Northern Lite nears completion of their brand new factory, unveils new fiberglass molds, and teases us with fresh details of the Northern Lite campers to debut late this Fall.
There’s a great deal of excitement in the truck camper industry and community right now about the news coming out of Kelowna, British Columbia. After a devastating fire last February burned the Northern Lite factory to the ground, a new and modern factory is well underway. New fiberglass molds have been precision cut and shipped from the United States. Best of all, plans are being forged to roll Northern Lite truck campers off the production line before the end of the year. That’s right folks, Northern Lite truck campers are coming!
Without a doubt, this is the best come back story we’ve ever covered. After watching too many truck camper manufacturers fold due to challenging economic circumstances in 2008 and 2009, it’s awe inspiring to see Northern Lite triumphantly returning after literally burning to the ground in the middle of peak production season. Northern Lite’s recovery is a true testament to the strength, skill, and fortitude of the Northern Lite team.
As truck camper enthusiasts, we’re also very excited to see Northern Lite’s new campers. Since they had to redesign the molds, what did they change? Since they lost all of their jigs, what improvements are they working on? And what’s going on with the factory? We’re full of questions, and we know exactly who to ask.
Taking a moment away from the construction site, we talked to Keith Donkin, General Manager for Northern Lite.
Above: Northern Lite is rebuilding – the roof is being finished, the windows are in, and the garage doors are on – click to enlarge
TCM: When we ran the story, “Northern Lite Will Rebuild” announcing Northern Lite’s commitment to rebuild the factory and resume manufacturing, the building was nothing more than a cleared foundation. What’s the status of the building today?
Keith: As of this morning, all the walls are up, the roof is sheeted, the overhead doors are installed, the windows are in, and about one-quarter of the parking area is paved. Right now we are prepping the floor, after raising the floor a foot. 200 dump truck loads are hauling in material. It’s a very busy construction site, and things are moving fast.
Above: Portions of the original foundation were used for the new building
TCM: That’s fantastic news. Did your plans to use the original building foundation work out?
Keith: Portions of the existing foundation were used. We’ve expanded the building quite a bit, putting in new foundation and footing. We went with a tilt-up wall panel building and that company fell behind schedule. That has been our only delay. The footings and foundation walls didn’t cause any delays. They went up fairly quickly.
Above: The new Northern Lite glass shop being built; it will be the largest spray booth in the Okanagan Valley when it’s complete – click to enlarge
TCM: Has construction of the new fiberglass shop started yet?
Keith: Yes, it has. The fiberglass shop is four separate walls within the main building. All of the fiberglass shop walls are fired rated. We also enlarged the glass shop. It will be the largest spray booth in the Okanagan Valley when it’s complete. Everything has been increased for production.
We also built a covered area for the molds. The molds and glass shop being finished is a priority.
When we were designing the building we were looking at flow for increased production. The plant will be a nice facility for our workers to work out of.
Above: Early stages of construction; construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of November 2014 – click to enlarge
TCM: When is construction scheduled to be completed?