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Browsers, Few Buyers, at Big Boy Toy Show

February 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

logo After two years of a tough market for recreational-vehicle sales, Doug Gauer, of Couler  Valley RV in Dubuque, Iowa, has seen some signs of improvement, the Dubuque Telegraph  Herald reported.

“This year looks pretty good so far,” said Gauer, who was displaying some RV models at  the Big Boy Toy Show at the Five Flags Center Sunday afternoon (Jan. 30).

Gauer and several other tri-state area RV dealers displayed some of their models at the show, which is presented by the Telegraph Herald.

The hard times the industry has dealt with in recent years have been evident at Dubuque-based furniture maker Flexsteel Industries Inc., which reported a 71% drop in sales of RV materials in 2009.

In 2010, Flexsteel’s vehicle seating sales were up, although the commercial sales category as a whole dropped 14% in year-to-year comparisons.

For his part, Gauer thinks the industry has responded well to the difficult market conditions in recent years and doesn’t think that increasing gas prices will take a toll on this year’s potential sales.

Camping and recreational vehicles are a way of life for a lot of families, Gauer said, and they will find a way to keep their traditions going.

“If it is in your blood, it stays in your blood,” he said. “An RV is an investment, something the whole family can do.”

Gauer and his wife, Sue Gauer, own Dubuque-based Couler Valley RV.

This year, Gauer said, people are shopping earlier than in years past. He said RV companies have done a lot to revamp their products in the wake of the recession.

Prices have stayed relatively flat, said Gauer. He added that there is a wide range of prices in the products, which can include anything from small trailers to entire homes and cost anywhere from $6,000 to $300,000.

Dave Brown

Dave Brown

Nearby, Dave Brown had two recreational vehicles on display that were priced at $49,000 and $80,000.

Brown, owner of Brown’s Sales and Leasing in Guttenberg and Elkader, said he hasn’t been seeing a lot of early shoppers but is anticipating that more consumers will be buying when the weather warms up.

Gauer and Brown agreed that most of the people at the Big Boy Toy Show Sunday were browsing rather than buying.

Most of the questions Brown fielded dealt with whether his business takes trade-ins, how much the RVs on display could tow, and what the monthly payments would be.

Brown said interest rates are low right now.

Gas prices, which have been blamed for stifling RV sales after spikes in recent years, do not worry Gauer. He sees concern over fuel costs as more psychological than pragmatic.

“You don’t pull your camper to work every day,” Gauer said. “A couple of dollars a gallon more shouldn’t affect people.”

Gauer is quick to point out the advantages of traveling with an RV, which he believes is cleaner and more comfortable than hotel lodging.

“I sleep better in my camper than in my own home,” Gauer said.

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Flexsteel Industries Notes Better Q1 Results

October 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Flexsteel Industries Inc. this week reported a higher net income for the first quarter ended Sept. 30, helped mainly by a 15% increase in revenue as well as improved gross margins.

Flexsteel’s net income for the first quarter rose to $2.3 million or 34 cents per share from $1.4 million or 21 cents per share in the same quarter last year. First quarter results included a pre-tax charge of approximately $1.0 million related to the planned closing of a manufacturing operation, according to a news release.

Net sales for the quarter increased to $87.2 million from $75.9 million in the prior-year quarter, as residential net sales grew 16% and commercial net sales grew 12%.

Gross margin for the quarter edged up to 22.5% from 21.8% in the previous-year quarter, helped mainly by better coverage of fixed costs on the higher sales volume.

The Dubuque, Iowa-based manufacturer supplies seating to the RV industry.

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Coon and Klosterman Tout RVs in Big Apple

August 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Cutline

Richard Coon (center), president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), is joined by Ron Klosterman (second from right), president and CEO of Flexsteel Industries Inc., in front of the NASDAQ office in Times Square in New York City. Coon and Klosterman shared ringing the closing market bell on Thursday (Aug. 26), as part of NASDAQ's recognition of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the RV industry. Others in the photo (from left) are Fran Connor, Barton-Gilanelli; Jim Gilbertson, Flexsteel; and Jon Tancredi, Barton-Gilanelli.

Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon and Flexsteel President Ron Klosterman celebrated the RV industry’s Centennial by telling traders about the RV industry’s long history and promising future before ringing the stock exchange’s closing bell Thursday (Aug. 26), according to a news release.

“The RV industry has grown through booms and busts, world wars, the digital age and countless fads,” Coon said. “But we know our best years lie ahead of us. In fact, RV wholesale shipments are projected to increase more than 45% this year.”

Klosterman told the gathering of his NASDAQ-listed company’s nearly 50-year involvement with the RV industry, as well as record net income. Flexsteel makes furniture for the RV market.

“The RV market continues to grow,” Klosterman said. “We’re excited to be part of the RV industry’s centennial celebration and look to grow America’s love of RVing for another century.”

In conjunction with the closing bell ceremony, super-sized RV Centennial and Go RVing logos were on view in Times Square, along with RV lifestyle video from the Go RVing campaign, which aired on the NASDAQ tower. The closing bell ceremony was also broadcast by CNBC, CNBC India, CNBC.com, Fox Business Network, Canada’s Business News Network, Bloomberg and Bloomberg Brazil.

Earlier in the day, the two told FOX Business Network’s audience about the upswing in the RV industry and the deep love consumers have for RVing, during a live interview arranged by RVIA and its public relations agency Barton Gilanelli. The interview was conducted inside a Fleetwood motorhome.

“We’ve actually shipped more units through July than we did all of last year,” Coon told FOX Business. “It shows you the love that people have for RVing. During recession, consumers lay off buying, but then they come back.”

Coon also cited results from RVIA’s Vacation Cost Comparison study, which shows that RVs are the most cost-effective way to take a family vacation.

The Fox Business interview can be viewed here http://video.foxbusiness.com/#/v/4321747/consumers-driving-rv-profits-/?playlist_id=87185.

For other still photos of the event click here.

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RVIA’s Coon, Flexsteel to Ring Closing Bell

August 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and Ron Klosterman, president of Flexsteel Industries Inc., are scheduled to ring NASDAQ’s closing bell today (Aug. 26) as part of the industry’s ongoing centennial celebration.

Flexsteel is a manufacturer, importer and marketer of residential, RV and commercial furniture. The company has been publicly traded since 1969 and has been listed on the NASDAQ market since 1983.

The event, set up by RVIA and its PR agency Barton Gilanelli, is scheduled for 3:45 to 4 EST. A live webcast is available at http://www.nasdaq.com/about/marketsitetowervideo.asx.

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Flexsteel Industries Reports Record Income

August 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Flexsteel Industries Inc., a Dubuque, Iowa-based supplier to the RV industry, reported record net income for the fiscal year ended June 30 of $10.8 million, compared to a net loss of $1.5 million in the prior year.

Net income for the quarter ended June 30 was a record $4.1 million or 61 cents per share, compared to net income of $800,000 or 12 cents per share in the prior year quarter.

Net sales for the fiscal year ended June 30 were $326.5 million, compared to $324.2 million in the prior fiscal year, an increase of 1%. Net sales for the quarter ended June 30 were $85.6 millionm compared to the prior year quarter of $74.6 million, an increase of 15%.

For the fiscal year June 30, 2010, residential net sales were $246.0 million, compared to $230.7 million for the year ended June 30, 2009, an increase of 7%. Commercial net sales were $80.5 million for the year ended June 30, 2010, a decrease of 14% from net sales of $93.5 million for the year ended June 30, 2009.

For the quarter ended June 30, residential net sales were $65.7 million, compared to the prior year quarter of $57.0 million, an increase of 15%. Commercial net sales were $19.9 million for the quarter ended June 30, compared to $17.6 million in the prior year quarter, an increase of 13%.

