Motorized manufacturer Fleetwood RV Inc., Decatur, Ind., announced today (March 15) the retirement of CEO Chuck Wilkinson, who co-led the company along with John Draheim, president and COO, since July 2009 when American Industrial Partners Capital Fund IV (AIP) acquired the motorhome business from Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. Wilkinson held key management roles at Fleetwood Enterprises for almost 40 years, and will continue to serve the company as a member of its board. Draheim will take over as CEO and president effective immediately.
“It has been an honor to be a part of the strong team that has worked so hard to preserve the Fleetwood legacy and to take care of our dealers, suppliers and customers during the transition,” Wilkinson said. “I am confident that I am leaving the company in very good hands, and look forward to staying connected as a member of the board.”
“On behalf of everyone at Fleetwood RV, I would like to sincerely thank Chuck for everything that he has done over the past year to help us remain one of the leading brands in the motor home industry,” Draheim said. “His leadership and
operational expertise have been key reasons for the success we have achieved so far, and we are all pleased that he will be a part of the company’s board of directors. On a personal note, I have really enjoyed working side-by-side with Chuck for many years and wish him all the best in his retirement.”
“Together with John, Chuck has helped build a high-caliber team and corporate culture focused on manufacturing quality motor homes,” said John Becker, Fleetwood chairman and managing partner of AIP. “This is one of the many reasons why we are confident Fleetwood RV will continue to be one of the top-selling motor home brands in the industry for many years to come.”
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.
American Industrial Partners Capital Fund IV LP (AIP) has completed the acquisition of the motorized recreational vehicle business of Riverside, Calif.-based Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.
The purchase price of $33.2 million is inclusive of certain assumed liabilities and is subject to customary post-closing adjustments, according to an AIP press release.
Concurrently, Fleetwood terminated approximately 700 employees associated with this portion of its business.
The final purchase price was well off the $53 million figure initially mentioned when the offer became public on May 15.
Fleetwood started trying to sell its RV and manufactured housing businesses Feb. 6, before it filed for bankruptcy March 10. Fleetwood contacted or heard from more than 75 companies. Of those, 10 met with management or visited Fleetwood’s operations.
In May, Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. had $20.7 million in assets compared to at least $265.2 million worth of debts, according to financial filings the company made in bankruptcy court. Of that, at least $183 million was money owed to unsecured creditors.
What You Get for $33.2 Million
The transaction with AIP was an asset purchase and included two motorhome manufacturing facilities, two motorhome service facilities and Fleetwood’s Gold Shield supply subsidiary, all presently located in Decatur, Ind. It also includes the intellectual property for Fleetwood’s existing motorhome brands and certain machinery and equipment in Riverside.
Fleetwood RV is one of North America’s leading manufacturers of Class A and Class C motorized RVs and has established one of the industry’s broadest and most respected distribution channels and product lines. Fleetwood RV will be jointly run by Chuck Wilkinson, CEO, and John Draheim, president.
Following company meetings with all associates in Decatur, Wilkinson stated, “Our veteran work force is enthusiastic and excited to return to their jobs building the best coaches in the industry.”
Draheim added, “We are confident that the new company can capitalize on the strength of the Fleetwood RV brand and strong relationships with the distribution channel that have been developed over the past 60 years.”
“AIP builds and invests in great American headquartered businesses and we believe Fleetwood RV represents an attractive investment opportunity,” said Dino Cusumano, an AIP partner. “We are pleased to be partners with Chuck, John and all the talented associates at Fleetwood RV. We respect the long and successful history of the company and greatly value the relationships that Fleetwood RV has with its dealers, customers, suppliers and associates and look forward to continuing and improving those relationships over time.”
Cusumano added, “The company’s headquarters and manufacturing operations will be in Decatur, Ind. We would like to thank the city of Decatur and the state of Indiana for their significant support during this process.”
Fleetwood was the country’s largest manufacturer of Class A motorhomes in 2008, accounting for an 18.6% share of the market, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. (SSI). The company held a 20.4% market share the year prior.
According to the latest SSI numbers through May, Fleetwood remained No. 1 in Class A retail sales with a 19.1% market share and No. 3 in Class C sales with a an 11.4% market share.
Paul Bamatter, another AIP partner, said, “Fleetwood RV will be organized as a separate standalone company within our portfolio of companies. Fleetwood RV will have one of the best balance sheets in the industry with no-third party debt and a significant cash balance at close.”
Wilkinson said, “We look forward to partnering with the American Industrial Partners team and have charted a going forward operating agenda focused on developing new and leading products, further improving our quality and service levels and our cost position.”
Draheim noted that, “Our customers and dealers have been extremely loyal to us over the years and we expect to repay that loyalty by ensuring that they are afforded innovative products built with exceptional quality, all at affordable prices. Our near-term outlook has turned positive as our dealer inventories have bottomed and retail sales have accelerated in the past few months.”
American Industrial Partners was founded in 1989 and is a private equity firm that makes control equity investments in mid-sized industrial companies that can benefit from the firm’s systematic approach to implementing strategic and operational improvements. It is investing its fourth fund which recently closed with $405.5 million of committed capital.
For more information, visit www.aipartners.com or American Industrial Partners can be reached at (212) 627-2360.