The quiet little town of Jackson Center, OH, may be unknown to many, but it happens to be home to one of the biggest RV manufacturers in the automotive industry: Airstream. Setting up shop in 1952, the company’s founder, Wally Byam, chose the Midwest town as its headquarters due to inexpensive land and the area’s ambitious workforce, which was raring to go following the Great Depression. The company started off small in an old factory, but as it grew over the years, it began to spread all throughout Jackson Center. Today, it stands as one of the town’s biggest businesses and employs over 400 people, continuing to make improvements that will keep Airstream thriving in the future.
For many, Airstream’s choice to remain in Jackson Center is a surprising one considering the rest of the RV industry has established itself in Elkhart, IN. However, once you see how well the company is doing in Ohio, it’s easy to understand why they choose to stay. Airstream’s president and CEO, Bob Wheeler, attributes the brand’s success to the workers who have spent years mastering the art of building the aluminum trailers. He claims it’s an art from and a skill that can barely be taught, making a move to Indiana out of the question. Plenty of employees have been with the company for over 50 years, floating throughout each department to learn how to improve the business, and it’s that kind of dedication that has kept Airstream going strong for decades.
In addition to this valuable trait, Airstream has also maintained its longevity due to its “lean” manufacturing system, which was implemented after the last recession. The system gives production workers the opportunity to fix things that have required attention for years with help from management. It also encouraged Wheeler to begin recycling leftover scraps, which allowed him to put more money toward wages. These kinds of changes helped give the company a boost following the recession and any employees who were laid off during the economic downfall were able to get their jobs back, establishing a sense of loyalty that has benefited the company.
Airstream’s dedication to their employees and craft has been the main reason why the company has been able to prosper throughout the years. Their home in Jackson Center, OH, has become imminent to the company’s success and their devoted employees are irreplaceable. Airstream plans to keep making developments in order to further benefit the company in the future and remain a contender in the RV industry. Their countless efforts will push the company ahead of competitors and essentially raise it to new heights, continuing its legacy.