The company’s operating income improved by $19.8 million in fiscal year 2010 in comparison to the prior year. The company benefited from strategies implemented and actions taken during fiscal year 2009 including consolidation of manufacturing operations and workforce reductions that brought production capacity and fixed overhead more in line with current product demand.

During the prior fiscal year the company recorded pre-tax charges of approximately $2.6 million related to facility consolidation and employee separation costs. Companywide employment was reduced approximately 30% through plant closures and workforce reductions and remains at these reduced levels. These factors contributed significantly to gross margin improvement and selling, general and administrative expense reductions.

Outlook

“We enter the 2011 fiscal year with a strong balance sheet reflecting working capital in excess of $90.0 million and no bank borrowings,” said CFO Timothy Hall. “We had an increase in sales volume for the current quarter over the prior year quarter, and anticipate modest improvement in sales volume will continue in fiscal 2011.

“We believe that we have the necessary manufacturing capacity, importing capability and fixed cost controls in place to meet current and expected demand for our products,” he explained. “However, we are experiencing selected cost increases on various manufacturing component materials and increases on ocean freight rates in comparison to prior year rates.

“Our residential product category has performed well in relation to our competition, and we anticipate continued improvement in the residential sales category. However, residential furniture remains a highly deferrable item and can be adversely impacted by factors, such as, low levels of consumer confidence, a depressed market for housing, limited consumer credit and high unemployment.”

“Demand for our commercial product shipments fell considerably as the U.S. economy contracted and credit tightened,” Hall added. “While we believe that commercial product sales are at or near the bottom of the downward cycle and should level off, we do not anticipate significant improvements in commercial markets before the second half of fiscal year 2011.

“We remain committed to our core strategies, which include a wide range of quality product offerings and price points to the residential and commercial markets, combined with a conservative approach to business.  We will maintain our focus on a strong balance sheet through emphasis on cash flow and improving profitability. We believe these core strategies will be in the best interest of our shareholders in the longer term.”

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Flexsteel Industries Honored by Furniture Today

January 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Ray Allegrezza and Dwayne Welch present the Supplier of the Year award to Flexsteel executives Jim Richardson, Ron Klosterman and Lee Fautsch.

Ray Allegrezza and Dwayne Welch (at left) presented the Supplier of the Year award to Flexsteel executives Jim Richardson, Ron Klosterman and Lee Fautsch in December.

Ron Klosterman, president and CEO of Flexsteel Industries Inc., accepted Furniture Today’s “2009 Supplier of the Year” award for the company during the magazine’s 13th annual Leadership Conference in Naples, Fla. last month.

Upon accepting the award, Klosterman thanked Furniture Today and the industry. He said the honor was validation for the 1,500-plus Flexsteel employees who “come to work every day and provide great product and service to all the dealers we serve.” In addition, Klosterman thanked the retailers who work with Flexsteel and case goods division Wynwood, saying: “The independent dealer has always been the backbone of our company.”

Flexsteel, which provides furniture to the RV industry and other markets, was cited as a cornerstone of the furniture industry and well-deserving of the award, according to Furniture Today’s editor-in-chief, Ray Allegrezza, when the award was announced earlier. He also called Flexsteel an “American success story.”

“(Flexsteel) which makes seating products for virtually every application, has more than a 100-year-history as a credible, reliable and innovative supplier,” said Allegrezza.

The publicly traded company sells its well-known furniture across the globe and operates seven U.S. manufacturing plants and two permanent showrooms.

Further information on Flexsteel Industries Inc. can be accessed at http://flexsteel.com.

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Flexsteel Industries Reports Q4, Year-End Results

August 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Flexsteel Industries Inc. Wednesday (Aug. 19) reported results of operations for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended June 30.

The Dubuque, Iowa-based furniture supplier to the RV industry and other markets reported net sales of $74.6 million compared to the prior year quarter of $100.6 million, a decrease of 25.9%. The company reported net income for the current quarter of $800,000 compared to net income of $300,000 in the prior year quarter.

