Goshen, Ind.-based Lippert Components Inc. and its sister company Kinro Inc., which combined are the nation’s largest RV OEM supplier, continued to grow on a number of fronts this fall on the brink of RVIA’s 49th Annual National RV Trade Show, Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.
In the past three months, the 4,000-employee companies, both units of Drew Industries Inc., White Plains, N.Y.:
• Announced the licensing from Texas Innovators LLC of the exclusive rights to manufacture and sell innovative new slideout boot and slideout quarter topper products. The slideout boot covers the slideout and, in so doing, prevents leaks into the RV and replaces traditional slideout awning toppers.
• Completed the $13.5 million purchase from EA Technologies LLC of the business and certain assets of the towable RV chassis and slideout mechanism operation previously owned by Dexter Chassis Group, with annual sales of more than $40 million.
• Announced the acquisition through Kinro of Starquest Products LLC and its affiliate Qualitec Manufacturing LLC. Starquest, Drew’s fourth acquisition of 2011 generates annual sales of about $22 million in windows for truck caps and equestrian trailers. Current management stays in place at Starquest, the principals of which were Kelly Rose, chairman, and Mike Schoeffler, CEO.
• Obtained preliminary tax phase-in approval from the Elkhart County Council that could mean the 100 more jobs at its Greenfield Parkway plant in Middlebury in addition to the 1,835 already employed there.
Meanwhile, Lippert Vice President of RV Sales Andy Murray says LCI plans to display an array of new products at Louisville, foremost among which is LCI’s first line of Solera manual and power awnings for OEMs and aftermarket distributors. These new awnings have manual override and “easy operating” rain dump systems.
“As with our previous product introductions, the RV awning product line has been designed to add significant value for the RV owner, and the awnings are priced to provide value to our customers, the RV manufacturers,” said Jason Lippert, CEO of both Lippert and Kinro. “By pricing the product right, providing more durable components and offering innovative features and options not generally found in the marketplace, we expect to capture market share in this $100 million plus market.”
Also on LCI’s front burner:
• Leveling systems, as Lippert promotes the extension of its more sophisticated one-touch fully automated leveling systems – the three-year-old Level Up hydraulic and Ground Control electric systems — into mainstream fifth-wheel markets through both OEM and aftermarket channels.
• Level Up Lite LED-Assisted Manual Leveling
• Friction Hinge Door Stays
• JT Strongarm Stabilizaton System
• Correct Track Chassis Alignment System
• Schwintek Slide System Telescoping Slide-in-a-Slide
• RV Lock Next Generation Keyless Entry
Sister companies Lippert Components Inc. and Kinro Inc. are looking for help with tax incentives from the Goshen, Ind., City Council. Both supplier firms are subsidiaries of subsidiaries of Drew Industries Inc.
According to WSBT, South Bend, the companies want to expand their operations and hire more workers. The council will consider a tax phase-in for one, and do the same for the other in two weeks.
Kinro wants to expand an existing plant where 130 people are employed. It is a move that would keep those jobs here and adds an additional 20. Kinro is looking for final approval from the Goshen’s City Council for a five-year tax phase-in.
“As the company executes its business plan and they invest in capital and equipment,” said Mark Brinson, Community Development Department, “they are asking for tax breaks on those additional taxes and will result from those new investments.”
Drew Industries Inc., a leading supplier of components for recreational vehicles and manufactured homes, today (Aug. 29) announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Kinro Inc., acquired the business and assets of Starquest Products LLC and its affiliate Qualitec Manufacturing LLC. This is the company’s fourth acquisition of 2011, which together add more than $70 million in annualized sales.
According to a news release, Starquest has annual sales of approximately $22 million, comprised primarily of windows for truck caps, which are fiberglass enclosures that fit over the bed of pick-up trucks, painted to automotive standards and designed to exact truck bed specifications. Starquest also manufactures windows and doors for horse trailers and buses. The purchase price of $22.6 million was funded with available cash and approximately $12 million of borrowings pursuant to Drew’s $50 million line of credit. Drew expects the acquisition to be immediately accretive to earnings.
