SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – Despite talk of a worker shortage and a March unemployment rate below two percent, economic growth just continues in Elkhart County.
Grand Design RV provides a good example.
Grand Design is building four new manufacturing and support plants on its Middlebury campus. The company plans to add 700-new workers by the end of 2023, which would represent a 25 percent increase in its present workforce.
“The labor shortage is real, and there are multiple different industries that have a crunch on their labor force, and staffing is difficult, and the cost of labor has gone up,” Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson told 16 News Now. “But the market adjusts because goods are still in demand, and we adjust to that, and we keep going.”
Grand Design, on Thursday, held an expansion celebration at its new 300,000 square foot facility off CR 17 in Elkhart. Ribbon cutting ceremonies there marked the completion of the project.
The company won’t build anything at the Elkhart facility, with the possible exception of customer loyalty. The building is a service center.
“We’re in the service business, we just happen to sell RV’s,” said Grand Design’s President and CEO, Don Clark. “We’ve moved into this almost 300,000 square foot facility which about doubles the capacity of our service, parts, and warranty.”
Grand Design now employs a little more than 2,700 associates.
“There’s just nothing like the RV industry,” US Rep. Jackie Walorski, Indiana’s 2nd District told the crowd. “Expansions, what are you doing today. Additional jobs that you’re creating and in the biggest cautious hour of the life of a country. ”
Grand Design CEO and President, Don Clark spoke with 16 News Now about the nature of the expansion.
“We decided that we weren’t going to force our growth,” Clark said. “That our growth was going to be dependent on the customer retail demand for our product. We haven’t forced any growth. We let the customers kind of dictate to us, in the popularity of our products. ”
Grand Design is a good example of the bullish behavior going on in Elkhart County, where there are so many commercial construction projects going on, it’s hard to keep track.
“Quite frankly, I like to lose track, so the more that have gone through the process that are ready to break ground, I am excited about it,” said Mayor Roberson. “I know of five of them that are above 100,000 square feet that are ready to break ground so to speak.”
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