Cequent Lays Off Workers at Tekonsha Facility

December 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Cequent Electrical Products intends to lay off 42 employees — mostly production workers — at its Tekonsha, Mich., facility, according to a report by the Battle Creek Enquirer. The layoffs will be completed by July, the company said.

The facility will remain in operation, but the cuts will reduce its staff level by about one-third, leaving 88 employees at Tekonsha while the company moves a portion of its manufacturing business to Mexico, a company spokesman said.

“Tekonsha is going to remain the center for all electrical product development” for the company, said Cequent’s spokesman, Al Upchurch of the Farmington Hills-based public-relations firm Marx Layne & Co. “The company will continue to invest in that key area of their business.”

Cequent manufactures automotive brake controls as well as lighting equipment for recreational vehicles and trailers, Upchurch said. One of its electronic brake-control brands for trailers carries the Tekonsha name.

Upchurch said the company intends to move manufacture of original-equipment and aftermarket brake controls to a facility based in the city of Reynosa, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Production of the company’s Bargman brand lighting products also is being moved to Reynosa, he said. Aftermarket products are sold to auto-supply stores for use in repairs.

The transfer of production to Mexico “allows Cequent to remain competitive and ensures that a large piece of its automotive business will remain with the company through 2019,” Upchurch said.

Upchurch said the layoffs would occur in two phases, the first to be completed by the end of March 2012 and the second by the end of July.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reported that Tekonsha Village President Corey Wood said he and other village officials have been in touch with representatives of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which works with communities to foster new business.

“My hopes are that we can get a little closer relationship with the MEDC and see what they can do for us,” Wood said. “We’ve got a beautiful industrial park, and Tekonsha is in a great location for picking up business, especially with the closeness of the highway and state roads.” The village of about 700 residents lies southeast of the intersection of Interstate 69 and M-60.

The local facility opened in 1963 under the name Tekonsha Engineering and was bought in 2002 by Cequent, a division of Bloomfield Hills-based TriMas Corp. The company also cut its Tekonsha staffing by about 50 employees in the spring of 2009.

TriMas has approximately 4,000 employees at more than 60 different facilities in 11 countries, according to its website.


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TriMas Gets OK on Increase in Revolving Credit

November 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based TriMas Corp., a diversified manufacturer of engineered and applied products and parent to RV supplier Cequent Performance Products, announced that it has received an additional $15 million commitment from Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. under its existing senior secured revolving credit facility.

This increases the company’s total revolving credit capacity under the facility to $125 million.

“The increase in our revolving facility commitments is another important step in the growth of our company and demonstrates the confidence Wells Fargo has in TriMas,” said TriMas CFO Mark Zeffiro. “The increased capacity enhances our available liquidity and will allow us to continue to pursue our long-term growth objectives and strategies, including bolt-on acquisitions and entry into new global markets.”


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Cequent Sponsors NASCAR Truck Series Team

November 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) announced that two industry-leading companies, Cequent Performance Products, which designs and manufactures towing and hitch systems and related accessories, and Cooper Standard, which specializes in fluid handling systems and anti-vibration systems for the automotive industry, will join the No. 29 RAM team as major sponsors for the entire 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.

According to a news release, the marketing and business alliances will see Cequent and Cooper as the primary sponsors for the 2012 season, each taking one-half of the 2012 races. Both companies will also receive partnership assets, entitlements, and benefits throughout the season, including exposure via Keselowski personally in both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series competition for Penske Racing. Parker Kligerman, a Penske Racing development driver, will return for his second full-season with the BKR team to pilot the No. 29 Cequent/Cooper Standard entry.

Plymouth, Mich.-based Cequent said the sponsorship of Keselowski and BKR, which also includes primary sponsorship for 15 Truck Series races in 2013 and 18 Truck Series races in 2014, is designed to “drive exposure for its brands such as Draw-Tite and Reese Towpower, strengthen relationships with retail partners, and generate new business opportunities.”

“We see Brad Keselowski, and his team, as terrific marketing fits for our company, its brands and products,” stated Tom Benson, President of Cequent Performance Products. “The NASCAR Truck Series audience is undoubtedly our target market and Brad extends Cequent’s reach to the NASCAR Cup and Nationwide audiences. This program also presents some meaningful business opportunities for both our Performance Products and Consumer Products divisions. The partnership has all the elements to be a complete success for Cequent and for Brad’s team. We very much look forward to seeing the No. 29 Truck take the track in 2012.”

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TriMas Posts Record 3Q Sales, 42% Profit Gain

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

TriMas Corp. today (Oct. 27) announced record sales for its third quarter, ended Sept. 30, and a 42% increase in net income.

The Bloomfield, Mich.-based company, parent to RV supplier Cequent Performance Products, posted sales of $277.7 million, an increase of 16.8% compared to third quarter 2010. Net income for the period was $17.0 million, a 42% improvement from $12.0 million the year prior, while diluted earnings per share from were 49 cents as compared to 35 cents.

During the third quarter of 2011, the company reported diluted earnings per share of 3 cents related to its precision cutting tool and specialty fitting lines of businesses now classified as discontinued operations and assets held for sale. Third quarter 2011 net income per diluted share was 52 cents, an increase of 40.5% as compared to 37 cents in third quarter 2010.

Highlights include:

• Trimas reported sales growth in all six segments compared to third quarter 2010.

• Amended its accounts receivable facility with improved pricing and terms, which, in conjunction with the recent refinance of the company’s U.S. credit facilities, will continue to reduce interest costs, extend maturities and improve financial and operating flexibility.

• Completed the acquisition of Innovative Molding, a technology leader in the design, lining and manufacturing of specialty plastic closures for bottles and jars for the food and nutrition industries.

• Completed two small, bolt-on acquisitions to extend the company’s sales and manufacturing footprint into India and South Africa.

“We achieved our sixth consecutive quarter of double-digit sales and earnings growth, delivered by our continued attention to new product innovation, market share gains, geographic expansion and successful bolt-on acquisitions,” said David Wathen, TriMas president and CEO. “We remain focused on our productivity and lean initiatives, and we will use these savings to fund growth, offset inflation and expand margins. As a result of our 16.8% sales growth and productivity initiatives, we also achieved record third quarter earnings per share from continuing operations of $0.49, an increase of approximately 40% as compared to third quarter 2010.

“We remain positive about TriMas’ ability to outperform the economy, create sustainable operating leverage and generate strong cash flow. Our diverse product portfolio and end markets serve us well, especially during times of economic uncertainty. While we experienced some softness in packaging, which we quickly responded to, we experienced continued strength in our energy and aerospace-related markets. With the uncertain economic environment, we are not assuming any economic tailwinds as we model 2012. We believe we will have to earn every bit of growth and earnings improvement achieved. We are well-positioned to execute on our strategic imperatives throughout the remainder of 2011 and achieve double-digit EPS growth in 2012.”

To view the full report click here.


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Reese Running Online Seminars on Fiver Hitch

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Plymouth, Mich.-based Cequent Performance Products’ Reese brand will launch their newest fifth-wheel hitch in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to a press release.

In anticipation of the launch, the company has scheduled two free online seminars to help demonstrate the unique features of this all new product.

“The seminar will focus on the features of the new fifth-wheel line as well as the strategic direction of the fifth-wheel category,” states Paul Caruso, vice president/general manager of Towing Products and New Business Development. “There will be two separate seminars available, one targeted to wholesale distributors, the other to dealers/installers of the Reese fifth-wheel line. Separating these groups into different presentations will allow us to communicate a more direct launch plan and provide resources fixated on their core needs and requirements.”

Online seminars will be held Oct. 25-26. Online registration is required for the event; no registrations via phone will be accepted. There is no fee to attend. This seminar requires Internet access (visual portion) and VOIP or phone connection (audio portion).

If you are a wholesale distributor, to register click here. Seminar date and time: Oct. 25 at 3 p.m.

If you are a dealer/installer, to register click here. Seminar date and time: Oct. 26 at 3 p.m.


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Cequent Set to Extend Summer Hitch Program

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Plymouth, Mich.-based Cequent Performance Products reports that its Summer Hitch Program has been “so well received” that the program, which was originally scheduled to end at the end of August, will be extended until Sept. 30.

According to a press release, Draw-Tite, Reese and Hidden Hitch will have given over $48,000 in cash to winners along with hundreds of free umbrellas and gas to hitch buyers for simply registering their purchase.

Paul Caruso, Cequent vice president/general manager, noted: “The act of registering their warranty information online automatically qualifies the consumer for selected premiums and a chance to win at least $100. Twenty winners are selected each month, and the odds are determined by the number of customers that register. Cequent also offers two $1,000 awards each month, selected from the pool of installers and dealers whose retail customers participate.”

“We have several objectives for the receiver hitch summer series,” said Tom Benson, Cequent president. “The first and foremost is to draw attention to the special attributes of each brand to help our installers and dealers communicate the elements that make them number one in their respective markets.

“We believe that our leadership is best demonstrated by offering superior products and the tools our dealers need to ensure success with our brands. But in the end it almost always comes down to people. These promotions focus on the people who make our business run.”

Come meet some of the winners and read why they love their hitches at, or New entries, pictures and stories are coming in daily and shown across all three brand websites.


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Cequent Moves Headquarters to Larger Site

June 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Cequent Performance Products, makers of such name brands as Reese, Draw-Tite, Bulldog, Fulton, ROLA and Tekonsha, has relocated its headquarters into a larger facility in Plymouth, Mich.  According to a press release, the move was completed on March 14.

The company said that the new building boosts Cequent’s product testing laboratory by nearly doubling the overall square footage and doubling the amount of bay doors. Cequent acquired one-third of the entire building and has an option for future expansion. To make room for new employees, the office space was increased from 25,000 to 31,000 square feet.

New state-of-the-art technology, such as a noise reduction system, faster Internet and video conferencing is being incorporated into the new facility. Cequent said that all of the lighting in the building was upgraded following a program that the local power company offers for energy efficiency. Besides shrinking Cequent’s carbon footprint, this will also reduce their electric bill by at least 30%.

Keeping an emphasis on saving resources, the new facility has an on-site recycling program for metal, glass, plastic, paper and corrugated board. Cequent has also contracted an outside company for the recycling of batteries and light bulbs.

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5 Promoted at Cequent Performance Products

February 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Cequent Performance Products has announced several personnel promotions. According to a news release:

  • Since January 2010, Tom Aepelbacher has supported both Cequent Performance Products as the vice president of operations and TriMas Corp. as the vice president of global sourcing. Over the past year, the Global Sourcing Organization, under his leadership, has proven to be an integral part of TriMas’ overall success. With continued focus on global growth initiatives and on-going productivity, Dave Wathen, president and CEO of TriMas, has announced that Aepelbacher will focus his efforts on global sourcing, as well as the development of a TriMas Continuous Improvement Program. In this role, he will continue to utilize his 25 years of experience in manufacturing and sourcing to continue working with the business unit leaders to gain penetration into emerging markets, leverage buying power, use strategic sourcing initiatives to increase productivity by lowering spend and lead the development of  continuous improvement initiatives corporate wide. He will report directly to Dave Wathen and will be relocating to the TriMas corporate office in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
  • Mike Finos has been promoted to chief operating officer for Cequent Performance Products. In this role, Finos will be assuming the responsibilities of North American manufacturing, global sourcing, quality and continuous improvement. He will also maintain his responsibility for logistics, inventory management and information technology. Finos has worked for CPP for the past seven-plus years with progressively increasing responsibility. He transitioned to vice president of logistics in 2003 from Hidden Hitch and over the past several years has taken on responsibility for inventory management and information technology. Prior to joining CPP, he was the vice president of logistics with Hidden Hitch, prior to it being acquired by TriMas. Tom Benson, president of CPP, made this announcement, “Mike has a strong history of commitment to excellence during his tenure here at Cequent, and during his years at Hidden Hitch. His dedication to our customer base and his passion for this business are exceptional. In addition, each of the changes we are announcing today will strengthen our business and improve our ability to provide customers with superior service,” he said.
  • Steve Helser has been promoted to director, North American manufacturing. Helser will now be responsible for the operations of the Mexican production facilities in Juarez and Reynosa in addition to continuing his responsibilities for the Goshen, Ind., and the Tekonsha, Mich., production facilities. Helser joined Cequent in 2004 as the plant manager of the Goshen Facility and was promoted to director of manufacturing for Goshen and Tekonsha in 2009.
  • Justin Schuhardt has been promoted to director, global logistics. He will carry on his customer and tech service responsibilities. In addition, he will be responsible for logistics, purchasing and distribution.  Schuhardt joined Cequent in 2004 as finished goods inventory manager in South Bend, Ind. In late 2005, he was promoted to DC Manager – Oakville, Canada. In late 2009, he was promoted to director of customer service.
  • Bruce Gielinski has been promoted to director of quality and continuous improvement. In addition he will now be responsible for quality across all of CPP. Gielinski has been with Cequent for over 33 years, starting at the original facility in Belleville, Mich.m in 1977. He has held several positions including expeditor, general foreman, plant manager, product consolidation manager, engineering manager and most recently director of continuous improvement.
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TriMas Corp. Gains New 3-Year Lending Facility

December 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

TriMas logoTriMas Corp. announced Tuesday (Dec. 29) that it entered into a new accounts receivable facility with Wachovia Bank NA. The  new facility, which has a three-year term, provides committed funding of up to $75 million.

The new accounts receivable facility provides a source of liquidity for the company at a cost of funds equal to the three-month LIBOR (currently approximately 0.25%) plus a spread ranging from 2.75% to 3.50% (currently 3.25%) on amounts drawn under the facility. This facility replaces the company’s existing $55 million 364-day accounts receivables securitization facility.

“This new agreement reflects our continued efforts to ensure that TriMas has adequate liquidity, and together with the company’s recently amended bank credit facility and senior secured notes offering, will improve our financial flexibility,” said Mark Zeffiro, TriMas CFO. “In addition to increasing the level of committed funding from $55 million to $75 million, we will benefit from improved pricing (currently 125 basis points lower than the existing facility) and the reduction of refinancing risk resulting from a three-year commitment. The recent actions taken to improve our capital structure will allow us to support our planned productivity and growth initiatives and accelerate the positive changes taking place within our organization.”

TriMas is the parent company of Cequent Performance Products.

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TriMas Amends Credit Arrangement With Lenders

December 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

TriMas logoTriMas Corp. announced Wednesday (Dec. 16) that it has executed an amendment and restatement of its credit agreement with certain of its lenders to extend the maturity of $220.1 million of its $252.2 million in term loans from Aug. 2, 2013, to Dec. 15, 2015.

The credit agreement has also been amended for certain items, including modified financial covenant levels to improve financial flexibility and the ability to refinance existing subordinated notes with senior secured notes, according to a news release from the Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based company.

Over 88% of the company’s existing lenders agreed to the amendment. TriMas’ borrowing costs on the extended term loans will be at LIBOR plus 4.00%, with a “LIBOR floor” of 2%. The maturity date and interest margins with respect to those term loans held by lenders that did not consent to extend the maturity of their term loans will remain unchanged.

In addition, pursuant to the amendment, certain revolving credit lenders have agreed to extend the maturity of $70 million (on an as reduced basis) out of $90 million in revolving credit commitments from Aug. 2, 2011, to Dec. 15, 2013. After giving effect to reductions in revolving commitments of certain extending revolving lenders, the company has $78 million of total revolving credit commitments. The company’s borrowing costs with respect to revolving credit loans made pursuant to such extended revolving credit commitments will be at LIBOR plus 4%, without an applicable “LIBOR floor.”

The commitment fee payable with respect to the undrawn extended revolving credit commitments will be increased to 0.75%. The maturity date and interest margins with respect to those revolving credit commitments held by lenders that did not consent to extend will remain unchanged.

“We view this refinancing as very positive for TriMas, allowing us to continue on our path of continuous improvement,” said David Wathen, TriMas president and CEO. “We have demonstrated improved operating performance via cost reduction activities and increased cash generation, allowing us to reduce debt by over $100 million through the first three quarters of 2009. We will continue this focus going forward and are pleased that we received such support from our existing lenders.”

TriMas is the parent company of Cequent Performance Products.

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TriMas Corp. to Issue $250M in Senior Secured Notes

December 15, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

TriMas Corp. announced Monday (Dec. 14) its intent to offer to qualified institutional buyers under Rule 144A and to persons outside the United States under Regulation S $250 million aggregate principal amount of senior secured notes due 2017, according to a news release.

The proceeds of the proposed offering, together with cash on hand, will be used by TriMas to purchase, redeem or otherwise retire all of its outstanding 9 7/8% senior subordinated notes due 2012. The offering is subject to market and other customary conditions.

TriMas is the parent company of Cequent Performance Products.

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TriMas Seeks to Amend/Extend Credit Facilities

December 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

TriMas logoTriMas Corp. has announced that it has initiated a process to amend and extend its credit facilities. If approved, the proposed amendment would extend the maturity of the company’s revolving credit facility from August 2011 to December 2013 and its $252 million term loan from June 2013 to December 2015, according to a news release.

The Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based parent company of Cequent Performance Products expects to pay an increased interest rate consistent with market conditions to those lenders that agree to extend the maturity of their term loans or revolving credit commitments.

