Elkhart, Ind.-based Dicor Corp., a leading supplier of products to manufacturers for recreational and conversion vehicles as well as aftermarket products for RVs, announced today (Dec. 9) it has finalized an agreement for the purchase of the primary products of the company’s Alta Resources affiliate by American Technology.
Alta Resources is a supplier of OEM and aftermarket wiper systems and fluid containers through a partnership with Trico Corp. and also is also the leading supplier of wireless remote control systems and its Slide-Lock product for RV slideouts. American Technology, also headquartered in Elkhart, is acquiring these products while also introducing the Genesis line of remote motor controls, a new generation of remotes for RV and related industries.
Other products previously marketed by Alta Resources, including table hardware, steps and TV brackets, will become part of the product line of Dicor Corp.’s affiliate, Dicor Products.
“Alta Resources has been a valued member of the Dicor Corp. family since its founding nearly 13 years ago,” said Gregg Fore, Dicor Corp. president. “The Alta Resources personnel as well as the products that will now be part of American Technology have proven to be top performers in the markets they serve. Alta Resources has been associated with American Technology for more than 10 years, so we believe this move should be a perfect fit for the people and products, making for a smooth and successful transition.”
Fore said the agreement effectively enhances Dicor Corp.’s ongoing capabilities. “This transaction gives us additional resources to support the numerous innovations coming out of our other companies,” he said.
In addition to Dicor Products, Dicor Corp. affiliate companies include Vixen Components, Seal Design and United Shade.
“The acquisition of the Alta Resources product lines is in harmony with our core competencies and our strategic plans for product and market expansion,” noted Steve Haines, American Technology chairman and CEO. “We welcome the opportunity to expand Alta’s market, and appreciate our long association with Dicor Corp.”
A truckload of new offerings from Dicor Products is ready to impact tomorrow’s RVs with functional and stylish improvements that will continue to help make RVs quite different than your father’s RV, or even your older brother’s RV.
These offerings range from cabinet aesthetics to wheel treatments to new, lightweight plywood that can help improve gas mileage and protect the environment, according to a news release. Dicor Products is one of several companies affiliated with the Dicor Corp., a leading supplier for the RV industry.
These and other products from Dicor Corp. brands are on display in the Dicor Corp. booth, No.260, North Wing Lobby, at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville today through Thursday.
“We are extremely excited about this year’s show,” said Gregg Fore, president of Dicor Products and the Dicor Corp. “We have never introduced so many new products at one time. We continue to actively listen to our OEM partners, and this represents our latest effort to deliver what they need to make better RVs.”
A few key examples:
- Innova all-new curved cabinet doors. Curved cabinetry is a stylish new look in RVs that has been drawing consumer interest. Innova will enable RV manufacturers to offer attractive curved cabinets that are as much as 60 percent lighter than conventional solid-wood, raised-panel doors. The curved doors can also be fitted with end caps, which allows them to be installed on existing flat-faced cabinets, giving OEMs an economical way to provide a new, contemporary style.
- Cor-Lite plywood. This exceptionally lightweight and smooth plywood material is about half the weight of conventional plywood and MDF, while retaining similar sturdiness. It comes in 4 X 8 foot sheets in six thicknesses ranging from 2.7 mm to 22 mm, and can be applied anywhere plywood, MDF and lauan are currently used. Core-Lite’s smooth surface makes it especially effective for cabinets and other finished uses. Made from poplar wood, it is an environmentally friendly, non-rainforest product.
- Traktr Chrome composite wheel liners. The latest addition to Dicor Products’ popular wheel cover line for OEMs and the aftermarket, this is the first technological advance in motorhome wheel liners in 20 years. Made by a Tier One automotive supplier, it is lighter weight and will not peal, pit or rust, and provides superior impact performance, abrasion/dent resistance.
- Extendable pivoting wall table. Imagine being able to pivot a wall-hung table away from you while you slide in behind it. That’s what this does! It also has a flush-fit leaf that easily extends the table another 14 inches, and it also easily drops down out of the way. This is one of a number of new, ingenious, adjustable table systems being introduced.
