Fleetwood RV Inc. is being run in a unique way by a two men with with more than 50 years experience in the RV industry.
Chuck Wilkinson, CEO, and John Draheim, president, are running Fleetwood RV together. “They have specific functions that dovetail, but one does not report to the other”, according to information provided by Fleetwood to RVBUSINESS.com.
They are based in Decatur, Ind., home to the company’s two manufacturing facilities, two service facilities and the Goldshield Fiberglass subsidiary.
Wilkinson is an industry veteran with over 40 years of experience in both the manufactured housing and recreational vehicle industries. He began his career with Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. in 1969 and during his tenure with the company held many executive level positions, including serving as chief operations officer, executive vice president of the Housing, RV and Supply groups and senior vice president of the Housing Group.
In 2009, Wilkinson played in a key role in American Industrial Partners’ (AIP) successful acquisition of Fleetwood’s RV Group, now named Fleetwood RV Inc. As the company’s CEO, Wilkinson is primarily responsible for the internal aspects of the business including finance, human resources and oversight of the manufacturing facilities in Decatur, Ind.
In early 2008, Draheim returned to Fleetwood Enterprises as general manager of its motorhome manufacturing facility in Riverside, Calif. He was quickly promoted to vice president of the motorhome division, and played a key role in the successful AIP acquisition. As president and co-leader of Fleetwood RV, Draheim works in tandem with Wilkinson and is primarily responsible for the external aspects of the business including service, sales and marketing.
The remaining members of the senior management team are: Debra Pak, CFO; David Coffin, vice president of engineering, development and design; and Chuck James, director of service and parts.
The new owner of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.’s RV manufacturing business in Decatur, Ind., will preserve about 650 jobs, but former employees who are rehired will take a pay cut, according to the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette.
Fleetwood eliminated about 700 jobs when the company completed a $33.2 million sale to American Industrial Partners Capital Fund IV LP on Friday (July 17), Fleetwood said in a statement. New York-based AIP will operate the business as Fleetwood RV Inc.
Decatur-based Fleetwood RV is expected to employ 650 by next month, President John Draheim said. Between 250 and 350 former Fleetwood employees started working for Fleetwood RV on Monday (July 20).
Anyone can apply to work at Fleetwood RV, but Draheim said former Fleetwood workers’ experience will give them an advantage in the hiring process. More than 1,000 applied for jobs Thursday and Friday, Draheim said. The company is accepting applications at its plant in Decatur.
But Fleetwood RV will pay employees less than its predecessor. Draheim said he was not sure what the average wage would be, but former Fleetwood workers who accept positions at the new company will earn 10% less.
Fleetwood RV is making minor adjustments in health insurance and 401(k) plans, but former workers will have to start over earning benefits such as vacation time.
Employees will work more consistent schedules at Fleetwood RV, Draheim said. He estimated that so far this year, production employees had worked the equivalent of only five to six full weeks because of weak RV orders. Employees will be able to earn more by working full weeks for reduced pay.
Although some Decatur residents are concerned about the ownership transition, Mayor John Schultz said most are relieved many local jobs will be preserved.
“It’s very important to us they bring the production back,” he said.
Fleetwood’s Decatur operations employed more than 1,000 in early 2008. The company cut 550 jobs in Decatur last year.
Fleetwood RV’s decision to establish a local headquarters is a positive sign, Schultz said. The previous owner was based in Riverside, Calif.
AIP purchased two RV manufacturing plants, two RV service plants and Fleetwood’s Gold Shield fiberglass subsidiary in Decatur. The company also acquired some Fleetwood equipment in Riverside.
Local investors plan to buy Fleetwood’s manufactured-housing plant in Garrett, Ind., for $1.75 million in a separate deal.
RV shipments during the first four months of this year plunged almost 62% from the same period in 2008, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) most recent data. RV manufacturers shipped 43,700 vehicles through April 30.
Almost 450 Fleetwood workers in Decatur worked fewer than half their normal hours during that four-month period, the company said in April.
Industry projections are brighter for next year. Manufacturers are expected to ship 169,500 units in 2010, according to the association. That would be a 24%increase from this year’s projected sales.
The RV industry is close to hitting its low point, Draheim said. If the industry grows, Fleetwood RV will expand with it.
“We’re looking at improvement going forward,” he said.
Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. reported Tuesday (June 2) that it has signed an asset purchase agreement to sell its motorhome business to American Industrial Partners Capital Fund IV LP (AIP) of New York.
The Riverside, Calif.-based RV and manufactured housing builder is operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has been actively looking for buyers of its various business units.
AIP is a middle market private equity firm which makes control investments in leading North American-based industrial businesses. Last week, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved sales procedures for an auction to explore whether any higher or more qualified bids could be obtained, according to a news release.
AIP’s $53 million bid is subject to reduction for the assumption of certain liabilities not to exceed $18 million, including warranty obligations on Fleetwood motorized products. The price is also subject to an adjustment for the amount of current assets purchased at the time the transaction closes.
Under the bidding procedures, any competing bidders must submit qualifying bids by June 18, and if the company receives qualifying bids, the court will hold an auction on June 22. The court hearing to finalize the sale is tentatively scheduled for June 24.
The offer from AIP includes two motorhome manufacturing facilities, two motorhome service facilities and Fleetwood’s Gold Shield supply subsidiary, all located in Decatur, Ind. It also includes intellectual property for Fleetwood’s existing motorhome brands and certain machinery and equipment , but does not include the company’s motorhome manufacturing facilities in Riverside and Paxinos, Pa., or its travel trailer plants, brands, and intellectual property.
“We are pleased to have signed an agreement to sell our motor home operation. AIP is a very capable and qualified organization,” said Elden L. Smith, Fleetwood president and CEO. “Since the sale process under Chapter 11 enables other bidders to come forward, we cannot say for certain what the outcome will be. We do expect, however, that the final purchaser will seek to take advantage of the Fleetwood name and legacy, as well as endeavor to preserve as many jobs as possible.”
Fleetwood is also pursuing buyers for its manufactured housing business.
Management believes that it continues to have adequate cash to fund operations until its businesses are sold.