“The financial markets have presented TriMas with the opportunity to consider refinancing our bank debt with terms that we believe are very good for TriMas’ capital structure and the future of the company,” said Dave Wathen, president and CEO. “TriMas’ liquidity is strong with $156 million of cash and available liquidity under our revolving credit and receivables securitization facilities as of Sept. 30, 2009. Based on discussions with our financial advisers, we believe this is an excellent time to take advantage of the current credit markets to seek to extend the maturity of our debt.”

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Cequent to Provide Towing System on Ford Trucks

November 9, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

Cequent Performance Products will supply an optional cross-bed towing system on the 2011 Ford Super Duty F-series truck, according to Automotive News.

The towing system, for towing gooseneck and fifth-wheel trailers of up to 25,000 pounds, is produced at the Cequent plant in Goshen, Ind., and then shipped to Magna International Inc.’s plant in Bowling Green, Ohio, for frame assembly and then on to Ford’s truck plant in Louisville, Ky.

Production of the trucks will start in January and the vehicles will be at dealerships by mid-February, a Cequent spokewoman told Automotive News. Cequent, a subsidiary of TriMas Corp. of suburban Detroit, makes cargo management and rack systems, towing and hitch systems and trailer and electrical brake systems.

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Cequent Products’ Bike Carrier Honored at SEMA Show

November 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Cequent Performance Products Inc. was recognized for the ROLA NV2 Bike Carrier as the “Best Engineered New Product” at the 2009 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nev.

“Cequent is recognized as a leader in the automotive aftermarket. Launching new and innovative products that utilize new technologies allow us to offer more customer convenience and provides the opportunity for growth,” Tom Benson, president of Cequent Performance Products Inc., said in a news release. “We recognize SEMA had a large selection to choose from and we appreciate their recognition of our effort.”

According to the release, the NV2 2-place bike carrier adds style and sophistication to the already extreme world of competitive and leisure biking. The NV2’s convenient lightweight aluminum arms can easily be manipulated into three set positions for storage, loading, travel and trunk access. The unique rubberized cradle system protects from scratches and allows bikes of all styles and sizes to be carried from the rim of the wheel and not the frame. This is especially convenient for those who have to carry both adult and child size bikes. The patented flip shank allows you to convert from a 1-1/4-inch to a 2-inch receiver with the simple removal and replacement of a security pin and clip. 

More information on the new NV2™ Bike Carrier is available online at

In order to be considered, a product “must be identified as an engineering achievement that demonstrates innovative engineering development and one which advances the state-of-the-art technology in its particular field.” 

SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) has served the automotive aftermarket industry for 46 years, of which Cequent Performance has been a contributing member for over 20. This trade association consists of a diverse group of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, publishing companies, vehicle restylers and restorers, car clubs, professional race teams and more.

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Cequent Plant Passes Manufacturing Milestone

July 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

trimas-logoTriMas Corp. today (July 20) announced that its Cequent Performance Products manufacturing plant in Goshen, Ind., has passed the one millionth-hour mark without having an injury that resulted in a lost work day.

This accomplishment represents validation of a program that was started five years ago to improve process flow and linkage in manufacturing operations, while focusing on safety, according to a news release. In addition to reducing lost-time accidents, it has also increased the company’s productivity and decreased costs.

Cequent’s Goshen facility produces and markets a wide array of trailer products and accessories for the original equipment manufacturer, wholesaler-distributor and retail markets. In particular, the plant fabricates trailer hitches, a process that entails a great deal of metalworking operations using saws, presses, drills, along with cut-off and welding equipment.

Five years ago, the plant increased its focus on improving the facility’s workflow and opted to place employees in a cell manufacturing environment, instead of having all the processes spread out around the plant floor. Machine and assembly operations were organized into linked cell centers, where material travel distances were greatly reduced and visibility was increased. These changes resulted in improvements in safety and ergonomics, reduced material handling and waste, and decreased cycle times for faster customer shipments.

“This accomplishment is primarily the result of the combined efforts of all of the employees at the Goshen facility,” said Steve Helser, Cequent Performance Products’ director of manufacturing. “The employees’ commitment to continual improvement in safety and productivity is a key element to our success. While we are pleased with this accomplishment, you can never rest. As soon as you think you have done the best you can, you find there are always more improvements to be made. Our goal is to be the fastest, leanest, broadest product line producer for our customers.”

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