25 responses to 3 Concerns for Amish Working in the RV Industry
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    Lattice
    Comment on 3 Concerns for Amish Working in the RV Industry (July 10th, 2013 at 10:07)

    This was very interesting. The photograph of the boat in the driveway was surprising to me. I’ve only seen that once before at an Amish home, and as it turns out, the homeowner’s business was upholstery. The boat belonged to an “outsider.” But I suppose that the more money one makes, the more he finds to spend it on, even when he’s Amish.

    For a while I have been aware that Amish men held many jobs in the RV production business. What I wonder is this: What other factories/businesses also hire a respectable number of Amish?

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      Jean Junkin
      Comment on Boats in Amish families (July 10th, 2013 at 13:32)

      Boats in Amish families

      We owned a large boat, about 20 feet or so. We weren’t using it like we had hoped to and put an add listing it for sale. On a Sunday afternoon, a Mennonite family (husband, wife, and 10 children), called and asked if they could look at the boat. We said sure. So his wife and I sat on the front porch talking. She told me all about her oldest daughter who went English. The kids and the dad looked over the boat. They didn’t buy it, but it was a great afternoon spent on the front porch. This Mennonite group is from Pelkie, MI. Logging is most of the employment.

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      Comment on Other non-Amish businesses hiring Amish (July 10th, 2013 at 15:53)

      Other non-Amish businesses hiring Amish

      Two that come to mind, since I was just in that area, are trailer factories and brickyards in Ohio. Both of these can be found in the vicinity of Sugarcreek and have significant Amish employment, or at least did the last time I checked. Skyline is the name of the modular home company in Sugarcreek. As it happens they also do RV production: http://www.skylinecorp.com/

      The trailer factories are generally non-Amish owned. I’m not sure if any have had Amish ownership or were founded by Amish.

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        kerry
        Comment on 3 Concerns for Amish Working in the RV Industry (July 13th, 2013 at 14:47)

        Skyline still has about 50/50 Amish/English employment in Sugarcreek. This creates some interesting issues working between those 2 groups. Business there is booming right now.

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        Barb Zimmerman
        Comment on RV info (April 15th, 2016 at 10:56)

        RV info

        Hi Eric,
        I’ve been involved with the RV industry since the beginning and can answer a few questions.

        Most other industries in the area (we are home of orthopedic industry, too) will not hire Amish for the simple reason that a high school diploma is required, even for factory work. I’m seeing more Amish kids in high school now, so that may open more options.

        The main reason for a 4:00 a.m. start is to finish before the heat of the day. AC is useless in the large open buildings. Heat is a major problem for day shifts, although Indiana summers can be brutal for night shifts, too.

        As to Amish starting RV businesses, several founders had Amish backgrounds (like Mahlon Miller who started Newmar in Happened), but I don’t know of any who were Amish.

        As to quality problems, thousands are built, so there will always be issues. Plus, many of the issues have to do with what is supplied rather than what is assembled. These are complete homes with all the conveniences and problems related, plus add a vehicle and those problems.

        I hope this helps.

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          Barb Zimmerman
          Comment on Correction (April 15th, 2016 at 10:59)

          Correction

          Sorry, did not notice auto-correct changed Nappanee to Happened.

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    SharonR
    Comment on Amish working in the RV Industry (July 10th, 2013 at 10:21)

    Amish working in the RV Industry

    I think it’s a good occupation for the Amish to be in when they are not doing well, with their own occupations. It lends another means of earnings coming into the household. On the other hand, I hate to see the whole Amish population resort to working in the RV Factories, in the future, and just hope and pray that they can continue their farming and other craft & skilled occupations, as they are so used to doing through their generations.

    We have an RV, and it was manufactured in N. Indiana; We have had some warranty issues arise (within 1 month of owning it!), which these items should not have left the factory in this way. I have a fear that the workers (Amish and English alike) are not given the proper amount of time on the assembly line, to put all the parts & pieces together, for the finished product. I’m sure this is a stressful environment, because you are expected to work at a faster pace than what would be the ‘norm’ if you worked at home or on your farm, plus maybe leaving no time to “correct” something that you just finished, before it goes on to the next “area” of the assembly line.

