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Travel Lite investing $5 million in Syracuse for expansion

May 23rd, 2017

By Denise Fodorow and Roger Schneider for Goshen News | Indiana Economic Digest

A manufacturer of recreational vehicles has purchased half of the lots in the Syracuse Technology Park to expand operations.

Dustin Johns, owner of Innovation Inc. LLC and Travel Lite RV, and his family were at the Syracuse Council meeting Tuesday where the purchase agreements for seven lots in the Syracuse Technology Park were approved. There are 14 lots in the park, which is just west of the U.S. 6/Ind. 13.

Johns’ businesses will be the first to open in the new industrial park and he estimates it’ll be about a $5 million investment and will create approximately 80 to 120 new jobs over the next year. He anticipates the move will be completed by the end of the year.

“We’re excited to come this way — we’re excited about the prospects,” he said, adding that the jobs they’ll be creating will be good-paying jobs.

The company manufactures truck campers and travel trailers. John’s father Larry started the company in Wakarusa in 1998.

Travel Lite has been at 71913 C.R. 23 south of New Paris since 2004. Johns said Wednesday the company’s lease on that property is expiring at the end of the year.

Johns said it is a perfect time to expand the business.

“We have just been having fantastic growth,” Johns said.

The company’s traditional market has been light-weight truck campers and travel trailers up to 24 feet long. The new facility will accommodate the introduction of new travel trailers that will be 28 to 33 feet long, according to Johns.

He said the move will allow workers to operate two production lines simultaneously, whereas now all products run down one line. The second line will also add efficiencies, Johns said, because workers on each line will be able to concentrate on fewer model designs during manufacturing.

In addition to the new production facility, Travel Lite will open a fiberglass shop — Next Level Components. Lindsey Johns said at the council meeting the company makes fiberglass counter tops and table tops for its own RV units but has been asked to do produce products for other manufacturers. Those two facilities, which will also include a company headquarters, will be built on five lots. Additionally, a new repair shop and RV dealership, Indiana RV, will be built on two lots facing U.S. 6.

Town welcomes growth

In a press release handed out at the meeting, Town Manager Henry DeJulia said, “We are really excited that Travel Lite RV chose the Syracuse Technology Park to break ground for its new facility. This is an expansion of economic development opportunities for the economy here in Syracuse — Benton Township area,” he said.

The industrial park is an Indiana-certified Shovel Ready Park.

DeJulia said, “We’re excited to be able to grow the park and provide a base of operations for Travel Lite RV in which they can showcase their product operations, along with employing our residents and calling Syracuse home.”

He noted that all of the infrastructure is in place including three-phase power and communication cables, reducing the costs to businesses locating there.

The Syracuse Redevelopment Commission negotiated the sale of the seven lots, totaling 26.62 acres.

The town purchased the property for the industrial park in 2006 and took ownership in 2007. Since that time, town utilities have been extended to the industrial park and annexation is currently in the works to annex the property into Syracuse.

According to DeJulia’s press release, the town has a Technology Park Incentive Program to offer financial incentives to attract businesses expanding or new businesses relocating as a means to create quality employment opportunities and new investments for the town.