The economic impact Tiffin Motorhomes has on Franklin County cannot be understated. Located in Red Bay, Tiffin Motorhomes is the second largest employer in Franklin County and, in its over 40 years of operation, has manufactured over 50,000 recreational vehicles or RVs.
However, Tiffin’s impact is not just limited to the pocketbook or the roadways; it can also be seen in the classroom and in the life of young students. Last week, through a partnership with the Franklin County Career Technical Center, 15 high school students job shadowed at Tiffin Motorhomes.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to get some experience in the workplace, especially in one like where they may end up one day,” said Scott Wigington, director of the Franklin County Career Technical Center.
“When kids graduate high school, they may not be thinking, ‘Hey, I can go work at Tiffin’s,’” he added. “This is another way to give them exposure to a local job – a great local job.”
The students participating in the job shadowing are members of the career tech center’s drafting and design class, which was started in 2014. The students pay no tuition for the class, and it satisfies one of the steps to career readiness. The program also provides duel enrollment credits through Northwest-Shoals Community College.
The success of the class is helped made possible by Bob Tiffin, the founder of Tiffin Motorhomes, who financially supports the program.
“Bob sees the need to have programs like this for our students,” Wigington said. “It’s difficult with the little funding given to hire certified or qualified adjunct teachers. (Tiffin) supplies a little more funding so that we can have a qualified teacher with on-the-job experience.”
On Thursday, three Belgreen students – Blake Skidmore, Anna Lemay, and Brooklyn Mitchell – spent the day at Tiffin’s. Like many of the employees, these students started their day at 6:00 A.M., received an hour for lunch, and got off around 2:00 P.M. They learned about the motorhomes and saw first-hand how the RVs are designed and manufactured.
“I’ve had fun,” said Skidmore, a senior. “Today really helped me to see what life is like after high school and give me an idea of what all kinds of jobs there are out there.”
The job shadowing opportunity helped Skidmore, Mitchell, and Lemay decide which design or engineering field they may prefer to pursue in the future.
“It helped me to recognize that I think I want to do interior design,” Mitchell, also a senior, said. “I think that’s one of the biggest things I got from this.”
Aside from the job shadowing, Tiffin’s gives the career tech center the opportunity to take students from the county schools on tours of the plant.
“We started the tours in 2013 with ninth graders,” Wigington said. “They get to see, essentially, how they go from just wheels in a frame to the finished motorhome and all the steps in between.”
In the future, Wigington says he hopes the partnership with Tiffin Motorhomes will continue in the future and be beneficial for all involved.
“I think the cooperation has been great, and I’m glad Bob and the Tiffins see it as an investment,” he said. “I believe the students enjoy it. It helps them get some experience, and who knows? It could be a kind of recruiting tool for Tiffin’s when these students now graduate and get certified in whichever field they choose to enter.”