Airstream’s legacy: Wally Byams’s dream began in 1931

For the Sidney Daily News

This is an aerial view of the Airstream plant in Jackson Center.

This is an aerial view of the Airstream plant in Jackson Center.

Courtesy photo

This is an aerial view of the Airstream plant in Jackson Center.

Courtesy photo

JACKSON CENTER — What is the perfect Airstream?

In 1931, Airstream began with Wally Byams’s dream: to build a travel trailer that would move like a stream of air, be light enough to be towed by a car and create first-class accommodations anywhere.

Every inch of an Airstream has a function and are the most thoroughly tested brand in trailer history. Its engineering is the culmination of over 85 years of experience plus millions of miles on roads throughout the world to perfect the ultimate adventure-making product.

Mollie Hansen, vice president of marketing, has submitted the following report:


From 2014-2015, Airstream invested more than $10 million in Touring Coach renovations, office expansion, Travel Trailer Plant expansion, and manufacturing equipment, to support increased demands providing many new employment opportunities for its local communities.

The expansion project added approximately 94,000 square-feet to Airstream’s existing 134,000 square-foot travel trailer plant. An overall $5.9 million investment in Jackson Center, the expansion is a commitment to the community, the company’s strong heritage in the area, as well as its vision of continued growth over the long term. Following its completion in May 2015, the new addition to the production facilities resulted in an increase in current production capacity of approximately 50 percent over past levels.

The company also built a new Airstream Associate (& Spouse) Fitness Center in 2015.


Airstream sales were up 21 percent in 2015, and the company is anticipating approximately 20 percent growth next year as well, largely due to strengthened distribution channels and key favorable economic metrics – low fuel prices, low interest rates, baby boomers reaching prime travel trailer and touring coach buying age (11,000 people turn prime buying age every day for the next 18 years).

Airstream continues to grow its share in international markets as well, including the official brand launch in China.

Airstream’s year-over-year growth continues to exceed that of the RV industry. The company’s focus on distribution expansion, focused marketing, and relevant products has contributed to the fast and continued rise within the industry. In 2015 Airstream was up 18 percent.

In addition, the automotive industry is also recognizing a growth in truck and SUV sales and the top three selling vehicles in the country for 2015 are all trucks that can tow Airstreams. One of those happens to be Ford, the number one preferred tow vehicle for Airstream owners (Ford series No. 1, Chevy Silverado No. 2, and Dodge Ram No. 3).

The year 2015 was the fourth consecutive year for record sales in Airstream’s 85 year history and is on track for record sales in 2016.

The popular Airstream Interstate is the number one selling Type B diesel motorhome in the U.S. for the third year in a row, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. Brand Market Share Report, which details total sales of diesel and gas class B models. In 2014, Airstream Interstate unit sales increased 30.2 percent over 2013 – nearly 8 percent higher than the overall B Van segment growth which was up 22.8 percent year over year. The Interstate now has 33.7 percent market share of the diesel class B segment.

Total number of buildings in Jackson Center: 10

Total Square-feet: about ½ million

Current Production: about 67 Airstreams / week. (Mid Feb. 2016 will increase to about 72 / week)

Waiting period for Airstream: 6 months

Current Associate count: 620

2015 Associates Hired: 236

2016 Forecast New Associate Hire: 150+

Airstream Awards / Recognitions: DSI Quality Award, Safety Awards, Recognized by US Dept. of Energy, Voted top 10 Best Factory Tours by Fox News & CNN, voted top 10 Best Travel Trailer Manufacturers

Built on Longevity of Service/Employment:

52 Years – 1 Associate = Larry Metz

40-50 years: 12 Associates

30-39 years: 34 Associates

20-29 Years: 58 Associates

10-19 Years: 61 Associates

National Media Attention:

From January 2015 through January 2016, Airstream has garnered more than 723 million media impressions in a wide variety of national business, lifestyle, luxury, trade and regional publications through press release distribution and media loan experiences. A few of these placements include: Bloomberg Businessweek, Bloomberg TV – Bloomberg Markets, Business Insider, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., Men’s Journal, Town & Country and Westways.

Airstream provides guided tours every business day starting at 2 p.m. Contact Airstream if group of 10 or more at 937-596-6111.

This is an aerial view of the Airstream plant in Jackson Center. is an aerial view of the Airstream plant in Jackson Center. Courtesy photo

This is an aerial view of the Airstream plant in Jackson Center. is an aerial view of the Airstream plant in Jackson Center. Courtesy photo

For the Sidney Daily News