Did you know that Amish are heavily involved in building recreational vehicles? We’ve touched on this topic in the past, in posts like Why are Amish building RVs? and 3 Concerns for Amish Working in the RV Industry.
The funny thing is that these are really some luxurious vehicles that don’t seem at all to fit an “Amish” way of life.
Yet Amish workers are key to the workforce cranking these six-figure homes-on-wheels out on a grand scale.
These are sumptuous consumer items and for a casual observer, probably about the last thing you’d think of Amish being involved with. Just have a look at this interior:
Todays models are definitely more “lux” than what I recall.
But with the Amish, just because you make something, doesn’t mean you have to make it a part of your life. Which is one reason the RV industry is the most important part of the “Amish economy” in northern Indiana.
So here’s a neat 3-minute video giving you a look inside of Newmar, one of the major players in the Indiana RV industry.
The host, product trainer Nick Whitehead, takes you through the basic process of making an RV, showing you the different stops along the way.
This is a promo video, but less “commercial” and more “informational”.
You’ll see a lot of shots of Amish workers at various stages in the process (English workers too).
This doesn’t give you every last detail of how an RV is made, but it takes you through the general procedure.
Everything begins from the chassis, the foundation so to speak. Gradually other elements gradually get added on, like sidewalls and porcelain flooring.
Workers install a “cathedral ceiling” which gives six additional inches of space in the bathroom.
Then they move on to the electrical system, and then insulation. The construction, Whitehead explains, is similar to what you’d find in your home.
Next comes the fiberglass “skin” of the exterior, with holes made for the windows and doors. That’s followed by interior installations.
Then it goes to another facility for painting. After quality checks and “final finish”, it can be shipped.
These are skilled workers and the video really shows how much goes into making the RV (a point the host makes himself).
I’m not normally so into “how things get made” videos, but this one is worth a watch:
The Amish Kitchen & RV Industry Challenges
On a related note, Amish Kitchen writer Lovina Eicher mentions in a recent column how work has been slow lately for her husband, who works in the RV industry. This ties in to one of the “3 Concerns” referenced in the above post I linked.
The thing about the RV industry is that it is good money and often fits well with an Amish schedule, but the industry is pretty cyclical. It tends to go through boom and bust times.
For instance, the Elkhart/Lagrange County area had one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation during the 2008-09 recession, getting up to around 20%.
This was tied to the downturn in the RV industry as non-necessities tend to be forgotten during economic hard times. The price of gas can also negatively affect sales.
So Lovina’s column here comes as no surprise. She relies on prayer and God. “Do we thank him enough for our many blessings?” she asks:
It’s 4:30 a.m. and son Benjamin, 19, just left for work. My husband Joe left over an hour ago to travel to his job.
Joe has been working at the RV factory for more than 14 years now. He has a 45-minute drive to and from the factory. With the road conditions this winter we can’t be thankful enough when they get there and back safely every day. Son-in-law Mose and Joe ride with a man who also works there and doesn’t live too far from us.
Next week there isn’t any work at the RV factory, so Joe has a week off again. It sure makes a few more worries to not have that paycheck. I often think of the words “why worry if you can pray?” God always provides some way or another. Do we thank him enough for our many blessings?