Start-up RV manufacturer to launch operations in Elkhart County

(Photo supplied/Ember RV)

Ember Recreational Vehicles Inc., a new startup RV manufacturer, announced plans today to launch operations in Elkhart County, with plans to significantly scale up its workforce in northern Indiana over the next few years.

“Hoosiers are innovators, launching businesses that are developing new solutions for today’s challenges affecting industries Indiana is known for across the nation,” Jim Staton, SVP and chief business development officer for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. “Ember Recreational Vehicles is a prime example of one of those companies, finding success with the support of a strong entrepreneurial culture and a business climate that keeps taxes, expenses and regulations low while providing talent and growth opportunities.”

Ember, which was founded earlier this year, plans to invest $4 million to build an 87,750-square-foot building on 15 acres in Bristol Commerce Park at 1728 Commerce Drive. The manufacturing facility will be equipped with new lamination machines and welding equipment. Construction is expected to be completed by September 2021 with production starting soon after.

The company, which currently operates out of 18,000 square feet of warehouse, production and office space in Bristol has grown to 23 employees over the last few months as it’s started the prototype process, plans to scale its workforce up to 150 positions by the end of 2023. The company is now hiring in Bristol for RV production, service, engineering, accounting and administration positions. Information on open positions will be available online.

“Northern Indiana, specifically Elkhart County, has earned its title as the ‘RV Capital of the World’ honestly,” said Ashley Bontrager Lehman, Ember president and CEO. “The craftsmanship, dedication and work ethic of the local workforce has proven, over decades, to be unmatched. I, along with Ember’s three other founding partners, Chris Barth, Steve Delagrange and Ernie Miller, knew starting our company in Northern Indiana would provide a solid foundation for a successful future. We strongly felt to build a better RV, we need to build a better RV company first. We’re excited to bring a fresh approach to the RV Industry and where better to do it than Indiana?”

Founded in early 2021 by Lehman, granddaughter of Jayco Founders Lloyd and Bertha Bontrager, Ember is entering the marketplace with light-weight, laminated travel trailers featuring off-road and off-grid capabilities, with plans for future product expansion.

“Ember RV will be designing and building innovative, lightweight trailers and will be the first woman-led RV manufacturing company in Bristol,” said Bristol Town Manager Mike Yoder. “We are very excited and pleased that Ember RV has chosen Bristol to construct their manufacturing facility.”

The IEDC offered Ember Recreational Vehicles Inc. up to $1 million in conditional tax credits based on the company’s plans to create up to 150 jobs by the end of 2023 and up to $100,000 in conditional tax credits from the Hoosier Business Investment tax credit based on the company’s planned capital investment in Indiana. These credits are performance-based, meaning the company is eligible to claim incentives once Hoosiers are hired and investments are made. The town of Bristol will provide additional incentives up to $425,000.

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Charles U Farley August 18, 2021 at 2:04 pm

““Ember RV will be … the first woman-led RV manufacturing company in Bristol,” said Bristol Town Manager Mike Yoder.”

So what? Or does that explain how the startup got their grant money?

Last I checked, money doesn’t care what sex the CEO was, only what decisions they make.

Isaac August 18, 2021 at 6:35 pm

I think the town manager was simply trying to say what he thought would look good on paper for the public. I mean come on…. how many rv manufactures are there in Bristol considering 4 companies own all of them.

Of course its good to have women sitting at the head of companies. Obviously she’s made some good moves to get tax breaks and get publicity. If they’re successful it’ll only be a matter of time before Thor or Forrest River buys them 😉

Charles U Farley August 19, 2021 at 8:39 am

“Of course its good to have women sitting at the head of companies.”

Why? And how is that OK to say when substituting “men” for “women” is misogynist? Technically what you just said is misandry.

“Obviously she’s made some good moves to get tax breaks and get publicity.”

So far the only things I’ve seen evidence of were being born a woman, but under our current woke overlords that seems to be enough to get free money, tax breaks, and publicity. In that environment, success on her merits is certainly not obvious.

Don’t misunderstand, I hope she’s great, makes awesome decisions, and the company succeeds beyond all expectations. I just don’t think her gender will realistically have anything to do with it.

Josh November 1, 2021 at 4:51 pm

I respectfully disagree with her gender not making a difference in the success or failure of the company. Being the first woman to run an RV company. She may make decisions in a different way than she would of without the spotlight on her. Maybe she lets her ego get in the way of decision making. Maybe she runs the company into the ground. Maybe she turns it into the next grand designs. But I think her being a woman will have some effect on her decision making. Good or bad.


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