- Electric single slider step with LED footboard light. A very slim profile makes this step easier for manufacturers to integrate into units. It stays open at campgrounds and automatically retracts with the engine ignition or with emergency manual retraction. A bright, colored LED light strip is embedded in a rubber safety grip for entry/exit safety at night. A two- or three-step option with quiet flip motion is also offered.
A host of new and innovative TV mounts will also be introduced, and Dicor Products will present its stable of roof and flooring products. “People are amazed at how much ‘stuff’ comes through us,” said Fore. “And everything is researched and tested before we put it out. These are all category-leading products.
“Some of them, such as the Innova doors and table mounting systems, offer a dramatic change that RVers will quickly notice in terms of style and functionality. But all address core functions of an RV and collectively create a better RVing experience for the RV user. These are the products that will give RVers plenty to look forward to.”
For more information visit www.dicor.com/amazingstuff.
Newly incorporated Vixen Composites is introducing an innovative new composite sidewall panel called Vixenite that offers many advantages for RVers and RV manufacturers. Vixen Composites is an affiliate of the Dicor Corp., whose affiliated companies are leading suppliers to RV manufacturers and the RV aftermarket.
A Vixenite panel and other Dicor products are on display in the Dicor booth No.260 in the North Wing Lobby of the Kentucky Exposition Center at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville today (Nov. 30) through Thursday.
According to a press release, Vixenite composite panels are manufactured in a highly controlled, fully automated, continuous process that eliminates common variables that contribute to dimensional and performance inconsistencies and failures. The flat, composite panels can be produced at any length desired in widths up to 120 inches, with a 0.19-inch thickness and more thickness options to come. Vixenite panels are lighter than wood-based panels and can be supplied in any automotive paint color and clear coat. There are no discreet layers, no wood, no substrate seams, and excellent thermal and mechanical properties.
Panelogic unique proprietary process
“This is an amazing and unique proprietary process that has been more than two years in the making,” said Gordon Frost, general manager of Vixen Composites. “What our team has essentially done is take existing technology and chemistry and put them together in a revolutionary new way that yields a better composite product.”
Perhaps the biggest benefit to RV manufacturers, dealers and consumers is Vixenite’s ability to hold up to the rigors of RVing without running the risk of difficult and costly wall replacement or repair due to wall panels bubbling, separating and internal delamination. Its structure is virtually a solid fusion of proprietary materials that are processed at over 300 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, extreme heat situations will not create the thermal effect in Vixenite that causes it to post cure, thus avoiding panel damage. Also, the manufacturing process ensures a consistent, quality finish for RV manufacturers to work with.
Frost is part of a team assembled by Vixen with extensive experience in the field of composites. Prior to his association with the Dicor Corporation, Frost worked eleven years for Owens Corning — Fabwel Division/Crane Composites. During that tenure he served as Technical Director/Technical Leader, Manager of Research and Development, and Application Engineer. He also received the Slayter Award for Innovation for his work in developing the CTEC all-composite, wood-free, high-gloss exterior RV sidewall panel. He holds multiple U.S. patents and is Six Sigma Black Belt trained.
In-line finishing process
Another example of what Vixen’s manufacturing approach can do is a patent-pending coatings technology to ensure automotive finishes. The finish is applied in-line with no VOC’s or HAP’s, thus meeting and exceeding EPA guidelines for airborne pollution. Finishes are instantly cured with ultraviolet lights for an automotive-quality result. There is no fading, no chalking and no added lead time. This means Vixen Composites can help RV manufacturers produce full-body paint more efficiently.
”The line automation and in-line finishing procedure shortens manufacturing time considerably when compared to other composite processes,” said Frost.
Making a better RV
“Overall, the equipment is designed for dimensional and process flexibility, which, combined with our expertise in composites, allows us to address and meet many of the existing flat panel composite challenges,” said Frost.
“As a company affiliated with Dicor Corporation, we at Vixen are dedicated to working with each of our manufacturing customers in whatever way is needed to make composites work better for their particular applications.”
For more information visit www.dicor.com/amazingstuff.
