Ember Recreational Vehicles Inc., a new startup RV manufacturer, announced plans to launch operations in Elkhart County, with plans to significantly scale up its workforce in northern Indiana over the next few years.
"Hoosiers are innovators, launching businesses that are developing new solutions for today’s challenges affecting industries Indiana is known for across the nation," Jim Staton, SVP and chief business development officer for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). "Ember Recreational Vehicles is a prime example of one of those companies, finding success with the support of a strong entrepreneurial culture and a business climate that keeps taxes, expenses and regulations low while providing talent and growth opportunities.”
Ember, which was founded earlier this year, plans to invest $4 million to build an 87,750-square-foot building on 15 acres in Bristol Commerce Park at 1728 Commerce Drive. The manufacturing facility will be equipped with new lamination machines and welding equipment. Construction is expected to be completed by September 2021 with production starting soon after.
The company, which currently operates out of 18,000 square feet of warehouse, production and office space in Bristol has grown to 23 employees over the last few months as it's started the prototype process, plans to scale its workforce up to 150 positions by the end of 2023. The company is now hiring in Bristol for RV production, service, engineering, accounting and administration positions. Information on open positions will be available online.
“Northern Indiana, specifically Elkhart County, has earned its title as the ‘RV Capital of the World’ honestly," said Ashley Bontrager Lehman, Ember president and CEO. "The craftsmanship, dedication and work ethic of the local workforce has proven, over decades, to be unmatched. I, along with Ember's three other founding partners, Chris Barth, Steve Delagrange and Ernie Miller, knew starting our company in Northern Indiana would provide a solid foundation for a successful future. We strongly felt to build a better RV, we need to build a better RV company first. We’re excited to bring a fresh approach to the RV Industry and where better to do it than Indiana?”
Founded in early 2021 by Lehman, granddaughter of Jayco Founders Lloyd and Bertha Bontrager, Ember is entering the marketplace with light-weight, laminated travel trailers featuring off-road and off-grid capabilities, with plans for future product expansion.
“Ember RV will be designing and building innovative, lightweight trailers and will be the first woman-led RV manufacturing company in Bristol,” said Bristol Town Manager Mike Yoder. “We are very excited and pleased that Ember RV has chosen Bristol to construct their manufacturing facility."
The IEDC offered Ember Recreational Vehicles Inc. up to $1 million in conditional tax credits based on the company’s plans to create up to 150 jobs by the end of 2023 and up to $100,000 in conditional tax credits from the Hoosier Business Investment tax credit based on the company's planned capital investment in Indiana. These credits are performance-based, meaning the company is eligible to claim incentives once Hoosiers are hired and investments are made. The town of Bristol will provide additional incentives up to $425,000.
Indiana manufactures nearly 80% of all RVs in the United States and Canada. According to the RV Industry Association, the RV industry contributes more than $32.4 billion annually to Indiana’s economy, with more than 640 businesses supporting 126,140 jobs for Hoosiers.