume normal manufacturing operations."
Production workers were informed Tuesday not to return to work and salaried employees were let go later in the day, reportedly told it would be best for them to look for work elsewhere.
About 220 employees are affected by the closure. The firm, which makes high-end motorhomes, fifth-wheel trailers and truck campers, laid off 47 workers last month in a move company officials said was to align production with market demand.
The Herald-Republic reported that the firm's owner, Monomoy Capital Partners of New York City, did not return messages for comment. A receptionist said the equity firm's partners were at an annual meeting and not in the office.
Monomoy bought the 37-year-old company, founded by Bill and Suzanne Doyle, in late 2006. The firm made an unsuccessful attempt last fall to merge the firm with Middlebury, Ind.-based towable builder Pilgrim International Inc.
The company's human resources director, contacted by phone at her office Wednesday, said she could not provide any information to clarify the situation.
Salaried employees weren't paid on schedule Tuesday, said one employee who asked not to be identified. Payday for production workers is today, but it's unclear whether they'll receive any checks.
"Those are 220 people who won't be buying the newspaper or getting a haircut," the employee said of the layoffs. "The ripple effect is pretty substantial."
According to the The Herald-Republic, the company shutdown is emblematic of tough times in the RV industry nationwide. As housing values have dropped, many potential buyers have lost the equity in their homes they had in the past to purchase big-ticket items.
A quiet atmosphere hovered over the plant on Wednesday. Some employees were inside, but the doors were locked and customers – some needing work done on their RVs and others wanting to pick up parts – were turned away.
Beau Durkee, a salaried employee who headed sales for the company's camper division, told a reporter the company might be looking to sell. He was carrying out a box of his personal items to his truck.
"There's still a lot that's up in the air," he said. "It has not gone into bankruptcy. It's just shut down."
While Durkee said he believed the plant would reopen, he couldn't say when.
"There are a lot of things that could happen in a week and there are folks working on it right now," he said without elaborating.
One production worker who showed up late Wednesday morning to find out about his pay said the shutdown was sudden. Like others, he declined to provide his name or any details per the company's request.
Dave McFadden, president of the Yakima County Development Association, said the RV industry has struggled with economic uncertainty. He said he was not informed of the company's plans.
Kevin Broom, a spokesman for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA, said overall economic conditions have been the biggest challenge for manufacturers.
The slowdown comes on the heels of five consecutive years of growth, culminating in historic sales of 390,500 units in 2006.
But in a sluggish economy, a recreational vehicle can be daunting for price-conscious consumers.
According to the Herald-Republic, Western RV motorhomes can cost $250,000 to $500,000 each. The Alpine Coach Limited SE, for example, costs at least $300,000 for a motor home that is 34 to 40 feet long and includes features such as an entertainment system with satellite television and a DVD player, cherry cabinets and leather furniture.
"An RV is a discretionary purchase. When consumer confidence stops, they postpone discretionary purchases. We see heavy traffic at (RV) shows and a lot of interest in RVing," Broom said, noting consumers are still showing interest. But, he added, "People are postponing the purchase because they want to see what will happen."
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
RECALL: NEW HORIZONS TRAILER (DOMETIC REFRIGERATOR)
NEW HORIZONS / FIFTH WHEEL TRAILER 1997-2003
NEW HORIZONS / TRAVEL TRAILER 1997-2003
Manufacturer : NEW HORIZONS Mfr's Report Date : APR 08, 2008
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number : 08V172000 NHTSA Action Number: N/A
Component: EQUIPMENT:RECREATIONAL VEHICLE
Potential Number Of Units Affected : 327
NEW HORIZONS IS RECALLING 327 FIFTH WHEEL AND TRAVEL TRAILERS EQUIPPED WITH A TWO-DOOR REFRIGERATOR MANUFACTURED BY THE DOMETIC CORPORATION. THE REFRIGERATOR MAY HAVE A DEFECT IN THE BOILER TUBE. PRESSURIZED COOLANT SOLUTION COULD BE RELEASED INTO AN AREA WHERE AN IGNITION SOURCE (GAS FLAME) IS PRESENT.
RELEASE OF COOLANT UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS COULD IGNITE AND RESULT IN A FIRE.
