SMC Corp., a maker of recreational vehicles, will consolidate its fiberglass composites and laminating operations in Burns, Ore. The Harrisburg, Ore.-based firm plans to buy a former lumber mill on 16 acres in Burns, to house its production of exterior RV components, such as front and rear ends, side walls, and roofs, for its Beaver- and Sahara-brand motor coaches, said Paul Brown, SMC's chief financial officer.
Although the deal is not final, the Oregon Economic Development Department is pushing forward with infrastructure changes to the property, such as road and water extensions, to show its good faith and commitment to SMC, according to Jon Jaqua, OEDD deputy director. He expects a final agreement within the next couple of months.
``There are still a number of contingencies,'' Brown said, including an environmental review. ``At this point, we don't see anything that is a hang-up. We have a firm price on the property involved.''
Brown would not disclose SMC's bid on the 175,000-square-foot building and land, owned by Snow Mountain Pine, a liquidated lumber company.
SMC will use 50,000 square feet of the plant for making composites and laminates, and dedicate the remaining space to a new motor coach model, still ``on the drawing board,'' according to Brown. He would not offer details on the new model, except to say it relies heavily on composites.
Last year RV makers sold about 35,000 RVs priced from$40,000-$900,000, which represent the most expensive class of the motorized vehicles, he said. About 10 percent of those units fall into what Brown calls the ``high line,'' vehicles priced at more than $100,000. Both of SMC's brands, Safari and Beaver, number among the upscale RVs: Safari coaches retail between $65,000 and $200,000; Beavers run from $135,000-$350,000.
In 1995, SMC expects to sell about 1,600 total RV units - about 900 of those in the high line. The company claims that will give it a 25 percent share of the market's upper end. SMC's total RV business this year will reap $150 million to $160 million, Brown said by phone Nov. 16.
The company, founded in 1987, went public just this January, Brown said. Its stock is traded on the Nasdaq exchange. SMC's chief executive officer is Mathew M. Perlot.
The firm employs 1,100 at its three Oregon plants: two in Harrisburg, one in Bend. One 80,000-square-foot Harrisburg plant builds chassis for 70-80 percent of SMC's vehicles; the other, 180,000-square-foot plant makes Safari motor coaches. The Bend plant makes Beaver RVs.
SMC will move fiberglass composite and laminate production from Harrisburg and Bend to Burns.
The facility will ramp up as quickly as possible, starting with 30-40 workers, and employing more than 100 by June, Brown said.
Other RV fiberglass components SMC makes in-house include storage areas, wheel wells, fan shrouds and engine covers. Miles Fiberglass Co. in Clackamas, Ore., builds most of the tubs and showers for the vehicles.
The building and land in Burns are part of Snow Mountain Pine's 189-acre lumber mill that shut down more than a year ago. The site appealed to SMC for several reasons, including that trucks can travel roundtrip among all its plant sites in one day, Brown said.
The plant also may be able to use geothermal heating, which would save the company $130,000 in gas bills.
``It's hard to find existing suitable manufacturing space,'' he said.