“Starquest is a great company, and highly respected in its industries, with a 50% market share for windows for truck caps and an increasing share in the horse trailer market,” said Fred Zinn, president and CEO for White Plains, N.Y.-based Drew. “This is an excellent opportunity to accelerate our diversification into related markets.”
The key managers of Starquest have entered into employment agreements with Kinro, and will continue to manage the business. “The Starquest team has developed strong relationships throughout their industries, and we expect to build on that strength,” said Jason Lippert, CEO of Kinro, and its sister company, Lippert Components Inc.. “As in our all of our businesses, management’s responsiveness to the needs of our customers is the key to success.”
“We are very pleased that the business we have seen thrive will continue to be managed by our outstanding team,” said Kelly Rose, chairman, and Mike Schoeffler, CEO, who were the two principals of Starquest. “With the financial and strategic support that Kinro and Lippert Components can provide, we are confident that the Starquest business will continue to grow.”
Lippert Components Inc. and Kinro Inc., subsidiaries of White Plains, N.Y.-based Drew Industries Inc., announced today (June 9) the formation of a dedicated specialty markets team. According to a press release, the team will initially be comprised of four key full-time personnel, with additional personnel to be added as needed.
“Our specialty markets sales team will focus on supplying components for a variety of uses and industries, including trailers for cargo, horse and livestock, and heavy equipment, as well as components for ambulances and the transit and school bus industries,” said Scott Mereness, president of Goshen, Ind.-based Lippert Components and Arlington, Texas-based Kinro. “These and other markets have substantial potential revenue content per unit.
“Our team will sell all Lippert Components and Kinro products into these markets, including doors, windows, seating products, slideouts, axles, chassis parts and accessories and steel tubing. In addition, we anticipate beginning production at our new aluminum extrusion plant in the fall of this year, and the specialty markets team will be responsible for those external sales as well.”
The four individuals appointed to the new team include:
• Andrew Pocock, most recently a member of Lippert Components RV sales team, has been promoted to director of business development, and will lead the specialty markets sales team. A graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Pocock began his career at Lippert Components, and has held several operational and sales positions in his more than eight years with the company. “Andrew has broad company experience and has excelled in each of his roles at Lippert Components,” said Mereness. “Andrew’s leadership skills will continue to be of enormous value in his latest role.”
• Carter Goodson joins Lippert Components with more than 20 years of experience as a supplier to the trailer and RV markets, most recently as a sales and marketing executive. “Carter’s experience selling multiple products and his existing relationships in this market make him an excellent addition to the team,” added Mereness.
• Ben Potts was recently hired as southeast regional sales manager for the specialty markets team. Potts comes to Lippert Components with 38 years of experience in the manufactured housing and RV industries, with both suppliers and manufacturers. “Ben’s extensive experience, long-term relationships, and motivation to get the job done will be key factors in the success of this team,” said Jason Lippert, CEO of Lippert Components and Kinro.
• Bob Boone, the fourth member on the specialty markets sales team, has extensive sales experience, having worked in various areas within Lippert Components, including the company’s axle and suspension product lines. “With over 20 years of sales experience, Bob is a valuable asset to this team. His enthusiasm and personality connect with customers,” said Lippert. “We have seen Bob in action and continue to expect big things.”
“This effort to grow our specialty business is another in a series of steps implementing our long-term strategy to increase both our sales and profits,” concluded Lippert. “This core sales team, combined with our existing manufacturing capabilities, is a natural step in the growth of Lippert Components and Kinro.”
Editor’s Note: The following editorial is from the East Oregonian newspaper, Pendleton, Ore.
Success is sweet. Pendleton City Manager Larry Lehman and the city council can take a bow. We should all give them high fives.
Keystone RV Co. has decided to recommit to Pendleton and purchase the city-owned manufacturing building and the surrounding 30 acres, of which 10 acres are unused, for $3.12 million.
This purchase will net the city $1.25 million to use as it wishes, potentially to spawn further economic development in the city.
