Lippert Components Inc. (LCI), an RV and manufactured housing supplier, already has a large presence in northern Indiana, but it’s still in a growth mode.
The South Bend Tribune reported that with about 4,000 employees in Indiana and 5,300 nationwide, Lippert Components already operates at 23 locations in Elkhart County and now one in South Bend. It is adding employees in both Goshen and South Bend, the latter at the former A.J. Wright building, which the company recently announced it will lease for the next 12 1/2 years.
Lippert Components, a subsidiary of Drew Industries Inc., has been on a rapid growth curve over the past several years. Kinro Composites consolidated into Lippert Components Inc. in the past year, all operating under LCI, said Jason Lippert, CEO of both Drew Industries and Lippert Components.
What follows is an interview with Lippert:
Q.You plan to hire workers for the new South Bend operation this year. When does that start? Will there be a job fair?
A. The 180 jobs is the total commitment for the facility, (including Bimbo Bakeries’ logistic company, which is subletting the facility from Lippert). We are looking forward to doing our part to meet our commitment. We will immediately begin equipping the South Bend building and hiring employees for warehousing, distribution and light manufacturing operations.
Q.What were some of the main reasons you chose the South Bend location and decided to further expand in the area?
A. We believe the South Bend facility will allow us to better serve our customers, both inside and outside of Elkhart County. The facility is a great facility — it’s truly a beautiful building and provides great space for warehousing and light manufacturing. A larger facility such as this one allows us to consolidate operations to improve efficiency and have room for future growth. Additionally, expanding into South Bend allows us to diversify our work force and tap into a new pool of talent. When the RV industry gets very busy like it is now, every RV manufacturer, as well as other employers benefiting from the improved economy, in Elkhart County taps into a relatively small work force.
Q. Do you think the industry can sustain its current growth pattern? And why?
A. The RV industry has performed quite well over the past few years. Based on solid retail sales in 2013 and industry expectations for 2014, we believe that the RV industry is strong. Many of our RV customers are introducing new product lines and offering new features on existing lines, as well as increasing production capacity to meet projected industrywide growth for 2014 and beyond. While nothing is certain, we have no reason to believe that the industry will not continue to do well in the coming years. As an industry, we know that RV products are appealing to more people in different demographics than ever before. The popularity of traveling in RVs to NASCAR and other sporting events, more family-oriented domestic vacations, and using RVs as second homes, appear to motivate consumer demand for RVs. It’s not just the baby boom generation that’s buying RVs; RVs are also appealing to younger and younger buyers every year.”
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Drew Industries Inc. today (April 11) announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Lippert Components Inc., has entered into a six-year aluminum extrusion supply agreement with Dallas-based Atrium Windows and Doors Inc. Concurrently, Lippert Components sold certain of its aluminum extrusion assets to Atrium.
“Extruded aluminum is a key raw material for us, and identifying a strong supplier such as Atrium was critical in our search for a new third-party supplier,” said Scott Mereness, Drew’s president in a press release. “We were able to reach an agreement with Atrium to supply us with a portion of our extruded aluminum requirements over the next six years at a competitive market price.”
“We look forward to this new supplier relationship with Lippert Components,” added Brian Slobodow, COO of Atrium. “Atrium has been extruding aluminum for over 35 years, with a history of producing high quality products. This additional extrusion volume will be produced at our existing Texas facility and will significantly increase the capacity utilization of our plant.”
Drew also reported that it has sold certain of its aluminum extrusion assets to Atrium for $7.5 million, payable over the next four years, plus contingent consideration of $1.25 million once 95 million pounds of aluminum extruded products are purchased during the term of the supply agreement. Drew anticipates recording a pre-tax loss on this sale of approximately $2 million in the second quarter of 2014.
Mereness noted, “As part of our ongoing evaluation of capacity and asset utilization, we concluded that our aluminum extrusion assets were not meeting our internal financial standards. The sale of our extrusion related assets will free up needed manufacturing space, as well as allow management to focus on other opportunities with higher growth potential. The outsourcing of these aluminum extrusion requirements to Atrium will immediately be accretive to earnings.”
For two consecutive days, two instructors will conduct sessions in two different classrooms. Each class is limited to 32 attendees.
The registration deadline is April 23. To register click here or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax (574) 534-7161.
The cost for the training is $99 per technician for NERVDA members, or $75 each when three or more technicians are registered from the same dealership. The fee for non-NERVDA members is $199 per technician or $175 each for three or more participants. Attendees must bring their payment the day of the training session, and checks should be made out to NERVDA.
Coffee, refreshments and registration will take place from 8 to 8:30 a.m., with training sessions running from 8:30 a.m.to 5 p.m. Lunch is provided by NERVDA.
Elkhart, Ind.-based Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) announced that Al Snyder has been promoted to motorized sales manager.
Building off of five years of management experience at LCI’s Plant 45 in Goshen and 36 years in total of RV industry experience, Snyder will work closely with motorhome OEM customers, promoting products, getting product feedback and providing comprehensive product support.
