Wednesday, April 5, 2017
DALLAS — From the vantage point of Jim Sieber’s office window, you see no room to spare on the production floor of Forest River’s R-Pod and Surveyor plant in Dallas.
“We’ve picked up more business, and it got to the point that we have outgrown this building,” said Sieber, the plant manager. “We are at max capacity. We actually need to be building more product, but we are in a space constraint.”
The plant has about 49,000-square feet of capacity. There, it can build 26 R-Pod towable recreational vehicles or 11 of the larger Surveyors in a day.
Sieber said the company was on the hunt for a facility with more space — and it found it in Sheridan.
“We purchased the buildings out in Sheridan about a month ago,” Sieber said.
The formerly vacant manufacturing complex has two buildings, each with approximately 107,000-square feet of space.
The R-Pod and Surveyor lines will move out to the new property in July, a quick timeline considering the remodeling that needs to be done at the new facility.
“They’ve been sitting vacant for six years,” Sieber said.
With the move, Sieber said there will be plenty of room to hire more workers and increase production. Now the plant employs 160 people.
He isn’t sure how many more need to be hired at this point.
“Some of that hinges on who will be following from here out there,” Sieber said. “Obviously, we’re optimistic that all of them will stay and follow us out there, but how realistic that is, I don’t know.”
Sieber said Forest River’s other Dallas plant may have plans to move into the space once Sheridan is open. That facility builds Wildcat and Salem Wildwood travel trailer models across Uglow Avenue from the R-Pod and Surveyor plant.
“When we vacate this building, the folks in that building have plans for this one, but what they are I do not know,” Sieber said. “I know they were interested in making sure we left the mezzanines and scaffolding and things like that.”
Paul Eskritt, the manager of the other plant, said his facility will be taking on another assignment soon, building Vibe travel trailers.
That model is now produced in the Harrisburg plant, which he manages as well.
Harrisburg will focus solely on producing Cherokee models once the Vibe line is moved to Dallas.
R-Pod and Surveyor moving to Sheridan will allow more space for that expanded operation.
Eskritt said all the moving and shifting is market driven.
“We continue to grow,” he said. “With the market being as good as it is, our plants have gotten pretty tight. This will enable us to be a little more efficient with how we build.”