We thank Keystone, too, for its commitment to Pendleton as its western manufacturing center. Keystone and support companies Lippert and Kinro employ roughly 450 people locally.
There were questions when the city council supported Lehman in building a facility that Keystone now uses and is buying. It was an economic development risk that worked.
The lesson we should learn from the city’s success with Keystone is that attracting industry takes time, but it is worth some risk. The Keystone jobs are critical to the current economic health of Pendleton and the eastern part of Umatilla County. Perhaps the dollars earned from this success can fund further success at the industrial park and on other land in the city.
Chris Ganshorn is joining the management team of Lippert Components Inc. and Kinro Inc., both subsidiaries of Drew Industries Inc.,as sales manager, the company announced today (Dec. 15).
Lippert and Kinro are focused on an array of RV industry-related new products, including a variety of electronics. Ganshorn, with a degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University and an MBA and years of practical experience as an automotive engineer, “is expected to play a vital role in the development and introduction of innovative products designed to meet the needs of our customers,” the release stated.
“Chris is a great fit with the rest of our management teams. He is very creative, and his skills and experience will enable us to design more new products to bring to the RV industry,” said Jason Lippert, CEO of Lippert Components and Kinro. “It has been our long-standing belief that our outstanding management team is the key to our success, and we are confident that Chris will add significant value to our team and to our companies.”
Drew Industries Inc. announced Tuesday (July 13) that Scott Mereness has been promoted to president of Lippert Components Inc. and Kinro Inc., Drew’s wholly owned subsidiaries.
Mereness, 38, has been serving as executive vice president and COO of Lippert Components and Kinro, and has extensive knowledge of the companies’ products and operations, as well as the needs of their RV and manufactured housing customers, according to a news release.
Jason Lippert will continue as chairman and CEO of Lippert Components and Kinro, and will continue with Mereness to focus on customer service, employees, growth, and continued innovation across the companies’ many product lines.
“Scott’s broad experience and understanding of our operations, products and our great customers, are invaluable. He has enabled us to serve our industries in the most efficient and cost-effective manner,” said Lippert. “I’ve worked very closely with Scott since he and I started working at Lippert Components when it was a family run business almost 16 years ago. I’m acutely aware of his exceptional skills, energy, and entrepreneurial spirit which have been critical to our becoming a leading supplier of components to RV and manufactured housing producers. He and I share the same passion, goals and vision for both Kinro and Lippert Components, our dedicated employees and our customers. Scott is among the most dedicated of employees in the Drew family, and we look forward to his continued leadership within our companies.”
Fred Zinn, president and CEO of Drew Industries, noted that Mereness has been instrumental in the success and expansion of both Lippert Components and Kinro. “Scott’s leadership, dedication and accomplishments during the past 15 years have been extraordinary, and we look forward to many more years of growth and operational efficiencies to be initiated by Scott,” said Zinn.
A window and door manufacturer is opening up shop in South Carolina with a nearly $1 million investment that is expected to create 125 new jobs, according to WMBF-TV, Myrtle Beach.
Kinro Inc., a subsidiary of White Plains, N.Y.-based Drew Industries Inc., announced Wednesday (April 7) it would locate its new $978,300 manufacturing plant in the former Philips Products plant in Chester. The plant will manufacture entry doors and windows for manufactured homes and RVs.
“Our market share has increased, and this new plant will help us meet growing demand from our customers,” Kinro President/CEO Jason Lippert said. “Chester County has provided us with an excellent pre-existing facility, and the positive business environment and available labor force make the area a great fit for us.”
The company expects to begin hiring for the positions now and continue hiring over the next 12 months.
Drew Industries Inc. reported Tuesday (March 16) that its wholly owned subsidiary, Lippert Components Inc., completed the previously announced acquisition of certain intellectual property and other assets from Cassopolis, Mich,-based Schwintek Inc.
The purchase included several products for which patents are pending, including an innovative wall slide-out mechanism, an aluminum cylinder for use in leveling devices for motorhomes and a new tent camper device, according to a news release.
