When Fleetwood Enterprises exited the trailer business early this year, it closed its plant in eastern Oregon, where many of its travel trailers had been built. But thanks to Ron and Sherry Nash, owners of Northwood Manufacturing, the plant in La Grande, Oregon, is open again, producing durable lightweight travel trailers.
The Nashes bought Fleetwood’s 86,000-square-foot plant in La Grande for just over $2 million and created a new company, Outdoors RV Manufacturing, to build brands aimed at the entry-level market and at buyers looking for lightweight trailers.
Included with the purchase were Fleetwood’s designs, prints and molds. Ron Nash, who worked for Fleetwood Enterprises for many years, including a time as general manager of the Oregon plant, said Fleetwood made some excellent trailers over the years with brands such a Prowler, Terry and Wilderness.
The new trailers from Outdoors RV are based on the best of Fleetwood’s designs, plus improvements adapted from Northwood products, and refinements suggested by employees who had worked on Fleetwood trailers. To lead Outdoors RV, Ron Nash assembled a management team with 160 years of RV experience led by two veteran Fleetwood employees, Jim Croxton as general manager and Darin Nelson as sales manager.
The result is the creation of four new brands: CreekSide, Tamarack Trail, TimberRidge and Wind River, all now hitting the market.
Axles for the new trailers are being produced by Al-Ko Kober in a new shop adjacent to Northwood’s factory, about four miles from the Outdoors RV plant. The axle manufacturer is supplying axles for both Outdoors RV and Northwood. Northwood builds Arctic Fox trailers and truck campers, Nash trailers, Desert Fox toy haulers and True North outdoor support vehicles.
Even though the new trailers from Outdoors RV are modestly priced, Nash said there is still an emphasis on quality as reflected in the use of axles from an international industry leader, Al-Ko Kober. “We don’t use cheap axles,” Nash said.
“Our whole thing is durability,” he stressed. “We don’t want to be spending time fixing trailers that are brought back.”
Outdoors RV has hired a work force of 120 employees, and Nash expects the total to grow to 250 as production increases.
The company is already off to a good start with production booked through the end of the year. Croxton, the general manager, said production varies, depending on which brand is being built, but the plant is turning out 20 to 40 trailers a week.
The trailers are being built for markets in the Pacific Northwest, mountain states and western Canada. To meet the weather conditions of the region, they are being sold with a four-seasons package that makes the trailers usable year-round. Nelson, the sales manager, said the four-seasons package is offered as an option, but so far everyone has ordered it.
Nash said the purchase of the Fleetwood plant and the decision to start a new company reflects his confidence in the RV industry, despite a recession that has sharply reduced RV production.
“What I think is going to happen,” he said, “is that the good, solid manufacturers will do well and the rest will go away.” n
You can find more information about Outdoors RV at www.outdoorsrvmfg.com.