Allied Specialty Vehicle Inc.’s (ASV) rollout at last week’s Louisville Show of two iconic motorhome brands – the Monaco Dynasty and Holiday Rambler Vacationer – represents the next stage in a purposeful, calculated restructuring for the Orlando, Fla.-based company underscored by the recent formation of the Allied Recreation Group (ARG).
The business unit effectively packages ASV’s motorized interests under the ARG umbrella that includes Fleetwood and American Coach – divisions headquartered in Decatur, Ind., that ASV has overseen since 2009 – along with the Monaco, Holiday Rambler and shelved Beaver and Safari brands acquired through ASV’s buyout of Navistar Inc.’s RV assets last May.
John Draheim, CEO of ARG, stressed that the Louisville display units were prototypes and input from the show would be incorporated when production begins next spring for the 2015 model year.
“Right now our plan is to launch the new Dynasty and Vacationer at the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) rally scheduled for late March in Perry, Ga.,” Draheim said. “We will take feedback from Louisville and tweak product if necessary. After that we are planning to roll out new products each quarter, including the Monaco Windsor and Diplomat along with the Holiday Rambler Ambassador and Endeavor. As with the Dynasty and Vacationer, they are well-recognized brands with consumers, and will feature very distinctive looks.”
He added, “We are taking a long-term approach with regard to Monaco and Holiday Rambler. The fact that our Fleetwood and American Coach plants are running strong allows us to stay on a very focused path.”
Draheim said the decision to form ARG was based on a need to address potential perception issues with dealers and consumers.
“We thought there would be confusion among dealers and consumers about having a Monaco or Holiday Rambler motorhome built in a Fleetwood plant, or having service and parts fulfilled by a Fleetwood facility,” he said. “It was important to restructure the different divisions under one unified brand. The Decatur facility, which will handle production of all four lines, will now be an Allied Recreation Group plant as will our service and parts facilities. In addition, the ARG brand ties into our parent company, which was important.”
Also key to the rebranding efforts is ASV’s intent to differentiate the Holiday Rambler and Monaco brands from the Fleetwood badge, eliminating any perception of “cloning” while also leveraging strong consumer awareness.
“The Navistar buyout was a big investment for ASV,” said Draheim. “We didn’t make the acquisition to produce badge-engineered products, which was the route that Navistar took. Monaco and Holiday Rambler are great brands with great reputations – as are Fleetwood and American Coach – and we want to build on those assets. Research showed that the four ARG brands represent 35% of the motorhomes that are on the road today, so we believe there is a lot of pent-up demand for Monaco and Holiday Rambler product.”
To further differentiate product lines, Monaco and Holiday Rambler’s product management and engineering teams are operating out of a dedicated facility in Elkhart, Ind., while sales, marketing and product direction fall under the oversight of President Mike Snell – a veteran manager who has logged over 20 years with Monaco. Draheim, who is currently filling a dual role as president of Fleetwood/American Coach in Decatur, noted that “we will be looking to fill that spot in the near future.”
“Mike has done a tremendous job integrating Monaco and Holiday Rambler,” Draheim said. “He understands the client base, and he also understands Allied’s vision for the brands.”
While ASV formulated the launch of ARG, it has also been diligent in handling the carryover from Navistar’s withdrawal from the RV market – a move Draheim said is vital to reviving trust in the marketplace.
“We made the decision to cover warranty issues and pay back the dealers,” Draheim said. “It’s the same strategy Allied used when Fleetwood was acquired. We just believe that’s the right way to do business, and again, fits into our long-term goals.”
Allied Specialty Vehicles Inc. (ASV) announced the formation of Allied Recreation Group Inc. (ARG), with the appointment of John Draheim as CEO for the new group.
“We have invested in four of the most renowned brands in the industry and our success in rebuilding Fleetwood and American Coach sets the stage for a similar return to power for Monaco and Holiday Rambler. The formation of Allied Recreation Group will make the transition into the ASV family much smoother for our dealers and customers,” said Jim Meyer, COO of ASV. “We are inspired by the opportunities the new RV division presents, and excited to see them thrive under the leadership of John Draheim.”
Allied Recreation Group will be comprised of some of the industry’s most iconic brands including: American Coach, Fleetwood, Holiday Rambler and Monaco. Additionally, the group also owns the Beaver, National, and Safari brands. The brands will be produced at the company’s manufacturing campus in Decatur, Ind.
