Thor Industries Inc. announced that Bob Martin, Thor president and chief operating officer, will present at the Citi 2013 Global Consumer Conference to be held at the Hilton New York Hotel in New York City on Wednesday (May 30).
The management presentation, which will include information on Thor’s operations, is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. EDT, and will be available via live webcast at the company’s website, www.thorindustries.com. Click on “Investors,” then click on “Presentations.” Replays of the presentation will also be available at www.thorindustries.com for 90 days following the presentation.
Yesterday’s (July 18) announcement that Thor Industries Inc. RV Senior Group President Bob Martin is being promoted Aug. 1 to president and COO is being viewed by industry insiders as a natural move for the respected executive. Martin, 42, had worked his way up through the ranks at Coachmen Industries Inc. and Thor’s Keystone RV Co. subsidiary before assuming the senior group presidency in February.
But many hadn’t expected it so soon for the 18-year industry veteran, an Elkhart, Ind., native who essentially assumes responsibility for all of the operating divisions of Jackson Center, Ohio-based Thor, which posted $2.75 billion in fiscal 2011 sales.
Martin continues to answer to Peter Orthwein, Thor’s chairman and CEO.
“Bob’s done a great job,” Orthwein told RVBUSINESS.com Thursday. “He’s really stepped up. You know, six months or so ago, he became RV Group president, so he’s had responsibility for all the RV companies for the last six months. And this is just the next step, and puts the bus companies under him as well. So, basically, that’s all our operations. He has all of our operating companies now under him.”
In an industry where some have questioned the general depth of management ranks at a host of companies, Orthwein says the Martin move will serve Thor’s succession plan well, even if it was bit quicker than some had anticipated. “Look,” Orthwein told RVB, “I’m going to be 67 in October. You know, I’m getting old, and, plus, I don’t have the operating experience out there that he has. So, I think that this move is definitely better for Thor.”
All in all, Orthwein agreed, this week’s news puts Thor in a more aggressive mode for the years ahead “where we transition into a younger management team, really making way for the next generation of management.”
Does Thor plan to move anyone up into the group presidency slot now being vacated by Martin? “Well, I think Bob right now wants to have all the RV company presidents report directly to him,” said Orthwein.
Is this the extent of the changes we’re to expect from Thor for the time being, coming as it did only weeks after the transition of leadership at Thor’s Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC division with Prime Time’s Chris Hermon stepping up to Heartland’s presidency after the May 1 resignation of Brian Brady? “Yeah, there may be some corporate staff changes coming on,” said Orthwein, “but nothing in terms of operations.”
Yesterday’s (Jan. 31) news that Keystone RV Co. President Bob Martin, an 18-year industry veteran born and raised in the RV-building center of Elkhart, Ind., is stepping up Feb. 1 as RV group president of Thor Industries Inc. surely wasn’t a surprise to a lot of rank-and-file employees of Thor, the world’s largest RV manufacturer.
Nor was it probably a revelation to Thor’s competitors that Martin was named to the top job at publicly held Thor – a Jackson Center, Ohio, firm that posted $2.75 billion in fiscal 2011 sales. Those revenues are largely derived from six RV-building divisions, which, along with Keystone, include Airstream Inc., CrossRoads RV, Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC and Thor Motor Coach.
As part of the latest transition, Matt Zimmerman, a 13-year Keystone vet now serving as vice president of sales for the Goshen, Ind., unit, succeeds Martin as Keystone’s president. David Chupp, Keystone’s vice president of finance, moves up to COO. Martin will report to Peter Orthwein, Thor’s chairman, president and COO.
Although he hasn’t been all that visible outside Thor’s camp either before or after Ron Fenech vacated the group presidency on Sept. 30, Martin, 42, is a highly regarded individual within the industry who, most will tell you, has made more friends than enemies in his career.
He’s a 1988 Elkhart Central High School grad, a married father of two who played four years of football on scholarship at Purdue University, graduating in 1993. Shortly thereafter, he went to work as a sales trainee at the former Coachmen Industries Inc. in nearby Middlebury, Ind., where his first boss was none other than Fenech.
Martin worked his way up the ranks at Coachmen and went to work in 1998 for Fenech at Keystone, and eventually became national sales manager for Cougar fifth-wheels. “So, that’s how I started,” he added. “I was the original product manager for Keystone. Our model is based on that now. We have product managers for every one of our products who serve as sales managers.”
Then came Keystone jobs as general manager, vice president of sales, COO and president a little over two years ago. “It’s just been an incredible run for me, watching the company grow from about $70 million when I first joined up to where it is today,” said Martin, adding that Keystone’s current financial status — separate from the other divisions — is not public information.
In the big picture, Martin maintains that Keystone and its 900 dealers are in good hands with plenty of youth on the sales management side. And he says he’s going to maintain an office at Thor’s Goshen campus for six months or so to help ease the transition before moving up to Thor’s regional Elkhart office.
“My mission is to continue to grow Thor, not to just maintain the status quo, but to enhance its status as the strongest RV manufacturer in the nation,” Martin told RVBUSINESS.com. “It will be a different role, as I help coordinate things with people. I’ll be a sounding board for the other presidents. I’m not coming in to change peoples’ worlds. I’m coming in to help where I can, realizing the benefit I’ve had in terms of experience at Keystone.”
Bottom line, Martin, like his predecessor, plans to maintain a consistently independent approach with regard to its divisions.