“Over the last two years we have grown our dedicated motorized sales team,” said LCI Vice President of RV Sales Andy Murray in a press release. “Al will work alongside Motorized Sales Manager Marty McManus to focus on the product needs of motorhome OEMs, a market of increased focus for us.”
Snyder accumulated comprehensive product knowledge while working as assistant general manager at Plant 45, where several of LCI’s motorized products are built. Additionally, his previous 30 years of dedicated motorhome manufacturing experience working for OEMs make him “a natural fit for the position,” the company said.
“Al’s teams are consistently very successful, and last year those teams increased the production of slideout mechanisms significantly,” added Murray. “His long-time industry experience, motorhome expertise and commitment to our innovative products make him an excellent addition to our motorized sales team and will allow us to better serve our motorhome OEM customers.”
Snyder noted, “I enjoy working with the many excellent teams throughout the company. Together we can continue to combine our skills and experience to efficiently achieve our goals of companywide growth. ”
Al Snyder can be contacted at (574) 214-7875 or email@example.com.
The South Bend Tribune reported that Elkhart-based Lippert executives announced Friday (April 4) that the company has entered into an agreement to lease the massive warehouse at Olive and Sample streets for 12 1/2 years. They plan to add hundreds of jobs.
The company, which supplies a wide range of components to the RV, manufactured housing, bus and other industries, will consolidate its aftermarket parts sales and customer support services at the 530,000 square feet building.
Lippert’s plans to expand into South Bend were revealed last month at a meeting of the city’s Redevelopment Commission.
It was welcome news for city officials and business leaders, who have tried to find a new occupant for A.J. Wright’s massive warehouse since the discount retailer closed it in February 2011, putting almost 700 people out of work. Holladay Properties bought the building with a partner in 2012 and renamed it the Interstate 80 Commerce Center.
Lippert will lease the entire building — which is large enough to cover nine football fields — but it will sublet a portion of it to Bimbo Bakeries’ logistics company. Bimbo has a bakery in Elkhart.
The two companies plan to employ a total of 180 people at the site by the end of this year with wages starting at $12.50 per hour.
Lippert envisions taking over the entire facility in five or six years, and adding another 200 jobs there during the next 10 years. The property also has enough land for an expansion that would enable a large-scale manufacturing operation that could employ as many as 700 people.
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Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) has entered into a 12 1/2-year agreement to lease a 539,000-square-foot building in South Bend, Ind., where it will consolidate its aftermarket parts sales and customer support services operations.
“We are excited about the opportunities that South Bend brings to Lippert Components,” said LCI President Scott Mereness. “We believe this new facility will allow us to better serve our customers, both inside and outside Elkhart County. Additionally, the space at this facility provides us room for future growth, while expanding into South Bend allows us to tap into a new pool of talented employees.”
LCI will immediately begin equipping the South Bend building and hiring employees for warehousing, distribution and light manufacturing operations. A portion of the space will be occupied by LCI’s customer service and aftermarket call centers, dealer technician training areas and a large showroom that will display LCI’s broad line of products. The showroom will not only be used to showcase products to customers, but will also accommodate hands-on dealer training.
“This state-of-the-art facility gives us the opportunity to continue our growth. Having one central location for our aftermarket parts distribution and customer service team enables us to provide prompt and efficient service to our customers on a more consistent basis. Providing customer service in a way that promotes future business is our first priority,” said LCI Vice President of Aftermarket Parts and Customer Service April Klein. “This move is a testament to our commitment to our customers. From expanded shipping hours to hands-on dealer training, we are proud of what our team has accomplished and we are excited to take it to the next level.”
Mereness emphasized that larger facilities allow the company to consolidate operations, improve efficiency and make room for future expansion. “In addition to the new leased facility in South Bend, we have also leased a 366,000-square-foot building in Goshen,” said Mereness. “This new facility in Goshen will be used to combine our rapidly growing furniture and mattress operations.”
“Our success over the last few years has caused us to outgrow our current space,” said Ryan Smith, LCI Vice President of Lippert Interiors. “We believe that consolidating our furniture and mattress teams will streamline and further refine our manufacturing process, as well as improve product quality. Further, product demand continues to grow and this new space will provide us the room we need to grow.”
Mereness said LCI’s new Goshen and South Bend facilities are large enough to allow future expansion to aid the company in meeting the demands of the steadily growing RV industry. “We require these larger buildings to accommodate the industry’s current rate of growth. Further expansion will be evaluated as necessary in order to continually lead the industry with innovative products and excellent customer service.”
Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) announced that Keystone RV Co.’s Sprinter travel trailer brand now features its Solera Power Awning, complemented by the recently introduced awning LED lights and awning speaker.
“The Solera Power Awning has been very popular with our customers since we began installing it standard two years ago. Customers love that it’s so easy to adjust and has simple manual override,” said Sprinter Product Manager Josh Miller in a press release. “We are excited LCI recently introduced its new awning speakers and lights so we can provide another awesome upgrade for our customers.”
The wall-mounted Solera Awning LED lights reflect off the coach, providing optimum lighting while utilizing minimal battery power. The patent-pending Solera awning speakers are located inside the two awning heads, providing excellent audio quality while directing sound to the campsite.