NEW HORIZONS WILL BE WORKING WITH DOMETIC IN ORDER TO REPAIR THESE REFRIGERATORS (PLEASE SEE 06E076). DOMETIC WILL REPAIR THESE REFRIGERATORS BY INSTALLING A SECONDARY BURN HOUSING, A THERMAL FUSE, AND A MELT FUSE FREE OF CHARGE. DOMETIC HAS RETAINED STERICYCLE INC. TO MANAGE THIS CAMPAIGN. STERICYCLE WILL ASSIST THE OWNER IN LOCATING DEALERSHIPS OR SERVICE CENTERS AND WILL PROVIDE ASSISTANCE WITH SCHEDULING OF APPOINTMENTS. OWNERS MAY CONTACT DOMETIC AT 1-888-446-5157, STERICYCLE AT 1-317-860-1163, OR NEW HORIZONS AT 1-800-235-3140.
CUSTOMERS MAY CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION'S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY: 1-800-424-9153); OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV.
RECALL: FLEETWEED (2008/2009 PULSE/ICON): ENTRY STEP
FLEETWOOD / ICON 2008-2009
FLEETWOOD / PULSE 2008-2009
Manufacturer : FLEETWOOD ENTERPRISES, INC. Mfr's Report Date : MAR 20, 2008
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number : 08V164000 NHTSA Action Number: N/A
Potential Number Of Units Affected : 80
FLEETWOOD IS RECALLING 80 MY 2008-2009 PULSE AND ICON CLASS C MOTOR HOMES. THE ENTRY STEP ATTACHMENT CRADLE/SUPPORT MAY BEND CAUSING THE STEP TO BECOME UNSAFE.
INSUFFICIENT STRUCTURAL MATERIAL STRENGTH COULD INCREASE THE RISK OF PERSONAL INJURIES AND VEHICLE AND/OR OTHER PROPERTY DAMAGE.
DEALERS WILL INSPECT AND REINFORCE THE ENTRY STEP ATTACHMENT CRADLE/SUPPORT FREE OF CHARGE. THE RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN ON APRIL 14, 2008.
FLEETWOOD RECALL 80311. CUSTOMERS MAY ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION'S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
RECALL: NORCOLD REFRIGERATOR (1200LR/1200LRIM/1201RIM)
NORCOLD / 1200LR 9999
NORCOLD / 1200LRIM 9999
NORCOLD / 1201LRIM 9999
Manufacturer : NORCOLD INC. Mfr's Report Date : MAR 25, 2008
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number : 08E030000 NHTSA Action Number: N/A
Potential Number Of Units Affected :
NORCOLD IS RECALLING CERTAIN REFRIGERATORS, MODELS 1200LR, 1200LRIM, AND 1201LRIM, MANUFACTURED FROM MARCH 1, 1999 TO FEBRUARY 28, 2001, WITH COOLING UNITS SERIAL NUMBERS BETWEEN 1008701 AND 1273700. THE UNITS WERE INSTALLED AS ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT IN VARIOUS RECREATIONAL VEHICLES. A FATIGUE FAILURE IN THE SECTION OF THE COOLING UNIT WHICH CONTAINS THE REFRIGERANT COULD ALLOW THE LIQUID SOLUTION TO SLOWLY LEAK. IF A LEAK OCCURS AND THE REFRIGERATOR CONTINUES TO BE OPERATED AFTER SOLUTION CIRCULATION HAS CEASED THE HEAT SOURCE COULD GENERATE VERY HIGH TEMPERATURES. AT SUCH HIGH TEMPERATURES, THE STEEL MATERIAL OF THE COOLING UNIT COULD SOFTEN AND RUPTURE. NORCOLD IS WORKING TO IDENTIFY THE NUMBER OF REFRIGERATORS THAT WERE MANUFACTURED WITH THIS CONDITION.
IF REFRIGERANT GAS IS STILL IN PLACE WHEN THE RUPTURE OCCURS, HYDROGEN GAS MAY BE EXPELLED AND COULD BE IGNITED BY THE HIGH TEMPERATURE, POSSIBLY CAUSING A FIRE.
NORCOLD IS WORKING WITH THE RV MANUFACTURERS TO NOTIFY OWNERS AND REPAIR THE COOLING UNITS FREE OF CHARGE. THE RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN DURING MAY OF 2008. OWNERS MAY CONTACT NORCOLD AT 800-767-9101.
THIS RECALL IS AN EXPANSION OF 02E-045. CUSTOMERS MAY CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION'S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY: 1-800-424-9153); OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV.