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Dometic Brings Awning Production Back to Elkhart

The following is a report from The Elkhart Truth.

Dometic, a global RV appliance manufacturer, was so excited about the return of awning manufacturing and distribution to northern Indiana that it rented billboard space to trumpet the news.

Awning production returned to the Dometic plant on Industrial Parkway in May, increasing production capacity to meet local RV manufacturer demand.

“Right now, we’re doing what we’re calling a pilot start-up,” said Todd Seyfert, president Segment Land Vehicle Americas at Dometic. “So, the pilot is really getting initial production ramp-up going. Right now, we’re probably at 15 people in that original pilot. The hope is over time we attract more customers and regain some of the shares and awnings for the RV (original equipment manufacturers) here locally.”

The pilot is step one for the company, he said. Over time, as volume grows, the number of people working will grow as well.

Dometic already provides 400 jobs in Elkhart County and about 1,200 jobs in all its facilities across North America. Globally, Dometic has about 9,000 workers.

Awning production came back to Indiana because of market demands, Seyfert said. There were no financial incentives from state or local government.

“Honestly, we listened to our customers,” he said. “During the pandemic, the decision was made previously to move production down to our facility in Monterrey, Mexico, which is our North American facility that supports a lot of the different product categories, and unfortunately COVID hit.”

In combination with the move, the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues, Dometic struggled to deliver its product, he said.

Some of the measures the company is taking to ensure on-time delivery and quality now is optimizing the total number of awning SKUs (a scannable code to help vendors track inventory), implementing a dedicated fleet of trucks for awning deliveries, and local inventory to support Elkhart County original equipment manufacturers.

Dometic resumed production of its 9100 series of power awnings in Elkhart. Awnings previously were manufactured in the company’s LaGrange facility. When Dometic closed those operations in 2020, it eliminated nearly 200 jobs.

The Mexico facility will continue to service the aftermarket segment, with a continued focus on logistics optimized through its Texas distribution center, the company said. Dometic’s move back to Elkhart drew praise from local leaders.

“It is fantastic news that Dometic has brought their awning production business and jobs back to Elkhart and the RV Capital of the World,” U.S. Rep. Rudy Yakym said in a statement. “The RV business is a unique industry that relies on different supply chains and a diverse group of manufacturers — including awning manufacturers like Dometic — in order to run. No one knows the ins and outs of what it takes to make an RV and this industry work more than the Hoosiers right here in northern Indiana. I am excited about the economic opportunities and activity this means for our region and, as co-chair of the Congressional RV Caucus, I will continue being a champion for all things RV in our nation’s capital.”

Click here to read the article by Clayton Sidenbender at the Elkhart Truth. Please note this article has a paywall.

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