United Shade is introducing the RV industry’s first motorized cargo screen for toy haulers, according to a news release. It can be operated by a key-fob remote control from up to 100 feet away. Called the GateKeeper CargoScreen, this new offering has a fully enclosed motor/spring mechanism, side channels, and a bottom rail for a clean, sharp appearance. It is made of heavy-duty screen material and uses an advanced technology Screenlock system to keep the screen in the sidetracks when hit or pushed. A manual GateKeeper is also available, which features a durable, fully contained locking mechanism on the bottom rail. The heavy-duty 12-volt motorized option requires no locking mechanism to remain secure. The GateKeeper easily attaches to either the rear wall or the interior sidewalls for added flexibility and uses universal mounting hardware. It can also be customized for different size openings. Its dark screen provides UV protection for interior furnishings and keeps the RV clean and secure while owners are away. A custom graphic can also be printed on the screen. Currently the GateKeeper is offered to OEM customers, but United Shade is also expecting it to be an aftermarket add-on for RV dealers and their customers. The GateKeeper CargoScreen will be on display along with a record number of other new products from Dicor Corporation at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., Nov. 30 to Dec. 1. Visit the Dicor Corp. booth, No. 260, North Wing Lobby.
A foam insulation product used increasingly in home building is being introduced to the RV industry by Seal Design as a superior alternative for insulating and sealing RVs.
Seal Design is an affiliate of Dicor Corp. and provides a variety of sealant products to RV manufacturers. Its new Touch-N-Seal foam polyurethane insulation results from the chemical reaction of two liquid components that combine in a spray gun to produce sprayed-in foam that quickly expands to fill even the smallest crevices, before hardening into solid, lightweight-structured insulation. It is a practical alternative to the fiberglass used in most towable RVs today, according to a news release.
Small gaps typically left by fiberglass insulation as it is rolled over studs, or is tucked around cutouts for windows, doors and hatches, are filled by the solidified foam. Along with its better seal, Touch-N-Seal has an R-value of 7.2 per inch compared to a typical R-value of 3.2 per inch for fiberglass insulation used in RVs. Additionally; Touch-N-Seal provides better insulation for sound.
Another benefit is the solid foam’s ability to limit water damage and mold growth from potential leaks because of the tight interior wall seal it achieves. “Unlike fiberglass batting, water cannot penetrate the closed-cell foam, and the foam will not hold water inside the walls like fiberglass, reducing the chance of serious damage from water intrusion,” said Greg Kelly, general manager of Seal Design.
The polyurethane foam also strengthens the walls as it solidifies, while weighing less than fiberglass. “So you’re strengthening the wall while reducing weight at the same time,” said Kelly. “That’s what manufacturers are looking for these days.”
“We know our customers and the industry as a whole need better insulation solutions, so Seal Design looked at some of the best performing sealing technologies in other industries and this is one of several new products we determined could very practicably be used in the manufacture of RVs,” said Kelly.
For example, using a spray gun, a single worker could more quickly insulate a wall than by cutting and gluing fiberglass batting between the studs. Seal Design provides delivery systems that include a new CPDS 1000 dispensing system. This system is portable and delivers a constant pressure using compressed air, enabling higher foam yields and fast installation. Installation is in compliance with Energy Star and AAMA standards.
“It also saves a ton of storage space for the manufacturer,” said Kelly. “Two-inch thick fiberglass takes up to 30 times the space that Touch-N-Seal materials would occupy.”
“By enhancing productivity, Touch-N-Seal would financially benefit the manufacturer before its units even leave the line,” said Kelly. “For dealers, the energy-saving enhancement, the sound muffling, and water-blocking properties — they all provide excellent benefits to talk about. This could help differentiate RVs in a category where buyers are looking for something new.”
The new foam insulation will be introduced at the National RV Trade Show Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in Louisville, Ky. It will be part of the Seal Design display at the Dicor Corp. booth, No. 260, North Wing Lobby.
Dicor Corp. is pulling things together, both literally and visually.
As the company prepares to make several product introductions at the 48th Annual National RV Show, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in Louisville, Ky., it was in the process of moving its corporate headquarters and a number of affiliate companies to a new, shared Elkhart, Ind., location. Also in the works was a corporate rebranding effort to more closely identify the corporation’s various units under the Dicor umbrella.
