Cequent Parent Responds to Union Allegations

November 12, 2012 by · Comments Off on Cequent Parent Responds to Union Allegations 

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based TriMas Corp. has responded to a claim by Steelworkers Local 9550 that the company does not want to continue meeting with union representatives about the possible closure of its 400-employee Goshen Cequent Performance Products plant, the Goshen News reported in a front-page story on Sunday (Nov. 11).

The union issued the statement Thursday at a protest in front of the plant along Lincolnway East on the east side of the Elkhart County seat.

“As matter of policy, the company does not comment on pending litigation,” Cequent’s management stated in an e-mail. “However, we can tell you that we remain fully committed to honoring our promise to continue meeting with the union at any time up to Nov. 19, to discuss this preliminary recommendation and receive the union’s input.”

Nov. 19 is the date the company has set for a decision on whether the plant that manufactures trailer hitches and other towing products under several brand names will be closed and its production moved to Mexico.

The union filed a federal lawsuit Thursday seeking a court order keeping the company from removing equipment and moving it to Reynosa, Mexico, where Goshen jobs will be moved to if the plant is closed.



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Goshen Community Supports Cequent Workers

October 30, 2012 by · Comments Off on Goshen Community Supports Cequent Workers 

Protesters picket the Cequent facility in Goshen, Ind.

“Keep our jobs in America!” shouted one angry Cequent worker, a member of the local United Steelworkers union. “Made in the U.S.A.!” shouted another.

According to a Goshen News report, drivers honked their vehicles and members of the community shouted their support as Cequent Performance Products workers picketed along U.S. 33 in Goshen, Ind., near the entrance to the plant Monday (Oct. 29) afternoon.

Local union vice president Deb Hathaway said the picketers — and Cequent workers in general — have felt the support of the community ever since Cequent’s parent company, TriMas, announced Oct. 18 that the production lines at the Goshen plant may move to Reynosa, Mexico, putting around 450 jobs in jeopardy.

“This means a lot to have their support,” Hathaway said. “This doesn’t just impact the 450 workers here at Cequent — it impacts the whole community.”

Many of the picketers have worked for Cequent for several years. Mark Schmanski has worked for the company for nearly 20 years. He said he’s never missed a day of work.

“I was shocked for the first couple of days after I heard (the announcement),” Schmanski said. “Now I’m angry. This building has made millions and millions and millions for this company. I would understand moving the jobs if this was not profitable, but this is just about greed.”

Schmanski said no one from TriMas Corp. came down to the plant to tell the workers, but rather someone from the plant’s management made the announcement.

Employees weren’t the only ones on the picket lines Monday. Brendan Mullen, the Democratic candidate for Indiana’s U.S. District 2 House seat, was at the protest alongside USW workers.

“I’m here today because we need to keep Hoosier jobs here,” Mullen said. “For this company with such extraordinary profits to ship jobs overseas is unacceptable.”

To read the entire article click here.



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Steelworkers Picket Cequent Facility in Goshen

October 29, 2012 by · 3 Comments 

An expected meeting this afternoon could give more than 400 local workers at the Goshen, Ind., Cequent Performance Products facility more information on whether there is any chance to save their jobs.

According to a report by WSBT, South Bend, leaders in the Steelworkers Union were scheduled to meet today with Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman to discuss the situation.

Cequent parent TriMas Corp. announced it has made a preliminary decision to close its Goshen plant and move the jobs to Mexico. A final decision is expected next month. Cequent produces trailer hitch products for the RV and other industries.

United Steelworkers Union members picketed on Monday to draw attention to their cause. Officials for the city of Goshen said they are doing what they can to keep the company here.

“This will be a big deal for this town if we lose those jobs,” said City Councilman Jeremy Stutsman.

“They are getting the rug pulled out from under them after they have contributed so greatly to the company’s success,” said United Steel Workers spokesman Mike O’Brien. “This is not a plant that is losing money. They made hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The union says it will sit down with the company on Oct. 30 to talk about the proposed move.