Net sales for the fiscal year ended June 30 were $324.2 million compared to $405.7 million in the prior fiscal year, a decrease of 20.1%. The company reported a net loss for the current fiscal year of $1.5 million  compared to net income of $4.2 million in the prior year. On a pre-tax basis the reported loss of $2.6 million includes approximately $2.6 million related to facility consolidation and employee separation costs, reflecting near break-even results from continuing operations.

For the quarter ended June 30 net sales to the RV industry were $2.8 million compared to $11.6 million in the prior year quarter, a decrease of 75.9%.

For the fiscal year recreational vehicle net sales were $16.2 million, a decrease of 71.1% from net sales of $56.1 million for the year ended June 30, 2008.

Outlook

In a release, the company stated, “We believe that the consolidation of manufacturing operations and work force reductions that the company completed during the fiscal year have brought production capacity and fixed overhead in line with current and expected demand for our products. Companywide employment has been reduced approximately 30% over the past year through plant closures and work force reductions related to business conditions.

“The recreational vehicle industry continues to be the hardest hit product category with the initial impact of high fuel costs compounded by credit tightening and lack of consumer confidence in the economy as a whole. Recreational vehicle industry published data indicates that motorhome unit sales, the sector that encompasses the majority of our sales, are down nearly 80%. 

“We are not anticipating significant improvements in market conditions at this time, and are managing our business on that basis.”

The company expects current business conditions to persist for the remainder of calendar year 2009.

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Flexsteel Named Furniture ‘Supplier of the Year’

July 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

flexsteel-logoFlexsteel Industries Inc. has been recognized as the best of the nation’s furniture suppliers by an industry publication — an award that comes on the heels of company layoffs and sales declines in the midst of a struggling furniture market, according to the Dubuque (Iowa) Telegraph Herald.

The Dubuque-based furniture maker was named Supplier of the Year by Furniture Today magazine. The award, Flexsteel spokesman Justin Mills said, is significant since the publication is highly regarded among manufacturers and retailers in the industry.

Flexsteel received word about the recognition late last week, and the award will be presented in December at a conference in Naples, Fla.

“This is kind of a landmark for Flexsteel, it really puts us on the map,” said Mills, who said the publication also ranked Flexsteel as ninth among manufacturers worldwide in recent years as residential sales have grown.

Flexsteel was recognized in large part for company longevity, as it has been in existence for more than a century. Flexsteel was founded in Minnesota before moving to Dubuque in the early 1900s.

“We’ve been around 116 years and have one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry. So retailers are recognizing we’re a credible supplier,” Mills said.

The award was cast in the context of the current economic downturn, as the publication looked to recognize companies staying competitive. Mills said this served as a reaffirmation of the company’s efforts.

In the article, Furniture Today Editor-in-Chief Ray Allegrezza called Flexsteel an “American success story.”

“The company, which makes seating products for virtually every application, has more than a 100-year history as a credible, reliable and innovative supplier,” he said.

But the past year has unquestionably been a challenging one for Flexsteel.

Last quarter, Flexsteel reported net sales of $73.6 million for the quarter — 25% lower than the year before.

Ron Klosterman, Flexsteel chairman and CEO, said the work force was slashed by more than 30% over the year.

Many of those reductions came from the closure of Flexsteel’s New Paris, Ind., recreational vehicle seating production plant and ending manufacturing operations at a Lancaster, Pa., facility last fall.

But there have been job cuts locally as well, a series of reductions at the Dubuque flagship factory trimmed the staff to less than 150 and completely eliminated the second shift.

Mills said Flexsteel now employs 1,450 employees companywide.

“We hope that’s all behind us. It’s not been an easy journey to get where we are today,” he said. “Until this economy turns around that’s all we can do is be ready, be prepared and be well equipped.”

