Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) marked a major milestone today (July 21) in a move that has long-term implications for the company.
The supplier hired a helicopter to install nine air-conditioning units on the roof of its new, 490,000-square-foot facility in Goshen, Ind.
When the facility opens at the end of the fourth quarter, it will bring all operations of the Lippert Interiors division under one roof, Ryan Smith, vice president of Lippert Interiors, told RVBUSINESS.com.
“It’s seen explosive growth,” Smith said of the division, and LCI in general, which is also in the process of retooling an expansive leased facility in South Bend, Ind., that will house aftermarket, customer service, dealer relations teams and its publication group. “I’m looking forward to the efficiencies we’re going to pick up for the customers. We’ll be able to provide superior product, superior quality.”
The building is in the midst of a complete refurbishment, work that started late in the first quarter of the year.
“We still have a lot of machinery coming in from Italy,” said Jeff Few, vice president of automation and manufacturing for LCI. “This building should handle us for about five years, and we’ve got acreage to expand.”
In the middle of the building is a mezzanine — soon to be air conditioned — that will provide 90,000 square feet in space for sewing operations and mattress storage. “It’s bigger than some factories,” Few pointed out. Indeed, it’s nearly two-thirds the size of the existing Lippert Interiors facility in Goshen.
LCI, a subsidiary of publicly traded Drew industries Inc. and the industry’s largest OEM component supplier, hopes to use the air-conditioned sewing space as a competitive advantage in attracting sewing personnel, Few said. “It’s hard to do, but with an air-conditioned mezzanine, bathrooms up there, and all-new equipment, we hope they’ll apply,” he said.
Once Lippert Interiors moves, its current building will house the combined research and development, engineering and manufactured-systems teams, Few said. “We’ll have a task room, we can solve the problems collectively. That’s going to be a big renovation,” he said.
Elkhart, Ind,-based Lippert Components Inc. announced today (June 30) it is initiating an exclusive arrangement with Shanghai Yixin Trading Co. Ltd. for the marketing, sale and distribution of LCI products in the Chinese caravan, motorhome and utility trailer markets.
Since 1995, Shanghai Yixin Trading has imported products into China ranging from electric bikes to elevator parts, and recently created a specialized caravan and motorhome division in anticipation of the pending expansion of the Chinese caravan market.
“We are excited to partner with Shanghai Yixin Trading and enter the promising Chinese caravan market,” said LCI CEO Jason Lippert in a press release. “We believe that by introducing our broad line of innovative products in China, we will begin to lay a firm foundation to meet the quickly growing needs of the emerging Chinese caravan market.”
Shanghai Yixin Trading will service more than 70 caravan OEMs as a component supplier, and will operate from a warehouse and distribution location in Tongxiang City. Tongxiang City already supports considerable manufacturing and distribution for automotive and recreational vehicles and is ranked 24th among the top 100 Chinese commercial cities in the country. Shanghai Yixin Trading showcased LCI products for the first time at the “All in Caravanning” show at the Beijing Exhibition Center in China June 27-29.
“Lippert Components is the largest manufacturer of components for RV and trailer products in the US and is well respected in the industries they serve,” said Shanghai Yixin Trading General Manager Chen Jun. “We are honored for this opportunity to represent LCI in the Chinese caravan market, and since the Chinese caravan market continues to grow rapidly, our distribution arrangement could not have come at a better time.”
LCI Director of International Business Development Larry Revelino described the newly formed relationship as fundamental for selling products in the Chinese market, noting, “We are thrilled to share years of innovation with caravan and motorhome manufacturers across China by bringing them our huge variety of established, high quality RV products.”
The company expects to open up the building entirely in mid-August with about 150 employees, said April Klein-Carroll, vice president of aftermarket parts and customer service.
In March, LCI announced plans to invest $2.8 million in the former distribution center for A.J. Wright in South Bend.
Some aftermarket shipping products are already in the warehouse, including some Denver Mattress bedding, sheets and comforters made for RV beds.
Besides serving as a warehouse, the mammoth South Bend facility, which is large enough to cover nine football fields, will house Lippert Components’ aftermarket, customer service and dealer relations teams as well as its publication group, Klein-Carroll said.
“We have a lot of parts and pieces in there,” she said, including interior inventory that LCI sells to original equipment manufacturers.