The purchase price consists of $20 million paid at closing from available cash, plus an earn-out which is expected to aggregate $10 million to $15 million over the next three to five years, depending on future unit sales of these products in excess of pre-established hurdles. Mike Schwindaman and Mike Howard, the owners of Schwintek, entered into consulting, product development and non-competition agreements with Lippert Components.
“Our strong balance sheet and cash position enabled us to complete this acquisition without incurring debt,” said Fred Zinn, Drew president and CEO. “We still have adequate cash to continue to pursue expansion opportunities that we believe will yield favorable returns on our investment.”
“Largely through new product introductions and market share growth, we have more than tripled our content in the average travel trailer and fifth-wheel RV, from $670 in 2001 to $2,101 in 2009. These new products fit into our long-term plan to continue to increase our content in all types of RVs,” said Zinn. “Mike Schwindaman has a proven ability to design new products that are both extremely functional and efficient to manufacture.
The product development agreements with Schwindaman and Howard “greatly expand the R&D capabilities of Lippert Components, and provide a framework for our purchase of additional RV products they design over the next five years. They are already working on a ‘new concept’ leveling device for motorhomes that utilizes the aluminum cylinder we just purchased.”
“The new wall slide-out design is expected to gain substantial market share in both the motorhome and towable RV markets, because of its significant advantages over many other slide-out mechanisms,” said Jason Lippert, President and CEO of Drew’s subsidiaries, Lippert Components and Kinro Inc. “This wall slide-out mechanism is considerably lighter and more space efficient. It also minimizes the need for manual adjustments by the RV user, significantly reducing one of the biggest warranty issues for RV dealers. Schwintek and Lippert Components have been selling this wall slide-out for several months, and it has generated a high level of interest throughout the RV industry. Lippert Components will now be the exclusive supplier of this product. We are also exploring alternative applications for this design, for example, in our power TV lifts.”
“We will be manufacturing the products we acquired in our existing factories with very little additional overhead, which should allow us to be highly efficient,” said Lippert. “As a result, we expect this acquisition to be accretive to our earnings in the first year. Further, we expect to leverage our extensive marketing and distribution capabilities to continue to gain market share.”
The Drew Industries family of companies, including Lippert Components Inc., Kinro Inc., Kinro Composites, Seating Technology, Michiana Mattress and Happijac, are all preparing for their biggest-ever participation at the upcoming 47th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 1-3.
“Business has been significantly better in the last few months,” Jason Lippert, president and CEO of Lippert Components and Kinro, said in a news release. “Production levels throughout the RV industry have been up since August, and are expected to stay well ahead of last year right through December. We have also been busier than I can ever remember developing an exceptional number of new products for our RV customers. Many of the new RV models our customers will be unveiling at the show are equipped with a wide array of products from the Drew companies.”
Drew’s subsidiaries will be launching several products they consider first to the market, including an innovative new in-wall slide system that eliminates the need for cables, to be introduced by Lippert Components. Lippert will also be showing their full line of RV entrance doors with options that include a security alarm system, lighted entry and remote keyless entry.
Seating Technology and Happijac co-developed a multifunctional electric bed system, typically used in toy haulers, which can be converted into a dinette area with surround seating and a removable table. Kinro Composites is unveiling a slide-out fascia made with highly durable and lighter weight thermoformed plastic with a wood grain overlay.
Seating Technology is introducing a new tent design allowing increased head room in the expandable bunk of the tent trailer, and including a patent pending design in which the tent interlocks with the bed door, considered to be the first in the industry to prevent leaking.
Michiana Mattress is presenting their entire line of mattresses that now includes an Evergreen brand featuring an eco-friendly design. Other products to be featured at the show include Kinro’s new line of bonded windows and acrylic windows featuring aluminum frames.
“From our remote control system that controls various RV accessories, and our new Quickbite coupler, to our electric stabilizers, tri-glide suspension and new sewer management system, we’ll be displaying an incredible number of new products,” said Lippert. “It goes without saying that we’ll have all of our core products at the show as well, but this clearly marks a year in which we have taken new product development to an exceptional level,” Lippert added.