RED BAY | Just more than four months from a mass round of layoffs, Tiffin Motorhomes has informed its employees that more will be coming soon as the company adjusts to changes in the marketplace and declines in sales of new recreational vehicles.
Employees were told Monday that more layoffs will be coming by the end of the month as company leaders determine where staff reductions are necessary. While layoffs in late November 2022 were each approximately 25 percent across the board at all plants, this round will be more specifically related to helping stabilize business by reducing staffing where necessary but keeping it where it is needed to ensure business carries on in a sustainable manner. Still, a memo dated Friday, March 3, to Tiffin’s management and service staff, stated the cuts could be felt deep within some departments.
“We will conduct a thorough review across every department to determine the appropriate number of personnel needed to produce the high-quality motorhomes we’re known for at Tiffin at a cost that allows the company to remain viable,” Tiffin Motorhomes President Leigh Tiffin wrote in the memo. “Some areas may require cuts of about 30% while others may already be close to the right size requiring little or no cuts. We will make necessary staffing adjustments on 3/31/23.”
The memo stressed that the cuts are necessary as the company pivots to adjust output to better reflect market demand and reduce a buildup of inventory on dealer lots. Tiffin Motohomes and its parent company, Thor, are not alone in seeing these kinds of declines. Sales of recreational vehicles nationwide dropped by 18 percent in 2022 and saw a dramatic 50 percent decrease in December. According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, RV sales peaked in 2021 with just more than 600,000 units sold. This includes both self-propelled units (motorhomes) and towables (travel trailers). In 2022, that number declined to 493,268 units, and for 2023, the RVIA has projected wholesale sales of 379,000-404,000 units.
The RV industry was hit in 2022 by several factors, including higher loan interest rates, high gasoline and diesel fuel prices, and a weakening economy. And, as inventory on dealer lots has grown, manufacturers have had to cut output – and employment rolls – as a result.
“We don’t build open units,” Tiffin wrote in the memo. “We work to ensure all scheduled units are sold. We are watching dealer inventory very closely and will continue to focus on driving it lower.”
Additionally, the memo, which was titled “Business Restructuring Talking Points,” points to the company positioning itself for the future, which it has done several times in its 51-year history. The most recent major decline for the company came after the economic meltdown in the United States in 2008. The fallout of that era saw Tiffin Motorhomes output and employment fall to frighteningly low numbers. Still, the company survived and grew to its present size.“We will come out of this with stronger dealers, a stronger brand, and a more desirable product,” Tiffin wrote in the memo. “We believe in the future of our company and our team. Times like these present opportunities to improve our business for future growth and excellence.”