Some business strategies are simple: If you want to increase sales, you need to sell more to existing customers, add new customers to the mix – or both.
But, according to a report in the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette, some strategies are easier said than done.
Five years ago, Goldshield Fiberglass was cranking out exterior shells for recreational vehicles as a division of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. Then the bottom dropped out of the economy. Fleetwood, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009, was in no position to order more fiberglass.
A private equity group saw potential in the Fleetwood brand and its fiberglass operation but decided each business needed to stand on its own. With that move, Goldshield was freed to woo new clients.
Now, Decatur, Ind.-based Fleetwood RV Inc. is Goldshield’s sister company – and customer. And Goldshield is flourishing. The Decatur factory has doubled its workforce in the past three years as sales have grown by 80 percent.
Jeff Newport, Goldshield’s general manager, forecasts growth of 15% a year each of the next three years. The company doesn’t release revenue figures.
“We were two very different businesses,” he said of Goldshield and Fleetwood. “By separating ourselves from Fleetwood, we’re hoping to open ourselves to other RV markets.”
But the manufacturer isn’t limiting itself to supplying the RV industry. Goldshield has established relationships with the large truck makers, including Navistar International Corp., and bus manufacturers. And the company has branched into some less obvious directions.
Fiberglass is used to make the tubes patients slide into when they have an MRI test. The sturdy substance is used to create the pools that aquaculture farms raise fish in and the fast-moving cars on theme-park rides. Fiberglass is also molded into the underwater apparatus that shoots water upward in decorative fountains.
Goldshield now sells to all four industries.
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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels today (Aug. 19) joined executives from recreational vehicle manufacturer Fleetwood RV Inc. to celebrate the company’s plant reopening in Decatur.
Following the sale of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.’s motorhome division and Goldshield Fiberglass assets to private-equity firm American Industrial Partners Capital Fund IV LP in July, the newly established Fleetwood RV has recalled over 600 associates and plans to create an additional 300 jobs at its Decatur headquarters by 2012, according to Inside Indiana Business.
Under the company’s new ownership, Fleetwood RV is consolidating its California and Pennsylvania manufacturing operations to Decatur. Plans call for $7.4 million in new investment toward building improvements, machinery and equipment and retooling. In addition, the company will relocate $8 million in equipment from its out-of-state operations.
This is the latest of several recent business consolidations into Indiana, including Dometic, a manufacturer of recreational vehicle accessories, which is consolidating operations from Sweden and Mexico to Indiana and expanding its facilities in Elkhart and LaGrange counties.
“Indiana is determined to make opportunity from hard times. We’re reaching out to companies like Fleetwood and saying, if you are consolidating, do it in Indiana. Jobs have been coming to Indiana from everywhere,” said Daniels.
Fleetwood RV is currently hiring manufacturing personnel and will continue to make significant staffing additions over the next three years.
“The decision to establish our company headquarters in Decatur was two-fold,” said John Draheim, president of Fleetwood RV. “First and most importantly, was the high-caliber workforce in the area, and the second was the cooperation from the state and city to develop a plan that would be best for the company, the local community and the RV industry as a whole.”
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Fleetwood RV up to $9 million in performance-based tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. The Decatur City Council approved additional property tax abatement at the request of the Adams County Economic Development Corp.
“Have no doubt – as mayor, you don’t sleep at night when worrying about people needing jobs but this is a giant leap for us on the way to recovery. We are grateful to Fleetwood RV,” said Decatur Mayor John Schultz.