    Maybe a follow-up to this article, Eric, could be interviews from the Amish themselves (if possible and if some are willing to share), on just how stressful those factories are. With so many RV repairs these days, (check out some RV repair facilities), I would hate to see the AMISH get a ‘bad rap’ because of their inferior work in RV’s. I don’t think they are to blame, but the industry itself is to blame, possibly lacking enough QC, tight schedules, or demanding too much of all workers.

    Just my thoughts that I have, since we are owners of an RV — am glad that we are helping the RV industry and putting people to work, by our purchase, as well as for our enjoyment of camping trips, every few months.
    SharonR

    • Sharon thanks for sharing your perspective as an owner of an RV. It sounds like you got a lemon. Hope that worked out for you in the end. Your idea for follow up details is a good one. Will keep it in mind for the next visit.

      For those curious there is footage of Amish working on an RV line in last year’s PBS film “The Amish”, viewable in full at the link below:

      http://video.pbs.org/video/2200745636/

      I can’t help but be curious, what kind of mileage do you get on an RV? :)

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        SharonR
        Comment on Amish working in RV industry (July 10th, 2013 at 17:04)

        Amish working in RV industry

        ERIK — Mileage on RV depends on what type you get — a motorhome, depending on size, could get anything BELOW 15 mpg — a Class C (type with truck chassis, with “box”), could be similar or better; We have a 24 ft Travel Trailer, pulling it with a RAM1500 with Hemi, and we get 8.5 mpg when pulling it. There is all types of configurations in campers/RV’s so mileage really depends on the unit and/or your tow vehicle.

        No, I don’t think we got a lemon — this is our 5th RV, and we’ve seen the quality of a variety of RV’s on the market, and there is no bad brand, but quality of workmanship tends to differ between brands, we’ve noticed. Our minor problems have been fixed (under warranty) and it is OK for now. We love camping, and after many years of camping, we don’t expect a “perfect” unit – even “top of the line” units can have problems.

        Sorry this comment turned into something totally off topic!! My comment from earlier still stands — I sympathize with the Amish who do work in the RV industries, because I know they really are probably glad to get home, once their day is done, at the factory! Peace and quiet, maybe some chores, and a good Amish meal waiting on them, hopefully!
        SharonR

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        Tom Geist
        Comment on 3 Concerns for Amish Working in the RV Industry (July 10th, 2013 at 21:37)

        This is crazy work. Here is the short version of what it looks like when you work in the RV factory.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Uh-NB_FWIs

        And although Amish have a good reputation for quality work, i am not sure I would want one of these units. Haste makes waste comes to mind.
        Tom in Lincoln
        LincNebr@hotmail.com

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        Florine
        Comment on RV and Amish (July 14th, 2016 at 09:50)

        RV and Amish

        I own an RV manufactured by Forest River and have owned it since 2009. It is a solid well made rv. We have traveled to Alaska, Canada, east coast and northern United States and were always very comfortable and stress free. I attribute it to the excellent workmanship by the Amish and English workers.

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        Helen Wheeler
        Comment on Jayco Quality is not Amish Quality (August 24th, 2016 at 23:34)

        Jayco Quality is not Amish Quality

        We just bought a new 2016 Jayco Precept 31UL. Our salesman stressed over and over again “made by the Amish.” The Jayco website states “Old World Amish Craftsmanship.” I can tell you there is absolutely no “Old World Amish Craftsmanship” in this Jayco RV. It is completely false advertising for Jayco to claim that these motorhomes are made by the Amish. Yes, Amish work at the factory but there is no Amish quality involved in the production line work done at Jayco. Jayco should not be allowed to claim “Old World Amish Craftsmanship” when there is absolutely none. Our Jayco RV is very poorly made. We used it one day and had to return it to the Manteca Trailer and RV Dealership for numerous warranty issues. It was at the dealership for 41 days. We took it on a 500 mile trip and again experienced numerous issues. It is back at the Manteca RV Dealership. At this rate, the two year warranty will be completely expired before they return this piece of junk to us. Unfortunately, with Jayco advertising “made by the Amish” this reflects very poorly on what the Amish really stand for. Jayco should not be allowed to made these false claims. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER BY A JAYCO. Completely false advertising that puts a black mark on “Made by the Amish.”

