RV industry set to fill gap left by car plant closures
A leading Victoria-based caravan manufacturer has won a million dollar grant to expand production with the aim of providing jobs to retrenched auto workers.
New Age Caravans, based at Epping in Melbourne’s north east RV manufacturing hub, says it will use the funds to set up a new $3.7m robotic chassis building line at its plant.
New Age Caravans CEO Brendan Murphy said the company would create up to 65 new jobs. He’s hoping they will come online around the same time as the nearby Ford Australia assembly plant was scaled down.
“I expect many of the Ford workers would have the same specialist skills we will be needing here,’ Mr Murphy said.
The $1m for New Age Caravans is the first grant made from a multi million dollarMelbourne North Innovation and Investment fund. The body has been set up jointly by Ford Australia, The Victoria Government and Federal Government to hand out cash in the hope of creating work for displaced Ford workers.
With more than 85 per cent of Australian caravan production occurring in Victoria, Manufacturing Minister David Hodgett said he believed the industry was well placed to expand and provide more manufacturing jobs.
“In many ways, the similarities in production to the RV manufacturing industry, combined with the period of growth that the industry is enjoying, provide huge opportunities.
“This is why our Government has already begun targeted investments in the caravan manufacturing industry to help facilitate the growth that will create jobs, and ultimately provide a real option for workers from the three automotive manufacturers.”
Mr Hodgett said Government help was potentially available to help other manufacturers expand to create new jobs.
“Our Victorian Government Business Offices are in regular contact with other caravan manufacturers to offer support and guidance, as well as look at ways in which the Victorian Government can assist with their growth and to help develop export opportunities.”
New Age CEO Mr Murphy said the company was already Australia’s biggest caravan-specific manufacturer, now turning out 115 caravans per month since moving into a new factory.
He said the company owners Joe and Gabby Barrasso were actively looking at export markets as well as opening up six new dealerships around Australia.
He sees a big future for RV manufacturing in north east Melbourne
“When I joined the industry in 1998 there were just 16 manufacturers in the Epping Campbellfieldarea, today that has grown to 55.
“There’s plenty more growth here in Australia providing we keep innovating and don’t rest on our laurels,” Mr Murphy said.
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