The privately held northern Indiana industry supplier, with some 100 employees, was doing all that while launching Vixen Composites, a new business unit that uses a computer-controlled system to manufacture “advanced composite” RV sidewall panels up to 10 feet wide and 45 feet or more in length.
Dicor Corp. President Gregg Fore said the new brand identity, kept under wraps until its unveiling in Louisville, will help customers see both visually and “in practice” that the corporation encompasses not only Dicor Products but also Alta Resources, Seal Design and United Shade, along with the new Vixen unit.
Alta Resources, Seal Design and Dicor Products will share facilities with Vixen, at 2965 LaVanture Place in Elkhart, after moves to be completed by December, Fore said. Part of United Shade and the company’s Window Expressions division, which serves the commercial and residential building markets, will share the older Dicor on the city’s north side facilities.
A company news release explained that the $6.1 million startup and relocation project “is symbolic of the company’s recent reorganized efforts to communicate a consistent corporate message across all product brands.”
“Right now, we offer what looks like an unrelated group of products,” said Fore, chairman for 2011 of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “However, each product and each brand is driven by the same core values established at the corporate level. We want to be very clear, as a corporation, about what we stand for. And we think our new branding approach will more effectively communicate that.”
Fore said the unique Vixen Composites manufacturing process addresses the “typical problems” associated with sidewalls. The finished product is entirely seamless, down through the substrate, and includes no wood. It’s cured at temperatures of more than 250 degrees to prevent the “post forming” esthetic flaws that sometimes result when resins are cured at lower temperatures, Fore said.
“This is a proprietary process that we’ve spent the last couple years developing,” he noted. “It uses technology that is a mix between existing technology and new technology that we’ve paired with it that enables us to scale the process and size so we can produce a panel up to 10 feet wide and in virtually any length.”
A number of towable RVs are expected to be on display at the Louisville show featuring new sidewalls from Vixen Composites. Vixen’s customers also include Class A motorhome builders, said Fore, adding that Vixen’s products also have potential applications in commercial transportation, the marine sector and in building construction.
Dicor Corp.’s varied divisions are also planning on introducing several other new products or improvements for OEM and aftermarket customers in Louisville.
Seal Designs will display new thermoplastic extrusion seals, a polyurethane spray insulation/sealant and “an advanced new technology” for exterior seals. Dicor Products, in turn, will unveil lightweight, European-style RV cabinetry and new roofing and flooring products.
Alta Resources’ new offerings include Eurostyle table bracket mounts and pedestals, TV slides and a multifunctional remote control, while United Shade plans to introduce cordless honeycomb shades and new “SpaceSaver” rollershade systems that can be motorized.
Dicor Corp. is on the move with a new brand structure, a new solution for RV sidewalls and a record number of new products to introduce at the 47th Annual National RV Trade Show Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in Louisville, Ky.
“We have pushed hard to create many valuable new options for our OEM and aftermarket customers. We’ve developed some very exciting solutions for improving some of the RV’s most vital components,” said Dicor President Gregg Fore in a news release. Dicor Corp. is a leading supplier to RV manufacturers. Based in Elkhart, its companies provide a range of products that improve the function, quality, safety and appearance of RVs. These companies include Alta Resources, Dicor Products, Seal Design and United Shade.
Vixen Composites: Advanced technology sidewalls
This lineup of products will be joined by the fall launch of a new company under the Dicor Corp. banner, Vixen Composites. Vixen will use a unique, computer-controlled process to manufacture advanced composite sidewalls for RVs. The completely automated process is the only one of its kind. It will offer a new, machine-engineered level of quality, and more options for the sidewall finish. ”This is a proprietary process that we’ve spent the last couple years developing,” said Fore. “There’s nothing else like it, and we expect it to address the typical problems now associated with sidewalls, while also improving manufacturing efficiencies for our OEM customers.”
Vixen is located at 2965 LaVanture Place in Elkhart, which by December will also become the headquarters of Dicor Corp. and several other affiliates. The $6.1 million startup and relocation project is symbolic of the company’s recent reorganized efforts to communicate a consistent corporate message across all product brands.
