Featherlite has reopened in Pryor

Wednesday, January 21st 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

There is some good news for Mayes County's economy. Featherlite, the nation's leading manufacturer of luxury motor coaches and specialty trailers is back in business.

The Pryor plant closed down two years ago, leaving more than 250 people jobless. But as News on 6 reporter Patrina Adger tells us, the company has re-hired some past employees and could soon be looking for new ones.

"We believe this is an indication that the economy is rebounding and we're excited for what the future holds.” For the past two years, a building at MidAmerica Industrial Park on US Highway 69 in Pryor sat empty. It was the home of Featherlite, one of the leading manufacturers of luxury motor coaches and specialty trailers in the country.

"We were building and manufacturing from the ground up and we were converting Prevost chassis as well as building our own chassis on the product."

The Featherlite Company used to build luxury coaches from scratch until a downturn in the economy forced the Pryor plant to close in 2002. It left 250 people without jobs including Carl West who had worked at Featherlite for five years.

After two years of working at another company, Featherlite re-opened the 121,000 square foot building in December and re-hired West and a few other past employees. "Featherlite called and I came right back. I live five minutes from home better than commuting everyday."

Now, instead of manufacturing, Featherlite's Pryor location focuses on consignment sales and repo liquidation. "We take their repossessed coaches and luxury coaches if you will and we liquidate them and we have a full service department also."

General Manager Doyle McAlister says they've hired 10 people for skilled technicians, utility support, accounting and sales positions. In the future, managers hope to start manufacturing again at the Pryor location, which could bring in hundreds of new jobs.

“The manufacturing will grow to a couple hundred employees very quickly. We're slow right now once we build it up they can't close us this time."