Calling it a “great company,” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence visited the new headquarters of Drew Industries Inc. today (Oct. 2) to help celebrate the relocation of the RV industry’s largest supplier to Elkhart County.
Drew, parent company of Lippert Components Inc. and Kinro Inc., recently completed its previously announced plans to relocate its corporate headquarters from White Plains, N.Y., to Elkhart, and to expand its Indiana manufacturing operations.
“This is a real success for Elkhart County, and for the state and people of Indiana,” said Gov. Pence, who was joined at the podium by Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore and Goshen City Council President Jim McKee. “This ribbon-cutting reaffirms that the RV market is coming back stronger than ever — and it will be centered here in the state of Indiana for generations to come.”
In introducing the governor, Drew CEO Jason Lippert reflected on the origins of Lippert Components, the division of Drew Industries founded by his grandfather Lawrence C. Lippert in Michigan in 1956. His father, Doug Lippert, took over the company in 1979.
“Drew acquired Lippert in 1997,” Jason noted. “At the time, we were doing about $100 million in sales. Today, Drew is a billion-dollar revenue company — and we’ve grown to more than 5,500 employees nationwide.
“When I started with the company in 1994, we had about 600 employees in Elkhart County and the surrounding areas. I’m proud to say that, today, we have about 4,500 employees in the state of Indiana. We also are the largest supplier to the RV industry. Through Lippert and Kinro and our 50 factories in the U.S., Drew supplies full lines of products to the leading manufacturers of the RV, manufactured housing and specialty vehicle markets.
“To put it best,” he continued, “this new headquarters for all of our leadership teams symbolizes the company’s maturity, strength, and potential. Indiana has a strong and talented workforce, and is home to many of our customers and employees. That’s why Elkhart County was Drew and Lippert’s logical choice for relocation. Our customers are here, our facilities are here, our employees are here — and, now, our national headquarters is here.”
In his remarks, Gov. Pence noted that, “as is being recognized more and more nationally, Indiana is quite simply the best place in America to start a business, grow a business and get a job.
“We’ve been sending a message all across the country for the last eight years and nine months, that Indiana is open for business,” he continued. “We’ve been doing that by making the hard decisions, of living within our means. This last session of the Indiana General Assembly, we passed another honestly balanced budget — more than 12% in our budget are reserves. At a time when many states are struggling, Indiana is showing nearly $2 billion in the bank. In addition to that, we passed the largest state tax cut in history, we declared a moratorium on red tape and Indiana just a few short years ago became the first Midwest state in America to recognize the right to work.
“That, combined with our commitment to education, innovation and reform is making days like this a possibility — and making days like this the right decision for more and more businesses all across America.”
The new facility gives Drew Industries room for growth, with 50,000-square-feet of office space and 110,000-square-feet of manufacturing and warehousing space.
“This new facility allows us to have our executive team under one roof,” Drew President Scott Mereness noted in an accompanying release. “Centralizing our management and shared services personnel will improve communications and cultivate our tradition of long-term team building. It also provides a larger home for Kinro’s thermoforming operation with room for continued expansion.”
Lippert Components Inc. announced that Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC is now installing the Correct Track trailer alignment system on all of its travel trailer, fifth-wheel and toy hauler RV brands.
“We launched the Correct Track on all Heartland fifth-wheels approximately one year ago,” said Heartland Vice President of Sales Coley Brady in a press release. “We were pleased with the response from our dealers and retail customers, so we decided to install Correct Track on all our lines. Using Correct Track provides our customers peace of mind for their towing experience.”
The patent-pending Correct Track alignment system is integrated into the suspension system of the RV chassis. Correct Track enables a manufacturer or certified dealer to customize the wheel alignment to the end user’s specific load requirements.
LCI Chassis Division Product Manager Brian Hess explained the benefits of Correct Track. “Out-of-alignment RV and trailer suspension can cause excessive tire wear and damage to other components including electronics and appliances,” he said. “Correct Track permits easy alignment adjustment and curtails expensive equipment repairs caused by misalignment. Properly aligned suspension can also improve gas mileage and steering control and reduce wear on suspension components.”
Goshen, Ind., City Council members Tuesday (Sept. 17) voted to approve an annexation agreement with Lippert Components Inc. involving a 56-acre plot of land recently purchased by the company.
