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.”