Dutchmen Manufacturing Closes Burley Plant, Displaces 160 Employees

2013-09-23T12:04:00Z Dutchmen Manufacturing Closes Burley Plant, Displaces 160 EmployeesBy C. COLT CRANE Times-News writer Twin Falls Times-News
September 23, 2013 12:04 pm  • 

BURLEY – A recreational vehicle production plant will close in Burley on Nov. 15.

Dutchmen Manufacturing, an Indiana-based company, said the Burley RV plant will close and transition to Pendleton, Ore.

“Our intention is to relocate the operations to Pendleton where we already have an ongoing campus of production operations there,” Dutchmen Vice President David Thomas said.

The closure will affect more than 160 employees in Mini-Cassia.

“It’s tough, and we understand it’s tough,” Thomas said. “The employees have been offered the opportunity to relocate to Pendleton. “We’ve opened it up to everybody that currently works in production.”

In a press release, Aram Koltookian, an executive vice president, talked about Dutchmen’s reasons for closing the Burley plant.

“This move will help Dutchmen and our dealers to maintain our lead over the competition with products built for the western market,” Koltookian said. “The Pendleton campus offers us newly retooled production lines, room to expand, and the many advantages of on-site vendor relationships. This location will significantly improve our operating efficiencies in order to better serve our West Coast dealers.”

An Idaho Department of Labor economist said the closure was a disappointment for Mini-Cassia and Idaho.

“It is a real blow to the area because of two things,” said Jan Roeser, south-central Idaho regional economist. “A lot of the skills that these workers have are construction skills, and that’s an industry that took a big hit during the recession. The (Dutchmen) company never lost momentum during the recession. It was always a strong company, so we hate to see a stable employer like that leave.”

But Roeser said many Idaho employers are seeking workers with construction skills and experience.

Roeser also said other Mini-Cassia manufacturers were a bright spot in the wake of the announcement.

“McCain (Foods) chose to expand their company and to grow and renovate,” Roeser said. “We have investment in the area, and we have a lot of confidence in the Mini-Cassia area.”

The Labor Department reports low unemployment numbers for Mini-Cassia, citing the community’s high agricultural production as a boon to the local economy.

“You look at Cassia County and it’s the top ag-producing county in the state with over 600 million (dollars) in ag receipts. That’s pretty amazing,” Roeser said. “It’s really a plus for that area. It keeps the food processing plants busy, and it attracts other supporting industry.

"It is a blow, but we’re leaving individuals with skills that can transfer into other industries.”

Copyright 2015 Twin Falls Times-News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. confidential
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    confidential - September 24, 2013 8:26 am
    Hate to be first in, but wth... Just felt the need to point out a few errors with this article, at least from a future-former Dutchmen employee's point of view. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but what I took from the meeting was the following: firstly, and probably least, we were told one of the reasons for the shutdown was because Dutchmen's took such a huge hit during the '08 crash. The main point of this post though, is the misrepresented statement from the VP, which was that we would have the opportunity to relocate, but doing so grants no guarantee for employment with the company. We were told there are roughly 90-100 jobs available, yet we would also be competing with local workers to fill those spots, as they are hiring mainly from the pendleton area. Sure, some of us would be lucky enough to get our old jobs back, but with that glaring lack of stability, who in their right mind would displace their entire family?

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