Fri Sep 22, 2017
Author: Scott Hansen
Forest River has moved its XLR Boost production to Butler, Indiana, hoping to tap into a new pool of potential RV industry employees.
XLR Boost will be producing two of its floorplans – the 27QB and the 27CB – out of the new facility while it begins construction on a new 100,000 square-foot facility that should be open in early summer of 2018. After that is complete, XLR will move its other five floorplans into the facility for production. The two floorplans being built out of the current building were chosen because of their popularity as well as the ease of building them, since they don’t have slideouts.
XLR General Manager Brent Stevens says the move was in response to the labor shortage going on in Elkhart County and the company wanted to find another reliable source for finding skilled craftsmen and laborers in the RV industry.
“Finding people in Elkhart is very difficult,” Stevens says. “McDonalds aren’t opening up in the mornings because they have no staff to run it. We wanted to move and test the waters out of Elkhart County. It’s a very nice Amish community over there, which is what we’re used to building with in LaGrange.”
Butler is about 55 miles from Elkhart and Stevens says when they began working on getting the new facility, he was surprised by how many people from the area already commute the distance to Elkhart, meaning that the facility could make life easier on some of the employees.
The goal, Stevens says, is to hire between 20-25 new local people for the plant. A new plant manager has already been hired, who was making that commute every day.
“This job will save him an hour and a half; an hour and 15 minutes every day of commuting time, which should help add to his life,” Stevens says. “We are looking to add to the quality of life of those who don’t have jobs in that area as well as those who have jobs who are working in the Elkhart area now.”
The area XLR Boost will occupy is on 20 acres of land just east of Butler on State Road 6. The company will start producing on a small schedule – about 3-5 units per day out of that building until the new facility is up, Stevens says.
“I’m really looking forward to stepping outside the Elkhart comfort zone,” Stevens says. “That’s where we’ve always been. Obviously with the work force depleted and everyone running at full speed, finding good people is hard to do. We’re looking for that opportunity to get out and open up the RV business in a new community.”