Mills said he didn’t want to speculate on the role the troubled recreational vehicle business will play in the future.

“It’s tough to say,” he said, adding that a turnaround on recreational vehicles won’t happen until the original equipment manufacturers rebound.

The furniture industry in general has been facing a perfect storm of rising material costs, the credit crunch and a generally poor housing market.

“Some of these manufacturers can’t balance source production versus domestic production and they get in big trouble. They’re taking out millions in loans just to stay in business,” said Mills, who said Flexsteel officials are hoping for a retail bounce back this fall.

“The bottom line is we’re well-positioned and well-equipped to handle the demand when it does turn around.”

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Flexsteel Reports 25% Sales Decline, Loss in 3Q

April 22, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Flexsteel Industries Inc. reported  Tuesday (April 21) net sales for the quarter ended March 31 of $73.6 million compared to the prior year quarter of $98.1 million, a decrease of 25.0%.

The Dubuque, Iowa-based RV furniture manufacturer also reported a net loss for the  quarter of $1.9 million compared to net income of $800,000 in the prior year quarter.

Net sales for the nine months ended March 31 were $249.6 million compared to $305.0 million in the prior year nine-month period, a decrease of 18.2%. The company reported a net loss for the current nine-month period of $2.3 million compared to net income of $3.9 million  in the prior year period.

During the the first three quarters of the current fiscal year, the company recorded pre-tax charges of approximately $2.4 million related to facility consolidation and employee separation costs and a $1.7 million inventory write-down. 

For the quarter ended March 31 net sales to the RV industry were $2.5 million compared to $14.0 million in the prior year quarter, a decrease of 82%. Net sales to the RV industry were $13.4 million for the nine months ended March 31, a decrease of 70% from net sales of $44.5 million for the year-earlier period. 

The consolidation of manufacturing operations that the company announced on Sept. 10 was substantially completed as of Dec. 31. However, workforce reductions have taken place at other facilities as the company continues to adjust operations to bring production capacity in line with current and expected demand for its products. Companywide employment has been reduced approximately 30% over the past year.

“Demand for our products is dependent on factors such as consumer confidence, affordable housing, reasonably attainable financing and an economy with low levels of unemployment and high levels of disposable income,” the company stated in its release. “These factors are all currently in poor positions, and indications are that they will remain that way in the near-term. We are not anticipating significant improvements in market conditions at this time, and are managing our business on that basis.”

“While we expect that current business conditions will persist for the remainder of calendar year 2009, we remain optimistic that our strategy of a wide range of quality product offerings and price points to the residential, recreational vehicle and commercial markets combined with our conservative approach to business will be rewarded over the longer-term,” the company concluded.

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RV Stocks Soar in Massive Wall Street Rally

March 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Wall Street is soaring, propelling the Dow Jones industrials up nearly 500 points, as investors get the good news they want on the economy’s biggest problems: banks and housing. 

Investors have reignited a two-week rally, cheering the government’s plan to help banks remove bad assets from their books. They’re also pleased with a report showing a surprising increase in existing home sales last month, according to Associated Press

The stocks of public companies engaged in the RV industry that are traded on major markets rode the rally, enjoying their best day in months. 

Winnebago Industries Inc. rose 15.9%, Thor Industries Inc. rose 13.5%, Drew Industries Inc. rose 16.9%, Skyline Corp. rose 10%, Patrick Industries Inc. rose 5.5%, Spartan Motors Inc. rose 8.3% and Flexsteel Industries Inc. rose 1.4%. 

Equity LifeStyle Properties Inc., a real estate investment trust that serves the campground industry, rose a whopping $5.50 a share to close up 14.9%. 

The Dow closed up more than 497 points, its best day in more than four months. 

The Treasury Department’s bad asset cleanup program would tap money from the government’s $700 billion financial rescue fund and also involve help from the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the participation of private investors. The housing report, meanwhile, is overwhelmingly positive because it’s a sign that the glut in homes for sale may be easing.

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