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LANCASTER, CA-In another small but important sign that the economy may slowly be returning to normal, a motor-home manufacturer that was forced to lay off nearly 200 workers here last month could soon hire many of them back because the company’s sales are beginning to rebound.

Rexhall Industries Inc., one of this North County community’s largest employers, was forced to trim its workforce Sept. 26 because its RV sales to distributors had dropped sharply in the wake of last month’s terrorist attacks on the East Coast. CEO William Rex took a 20% pay cut and the rest of the firm’s officers took a 10% cut.

But sales have picked up over the past couples of weeks, COO Michael Bourne says, as consumer confidence has stabilized and interest rates keep dropping. He also expect sales to get the usual fourth-quarter boost from “snowbirds” seeking to buy or lease a motor home to travel south for the winter.

If the recent uptick continues, Bourne says, “we might be able to hire back some or all of those people by the end of October. At least, that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Rexhall has had its fair-share of recent problems. Earlier this year, a suspicious fire broke out at its manufacturing facility here at Avenue H and Seventh Street West, causing more than $500,000 is damage.

The company moved here from Saugus in 1996, lured in part by incentives from the Lancaster Redevelopment Agency. Redevelopment officials charged Rexhall only $1 for the 10 acres it needed to build its manufacturing plant and provided additional financial aid.

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