Jayco – An Australian Manufacturing Success Story

17th Feb 2021

Jayco Australia has grown into one of the most successful Australian brands, creating quality and affordable recreational vehicles for more than 45 years. In this blog, we take a walk down memory lane and reflect on how Jayco became an Australian manufacturing success story.

The Jayco story began just before 1975, when Founder Gerry Ryan was a Production Manager at Sunwagon Trailers. He was sent to the United States to learn about components that Sunwagon were purchasing for their vans from a US caravan manufacturer called Jayco Inc. Gerry worked closely with the owner of Jayco Inc, Lloyd Bontrager, and in the process formed a unique relationship – one that continues between the Ryan and Bontrager families to this day.

Upon returning to Australia, Gerry was full of ideas and presented them to the Sunwagon team, but nothing eventuated. So, in 1975, from a shed in Cranbourne, Gerry started building the first prototype camper for Jayco. The very first Jayco product came off the production line in early 1976.

In that first year, Jayco produced 480 vehicles, and from there they continued to expand the range of Campers and then went into Pop Tops. In the early 2000’s, Jayco introduced motorhomes to its line-up, and in 2006 Jayco built its 100,000th RV. To date, they have built more than 200,000 RVs for Australians to enjoy.

Since 2007, Jayco has called Dandenong home, with its headquarters and state-of-the-art purpose-built manufacturing facility located on a 50-acre complex at 1 Jayco Drive. The factory complex itself includes seven specialised factories – Caravans, Pop tops, Camper Trailers, Lamination, Chassis, Motorhomes and Quality Testing

The importance of ‘Australian Made’ is integral to Jayco and its values. It is one of the key components to its success. The company employs over 1,000 Australians across all departments and almost every element of a Jayco RV is made in-house – from the chassis, side walls and fibreglass to the metal fabrication and furniture – even the soft furnishings are created at the factory, with around 50 staff employed in the sewing department. This means all of Jayco’s RVs are built by Australians for Australians to take on Australian terrain.

In a recent interview with Caravan World, Gerry said ‘if you’re buying Australian, you are keeping several people in a job.’ When you buy a Jayco, you are keeping more than 1,000 people employed.

The success of the brand is also in part thanks to its flexibility and focus on constantly innovating the market.  As well as introducing the wind-up caravan into the Australia market, the business has also delivered two world-firsts to date, with the introduction of Amazon Alexa in the vehicles and a 360-degree camera on all caravans. The innovation also extends into the production process, with Jayco’s lamination press situated in the world-first dust-fee, temperature-controlled room, allowing for optimal lamination.

Jayco is also focussing on investing into advanced technology, including a custom Italian built double edge banding machine that allows that team to maximise efficiency by edging two sides at once.

Today, Jayco is one of the most iconic brands in Australia and will continue creating quality, affordable and innovative recreational vehicles for years to come.