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Editorial: Cequent Fate a Bottom Line Decision

October 29, 2012 by · Comments Off on Editorial: Cequent Fate a Bottom Line Decision 

Editor’s Note: The following is an editorial appearing in Sunday’s (Oct. 28) Goshen News opining on the potential closure of the Cequent Performance Products facility and the loss of 450 jobs.

This past week much of the buzz in the Elkhart County business community has revolved around the all-too-likely closure of Cequent Towing Products in Goshen, a company that manufactures hitches and towing accessories and employs roughly 450 people here.

After studying profit margins and costs, officials at Cequent’s parent company, TriMas Corp., based out of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., have recommended closing the Goshen plant and moving those production lines to Reynosa, Mexico. A final decision is expected in November.

This recommendation is disturbing on a number of fronts. Our local economy was decimated four years ago as the national recession took hold. Building it back up has been an uphill battle ever since. The loss of 450 local jobs will have a significant strain on our recovery, as well as the lives of those who would be newly unemployed.

Meanwhile, TriMas officials reported record third quarter profits on Thursday. Third-quarter sales for TriMas were a reported $336 million, up 21% from the same quarter in 2011. Profit for the quarter jumped from $35.8 million in 2011 to $36.6 million in 2012. Good for them. It is good to see hard work rewarded in the business sector. And we certainly feel it is safe to say that our local workers contributed to the success Cequent and TriMas have been experiencing.

We can’t blame TriMas for examining its business plan for increased efficiencies and cost savings. That’s smart business and TriMas owes it to its shareholders to be diligent about seeking profits. But at what cost? How much money is enough? John D. Rockefeller was once asked that question. His reply: “Just a little bit more.”

To achieve more, the cost appears to be American jobs. Indiana jobs. Goshen jobs. All this after Goshen City Council members twice in the past seven years approved tax phase-ins for improvements at Cequent, saving the company tens of thousands of dollars in tax costs.

We understand that business is business and that numbers matter. But we also understand that a community is a community and people matter. We hope — we’ll even plead — that TriMas executives think this through carefully and consider the lives of those who will truly be affected by this possible closure.

In the quest for “a little bit more,” it pains us that some of our own will potentially have a whole lot less.

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Cequent Workers in Limbo on Potential Closure

October 26, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Though it’s not looking good, a final decision has not been made regarding the closing of a Cequent Performance Products factory in Goshen, Ind., and moving it to Mexico, according to a company official.

The South Bend Tribune reported that if it does close, 450 workers in the trailer-hitch manufacturing factory will be looking for work.

Many workers from the Cequent factory packed a Goshen City Council meeting earlier this week to push city officials into trying to keep the plant open.

They wanted to know if there was any recourse the city could take regarding two tax abatements the company has been given, Mark Brinson, community development director for Goshen, said.

Brinson said the workers were told that the city is limited by the state statute on what it could do to recover taxes that had been abated.

One tax phase-in already has run its course, Brinson noted, and the company did not file for deductions on the active one, “so they did not receive any benefits this year.”

The company already moved one small portion of its operations to Mexico about a year ago.

The company told workers last week about its plans to close the factory, although company spokesman Alan Upchurch told The Goshen News that a final decision isn’t expected until next month.

“The increasingly competitive global market is forcing customers to demand the lowest cost products,” Upchurch told the Goshen paper. A move would also lower shipping costs because many of its customers have assembly plants in Mexico and the southern United States.

Upchurch said if Cequent, a subsidiary of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based TriMas Corp., decided to close the Goshen factory, it would likely take much of 2013 to complete.

To read the entire article click here.



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Goshen, Elkhart Co. Work to Save Cequent Jobs

October 25, 2012 by · Comments Off on Goshen, Elkhart Co. Work to Save Cequent Jobs 

Goshen, Ind., elected officials and employees say they will work their hardest to find a way the city can help Cequent Towing Products employees, but finding a solution might be difficult.