Andy Murray, LCI vice president of RV sales, emphasized that the new speakers also simplify installation for OEMs. “OEMs are tired of working with standard speakers that have to be installed on exterior walls, so customers asked us to design something better,” said Murray. “Previously, our customers were limited on speaker placement because they had to hide speaker wiring inside cabinets or find other creative spaces. Our innovative Solera awning speakers solve that problem. The awning heads act like speaker boxes, improving and amplifying sound.”
Miller believes Keystone Sprinter customers will enjoy these new features. “The LED lights provide better light for the patio so campers can enjoy outdoor fun later into the evening, and the unique speaker placement allows sound to carry down to the campsite rather than above it,” added Miller.
Sales Manager Jason Rattray of Alpin Haus RV in Amsterdam, N.Y., expects the new Solera awning speakers and lights to be very attractive to customers. “Our customers have loved the convenient Solera Awning,” said Rattray. “It is the only awning we carry that offers simple manual override, and we feel it’s easier to adjust than any other awning on the market. We are very excited to begin promoting the Solera LED lights and integrated speakers. Sprinter has been known to make camping easy, and these new Solera features will reinforce that reputation.”
The Solera Power Awning features the industry’s first easy-to-access manual override. Users can simply use a power drill to extend and retract the awning in case of power failure. The strong, anti-scuff, anti-mildew fabric is cold-crack protected up to minus 25 degrees and the awning’s friction joint allows users to easily adjust the pitch and does not require readjustment before retracting the awning.
Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) announced that Forest River Inc.’s new Work and Play Catalyst fifth-wheel toy hauler is the first model to feature the supplier’s touch-screen, Android-based Linc Pad wireless tablet to control several key functions.
According to a press release, Linc Pad technology allows Catalyst owners to control all three sliderooms, LCI’s six-point Level Up system, awning, awning lights, generator, tank monitor and, as an option, LCI’s Happijac bed lift.
RVers can control functions from within 50 feet of the fifth-wheel and monitor the progress of external functions from outside the RV. The Linc Pad can also be used to download Android-compatible applications, access the Internet, take photo and play games.
“We wanted our customers to have access to the most cutting-edge technology, and LCI’s Linc Pad and Linc wiring technology does it all,” said Kevin Finn, Forest River Work and Play general manager. “Customers can even upload their favorite music to the Linc Pad and listen to it using our integrated Bluetooth radio.”
Finn also emphasized the benefits of Linc technology for the manufacturing process. “Linc technology saves us money and time during manufacturing because it drastically reduces complicated wiring as it is wired to the master controller with a single data cable,” said Finn. “This saves us money on material, saves us time and promotes quality — less wiring means less opportunity for wires to mistakenly get disconnected or damaged during production.”
LCI Vice President of RV Sales Andy Murray believes customers are getting more comfortable with newer technology.
“Forest River is the first to make our Linc Pad standard on a fifth-wheel brand,” said Murray. “We have all seen electronic controls become the norm in the automotive industry in recent years, and it seems the RV industry is ready to start the same evolution. We are excited to offer a wireless platform that not only integrates all the critical RV functions, but also makes the manufacturing process easier for our customers.”
Goshen, Ind.-based supplier Lippert Components Inc. plans to bring 180 jobs this year to the former A.J. Wright distribution center on South Bend’s west side, with the possibility of adding hundreds more in coming years.
The South Bend Tribune reported that Lippert makes a broad range of components for the RV and manufactured housing industries.
The company plans to lease the whole building at 1902 W. Sample St. for 12 years and sublet half of it to another distribution company, city officials announced this morning.
Lippert executives are committing to creating 180 jobs this year with a wage of $12.50 per hour. The number of jobs is projected to reach 380 during the next 10 years.
The company envisions taking over the entire facility in five or six years and building an expansion for large-scale manufacturing that would employ up to 700 people at the site.
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The Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) automation team recently designed, built and installed a new cambering machine into its Goshen, Ind., axle manufacturing facility. According to a press release, the new machine nearly doubles production speed and significantly increases product precision, replacing an older model that will be retrofitted for the company’s west coast axle operation in Idaho.
“Every day we are focusing on product improvement, and this new machine is another step forward on our journey to improve every plant’s manufacturing processes,” said Vice President of Automation and Manufacturing Jeff Few. “We zeroed in on axles — a key product line for the company — and conducted extensive research before launching this new machine.”
Following lean manufacturing principles, LCI’s Automation team reviewed axle manufacturing processes, interviewed machine operators and identified areas that could be improved. The Automation tool and die team then designed and built a new, efficient machine using state-of-the art technology including servo control and precision drill units to produce more accurate camber. This machine detects tube size and centers each one for improved accuracy.
LCI Director of Automation Mark Howie emphasized the machine’s precision and efficiency. “The new machine has significantly improved axle quality and increased production speed and efficiency. It provides excellent accuracy of the cambering process. The camber tolerance is checked and corrected if needed prior to exiting the machine.”
Few said that this new machine’s success provides the team a strong foundation to plan further production improvements and develop new technology to enhance operating efficiencies. “We are very happy with the results of this new axle cambering machine and look forward to further improvements and automation initiatives.”