Jayco, Inc

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Jayco Inc.
Industry recreation vehicles
Founded 1968
Headquarters Middlebury, Indiana, USA
Number of employees
Slogan Generations of Family Fun
Website www.jayco.com
collapsible trailer patented by
Lloyd Jay Bontrager 1967
Jayco collapsible trailer 2004 model

Jayco, Inc. is a manufacturer of recreation vehicles. They make fold-down (aka "pop-up") camping trailers, conventional travel trailers, "fifth-wheel" travel trailers, and motorhomes.[1][2] Jayco was acquired by Thor Industries in July 2016.


Jayco is based in Middlebury, Indiana. The company was founded in 1968 by Lloyd Jay Bontrager, at the suggestion of his wife, Bertha. The company name is derived from his middle name. The Jayco Company was founded on the premise that "We treat our customers like family".

Lloyd Bontrager in 2011 was inducted into the "RV Industry's Hall Of Fame for being one of the most influential men in the 100 year history of RVing."

Bontrager played a role in the development and innovations of several types of unique lifter systems for their travel trailers.[1] Bontrager developed a trailer fold-down system in 1967 and started the business of making travel trailers in two chicken houses and a barn.[2] In the first year of operations the company sold 132 trailers and had 15 employees at the end of 1968.[1] Because of the large demand for the camper, they moved out of Bontrager's farm buildings in 1969 to a new factory site nearby. The company continued to grow and in 1970 built another plant in Harper, Kansas.

In 1970 the company built some 2,000 fold-down travel trailers and sold them throughout the United States and Canada. In 1971 they produced about 3,500 camper trailers. In 1976 Jayco produced the first 5th wheel trailer with a full-height stand-up front bedroom.[1] The Jayco company logo is a Blue Jay in flight. The company mascot is also a Blue Jay named "J. Jay"!

Jayco employment of approximately 1700 employees is about 70 percent Amish and Mennonite.[1][2][3] Jayco is the largest privately held manufacturer of recreational vehicles in North America, and is currently the 3rd Largest RV Manufacturer in the world. Jayco continues to be owned and managed by members of the original Bontrager family.[3][4][5]

Presently Jayco sells about 25,000 vehicles per year. In the 42 years that Jayco has been in business, they have made over 600,000 vehicles.

Jayco recently bought the assets of Travel Supreme RV April 2008, who used to manufacture high-end 5th Wheel trailers and Luxury Class A motor homes.

Jayco also sells the #1 line of Travel Trailers in the USA, the Jay Flight, which was recently listed as a Gold Medal Green Certified RV, the first of its kind. Among other things, Jayco was cited for its use of sustainable materials, waste reduction and recycling programs, reduction of harmful volatile compounds found in RV components, installation of efficient appliances and fixtures, use of energy-efficient design and construction and utilization of renewable, clean energy.

There are about 300 dealers that sell the Jayco products in the United States as well as International dealerships in Canada and Europe. In Australia, Jayco is manufactured by Jayco Australia which is another privately founded and owned independent manufacturer, which is not affiliated with Jayco Inc of the USA[6]

Jayco has begun manufacturer of a "Green RV", the first RV to be certified as Green by the


Bontrager believed in and wished to convey to his employees the concepts of good work ethics, inspiration, respect, trust, integrity, honesty, fairness, and a family atmosphere.[7]

Just before Bontrager was killed in a plane accident on Easter in 1985, he wrote his philosophy he hoped Jayco would follow.

The 57-year-old Al Yoder, Jr. served as president of the company after Bontrager's death. Yoder immediately started an aggressive drive to improve quality of the products they produced. His philosophy was that all employees were to be informed of all the other phases of production even if they were not in those other departments.[1]

Building materials and techniques[edit]

Jayco RV's are made from a variety of materials and techniques. Wafer board, engineered wood are not used, instead using plywood, wood wall, ceiling and floor stringers insulated with fiberglass...or laminated construction with foam core insulation and aluminum frames.

Jayco Assembly line Employees include Amish and Mennonites from the community. They are commonly paid by the ability to produce a certain quota of RV's per day. When that quota is matched, they go home. (This is called "Piece rate" pay) Small bonuses are also paid out if a batch of RV's meet the quality goals...a good incentive.


Jayco campers are sold in Canada.

Jayco Inc partnered with a UK based company in the late 1970s and produced a tent camper for the European market.

In 1975, Jayco Australia Ltd was founded by Gerry Ryan OAM, (who remains the managing director). In 1976 Jayco Australia developed its first camper trailers and production commenced in January 1976. Jayco of Australia quickly established a reputation for producing high quality, competitively priced caravan and camping products, and within a few years it had become the #1 player in the Australian camper/caravan industry. Now in its fourth decade, the company - with some 850 employees - is one of the great success stories of Australian manufacturing.[1]

Energy crisis[edit]

The company was hard hit in the energy crunch of the 1970s and several of their plants were closed temporarily, including their Kansas and Canadian plants.[1] In the late 1980s and early 1990s, they also suffered another slowdown due to the high price of gasoline, however not as serious as that of the 1970s.[1] In spite of this they increased their plants and production output. They went from the fourth largest manufacturer of towable products to the second largest by 1995.[1] Their workforce then was 1300 and has since increased to about 1500 employees.[2]

Unsuccessful campers[edit]

Jayco once built a fold-down style camper onto a pontoon boat; however, it was not successful. Jayco also produced a four-wheel camper trailer that resembled a motorhome without a cab, which also failed to sell. Jayco also produced for a while a fold-down trailer camper version, where the living area flipped out directly onto the ground. Customers were not interested in that concept either.[1]

Jayco Travel Club[edit]

Jayco developed a special travel club called "Jayco Travel Club" that has yearly vacation plans.[8][9] It has over 100 chapters in the United States and Canada for their customers. The Chapters are called "Flights" and often contain references to Blue Jay Birds which is Jayco's logo and mascot.[10]

Video of RV assembly at Jayco Factory

Factory tour[edit]

Jayco has a free factory tour year-round with extra tours during the summer months. This starts at the "Griner House," an old restored farmhouse originally built in 1880. This is their Visitor Center where a 15-minute video on the company’s history and production methods are shown. The factory tour takes about one and a half hours.[2][11]

Purchase by Thor Industries.[edit]

Jayco was acquired by Thor Industries in July 2016 for $576 million.[12]



  • Axelrod, Karen, Watch It Made in the U.S.A.: A Visitor's Guide to the Best Factory Tours and Company Museums, Avalon Travel Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1-59880-000-0

External links[edit]