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.”
Motorized manufacturer Fleetwood RV Inc., Decatur, Ind., has introduced an entry-level gas-powered Encounter Class A motorhome that the company calls a ”crossover” model. ”The Encounter has the increased sleeping capacity of a Class C and the increased storage and tank capacity of a Class A,” said Fleetwood President John Draheim (shown at left). ”It has the driving benefits of both.” Available in three 28- to 31-foot floorplans, Encounter is mounted on a Ford F-53 SuperDuty chassis with 16,000- or 18,000-pound GVWRs. Options that characterize the Encounter as a ”crossover” include a queen size ”Hide-a-Loft” bed that powers down electronically from over the cockpit. Introduced at the recent Louisville Show, Encounter also has an optional ”Bunk Bed-n-Breakfast” that converts a two-person dinette into bunk beds. Encounter features include pass-through storage, heated holding tanks and luggage compartment, rear-vision camera with monitor and water filtration. MSRPs start at $81,263. Also for 2010, Fleetwood introduced its first 45-foot quad-slide, side-aisle floorplan in the luxury American Tradition diesel pusher along with a 2010 American Heritage with 450 square feet of living space and a 40-foot full wall slide floorplan in the Discovery diesel pusher.
American Coach, the luxury motor home division of Fleetwood RV Inc., today announced it retailed its first VIP factory delivery – an optional service available to all American Coach customers – since American Industrial Partners Inc. (AIP) acquired the company in July.
VIP factory delivery is unique in that customers take delivery of their new American Coach model where it was built, and to learn how to operate it with a factory representative.
“The American Coach VIP factory delivery is one of the many ways we try to make our customers feel special,” said John Draheim, Fleetwood RV president. “It creates an opportunity for us to personally connect with our customers, as well as helps us ensure their complete satisfaction before they hit the road.”
“Customers who select our VIP factory delivery option have the unique chance to see where their coaches are made and to meet the people that helped build them,” said Justin Humphreys, national sales director for American Coach and Revolution LE. “Everyone who is involved in the production of our American Coach line of luxury motor homes has a tremendous sense of pride about what they do, and who better to take a customer through their new coach then someone who had a hand in its construction.”
Customers John and Pat Goodwin selected the VIP factory delivery option when they purchased their second American Coach – a 2009 American Tradition 42M, from Tom Johnson Camping Center in Concord, N.C.
“We are extremely pleased with our VIP delivery experience,” said Pat Goodwin. “The American Coach delivery team brought an attention to detail and an incredible knowledge of the product which made our delivery the best we have ever had. We left Decatur feeling confident and excited about our beautiful new coach, and with peace of mind in having American Coach’s legendary service standing behind us. We would highly recommend the American Coach VIP option.”
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) members elected two incumbents and four new members to the board of directors in the association’s annual elections, which concluded on Monday (Aug. 24), according to RVIA Today Express.
Andrew Baer, vice president of sales and marketing at KZRV LP; John Draheim, president of Fleetwood RV Inc., and Tim Tiffin, general manager of Tiffin Motor Homes Inc. were all newly elected to three-year terms as manufacturer representatives. Jeff Hanemaayer, chairman of Roadtrek Motorhomes, was re-elected to a three-year term manufacturer seat.
Jeff Rutherford, president of Carefree of Colorado, was newly elected for a three-year term as an at-large representative. Incumbent Garry Enyart, director of RV business for Cummins Power Generation, was re-elected to three-year term at-large seat.
Supplier Seat Election to End Sept. 5
The special election for the three-year term supplier seat continues through Sept. 5. The candidates running in the special election are John Juliano of Al-Ko Kober Corp. and Kevin Phillips of Thetford Corp. The official representatives of all RVIA eligible companies were sent instructions regarding voting in this special election.
Each of the newly elected board members will begin serving on Oct.1. The RVIA board has the highest level of authority in the association organizational structure. It is responsible for association matters on a broad policy basis.
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.
The new owner of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.’s RV manufacturing business in Decatur, Ind., will preserve about 650 jobs, but former employees who are rehired will take a pay cut, according to the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette.
Fleetwood eliminated about 700 jobs when the company completed a $33.2 million sale to American Industrial Partners Capital Fund IV LP on Friday (July 17), Fleetwood said in a statement. New York-based AIP will operate the business as Fleetwood RV Inc.
Decatur-based Fleetwood RV is expected to employ 650 by next month, President John Draheim said. Between 250 and 350 former Fleetwood employees started working for Fleetwood RV on Monday (July 20).
Anyone can apply to work at Fleetwood RV, but Draheim said former Fleetwood workers’ experience will give them an advantage in the hiring process. More than 1,000 applied for jobs Thursday and Friday, Draheim said. The company is accepting applications at its plant in Decatur.
But Fleetwood RV will pay employees less than its predecessor. Draheim said he was not sure what the average wage would be, but former Fleetwood workers who accept positions at the new company will earn 10% less.
Fleetwood RV is making minor adjustments in health insurance and 401(k) plans, but former workers will have to start over earning benefits such as vacation time.
Employees will work more consistent schedules at Fleetwood RV, Draheim said. He estimated that so far this year, production employees had worked the equivalent of only five to six full weeks because of weak RV orders. Employees will be able to earn more by working full weeks for reduced pay.
Although some Decatur residents are concerned about the ownership transition, Mayor John Schultz said most are relieved many local jobs will be preserved.
“It’s very important to us they bring the production back,” he said.
Fleetwood’s Decatur operations employed more than 1,000 in early 2008. The company cut 550 jobs in Decatur last year.
Fleetwood RV’s decision to establish a local headquarters is a positive sign, Schultz said. The previous owner was based in Riverside, Calif.
AIP purchased two RV manufacturing plants, two RV service plants and Fleetwood’s Gold Shield fiberglass subsidiary in Decatur. The company also acquired some Fleetwood equipment in Riverside.
Local investors plan to buy Fleetwood’s manufactured-housing plant in Garrett, Ind., for $1.75 million in a separate deal.
RV shipments during the first four months of this year plunged almost 62% from the same period in 2008, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) most recent data. RV manufacturers shipped 43,700 vehicles through April 30.
Almost 450 Fleetwood workers in Decatur worked fewer than half their normal hours during that four-month period, the company said in April.
Industry projections are brighter for next year. Manufacturers are expected to ship 169,500 units in 2010, according to the association. That would be a 24%increase from this year’s projected sales.
The RV industry is close to hitting its low point, Draheim said. If the industry grows, Fleetwood RV will expand with it.
“We’re looking at improvement going forward,” he said.
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.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has made changes to its board of directors and executive committee following the resignation of Paul Eskritt of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. from his elected positions.
Fleetwood has appointed John Draheim, vice president of the Motor Home Division, to fill the company’s manufacturer seat on the RVIA board for the remainder of the fiscal year, ending Sept. 30. Draheim will run for re-election to that seat during the association elections taking place in August.
Meanwhile, RVIA Chairman Jim Sheldon of Monaco RV has appointed RVIA board member Bob Olson, chairman, president and CEO of Winnebago Industries Inc., to fill the secretary position on the RVIA Executive Committee, filling the vacancy created by Eskritt’s resignation. Olson will hold that seat until the next RVIA board meeting, set for Sept.14 in Hershey, Pa., at which time the board will elect officers to the fiscal year 2010 Executive Committee.