“Yes, that’s what has made Thor what it is,” he explained. “You have these individual companies that, quite frankly, compete. And that’s healthy. That pushes them all to be better and stronger, and I’ll be there just to help with the major items and coordinate things such as the open house. But we have great companies. We have great managers, and I just want to be there to support them and help them grow. And when things in this industry cycle up and down, I want to be there for support.”
Thor Industries Inc. announced Tuesday (Jan. 31) that Bob Martin will become RV Group president, effective Feb. 1. Martin replaces Ron Fenech, who retired on Sept. 30.
According to a news release, Thor’s six RV companies – Airstream Inc., CrossRoads RV, Dutchmen Manufacuring Inc., Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC, Keystone RV Co. and Thor Motor Coach – will report to Martin. Martin will report to Peter Orthwein, Thor’s chairman, president and CEO.
Martin, an 18-year industry veteran and Elkhart, Ind., native, is currently president of Keystone RV, Thor’s largest subsidiary.
In other management moves, Matt Zimmerman, currently vice president of sales for Keystone, succeeds Martin as president. Zimmerman has been with Keystone 13 years in a variety of sales and management positions. In addition, David Chupp, currently vice president of finance for Keystone, has been named COO. Chupp joined Keystone in 2000.
“Bob, Matt, and David assume their new responsibilities with a history of success in their previous positions. These promotions will further strengthen Thor’s leading position in the RV industry,” said Orthwein.
“I am privileged to have this opportunity to be associated with all the great Thor companies,” said Martin. “As the largest RV manufacturer in the world, Thor Industries has much to offer our customers, RV owners and the community. I look forward to working with all of Thor’s RV companies in my new role to leverage the strength and capabilities of Thor Industries.”
Thor Industries Inc. divisions will continue to operate as independent entities — in much the same way as they have for years — following today’s (Jan. 7) appointment of Keystone RV Co. President Ron Fenech as Thor senior vice president charged with overseeing the company’s RV operations.
”I fought for that independence when I was responsible solely for Keystone and I will support that in the way we are going to operate the divisions,” Fenech told RVBUSINESS.com. ”It’s been Thor’s model since the inception and it’s been very successful. That’s my job, to continue to propel that.”
Fenech’s appointment and that of Thor COO Richard ”Dicky” Riegel as senior vice president with responsibility for Thor’s bus group, investor relations and developing new business segments, was announced today (Jan. 7) by Thor co-founder Peter B. Orthwein.
An executive who had typically operated behind the scenes, Orthwein was thrust into the limelight as Thor chairman, president and CEO upon the Nov. 12 death of Wade F.B. Thompson, who founded Thor in 1980 with Orthwein. Thompson’s passing was among the factors that led to the management changes.
Keystone Executive Vice President Bob Martin was appointed president to succeed Fenech while Andrew Imanse will remain group president of Thor’s commercial bus division and report to Riegel, who will report to Orthwein.
Fenech, 52, was Keystone president for eight years and at one time was Coachmen Industries Inc. vice president of sales.
Besides Keystone, Thor RV divisions include Airstream Inc., Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., Four Winds International Corp. CrossRoads RV, Damon Motor Coach, Breckenridge, Komfort Corp. and General Coach.
Fenech said the most difficult part of the change will be ”having to leave Keystone and all the great people at the company.”
While Thor, with headquarters in Jackson Center, Ohio, will retain independent divisions, Fenech said it will be his goal ”to find ways to become even better within each of our divisions.”
”The biggest impact for Thor will be that I have a lot of operational experience and I’ll probably have a more hands-on approach with our divisions in terms of strategic planning and trying to do those things that make good companies great companies,” Fenech said. ”I want to remove roadblocks and hopefully help the companies see opportunity that they don’t see today.”
At the same time, Fenech said he won’t be reticent to make changes in Thor’s operations where needed.
”Some of our divisions are strong and some of our divisions are weak and need help,” he said. ”I don’t mind saying that some of them are not performing the way they need to be and that’s unacceptable. That will change.”
Ron Fenech, president of Keystone RV Co., Elkhart, Ind., has been appointed Thor Industries Inc. senior group president, with all Thor RV divisions reporting to him, according to a news release.
“Over the past eight years as Keystone president, Ron Fenech has been an important driver of Thor’s largest and most profitable company. Thor’s other RV companies will now also share in the benefits of his leadership,” said Peter B. Orthwein, Thor chairman, president and CEO. “Under Ron’s direction, Thor’s RV divisions will remain separate and distinct companies in the marketplace, serving their distinct dealer networks.”
Fenech will report directly to Orthwein.
Richard “Dicky” Riegel, currently Thor’s COO, becomes senior group president, with responsibility for Thor’s bus group, Thor investor relations and for developing new business segments related to Thor’s existing lines of business.
“One of Thor’s biggest opportunities is to utilize its strong cash flow to enter a new, related business segment and Dicky Riegel is the ideal person to head up that effort,” Orthwein said. “Dicky has been instrumental in driving substantial growth during his presidency of Airstream and in his role as Thor’s COO. With his skills and talents, he will help shape the future of Thor by identifying new businesses for the company.”
Andrew Imanse remains group president, Thor Commercial Bus division, and will continue to report to Riegel, who will report to Orthwein.
Bob Martin, currently executive vice president of Keystone RV, has been appointed president of Keystone RV.
“Bob has been an integral part of the Keystone team since our early days, and we have been preparing for this move with Bob for the past three years,” Fenech said. ”Bob understands what makes Keystone great, and I am excited about Keystone’s future under his leadership.”
Thor, with headquarters in Jackson Center, Ohio, is the world’s largest manufacturer of recreation vehicles and a major builder of commercial buses.