“It’s an incredibly exciting time as the premier RV brands in the world come together on a path to success,” said Draheim. “We have been working diligently since May to develop a new lineup of product for Monaco and Holiday Rambler that will reinvigorate the brands and return them to the extraordinary reputations they once held. The new ARG organization is unbelievably energized to produce the most distinct and aspirational products this industry has known.”
For more information visit www.AlliedRecreationGroup.com.
Thor Industries Inc. today (Oct.) announced the completion of the sale of its bus business to Allied Specialty Vehicles Inc. and the receipt of $100 million in cash proceeds from the transaction. The cash proceeds will be adjusted to reflect changes in net assets of the bus business since April 30 based on the final valuation of net assets as of October 20.
Thor also announced that its board approved the payment of a special dividend of $1 per common share. The special dividend is payable on November 19 to shareholders of record at the close of business on November 5.
“With the completion of the sale of the bus business, Thor is embarking on a new period in its history with a focus purely on the growth of the RV business,” said Peter B. Orthwein, Thor executive chairman. “While we will continue to use our cash to grow our core RV business and maintain and grow our regular dividend, the Board decided that the payment of a special dividend was in the best interest of our shareholders at this time. This marks the second year in a row that we have paid a special dividend and is another example of our priority in returning cash to our shareholders.”
Thor expects to report preliminary sales for its fiscal first quarter ended October 3 on Nov. 4.
Decatur, Ind.-based Fleetwood RV Inc. announced Monday (Sept. 30) John Lowry will join the company as Chief Operating Officer.
The position was previously held by Jim Meyer, who is the COO of Fleetwood RV’s parent company, Allied Specialty Vehicles, and was the acting interim COO of Fleetwood RV Inc.
Lowry previously worked at Harley-Davidson as general manager of powertrain operations and served in operational leadership roles for the company’s four largest factories. Prior to joining Harley-Davidson, Lowry served for 15 years as a Marine Corps officer and spent an additional 10 years in the Marine Corps Reserve after joining Harley-Davidson, retiring with the rank of colonel. He was decorated for valor as a Force Recon Platoon Leader during the 1991 Gulf War and received numerous other awards including the Legion of Merit.
“John’s caliber of experience and enthusiasm will help raise the bar in our organization and we’re elated to have him on our team,” stated John Draheim, President & CEO of Fleetwood RV Inc. “With a strong focus on our business objectives, I look for John’s presence to further strengthen our industry-leading operational practices and his contributions as COO will help move us closer to becoming a world-class RV manufacturer.”
Lowry holds an MBA from Harvard University and has also earned degrees from Princeton, Stanford and the U.S. Army War College.
Thor Industries Inc. today (July 31) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its bus business to Allied Specialty Vehicles Inc. (ASV) for $100 million in cash, subject to closing adjustments. The sale is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed by Nov. 1.
“Although the bus business has been a valuable part of Thor, this transaction allows us to focus on maintaining and growing our leadership position in our core recreation vehicle business,” said Peter B. Orthwein, chairman of Elkhart, Ind.-based Thor. “From an investor perspective, divesting the bus business will simplify our overall operations and solidify Thor’s position as the leading company in the RV industry which is recovering strongly. Pursuing the strategic development of our RV business enables us to drive growth in sales and earnings, ultimately delivering improved value for our shareholders.”
Thor’s bus business includes Champion Bus Inc., General Coach America Inc., Goshen Coach Inc., El Dorado National California Inc., and El Dorado National Kansas Inc., which combined represent one of the largest producers of transit and shuttle buses in North America with bus segment sales of approximately $450 million for the fiscal year ended July 31. In addition to its bus interests, ASV is parent to Fleetwood RV Inc. and recently acquired the RV assets of Navistar Inc., including the Monaco Coach and Holiday Rambler brands.
“We are excited to add the Thor bus business to our diverse line up of specialty vehicles,” said Peter Guile, president and CEO of Allied Specialty Vehicles. “We view the opportunity to expand our business into the transit and shuttle bus markets as a key initiative in broadening our markets and providing products that meet the needs of our dealers and end consumers. We are eager to welcome these new bus brands to the ASV family.”
