Indiana RV Blockbuster

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Jayco is now a subsidiary of Thor. Jayco is now a subsidiary of Thor.
ELKHART, MIDDLEBURY -

Elkhart-based Thor Industries Inc. (NYSE: THO) has announced the acquisition of another of the biggest names in the recreational vehicle industry. The $576 million deal makes Middlebury-based Jayco Corp. a Thor subsidiary.

The deal includes the Jayco, Starcraft RV, Highland Ridge and Entegra Coach nameplates. The Jay Flight brand has been the top-selling travel trailer for 11 consecutive years. Thor says Jayco's complimentary offerings include travel trailers, folding camping trailers, diesel-powered Class A motorhomes and Class C motorhomes. The parent company says Jayco's senior management team will remain in place to lead the subsidiary.

Thor Chief Executive Officer Bob Martin says "Jayco is a company that I have admired for more than 20 years while working in the industry and living in the community very close to their operations. We value the longstanding success of Jayco and are committed to providing the Bontrager family, and their team of dedicated employees, the resources they need to continue the success they have built at Jayco over the past half century. This investment also illustrates our confidence in the future of the RV industry as younger consumers enter and expand the market over the coming decades. Both existing and new RVers will see the benefits of our subsidiaries' efforts as they lead in innovation with new technology and features in our products that make RVs easier to use and better connected."

Last year, Jayco recorded $1.5 billion in revenue. Thor says it will be "business as usual" for Jayco, which currently includes 31 facilities with a total of 17 production lines in 2.2 million square-feet of production space. Jayco's has operations in northern Indiana and Idaho.

Jayco CEO Derald Bontrager says "the core values that are synonymous with Jayco and its brands shape the way we run our business, and these values will remain and guide us as we look to the future. One of the things we found most attractive about Thor was their decentralized business structure, which allows their subsidiaries to continue operating independently. Most importantly, within this structure, our current leadership team will continue to manage Jayco, just as we have been running it since our founding. We will continue with the same focus our father had on serving our dealers and consumers better than anyone else in the industry."

Thor and its subsidiaries represent one of the largest makers of RVs in the world. A recent report tabs the industry as a $9.5 billion force in Indiana.

The acquisition continues a very active year for one of the state's most high-profile industries, including a report that showed RV manufacturing was off to one of its best starts in 40 years. That announcement came just before a visit by President Barack Obama, who returned to Elkhart County to demonstrate recovery in the area. At the time of Obama's first visit to the area, his first trip as president, the county had the nation's highest unemployment rate. It has since rebounded to around four percent.

Last month, another Middlebury company, Evergreen Recreational Vehicles LLC, announced its abrupt closure, which leaves 270 people without jobs. Grand Design RV, also in Middlebury, broke ground on an $11 million expansion just days before Evergreen's announcement.

You can connect to more details on the acquisition by clicking here.

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