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Drew Industries Inc. today (June 16) announced that its wholly owned subsidiary Lippert Components Inc. has acquired the RV interests of Actuant Corp. Under the Power Gear and Kwikee brands, Actuant manufactures leveling systems, slideout mechanisms and steps primarily for the motorhome market.
According to a news release, sales of the acquired business for the 12 months, ended May 31, were approximately $28 million, consisting of sales to OEMs as well as significant aftermarket sales.
The purchase price was $35.5 million, which was paid at closing from available cash, as well as from borrowings under the company’s $75 million line of credit with JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. After funding this acquisition, the said it remains well-positioned to take advantage of other investment opportunities.
“We are thrilled to have the Power Gear and Kwikee business and its employees join the Lippert Components family,” said Drew CEO Jason Lippert. “The RV industry has been growing over the past few years, which has increased the necessity for talented people in engineering, sales, manufacturing and customer service. This talented team will be a strong addition to our existing team, and will help us continue to grow as we move forward.”
Lippert added, “In addition, Power Gear and Kwikee have excellent products, strong customer relationships, and a portfolio of over 80 patents and patent applications. The addition of these patents to our portfolio expands our product development potential, which we believe will lead to better overall products for the RV industry. We expect to leverage our extensive manufacturing, purchasing, distribution and administrative capabilities to improve the profitability of this business, and we expect this acquisition to be immediately accretive to Drew’s earnings.”
Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) announced today it has agreed to give Coast to Coast Caravan & Leisure exclusive rights to sell and distribute LCI Schwintek in-wall slideout systems and other RV products in the Australian and New Zealand caravan markets. According to a press release, Coast to Coast is one of Australia’s largest aftermarket suppliers of RV and leisure products, and has five warehouse locations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Auckland, New Zealand.
“We are ecstatic that Coast to Coast has selected LCI for this exclusive relationship,” said LCI CEO Jason Lippert. “We have a broad line of innovative products with great potential in the Australian and New Zealand caravan markets, and we expect introducing our Schwintek in-wall slideout systems and other products will be a catalyst for growth and new product development to meet the unique needs of these markets.”
Coast to Coast General Manager Tony Canta pointed to LCI’s quality products and consistent growth as key factors in the company’s decision to partner with LCI. “Schwintek will be a key feature of our OEM initiative as we will not only assure on-demand service of supply, but also technical training and assistance to all our customers,” said Canta. “We are thrilled to bring this popular and proven innovation to the Australian and New Zealand market.”
Coast to Coast reports positive customer feedback on LCI’s Schwintek in-wall slideout systems and is happy to strengthen the business relationship. “Schwintek has not only been proven in America, we’ve done extensive testing to ensure it will stand up to Australia’s rugged roads,” said Canta. “What’s more, Schwintek is just one example of the extensive LCI line of products that offers us exciting opportunities for innovation in our markets.”
Larry Revelino, LCI’s director of international business development, described the company’s relationship with Coast to Coast as foundational. “We’ve been supplying products to the Australian RV market for years and are excited by the opportunity to provide the Australian and New Zealand RV market with more of our quality products and systems through Coast to Coast,” said Revelino.
The company said in a written release that the app provides users with comprehensive product information, photos and videos, as well as customer support material including manuals, components lists and Lippert Informational Sheets.
“The myLCI application will allow employees, dealers, distributors and consumers to find the information they need to understand, install, operate and troubleshoot much of our extensive line of products,” said Director of Marketing and Media Jarod Lippert. “We believe myLCI will better serve our customers by providing them an easy, on-the-go product information solution.”
LCI’s marketing team developed this new product information database, compiling detailed product material and existing customer support services documentation. myLCI offers a clean, modern design, easy-to-navigate responsive functionality and a content-rich database experience. Its product interface allows customers to quickly and easily find product information, with products organized into three main categories: chassis, body and interior.
“We’re excited to offer the myLCI app as another customer support service,” said Lippert. “The products included in the first version of the myLCI app were selected based on customer feedback. More products will be added over time, so check for updates often.”
The myLCI app is available for free from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at http://www.AppStore.com. LCI is also developing the myLCI app for Android-based devices. Contact email@example.com with questions or feedback.
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.
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.