This new branding approach will be unveiled at the Louisville show, along with a number of new “impact” products that “will clearly emphasize Dicor Corporation’s leadership role in bringing advanced core products to the RV industry through the focused nature of each of our brands,” said Fore.
Communicating core values
“Right now, we offer what looks like an unrelated group of products. However, each product and each brand is driven by the same core values established at the corporate level. No matter what Dicor company they work with, customers will receive the same level of ‘whatever-it-takes’ service, product innovation, and leading-edge solutions across our family of brands. We want to be very clear, as a corporation, about what we stand for. And we think our new branding approach will more effectively communicate that.”
Among other things, the new brand structure will also clearly position Dicor Corporation as the overall corporate umbrella for all its affiliated brands. This includes distinguishing “Dicor Corp.” from “Dicor Products,” one of the five company brands associated with specific products.
“What Dicor Corp. brings to the table has been, and will continue to be, a family of brands that each contribute valuable, but distinctly different, core products that make RVs more marketable, while improving manufacturing efficiency,” said Fore.
Production start near for breakthrough product
At Vixen, the composite machinery is now being tested and its installation finalized. Initial production runs should begin in early October, and Vixen expects to have RVs sporting its new sidewall panels at the Louisville show. “This is truly an exciting product for us, as we believe we have the right chemistry and process to solve many common problems with sidewalls. For example, we can produce composite wall panels up to 10 feet wide at virtually any length,” Fore said.
Many new core components
Other product advances being introduced by Dicor Corp. at Louisville include:
- Seal Designs — Better sealing solutions to prevent leaks, including polyurethane spray insulation/sealant, an advanced new technology for superior exterior seals, and thermoplastic extrusion seals.
- Dicor Products — Very lightweight, European-styled cabinetry for lighter RVs. Also new, advanced TPO roofing and flooring products.
- Alta Resources — Multi functional remote, new and innovative Euro-style table bracket mounts and pedestals, TV slides and other products from Europe that are lighter, more stylish and extremely functional.
- United Shade — New SpaceSaver rollershade systems that can be motorized. Also cordless honeycomb shades.
“All of these new products are the result of our close relationships with RV manufacturers that have developed over years of working with them in sales, engineering and on the shop floor,” said Fore. “We want them to rely on us as a manufacturing partner, and we’ve pledged to bring them the best solutions we can find. With the launch of Vixen, and the developments with our other brands, we think we can help our OEM partners seize some ripe new opportunities to significantly enhance the RV product and the RV experience of the retail customer.”
TaigMarks Inc. has been named as the new marketing and public relations agency for Dicor Corp. Both firms are based in Elkhart, Ind.
TaigMarks is a full-service advertising, marketing and public relations firm with particular expertise in product launches and branding strategy. It has a long history of service to the RV industry, including clients such as Coachmen-Forest River, Workhorse Custom Chassis, Dometic, Blue Ox and TRA Green Certification. It also serves a diverse range of clients involved in such fields as health care, hospitality, outdoor recreation, cabinetry, financial services, trucking, higher education and poultry drinking systems, according to a news release.
Presently TaigMarks is assisting Dicor with an extensive rebranding effort and the marketing launch of its new affiliate, Vixen Composites.
“Dicor is a great match for us because of the depth of RV knowledge that we both bring to the table,” said Steve Taig, president of TaigMarks. “Dicor is the kind of client that we enjoy working with because it allows us to use the full range of our capabilities, from developing brand charters to coordinating marketing and public relations action plans. We think the ability to develop a branding plan from conception, and then helping to implement the marketing plan, makes us most effective.”
Dicor is a leading supplier of innovative products to the OEM and component manufacturers for recreational and conversion vehicle industries, as well to distributors in the recreational vehicle and automotive aftermarkets. It is currently bringing to fruition a $6 million start-up of Vixen Composites, which will manufacture advanced composite materials for RVs and other products.
Current affiliated companies include Dicor, United Shade, Alta Resources and Seal Design, all of which provide a variety of components, materials and services that enhance RV manufacturing and the RV experience for the consumer.
“We appreciate TaigMarks’ RV knowledge and the strategic thought its associates put behind everything they do,” said Dicor President Gregg Fore. “We think TaigMarks and its creative team will help us focus our message and provide a more cohesive identity for all our companies, which will keep Dicor’s success growing for many years to come.”
For more information about TaigMarks, visit www.taigmarks.com or call (574) 294-8844.
Vixen Composites LLC has announced its management team in anticipation of startup operations this quarter at 2965 LaVanture Place in Elkhart, Ind. The newly established company announced last January that it was investing $6.1 million in equipment and improvements to the 98,000-square-foot LaVanture Place facility, which will serve as Vixen’s manufacturing headquarters.
Gregg Fore, president of Vixen, said startup plans are on schedule and the new company is primed to make an impact in the RV industry. Vixen specializes in structural and exterior composite panels that allow RVs to become more lightweight while also improving structural integrity and durability. Vixen will also serve the commercial trailer, trucking and marine markets. It is affiliated with Dicor Corp., a long-time supplier for the RV industry located in Elkhart. Fore is also president of Dicor.
“We see this as a great opportunity to work with our RV manufacturing partners in building a better RV. We intend to be on the leading edge of wood-free, composite technology. Lighter, sturdier and trouble-free after the sale is what the market is demanding,” said Fore. “We’re very confident the core management group we have assembled will enable us to expertly serve that demand.”
Gordon Frost will serve as Vixen general manager. Frost has more than 21 years of engineering, manufacturing and marketing experience, most recently serving as Dicor’s product manager, construction materials. Prior to his association with Dicor, Frost worked nine years for Owens Corning — Fabwel Division/Crane Composites. During that tenure he served as technical director/technical leader, manager of research and development, and application engineer.
He also received the Slayter Award for Innovation for his work in developing the CTEC all-composite, wood-free, high-gloss exterior sidewall RV sidewall panel. He holds multiple U.S. patents and is Six Sigma Black Belt trained.
Joe Kromkowski will be director of operations. Kromkowski comes to Vixen from General Sheet Metal Works of South Bend and Tomah, Wis., where he served as director, production operations. In this capacity he led an operations team that included production, engineering, ISO 9001 quality management and continuous improvement of both the South Bend and Tomah facilities. Prior to that he was vice president, operations for Tydenbrammall, Angola, Ind., where he directed financial/business and operational enhancements for the manufacture of high volume cargo security seals.
Other positions over his 28-year career have included director of corporate engineering and quality, project engineer, and senior automation engineer. He is also Six Sigma Black Belt trained.
Tom Conn has been named director of sales. Conn has 25 years of industry sales experience, including sales manager for Alpha Systems LLC of Elkhart, a manufacturer of products for the RV, marine and manufactured housing industries. He has also held the position of vice president for Mito Corp., a distributor of 12-volt automotive aftermarket products.
Vixen plans to create up to 34 new jobs by 2012. “We expect our team to make Vixen a leader in its field, and that includes the same service, resourcefulness and reliability that Dicor Corp. and its affiliated companies are known for,” Fore said.
For more information about Dicor Corp., its products and affiliated companies, visit www.dicor.com.
Watch today’s Featured Video on Dicor.
Coming out of this past winter’s Louisville Show, Dicor Corp. President Gregg Fore essentially threw down the gauntlet to his RV industry supplier peers by listing an array of new products Dicor and its affiliated companies were bringing to the table in 2009 and 2010. In so doing, he said he was “challenging the status quo” and “setting a tone for the RV industry to think differently when it comes to new product design and the choice of options that are now available.”
Now, he’s apparently taking that challenge to the next level with a plan to reinvent the composite side panel business by launching a new company that will build lightweight RV sidewalls and other structural components called Vixen Composites LLC. Toward that end, Vixen is currently installing $6.1 million in equipment in a once-vacant plant on the northwest side of Elkhart, Ind.
“We’re in the process now of setting up the facility and the equipment,” Fore said in an interview. “We expect to be running limited production sometime in the third quarter and hopefully be in full production by the fourth quarter of 2010.”
Fact is, as Fore points out in a new RVBUSINESS.com video, the recession hasn’t prevented the Elkhart-based Dicor group of companies, including Alta Resources LLC, Seal Design LLC, United Shade LLC and Dicor Corp., from moving ahead on all fronts.