Thor will continue to own and operate the bus business until the closing date of the sale. As a result of the decision to pursue a divestment of the bus business, Thor will report the financial results of the bus business as discontinued operations in its upcoming annual report filed on Form 10-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which the company expects to file in late September. Thor does not anticipate any impairment to goodwill or intangible assets of the bus business as a result of the sale.
Thor expects to report preliminary sales for its fiscal fourth quarter and full year ended July 31 on Aug. 5.
Wakarusa, Ind., Town Manager Jeff Troxel and others had sounded curiously upbeat over the past two weeks that a company would step up and acquire the 150-acre campus that formerly housed motorhome operations for Navistar RV.
The property was placed on the market when Allied Specialty Vehicles Inc. (ASV), parent to motorhome builder Fleetwood RV Inc. and a subsidiary of American Industrial Partners (AIP), purchased rights to Navistar Inc.’s RV assets on May 16. In the wake of the acquisition news, ASV announced that it would be relocating operations from Wakarusa to Fleetwood’s headquarters in Decatur, Ind., impacting some 520 workers involved in the production of Holiday Rambler and Monaco motorhomes.
Now Troxel’s confidence appears to have been well founded with Monday’s (June 3) announcement that Elkhart-based Thor Industries Inc. was purchasing the facility from ASV with initial plans to move at least part of the company’s Thor Motor Coach into the plant as well as paint operations to be overseen by Thor’s Goshen, Ind.-based Keystone RV Co. division.
“This purchase marks an important step forward in the growth of our RV business,” stated Thor President and COO Bob Martin in a press release, noting that the facilities comprise nearly 1 million square feet of total production space. “With this new production complex, we will be better positioned to achieve our long-term strategic growth initiatives. Even more compelling, this purchase will allow us to expand capacity faster and at a lower cost than other options. We are excited about the future prospects of reinvigorating the Wakarusa facilities.”
John Draheim, president and CEO of Fleetwood RV, noted that the company’s plan to consolidate motorhome production hinged on logistics.
“Our plan all along wasn’t necessarily to sell to Thor,” he said, noting that Fleetwood has around 1,000 employees in Decatur. “But our plan all along was that we didn’t need the production capacity. We didn’t want to run two buildings. We felt that the Decatur campus has plenty of upside and we have a work force there that is a known entity to us. And we also have a management team in place that is also a known entity to us. So, it made sense to get the brands relocated to the Decatur campus, and put the facility on the market.”
A key factor fueling hopes that a buyer would step forward was the overall health of the RV industry, as growing sales have pushed companies into expansion mode.
“We believe through our studies that the RV business is in a growth mode, and that there are capacity constraints, especially on the trailer side of the business,” Draheim said.
Wakarusa also represented a prime manufacturing location, offering room to expand along with 35 paint booths designed specifically for recreational vehicles.
“This is a massive manufacturing complex in Wakarusa, and the real sweet spot of that whole production facility is the paint facility,” Draheim said. “A lot of the manufacturers are going outside and having third parties do their paint work, which is expensive. It increases your working capital because you have excess WIP (work in process) in your operations. So, we felt that somebody out there would see the attraction because of the paint facility and also because we could expedite the sale because we’re a cash buyer.
“You know, we didn’t have to sell it fast, but we could. And AIP has made several other acquisitions where we’ve gone in and acquired a company, relocated the product to one of our facilities and then sold the real estate. So, they have a good track record of being able to do that.”
Draheim added that ASV will retain a very limited presence in Elkhart County, running towable operations out of a former Roadmaster chassis plant in Elkhart while also maintaining some offices at an unstated location in Wakarusa for engineering and product development.
“We will operate those offices for an extended period of time – for months if not years,” he said. “Employees include Monaco people plus some additional hires that have occurred since the acquisition of Navistar RV.”
Two weeks ago, workers at SJC Industries learned the company had been sold to Allied Specialty Vehicles Inc. On Monday (May 20) they learned the company was moving to Florida and taking all of their jobs with it.
The South Bend Tribune reported that SJC Industries filed notice that it will close its Elkhart, Ind., facilities in July, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification or WARN notice filed with the state. According to the notice, about 165 workers will be terminated in July at the company’s facility at 25161 Leer Drive.
SJC Industries is an ambulance manufacturer that Thor Industries Inc. sold May 6 to Allied Specialty Vehicles, which also recently purchased Navistar Inc.’s RV assets. SJC produces the McCoy Miller and Marque ambulance brands.
