RV Industry Provides Assistance During Coronavirus Crisis
As the number of coronavirus cases and deaths from COVID-19 rose sharply in the United States and Canada in late March 2020, the RV industry stepped up to help in various ways. Following are some examples.
*The RV Industry Association pledged to donate 20 RVs to the most critical health-care settings in the United States, as determined by the Coronavirus Task Force. The pledge came in a letter from RVIA to Vice President Mike Pence, the Task Force leader. In addition, the letter said an additional 100 RVs would be provided, at below market cost, to health-care providers deemed most critical by the task force.
RVIA has pointed out that RVs can serve various purposes during the crisis, including temporary living quarters for doctors and nurses; temporary quarantine units; bathroom and shower trailers; and office and lab space. According to RVIA, the state of California purchased more than 1,300 RVs to provide emergency isolation for the most vulnerable people.
“We understand the immense strain that the COVID-19 outbreak is placing on our health-care system,” said Mike Happe, Winnebago CEO and RVIA board member.
“There are motorhomes and RV trailers located in all 50 states,” said Kevin McArt, Forest River general manager, “and we will work with RV dealers at the Task Force’s designation on critical needs.”
*Winnebago Industries employees at the company’s Stitchcraft facility in Forest City, Iowa, began manufacturing medical masks for clinical staff at MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center. The first shipment was delivered March 30, and additional deliveries were expected to fill the first production run of approximately 6,000 masks.
*Efforts by RV brands owned by Thor Industries include the following:
Airstream, based in Jackson Center, Ohio, made several Nest travel trailers available to the staff of health-care provider Wilson Health, which established a mobile coronavirus testing facility at the Shelby County Fairgrounds in Shelby, Ohio. The RVs were to be used by staff to relax and recharge while on shift. Also, employees in Airstream’s sewing department worked from home to assemble safety masks and protective gowns for use by health-care providers and first responders in Shelby County. The team estimated it would produce more than 1,200 masks and 50 to 60 isolation gowns in a week.
Heartland Recreational Vehicles, based in Elkhart, Indiana, donated about 400 masks and 700 protective chemical suits to Beacon Health System.
Jayco, based in Middlebury, Indiana, donated two Seismic 4125 toy haulers to the South Bend (Indiana) Clinic to use for pediatric immunizations outside of the clinic, with a goal of keeping children safe from coronavirus. In addition, Jayco donated an RV to the Middlebury Fire Department to use as quarantine space should a firefighter become infected.
Goshen, Indiana-based Keystone RV Company assisted Indiana communities by donating masks and protective suits to the Wakarusa Ambulance Department, masks for health-care workers in nursing homes in northern Indiana, and eye protection for Goshen Hospital. Keystone RV, which has a facility in Oregon, also donated 400 masks for St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton, Oregon.
K-Z Recreational Vehicles, based in Shipshewana, Indiana, raised funds for medical supplies for area hospitals, and the company partnered with Goshen Hospital and other area businesses to produce reusable protective masks.
Thor Motor Coach, which has RV production facilities throughout Elkhart County, Indiana, provided chemical protective suits and face masks to health-care workers in Elkhart and Goshen, Indiana. The company also donated fabric for its furloughed workers to make face masks.
*Elkhart, Indiana-based Lippert Components planned to donate about 1,000 medical masks in partnership with Beacon Health System and Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center. In addition, Lippert was to begin manufacturing surgical gowns.
*Mocksville, North Carolina-based Hunckler Fabrication LLC, which manufactures custom magnetic sunshades for RVs under the brand name Magne Shade, had donated time and materials to produce 25 masks for medical and emergency personnel as of March 25.
The owners of Hunckler Fabrication, Roger and Clare Hunckler, have two daughters who are nurse practitioners. One daughter has a friend who is a nurse in Chicago, Illinois, and who had expressed concern about possible shortages of masks at her workplace, so some were sent there. Hunckler Fabrication also made masks at the request of its hometown fire department in Davie County, North Carolina.
“We will continue to make (masks) as long as we have the materials,” Clare Hunckler said, noting that the elastic that sec-ures a mask to the face was in short supply.
*Sylvan Sport, a Brevard, North Carolina-based manufacturer of travel trailers, pop-up campers, and other camping equipment, made its campers available for rapid-deployment shelters, CEO Tom Dempsey told RVBusiness.
In addition, Mr. Dempsey said Sylvan Sport employees in Asia found sources for N95 respirators and Tyvek protective suits. He said he was working with state and federal emergency management officials to send the suits to places that need them.
Also, the company made plans for some of its assembly workers to make face shields. Materials were being shipped to the company in late March, and the plan called for workers to pick up the components and assemble the shields at home, while remaining on the company payroll.
*Blue Ox/Automatic, which manufactures RV towing prod-ucts and agricultural products at facilities in Pender and Lincoln, Nebraska, contacted Nebraska officials to offer use of its production and distribution facilities in the event they could be converted for necessary items to combat COVID-19. Blue Ox officials also were exploring ways to assist front-line health-care professionals, including utilization or conversion of an on-site campground and the Jay Hesse Welcome Center.
Winnebago Delivers Mobile Childhood Advocacy Centers To New York
Winnebago Industries’ Specialty Vehicle Division has produced and delivered seven community outreach vehicles to New York state to provide better access to critical abuse counseling services for the residents of rural communities.
Funded through a partnership between the Office of Victim Services and the state Office of Child and Family Services, the mobile childhood advocacy centers (CACs) will take child protective services into communities when travel proves difficult for families.
Services are brought together when allegations of child abuse or maltreatment are made, in an effort to make the investigation process less traumatic for children. Beyond child protective services, other services available in the mobile units include law enforcement, advocacy, and therapeutic resources.
For more information about Winnebago’s specialty vehicle services, visit https://winnebagoind.com/product-classes/specialty-vehicles.
Florida RV Parks Respond To Demand For Sites
As many as 3,000 new RV sites could become available in Florida within the next two years, according to Bobby Cornwell, executive director of the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. Snowbirds — who include a growing number of young, telecommuting RVers — are helping to spur expansions and improvements in existing Florida RV parks, as well as construction of new resorts.
Following are examples of new and expanding RV parks:
*Plaza Lodge LLC expects to break ground on Little Orange Lake RV Resort in fall 2020, with the first phase of the 600-site resort opening by spring 2021. The 377-acre property near Hawthorne will have 4,000 feet of lake shoreline, and plans call for recreational amenities to include ziplines and all-terrain-vehicle trails.
*Southern Leisure RV Resort in Chiefland, which opened in 2019 with 218 RV sites, is adding another 279 sites. Amenities include a 10,000-square-foot clubhouse, an entertainment stage, a heated Olympic-size swimming pool, a fitness center, and more. www.southernleisurervresort.com.
*Pecan Park RV Resort in Jacksonville is expanding from 183 to 341 RV sites. The new sites will have concrete driveways, parking, and patio areas, as well as full hookups and free Wi-Fi. The resort will feature a community pool and spa, tennis and pickleball courts, a new clubhouse, and more. www.pecanparkrvresort.com.