“Well, there’s never not a time to do new things,” says Fore, “and Dicor spent over two years in developing the (composite wall) process because we believe that lighter weight is here to stay. We believe that structural integrity is a more important factor than it has been before and we’ve developed a process using old and new technology mixed together to provide a product that’s lighter and more sustainable.
“The manufacturing process allows us to build a panel that is not susceptible to some of the same kind of warranty issues that people have experienced in the past.”
Fore says that Vixen’s products, which contain no wood and resist mold, are to appeal to other markets utilizing “high gloss finished products.”
“The market we believe is actually larger outside the RV business than it is inside the RV business,” adds Fore, who serves as president of both Dicor and Vixen. “We’re focusing to start out with exterior panels because it’s one of the most difficult things to do, but we expect very soon to stretch out into the commercial trucking industry and into the residential, military and marine markets.”
Vixen in January obtained $224,000 in property tax abatement over five years from the Elkhart City Council. Approval of the tax abatement also made Vixen, which plans to employ 34 people by 2012, eligible for $320,000 in state incentives, including tax credits and training grants.
Several Elkhart County, Ind., RV manufacturers and suppliers are donating their time, materials and funding to help transform a four-year-old, 84-passenger school bus into an innovative mobile science center.
The “Science-2-GO Bus” is the brainchild of ETHOS (Encouraging Technology and Hands On Science), an affiliate of Elkhart Community Schools.
“Imagine a state-of-the-art science training center that is easily available to Elkhart County students and teachers that gives them the opportunity to explore science in new ways and look at their world through the eyes of a scientist,” said Dana Knapp, a master science teacher with ECS.
That’s what a handful of local firms are creating this winter. The bus is being outfitted with computers, solar panels and other features that will help bring science closer to students and teachers in Elkhart County schools.
The total cost for this community initiative is well over $250,000, sponsors estimate.
Participants include A and R Machine, ASA Electronics, Bayer Corp., Cleer Vision Windows, Dicor Corp., the Elkhart Country Community Foundation, Forest River Inc., Home Energy, Interlink Computers, Jayco Inc., Performance Graphics, Show Hauler Trucks, Summit Fiberglass, Turtle Top and Wiley Metal.
The idea began to evolve more than a year ago and sprouted when the Bayer Foundation came forward with a $64,000 grant. “Several local companies came on board right away, then the economy went down,” explained Patsy Boehler, executive director of ETHOS.
The project was put on hold for nine months, then was revived over the winter.
Boehler contacted the office of northern Indiana Congressman Joe Donnelly, who pointed her in the direction of Dicor Corp. in Elkhart. Dicor staff warmed to the idea and drafted some preliminary designs.
She then contacted the Elkhart Community Foundation and was put in contact with Forest River, which joined the effort and identified some local suppliers who could help on the project.
“It was just amazing how many companies said they could donate things,” Boehler said.
The project got off the drawing board this winter, and the bus is making the rounds to area firms, each modifying the bus using its special skills. The first step was to remove the seats and raise the ceiling by 14 inches.
Thanks to the donations from the local firms, only $19,000 of the original grant has been spent so far. The balance of the grant will help furnish the lab. Boehler anticipates the bus will be completed in March or April.
Phil Tom of Turtle Top, Doug Rhude representing A & R Machine and Dennis Boehler are co-chairmen for the project.
Vixen Composites LLC, a sister company to privately held Dicor Corp., Elkhart, Ind., plans to start manufacturing lightweight composite side panels and structural components for the RV and other industries by the end of summer.
“Our intent was to determine if we could scale up technology to a size that had applications in not only the RV industry but other markets that use similar structural and aesthetic components,” said Dicor President Gregg Fore, who also is president of Vixen.
Vixen last week received $224,000 in property tax abatement over five years from the Elkhart City Council. Approval of the tax abatement also made Vixen eligible for $320,000 in state incentives, including tax credits and training grants.
Vixen, which will occupy a vacant industrial building on Elkhart’s northwest side, will employ 34 people by 2012 after $6.1 million in equipment is installed later this year.