Hans Heinsen, vice president of finance and chief financial officer of Allied Specialty Vehicles, said Tuesday the company is relocating the ambulance maker to Winter Park, Fla.
“Under the terms of the purchase agreement, we are required to relocate the business,” he wrote in an e-mail. “It is therefore our intent to transition production to our Winter Park, Fla., site during the next three to six months.”
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Word of changes at Navistar wasn’t entirely unexpected. More than 500 jobs leaving Wakarusa? That information was a surprise.
“There have been rumblings they were going to sell,” Wakarusa Town Manager Jeff Troxel said Friday afternoon. “As far as the moving of the purchase to somewhere else, that was news. …Obviously, we didn’t want to see that happening.”
As reported by the Goshen News, Navistar Inc. officials announced Thursday (May 16) that Allied Specialty Vehicles (ASV) had purchased Navistar RV assets. The sale includes the manufacturing operations for Monaco and Holiday Rambler brand RVs in Wakarusa and for Navistar’s R-Vision and Holiday Rambler towable units in Harrisburg, Ore. ASV has also entered into a multiyear leasing agreement for Navistar RV’s Elkhart facility.
Company officials said manufacturing operations in Wakarusa will be moved to ASV’s Decatur, Ind., campus, a shift that will impact 520 local workers.
Troxel sounds optimistic about both the Navistar facility and the workers affected by the sale. “I’m fairly confident someone is going to purchase that building,” he said.
He said the site includes a state-of-the-art painting facility and a fantastic office area. “The building is pretty big,” Troxel said. “I would think somebody would want that.”
As for those Navistar workers who don’t want to move to Decatur, Troxel feels whoever buys the Navistar facility will likely have jobs for them.
Dorinda Heiden-Guss, president of Economic Development Corp. (EDC) of Elkhart County, said the news was also a surprise to her.
She said she expects Wakarusa to secure a new occupant for the Navistar facility, but in the meantime, the EDC is working with WorkOne to assist Navistar employees prepare to look for new jobs.
“We have RV corporations who are trying to find quality workers,” Heiden-Guss said. “We would hope many of these employees from Navistar would be able to find other positions in the county due to the upswing in the RV market.”
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In the wake of its announced acquisition of Navistar Inc.’s RV operations, Allied Specialty Vehicles (ASV) has begun assembling the pieces for its emergence as a major player in the motorhome segment.
Faced with a raft of organizational and engineering challenges, ASV has mapped out a strategy that will consolidate the building of four high-profile motorhome brands at its campus in Decatur, Ind., while also realigning its corporate structure.
“We will be manufacturing four very iconic motorhome brands – Fleetwood, Monaco, Holiday Rambler and American Coach – all with strong recognition in the marketplace, a loyal customer base and tremendous dealer networks,” noted John Draheim, president and CEO of Fleetwood RV Inc., a division of Orlando, Fla.-based ASV.
As part of the buyout, ASV purchased all of the equity interests of Navistar RV, including manufacturing operations for Navistar’s R-Vision and Holiday Rambler towable units in Harrisburg, Ore., and Navistar’s Monaco and Holiday Rambler brand motorized RVs in Wakarusa, Ind. ASV, which is owned by private equity firm American Industry Partners, has also entered into a multi-year leasing agreement for Navistar RV’s Elkhart, Ind., plant, a former Roadmaster chassis facility that houses towable operations. The sale does not include Bison Coach, Navistar’s horse trailer manufacturing business.
“Towable operations will not be impacted,” said Draheim. “The Roadmaster chassis is currently being assembled in an out-building in Wakarusa. We haven’t made a decision if we will continue to build chassis.”
Phasing out Operations in Wakarusa
The most imposing challenge will be the phasing out of operations in Wakarusa while preparing for a ramp-up of production in Decatur where ASV operates facilities encompassing 558,500 square feet of manufacturing space. Currently around 412,000 square feet are being utilized for Fleetwood/American Coach production.
“We are going to continue to build units in Wakarusa for the next three or four months, fulfilling all of the commitments already on the books,” Draheim said. “I anticipate that the last unit will run down the line sometime in August. At the same time, we’ll be implementing a parallel project in Decatur to prepare for the move.”
Draheim reported that the relocation will impact around 500 workers at the Wakarusa plant, 400 involved in production work. “The balance are in product development and engineering, and we are hiring people from those groups. Parts and service will not change.”