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    Debbie H
    Comment on 3 Concerns for Amish Working in the RV Industry (July 10th, 2013 at 11:17)

    Very interesting article. I had wondered about the non Christian environment because many Christians do struggle with it.

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    Andrea green
    Comment on 3 Concerns for Amish Working in the RV Industry (July 10th, 2013 at 12:23)

    I was really shocked, i did not now Amish had mortgages? I did not now they borrowed money. How can they get loans if they live of the grid, this is something new that i have learn’t. Also if they work fot industry’s they must pay taxes, do you pay tax on your income in America ? Over hear in Scotland we pay tax on are income. Very interesting i had not thought about these issuse the Amish face as well as Engish people. And great pictures. :-)

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      Ed
      Comment on 3 Concerns for Amish Working in the RV Industry (July 10th, 2013 at 20:37)

      I’m curious about transportation to and from the factories. Do the companies provide transportation for their non-driving Amish employees? Or do several employees who live in the same area form “carpools” with a hired driver? Or do some commute to work in buggies?

      I also wonder if this has led or will lead to urbanization, among this group of Amish. If you’re working in a factory, it would seem much more convenient to live in a house in town near the factory, rather than on a more distant farm. Multi-unit housing within walking distance to the factory would be more convenient still. Do any Amish in these areas live in more urban settings than we traditionally associate with Amish?

      • Ed, a little slow here, I am not sure about companies providing transport, quite a few would get there on their own, and often by bicycle.

        There are some suburbia-type areas in Amish communities and in the Lagrange-Elkhart are in particular. Amish also live “in town” to a degree, though I wouldn’t call anywhere they live urban nor would I expect them to live in very built-up areas (I mean built-up city, not built-up county as is the case in a few communities).

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          Mary Miller
          Comment on Transportation to work (July 14th, 2013 at 18:46)

          Transportation to work

          Most RV companies do not provide transportation for their Amish workers. Rather, they hitch a ride with English co-workers, or ride their bikes. “Drivers” are paid by the “riders” on a per trip basis. Going rate is $3-5 per trip. Seldom(never?)would they bring their horse and buggy, and leave the horse to stand all day!

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          darren colclasure
          Comment on amish and the RV industry (July 26th, 2013 at 17:42)

          amish and the RV industry

          Hello there since I grew up around the amish in the Arthur Illinois area and now I deliver new RV,s from the factories to the dealers I thought I would jump in here.A lot of the RV industry bragg about the amish workers and it does seem to sell a lot of campers, and most people know that the amish are good workers and have a since of quality in there work.I have been delivering campers since 2005 and have been to a lot of the factories up in the Elkhart areas, if the amish live close they will ride bikes or use the family horse, a lot of them will catch rides and car pool and pay a certain percentage for fuel.Amish are just like all of us they have there dreams for themselves and their families and they will work for the dreams to become true, if you respect them they will respect you also and the will be a good friend and will help you out

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    Alice Mary
    Comment on 3 Concerns for Amish Working in the RV Industry (July 10th, 2013 at 15:05)

    My recent (May) Shipshewana trip made me very aware of how dependent some Amish have become on RV production. Our local (Middlebury native) tour guide told us that it’s especially tempting for the younger generation (she mentioned young, unmarried men, especially) to be making so much money. That, and rubbing elbows with various “English” also working there (the “poor environment” that Erik mentioned) doesn’t make it any easier to live under the Ordnung.

    I was also surprised at the “RV Museum” (I don’t know if that’s an accurate description) we passed, which was pointed out by our bus driver. Apparently, Indiana is the “RV capital of the world.”

