The city of Sturgis summons images of hundreds of polished motorcycles filling the city as motorcyclists from around the country gather for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Although Sturgis, South Dakota, is filled every August with motorcycle enthusiasts, the city of Sturgis, Michigan, will craft around 5,000 Heartland RVs annually at the new Heartland RV plant.
Heartland’s new location is 36 miles away from its Elkhart, Indiana, campus.
Heartland RV and DRV President Kyle Kwasny said the manufacturer values the Sturgis workforce, whom the company has worked with since opening its first Sturgis plant in 2015.
“We really like the workforce that is out there,” Kwasny said. “There are a lot of really talented and skilled people that by nature are pretty handy.”
The new facility opened in November 2023. Currently, around 80 people are employed at the plant with the ability to grow to 175-190 employees.
Heartland’s new facility encloses 144,000 square feet, featuring 40 stations on the line and 34 assembly line stations. Around 20-25 individual models will be crafted at a time. The facility began building travel trailers but can expand to more categories such as toy haulers.
Six pre-delivery inspection (PDI) stations facilitate testing processes. A freight elevator lifts material to a cabinet shop on the upper mezzanine level to reduce material movement.
“This building allows us to not touch the material multiple times,” Kwasny said, “potentially resulting in damage.”
New technology fills the sizable space. A STORETEQ panel storage and retrieval system supplies automated assistance to enhance manufacturing and efficiency. The machine has two bean saws, one computer numerical control (CNC) saw and a gantry load/store system. The machine stores, retrieves and cuts panels to size.
“The machinery and automation ensure that every time something is cut, whether it is a wood product or an aluminum product,” Kwasny said, “that it is perfectly cut every time, which will make the fit and finish of our units significantly tighter and better for the customer.”
Four remote power-drive crane systems transfer components. The plant can store 90% of the materials inside, protecting them from weather conditions.
Kwasny said the ultimate goal is to produce the best possible RVs in the facility that Heartland can produce.