The Goshen News reported that parent company TriMas Corp. recently announced a preliminary recommendation to shut the Goshen facility, moving production lines to Reynosa, Mexico, according to a company statement. While it’s not a final decision, employees expect to hear the outcome by late November, according to the statement.

Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman and Dorinda Heiden-Guss, director of the Elkhart Economic Development Corp., are working to schedule a meeting with Cequent officials.

“I don’t know if there is anything we can do,” Kauffman said Wednesday (Oct. 24), adding he is certainly willing to try to help retain the jobs.

Heiden-Guss said it is a wage and benefits issues and as soon as she heard the news about the closure plans Friday she went to the plant to meet with company officials and was referred to other executives to arrange a future meeting. She believes that meeting will occur soon.

“Your heart does bleed for (Cequent employees),” Kauffman said. “These aren’t high-paying jobs anyway.”

He also expressed frustration with TriMas. He said the company had a good profit in 2011. He said of the planned move to Mexico, “I think it’s to drive the wages down and the profit up.”

The city’s most likely way of reclaiming anything against Cequent is through property tax phase-ins, according to city attorney Larry Barkes, who spoke at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. The City Council approved two property tax phase-ins for the company over the past seven years, both for equipment improvements.

To read the entire report click here.


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TriMas Corp. Posts Record Revenues During 3Q

October 25, 2012 by · Comments Off on TriMas Corp. Posts Record Revenues During 3Q 

Bloomfield, Mich.-based Trimas Corp. reported record sales of $335.9 million in its third quarter, ended Sept. 30, due to the “successful execution of numerous growth initiatives and results from bolt-on acquisitions.”

Trimas, parent to RV supplier Cequent Performance Products, said third-quarter revenue reflected a 21% increase from $277.7 million in third quarter 2011. During the period, net sales increased in all six reportable segments.

“Our record third quarter sales demonstrates we are successfully executing on our growth strategies,” said David Wathen, TriMas president and CEO. “We achieved sales growth of 21.0% during the third quarter, resulting from our bolt-on acquisitions, product innovation, market share gains and geographic expansion. In the midst of an uncertain global economic environment, we identify the bright spots where we believe we can capture growth for our businesses. We are making careful decisions to accelerate growth programs that are working, as we capitalize on opportunities that will drive long-term stakeholder value, while still mitigating and controlling risks.”

Net income during the third quarter was $18.7 million compared to $18.3 million the previous year while operating profit was $36.6 million.

The company’s Cequent America segment reported a 6.7% rise in sales compared to the year ago period. The increases were the result of newer product launches and continued market share gains. Third quarter operating profit increased compared to the prior year period as a result of higher sales levels, excluding the costs incurred related to the relocation of certain production to a lower cost country.

To read the entire report click here.



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Cequent Workers Make Case to Goshen Council

October 24, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

The Goshen, Ind., City Council passed the 2013 budget with amendment proposals from Mayor Allan Kauffman Tuesday (Oct. 23) night, but it was Cequent Towing Products employees that took center stage.

The Elkhart Truth reported that before budget discussions began, Cequent workers and representatives from the United Steelworkers union approached the council with concerns over the potential outsourcing the production of Reese Trailer hitches to factories in Mexico.

Union representatives warned that Cequent’s plans would mean 450 jobs would be lost, both union and non-union.

Kauffman said there would be a meeting in the near future with company officials to discuss what could be done to keep the jobs in the community.

To read the entire article click here.

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TriMas Will Sell 1.5M Shares to Deutsche Bank

August 14, 2012 by · Comments Off on TriMas Will Sell 1.5M Shares to Deutsche Bank 

TriMas Corp., parent to RV supplier Cequent Performance Products, announced that Heartland Industrial Associates L.L.C. has agreed to sell 1.5 million shares of its common stock to Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. as the sole underwriter in the registered public offering of those shares. reported that all net proceeds from the sale of the common stock will be received by the selling stockholder. TriMas will not receive any of the proceeds.