    Alice Mary

    • I’m not surprised by the high Amish employment. While it’s not easy work, it has to be very enticing to be able to walk into a factory and make very commendable wages from a young age. If I was in that position I would certainly consider it.

      Adding to that, this is a well-established industry so RV work is part of the local Amish tradition, with fathers and grandfathers having spent time in RV factories. As the men get older home businesses become more appealing as there is a desire to slow down a bit.

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    Matt from CT
    Comment on 3 Concerns for Amish Working in the RV Industry (July 10th, 2013 at 15:51)

    @Andrea

    There are no laws that forbid mortgages on “off-grid” houses.

    The catch is most banks in the U.S. sell their mortgages almost immediately to one of the three large quasi-governmental corporations — Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae which collectively “own” about 80% of the mortgages in the U.S. with the “originators” (the bank or mortgage company) just being the front man who collects payments. The three corporations in turn sell bonds to Wall Street investors based on their mortgage portfolios.

    Those big guys won’t make off-grid loans.

    That simply means the banks that originate the mortgages keep them themselves instead of selling them to someone else — and the Amish have an excellent reputation of credit worthiness. I’m sure the banks making the loans are smaller, locally owned banks rather than the big, impersonal national banks.

    As for taxes, yes there are income taxes. Typically local governments rely primarily on property taxes, state governments on sales taxes and income taxes, and the federal government on income taxes.

    Amish pay most taxes, but they are exempted from paying two old-age social insurance programs — Social Security and Medicare. They are also exempt from new mandatory health insurance requirements being rolled out with Obamacare. All three of those are tied into the income tax code.

    They’re also exempt from Worker’s Compensation Insurance when it’s an Amish employer employing Amish workers, but an Amish working for an Englisher or an Englisher working for an Amishman then the Worker’s Comp must be carried.

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    Andrea green
    Comment on 3 Concerns for Amish Working in the RV Industry (July 10th, 2013 at 15:59)

    Thank you Matt, that has explained a lot for me coming from the uk. Things are so much more different over there in the USA than here in Scotland, now i understand better thanks for your info much appreciated :-)

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    LarMar
    Comment on 3 Concerns for Amish Working in the RV Industry (July 10th, 2013 at 18:22)

    The RV industry is boom and bust. I worked at Jayco for a number of years until a layoff in 2000. The entire work environment is built around the Amish, including stopping production to honor the 12 days of Old Christmas.

    Many of the boys are hired in when they leave school but only to push a broom until they reach 18 and can legally operate power tools in a factory.

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    Carolyn B
    Comment on Rv/ small homes (July 23rd, 2013 at 09:53)

    Rv/ small homes

    I follow a number of people who represent the tiny house movement. People are looking to downsize physically and financially. RVs would fit into this category. Perhaps that is why the RV industry is improving even though the US economy is still floundering. Just my 2 cents.

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      SharonR
      Comment on Amish Working in the RV industry (July 23rd, 2013 at 10:13)

      Amish Working in the RV industry

      Reply to Carolyn B – concerning the tiny house movement – RV’s are really not meant or constructed to be lived in as permanent homes, although a lot of people have had to do that, because of the economic conditions, past few years.

      I’m not sure of the reasons, but that is what I have read, in several places – Here’s one statement from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recreational_vehicle– “There are a large and growing number of people who live full-time in their RV/motorhome; these are known as fulltimers. This is not advisable as RV’s are not constructed to standards which would permit safe long term occupancy.” Not sure if this is because of glues used, or construction materials, etc ??? Not sure. Recreational vehicles or campers are much different than a Mobile or Manufactured home where these are constructed safely for permanent living.

      I think the reasons, that the RV Industry has once again accelerated, is because more baby boomers are now retiring or others are discovering that “camping” is a great way to explore the countryside and go on vacations, rather than staying cooped up in hotel “resorts” or going to expensive theme parks. Also, banks are lending again, and RV Dealers have ways to get the best financing for a buyer.

      Whatever the reasons for the increase in productivity, that is a good thing! It offers a place for anyone do make a living in these very challenging times!
      SharonR

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