Draheim said that while production will continue, the work force will be incrementally pared down. Employees, who were meeting with management today, would be considered for openings in Decatur.
“I don’t see us starting production in August or even September,” he said, “so I don’t know if people will be able to wait that long. Our intent is to sell the Wakarusa facility. We have already received interest from a few industry companies where people would be able to find employment.”
He added, “Our top priority is taking care of these people who lost their jobs.”
Launch of a New Era for ASV
Draheim said that initially ASV would essentially be setting up two companies in Decatur.
“We will be forming two separate business units – Monaco/Holiday Rambler and Fleetwood/American Coach,” Draheim said. “Sales, marketing, product development, parts and service will all run independently. Long-term that may change. I can envision how the two companies and four brands will fit under the ASV umbrella.”
Product development, however, remains at the forefront.
“We will be adding additional product development/engineering resources to those inherited in the deal from Navistar, as we view product as an extremely important component for success,” he said. “One of our main goals will be to further differentiate the brands. Monaco was the premier luxury motorhome in the market, but Navistar tried to change the product through its engine strategy. They tried to make Monaco something it’s not.”
Draheim said that the production side would not be immediately impacted, noting that RV sales had been dropping since Navistar Inc. announced last October that RVs represented a “non-core” business.
“At the volumes we’re running today, we’ll be able to integrate production in Decatur without changing our facilities,” he said. “As volumes increase, we may need to reconfigure.”
ASV’s management structure will also be in a state of flux while operations are merged. Draheim will continue to head up Fleetwood/American Coach while longtime Monaco executive Mike Snell has been named as president of Monaco/Holiday Rambler. Bill Osborne, president of Navistar RV, will not be part the new team.
“Mike will be reporting to ASV COO Jim Meyer, who is also acting COO for Fleetwood,” Draheim said. “We are currently conducting a job search to fill the Fleetwood slot so Jim can concentrate on his corporate responsibilities.”
He added, “In the next 60 to 90 days we will announcing a new management structure. I can foresee a corporate ASV RV umbrella with two business unit presidents and one COO to oversee operations. Right now, we are wading our way through all the changes and are focusing on implementing a plan that makes sense.”
What looked so promising in 2012 with Monaco RV adding 400 jobs in Wakarusa, Ind., is now moving in the opposite direction.
The South Bend Tribune reported that in August, the company will ramp down its operations at its Monaco RV and Holiday Rambler plants and move operations to Decatur, Ind. That’s what about 520 employees at the two plants learned Thursday.
Allied Specialty Vehicles announced Thursday the purchase of Monaco RV, Holiday Rambler and R-Vision recreational vehicles, including the Beaver and Safari brands, from Navistar Inc.
R-Vision is produced in Elkhart and will remain unaffected by the purchase, Jim Meyer, COO of Allied Specialty Vehicles, said Thursday.
But it’s a far different scenario for employees in Wakarusa, 425 of whom work in manufacturing.
“The initial part of the plan is to not take more production orders for Wakarusa,” Meyer said. “We have production now that will run into August.
“We will keep that production here, and then we will begin to ramp down the manufacturing part of the business in Wakarusa.”
Meyer said that American Industrial Partners, the private equity firm in New York that owns Allied Specialty Vehicles, has been interested in purchasing the RV brands for some time. He said the timing was right and their bid was selected.
“The companies are in difficult financial times,” he said. “That’s a fact. We feel very confident in our ability to work our way through the financial piece of this thing and restore these brands back to where they’ve been most of their lives.”
ASV’s attempt to do so, though, means the brands will move to Decatur, near Fort Wayne, where the company’s plants already produce RV brands Fleetwood and American Coach, Meyer said.
“We have a large campus today in Decatur, and the very straightforward and obvious integration is to move this business to Decatur, rather than go the other way for a whole lot of logistical reasons,” he said.
One of the reasons for the move, Meyer said, is the Wakarusa plants’ size.
“There are world-class production facilities here (in Wakarusa),” he said, “but they are too large for the size of the business.”
ASV plans to sell the facilities in Wakarusa, and Meyer’s hope is that many of the workers there will find work at whatever business ends up buying the plant.
“We’re going to have a plan as good as we can make it for each and every employee to help them with this wind down and transition for future jobs,” he said, adding that he’s confident the Wakarusaoperations will be sold.
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