Airstream Factory and My First Backup! 3

Never in a million years would I have guessed we would have visited Jackson Center, OH ~ the home of the iconic American travel trailer ~ Airstream, twice in 6 months. However, this visit was a bit different because we now own our very own piece of Americana. My first post about Jackson Center was all about the “Tour” and contains two great videos and more photos!

We arrived in Jackson Center late in the afternoon after a long drive from Maryland. The weather was crisp and cold and some of the mountain roads in Western Maryland were snow packed (Just another challenge for us “Newbies”!) but, the drive through Ohio was sunny and uneventful. Once again, I wanted to test my Newbie skills and try to back-up our Beatrice myself. Luckily for me (and for Hub’s) I nailed it after just one try, I was in. Now, I can’t brag too much because it was very easy conditions, no trailer on either side of us and no trees. But, it’s all really good practice! We parked at Airstream’s “Terraport” which is only $10.00 per night, full hookups and all RV’s are welcome. If you are having your Airstream serviced, like we were, the nightly fee is free. Best deal in town!

We were up and out at 7am because the tractor was ready to move Beatrice into her stall for installation of the roadside and back awnings. We were also having them check her out because she had just been through Hurricane Sandy. Our mechanic, Paul was sensational. He was very knowledgeable and patient with all of our questions! And thank you to Chris Burch, our Service Manager for assisting us prior to and during our visit. We appreciate everyone in the service department for their exceptional customer service. Photo below of Beatrice with her new back awning.

While you wait for you trailer to be serviced, the lobby is very welcoming. One has access to free WiFi and all the free coffee or hot chocolate that you can drink. And, there is the Wally Byam “store” where you can buy everything from stainless steel screws to flamingo baseball caps. Bring your credit card because you might not be able to resist all the Airstream paraphernalia.

The lobby is a comfy place to sit and wait for your servicing or for your 2pm Factory Tour. And the lovely ladies at the front desk are super helpful. It’s all about Airstreams here!!

When we visited the factory in July, I wrote a post about our tour and our amazing tour guide, Don Ambos. Well, Don was once again our tour guide and we enjoyed this tour even more because the factory was in production so we saw so much more. You see, when you tour the factory on a Friday, the factory is shut down. Some folks prefer Friday tours because you are shown areas that you can’t view when the factory is in production. I felt that we saw much more on this particular tour and learned more while the factory was in full swing. We saw how the  window frames are made, side wall aluminum sheets are riveted, we saw a slew of Airstreams being made for Chinese and South Korean customers. It was fascinating.

Jackson Center, OH is a teeny tiny town in rural Ohio but, it’s worth a stop if you ever find yourself in the area. Good eats are The Spot in nearby Sidney, OH (thanks to Mali Mish for the recommendation) and The Inn Between Tavern in Botkins, OH just down the street from the factory for great fried chicken. But, be forewarned ~ there is little to no cell phone service in the entire town of Jackson Center! UGH!!

Photo source: Anna Sullivan Photography

Airstream Factory Tour ~ Jackson Center, Ohio 4

On a very hot Friday the 13th, Hubs and I were driving back to Denver from the east coast and while on I-70 W through Ohio, we knew we couldn’t go any further without a stop ~ The Airstream Factory and Service Center! I couldn’t believe I was actually at the Mother Ship and was about to see where it all happens. After all, Airstreams are built in the USA and right smack in the middle of the tiny village of Jackson Center, Ohio. From I-70 one would have no clue that this factory sits just a few miles up the road (well, maybe more than just a few miles). You drive past farm after farm and then it appears, this sign:

Just a little ways from this sign you arrive at 419 West Pike Street, the Airstream factory.  You can’t miss it. See for yourself what is in the parking lot just outside the customer service entrance:

We arrived a bit early so we could get signed in, check out the lobby and the gift shop. Did I say gift shop? Well, bring your credit card because I don’t think you’ll be able to resist if you are an Airstream fan. From Airstream ties to Christmas ornaments to Airstream parts, there will be something for everyone. When you enter the main entrance to the customer service desk, you are greeted by a very friendly staff member who can answer all of your questions about the factory tour, the service center and the gift shop. Then turn around and you’ll see this in the lobby:

On this particular summer day, the tour group was larger than normal for the staff at Airstream. We learned that Good Sam RV Club was having a rally in town and there were about 50 folks eager for the tour. I would like to go back and experience the tour again on a day that there weren’t so many peeps but, we were still thrilled to be there. Our host was Don Ambos who was knowledgeable and very friendly. He has been with Airstream for over 35 years and couldn’t imagine a better company to have spent his career with. Thanks, Don for a great tour!!

Photos are not allowed during the tour so you can imagine, I was chomping at the bit. But, the good girl that I am, I abided by the rules and didn’t take any photos inside the plant. Besides, that will just make you want to go see it for yourself all the more, right?

Here is a video of the inside of the Airstream plant and it’s very interesting. If you are lucky, you might witness some of this on your tour:

Airstream just celebrated their 80 year anniversary thus, making them the oldest RV manufacturer in North America. With 300 dedicated employees, Airstreams are still handmade and maintain the quality and excellence one would expect in this iconic travel trailer.

Below is a not-so great photo of Wally Byam’s Gold Airstream. It sits in a lot outside the plant but, I couldn’t get close enough to get a good shot. Here is a great article on this particular trailers history.

I highly recommend all ‘Streamers if you haven’t been to Jackson Center it’s well worth the trip. And, if you are thinking about purchasing an Airstream, it will be an amazing experience for you as they can answer all of your questions and concerns.

And don’t forget about the annual Alumapalooza event each summer in Jackson Center. Click here to learn more about this uber fun celebration.

And, before you venture down the road and you are in need of some good, cheap eats, an Airstream employee refered us to The Inn Between Tavern just down the street from the factory in Botkins, OH. The fried chicken is delish and cold draft beer is well worth the stop!!

Fox News recently published this article in which Airstream is included: America’s 10 Greatest Factory Tours.

Aerial view of Airstream Factory and Service Center in Jackson Center, Ohio:

Photo source: Anna Sullivan Photography