The mood at Outdoors RV, Union County’s newest manufacturing company, was downright jubilant Wednesday morning.
SHOWING IT OFF: Outdoors RV owner Ron Nash (right) shows U.S. Congressman Greg Walden the interior of a newly-built trailer at the plant at Pierce Road and Highway 82 outside Island City. The plant formerly housed Fleetwood RV, which went bankrupt earlier this year. Nash bought it to produce a line of trailers designed for the rugged conditions of the Pacific Northwest. - The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH
All of the plant’s employees trooped outside in the bright sunshine to have their picture taken with the first trailer ready for shipment to a dealer. Many were cheering.
Accompanying them was plant owner Ron Nash, who has battled through the current recession to keep Union County’s recreational vehicle industry alive.
Following the photo op, Nash, who also owns Northwood Manufacturing at the Union County Airport Industrial Park, said he is optimistic about the future.
“The Canadian market’s been good, and that’s very encouraging. The Northwest market has been good, too, though it’s still not what it is was before,” he said.
Back in May, Nash purchased the Fleetwood RV plant at Pierce Road and Highway 82 for just over $2 million. Bankrupt Fleetwood had closed the facility, idling more than 100 workers.
Nash, whose Northwood operation also makes travel trailers, started a separate company, Outdoors RV, in the old Fleetwood facility. His plan was to manufacture units designed for year-round use in the rugged Pacific Northwest.
Many workers who had been laid off at Northwood in the recession got their jobs back at the new facility. Counting office workers and sales people, Nash said Outdoors RV now employs close to 100 people.
“They’re all seasoned people,” he said. “It’s a lot like Northwood. They’ve been with us a long time, and they’re the best.”
The plant makes four different models, ranging from the entry-level “stick and tin” Creekside to the ultra-light Summit Trail.
A Creekside trailer completed June 21 was ready for shipment Wednesday,
celebrating A new era: Outdoors RV employees gathered outside the plant Saturday to celebrate the shipment of the new company’s first trailer. Many of the nearly 100 Outdoors RV workers had been laid off from Northwood Manufacturing, but were recalled to start building trailers designed for the rugged conditions of the Pacific Northwest. - The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH
prompting the celebration. The trailer went to Broadmoor RV, a dealership owned by John and D’Ann Ramsey in Pasco.
Outdoors RV Sales Manager Darin Nelson agreed with Nash that the future looks bright. He said dealers are excited about the new trailers.
“We’ve got back orders,” he said. “We’re sold out through the end of year.”
The recession has done significant damage to Union County’s economy, with the RV and wood products industries particularly hard hit.
According to the Oregon Employment Department, 460 manufacturing jobs were lost between May 2008 and May of this year. Total unemployment in the county this May was 12.3 percent.
Congressman Greg Walden, who was in Union County Wednesday and dropped in on the celebration at Outdoors RV, said the opening of the new plant is a significant boost for a battered community.
“This is terrific news, to see something positive happen in the local economy,” Walden said. “This is sustainable economic development that gives the community a better future. Wow, this is welcome news.”