“It’s all about being lightweight,” Fore told RVBUSINESS.com. “The target was to be 10% lighter than current product that is being used. On wall panels, we’ve exceeded that target.”
He said Vixen sidewalls will be marketed to RV manufacturers and others that make high-gloss finished products.
“The same basic product that can be produced off this equipment has applications in the marine industry, step van and commercial truck markets and the military,” Fore said. “The common denominator is that it’s a lightweight structural product that has no wood, will not absorb water and will not mold. It fits a lot of applications because of that. There are identifiable differences between this product and what other products do.”
Installation of equipment will be completed by the end of the second quarter.
“It is primarily existing technology that has been scaled to a size with some new technology mixed in,” Fore said. “We don’t know that any company anywhere is producing it on this scale. If we had found someone who was, we would have bought the company.”
Dicor is a supplier of synthetic roofing and related components to the RV industry in addition to decorative wheel covers. Another “associated” company, United Shade LLC, manufactures and distributes interior window coverings to the RV industry while another company, Alta Resources LLC, markets windshield wipers for the construction and agricultural markets along with remote motor controls.
Yet anothr Dicor-assocated firm, Seal Design LLC, designs and distributes a wide variety of sealant products to the step van and RV builders.
All Dicor-affiliated companies are located in Elkhart.
“If you look at our products, you don’t see a lot of them that are related,” said Fore, who is on track to become chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) in October. “We look for opportunities in markets that we understand and then find the right people and partners to move ahead.”
Editor’s Note: In the week following the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., Gregg Fore, president of the Dicor Group of Companies and first vice chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), had the following comments on the show’s success and to Dicor’s new product introductions.
With nearly a dozen new products on display from the Dicor Companies including frame window shades, RV burglar alarms, updated remote control systems, SURV motorized rear bug screens, all aluminum steps and the Innova interior cabinet systems, Dicor President Gregg Fore indicated that the response from dealers and manufacturers was beyond expectations.
“Each of our companies released new product initiatives, aimed at changing the way RV components are perceived by manufacturers, dealers and consumers,” Fore stated. “The encouragement we received from our customers indicates that we are, in fact, challenging the status quo with our new product offerings. They strongly encouraged us to rapidly get these products into their newest unit designs.”
Standing at the forefront of new product development for the RV Industry, the Dicor Group of Companies, which includes Alta Resources, Seal Designs, United Shade and Dicor Corp., is bringing products to the mix that will help manufacturers to change the landscape of the industry to meet the needs of today’s dealers and consumers as well, he said. Some examples of this new product innovation include:
- From Alta Resources, an advanced 8-button/10-function remote control system with applications to control fifth-wheel jacks, slide-out rooms, patio lights, rear stabilizer jacks and more; and an RV burglar alarm system that protects the unit’s interior as well as its outside storage compartments.
- From Seal Design, a new line of Touch-N-Seal products that include a wide range of products to handle many custom applications including one- and two-component foam kits for sealing, insulating, patching and filling. Seal Design specializes in customized sealant solutions for water intrusion, cushioning, sound abatement, attachment and bonding.
- From United Shade, a new line of manual and motorized Roller Shades available in one-piece blackout or sunscreen material or in a two-piece Day/Night shade option. These new roller shades are custom made for single window or total cab systems. Also from United Shade is a new Sport Utility Motorized Bug Screen that allows complete and comfortable utilization of the unit for personal relaxation without the intrusion of unwanted insects.
- From Dicor Corp., the Innova line of stylish RV interiors including interior cabinets that present a new approach to custom RV interiors with component based, versatile design; manual and electronic bed lifts that add versatility to the living area; and TV brackets suitable for unique TV placement and adjustment.
“With these and other new product introductions Dicor is setting a tone for the RV industry to think differently when it comes to new product design and the choice of options that are now available,” Fore said. “Of course, Dicor will continue its role as a key supplier of its core products, roofing and wheel products, as well as its aftermarket emphasis on roof care and maintenance and wheel accessories.
“The reaction to new product ideas coupled with the reported success of the National RV Trade Show from our manufacturing customers is yet another sign that the Industry recovery is continuing , and that 2010 should be a healthy year for the RV Industry,” Fore concluded.