Founder Wally Byam opened the first Airstream factory in 1931 in California. By 1952, Airstream had outgrown its California plant and needed to expand. Hoping to gain more access to central markets, Wally traveled east to scout locations across the Midwest, eventually finding the perfect vacant factory for sale in Jackson Center, Ohio. In the early 1970s, Airstream once again needed to expand and built a new travel trailer production facility in Jackson Center.
On January 2, 2020, nearly 68 years after Wally’s first trip to Jackson Center, Airstream opened a brand-new travel trailer production facility just down the road from the existing plant.
The first official event was held in Airstream’s new travel trailer facility on January 9, 2020, when Airstream held a special christening ceremony to mark the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. During the event, Airstream President & CEO Bob Wheeler and Airstream COO Justin Humphreys broke a bottle of champagne over the hitch of the first fully manufactured travel trailer in the new building and the final travel trailer that was fully manufactured in the old plant.
The event was inspired by historical traditions. A vintage photo shows a beautiful 1938 Airstream Clipper being christened with a bottle of champagne by its new owner. In 1985, a historic champagne christening occurred to celebrate the Airstream China Clipper built specifically for the Caravan America-China program.
The first travel trailer off the new line, a Globetrotter, and the last off the old line, a Bambi, represent the official hand-off between locations. Both trailers will leave Jackson Center, Ohio with unique badges symbolizing this milestone moment in Airstream history. The Bambi’s badge symbolizes the “End of an Era” and features the address of the former production facility while the Globetrotter’s badge represents “New Beginnings” and includes the new plant’s address.
Breaking a bottle of champagne is known in the boating world to bring good luck, as historically a bottle is broken over the bow of a new ship to be launched. As these two travel trailers leave Jackson Center and begin their journey, they symbolize the next chapter in Airstream innovation.
The new plant will give Airstream associates more space, more tools, and more storage, prioritizing the quality and craftsmanship that is the hallmark of Airstream travel trailers and touring coaches.