The total number of outstanding shares of TriMas common stock will not change as a result of this offering.

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Cequent Acquires Brazilian Hitch Manufacturer

August 8, 2012 by · Comments Off on Cequent Acquires Brazilian Hitch Manufacturer 

Cequent Performance Products, a TriMas Corp. business, has acquired Brazilian-based Engetran Engenharia Ltd., according to a press release. Headquartered outside of São Paulo, Engetran is a leading manufacturer of towing products including trailer hitches, skid plates and related accessories.

“We are excited to expand into Brazil and see tremendous opportunity to grow our entire product line of towing, trailering and electrical products in this emerging market,” said Tom Benson, president of Plymouth, Mich.-based Cequent Performance Products. “This acquisition allows us to leverage our full line of products in this rapidly growing market, as well as better support our global customers.”

Engetran is a market leader with hundreds of certified towing products that meet transportation regulations. Recent changes to regulations in Brazil enable all drivers to pull trailers, compared to the previous requirement of possessing a commercial driver’s license.

Cequent is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of accessories for light trucks, sport utility vehicles, recreational vehicles, passenger cars and trailers of all types. Products include cargo management and rack systems, towing and hitch systems, and trailer and electrical brake systems. Brands include Bulldog, ROLA, Highland, The Pro’s Brand, Draw-Tite, Reese, Hidden Hitch, Fulton, Wesbar and Tekonsha.

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Trimas Tallies Record 1Q Sales, Earnings Grow

April 26, 2012 by · Comments Off on Trimas Tallies Record 1Q Sales, Earnings Grow 

TriMas Corp., parent to Cequent Performance Products, reported record sales for its first quarter, ended March 31.

The company posted revenue of $297.6 million, an increase of 15.1% compared to first quarter 2011.  Net income during the three-month period was $12.25 million compared to $11.75 in the year prior.

“2012 is off to a solid start as we build upon the positive momentum of the past year,” said David Wathen, president and CEO for Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Trimas. “We achieved sales growth of 15.1% during the first quarter, resulting from successful execution of our strategic growth initiatives including bolt-on acquisitions, product innovation, market share gains and geographic expansion. While demand levels started the quarter slowly across several businesses, we saw significantly improved order and shipment levels late in the quarter.”

Net sales for Cequent North America decreased 1.5% compared to the year ago period, resulting primarily from a sales decrease within the Trimas retail channel due to a one-time stocking order for a significant customer in the first quarter of 2011 that did not recur in 2012. First quarter operating profit decreased compared to first quarter 2011 due to lower sales levels, costs incurred to relocate certain production to lower cost countries and increased selling, general and administrative costs, primarily in support of growth initiatives. Trimas said it continues to reduce fixed costs, minimize its investment in working capital, and leverage Cequent’s strong brand positions and new products for increased market share.

To view the entire report click here.


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Cequent Set to Introduce ‘Next Generation’ Hitch

April 2, 2012 by · Comments Off on Cequent Set to Introduce ‘Next Generation’ Hitch 

Draw-Tite Next Generation hitch

The soon-to-be-released Draw-Tite Class 5 Ultra Frame hitches have some “distinctive attributes,” according to a press release.

“Our new Ultra Frame is a change from regular receiver hitches,” states John Walsh, vice president of sales for Plymouth, Mich.-based Cequent Performance Products. “Hitches have largely been tube construction. In our Ultra Frame line-up, which is heavy-duty trailer hitches, we’ve moved to a cast center section. It has strength and aesthetic characteristics, as well as a larger chain hook-up for easy access. It’s a next-generation hitch.”

Draw-Tite’s new Ultra Frame hitch, with the cast center section, has a higher towing capacity and tongue weight rating than standard hitches. For example, new Ultra Frame hitches for the Ford F-350, 450, and 550 (Cab & Chassis) are rated for 16,000 pounds of towing, and 2,400 pounds of weight carrying tongue weight.

“When we develop new products, we want a trailer hitch to interact very cleanly with the electrical harness, coupler, jack and other products we’ve designed. So we go to great lengths to meet, and sometimes develop, the highest criteria of testing standards,” said Walsh. “We also work with our dealers to connect us with professionals to test and critique our products before we commercialize them. At the end of the day, this approach helps us understand what our products are being used for and how to make sure the consumer will be happy.”

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NTP Honors Cequent as 2011 Vendor of the Year

March 2, 2012 by · Comments Off on NTP Honors Cequent as 2011 Vendor of the Year 

During its 50th Anniversary Conference in San Diego last week, NTP Distribution Inc., a leading national distributor of RV and recreation-related products, honored Cequent Performance Products with the “2011 Vendor of the Year” award, as well as “Best Booth” featuring its Reese, Tekonsha and Bulldog brands. Pictured are Tom Benson, president of Cequent Performance, accepting the “Vendor of the Year” award from NTP President Greg Boyd. To win the best booth honor, Cequent’s staff took full advantage of NTP’s 50th anniversary by creating a rock-and-roll theme and dressing as the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” from the classic Beatles album. “While we have fun at these events, we take the relationship we have with NTP and all our customers very seriously,” said Benson. “It’s an honor to be recognized with this award and a privilege to participate in NTP’s success.” Plymouth, Mich.-based Cequent supplies NTP with a several prominent towing brands, including Reese, Tekonsha, Bulldog, Bargman, ROLA, Tow Ready and Draw-Tite.

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Cequent Acquires Michigan Brush Manufacturer

March 2, 2012 by · Comments Off on Cequent Acquires Michigan Brush Manufacturer 

Cequent Consumer Products, a leading automotive and RV aftermarket supplier, announced today (March 2) that it has acquired Laitner Brush Co.

According to a press release, the move will open new markets for the Plymouth, Mich.-based company, a division of TriMas Corp. Cequent’s RV towing products include name brands such as Draw-Tite, Reese, Fulton, Wesbar, Bulldog, Highland, Hidden Hitch, Bargman, ROLA and Tekonsha.

“The purchase of Laitner Brush will broaden our product offering and allow us to expand our channels served,” said John Aleva, president of Cequent Consumer Products. “Laitner’s business model is a natural fit within our organization and we welcome Laitner’s employees to our Cequent Consumer Products’ family.”

Laitner Brush Co., headquartered in Traverse City, Mich., is a niche designer, manufacturer and supplier of cleaning products for the home/hardware, automotive aftermarket and household products markets. Laitner Brush has been making brushes since 1855.


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Cequent Debuts Two New ROLA Car-top Carriers

February 8, 2012 by · Comments Off on Cequent Debuts Two New ROLA Car-top Carriers 

ROLA car-top carrier

Cequent Performance Products, Plymouth, Mich., has introduced two new car-top carriers in its ROLA line, which the company brought to North America from Australia in 2007.

“We recently launched two new low profile car top carriers in the Airfoil collection,” said Gail Matheus, general manager, North America automotive products. “These U.S.-made cargo boxes are very aerodynamic, stylish, durable, quiet and lightweight. Buyers are choosing ROLA products for their exceptional quality. The Airfoil SK box was designed for skis, snowboards and similar sporting goods. The Airfoil LG box was designed for luggage and other related cargo.”

Features include:

• ROLA airfoils sit low on a vehicle’s roof, making it easier to get in and out of parking garages and residential garage door openings.

• Both airfoils are considered “aero-neutral” because there is no lift or down-force created while driving.

• Stylish, streamlined design.

• Ultraviolet protection to help resist fading from the sun.

• Exclusive multi-directional stiffening ribs that reduce the tension, torsion and twist sometimes created by strong winds, or aggressive loading and unloading.

• The airfoil is lightweight and easy to load, as the stiffening ribs and vortex generators are made from advanced polymers and are molded right into all ROLA Airfoil designs.

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