The Goshen News reported that Lippert, a tier-one supplier serving the manufactured housing, recreational vehicle and cargo/horse trailer industries, reportedly purchased the property from Larry and Monta Penrod with the intent to develop the real estate for future company uses.
According to the agreement, the two-parcel plot of land is located north of County Road 40, east of Corrie Drive and west of U.S. 33 — an area located outside, but contiguous to the corporate limits of the city.
Referencing sewer and water needs for the property, Lippert has agreed to pay the city’s standard sewer connection fee and water connection fee for the applicable parcels at the time such connections are made, as well as any sewer and water inspection costs and any future sewer or water taps.
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Elkhart, Ind.-based Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) hired Larry Revelino as director of international business relations, according to a press release. With more than 15 years of experience in the RV industry, including working with manufacturers in the European and Australian RV/caravan markets, Revelino will help LCI understand the global marketplace.
“LCI is made up of exceptionally creative and talented industry professionals,” said Revelino. “I’m excited to be a part of a team that can see an opportunity in the market and identify resources to capitalize on that opportunity.”
Revelino has led several RV-related businesses, including RBW Industries, which specialized in hitches, stabilization mechanisms and slideout systems. Most recently he worked as vice president of tactical projects for a global RV component supplier.
In his new position, Revelino will spend time in Australia, Europe and other international markets assessing the dynamics of the local marketplace, building relationships with OEMs and developing products.
LCI CEO Jason Lippert is excited to have Revelino on board and believes he will help LCI grow its global presence and tap into potential new markets. “Over the past several years, LCI has been slowly growing business in Europe and Australia,” he said. “We have a few key relationships in place, and it’s time to expand our overseas business development. Larry knows our products well and will work to develop strong relationships with international customers so that we can potentially grow our presence and business there in the future.”
Revelino added, “LCI is an outstanding company. I’ve always admired its ability to develop groundbreaking products. I’m excited to represent LCI in the international marketplace and to help grow our product offerings as well as tailor new products specifically for international customers.”
Lippert Components Inc.’s (LCI) has named Brian Hess as new chassis division product manager, according to a press release.
“I am excited and honored to be a part of a dynamic and growing company,” said Hess. “I am passionate about new product innovation and developing the best solutions to fill customer needs.”
As product manager, Hess will spend time with customers, listening to the needs of the market and work closely with the LCI research and development team to develop products to fill those needs. Hess has a diverse education in engineering and law and “his proven track record in the industry make him a natural fit for this new role within the LCI hassis division,” according to Lippert.
LCI Vice President of RV Sales Andy Murray believes Hess is the right fit at the right time for LCI. “As the need for innovative products continues to grow in our industry, we have been hard at work taking our research and development capabilities to the next level,” he said. “We are focusing on listening to our customers and finding solutions to their needs. Brian’s ability to build strong relationships with customers and his creative flair make him ideal for this new position. He understands the needs of the industry and will work with our teams to provide fresh, new products to fill those needs.”
Hess added, “The LCI management team is always looking to improve the quality of customer service and products. I hope to be a strong contributor to the continued growth and success of LCI.”
Hess can be contacted at (574) 361-5185 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) and Kinro Inc. announced that Andy Pocock has been promoted to vice president of sales, specialty and manufactured housing markets, according to a press release.
For more than eight years, Pocock has led LCI and Kinro teams in many roles, including general manager of suspension and running gear. For the past 2 1/2 years, he served as director of business development of the specialty markets division.
In his new role, Pocock will oversee the manufactured housing and specialty markets teams. This combined sales team will focus on growing revenue content in manufactured and modular housing; truck cap; cargo and horse/livestock trailer; transit and school bus; marine and automotive accessories markets. He will also oversee business development in other markets.
“Andy has been a key member of our team for many years,” said LCI and Kinro President Scott Mereness. “His relationship-building skills and his broad company experience make him an excellent leader for this team.”
Pocock added, “I am proud to be a part of a team that seeks to exceed customer expectations every day. The specialty and manufactured housing markets present great potential for growth, and I am excited for the opportunity we have to grow and expand our business in these markets.”
Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) announced it has acquired the rights to manufacture, distribute and sell ToyLok products to the RV, cargo, utility, horse/livestock and marine trailer industries from Peak Recreational Products.
“We’re very excited to be able to offer the ToyLok product to all of our customers in the RV and trailer markets,” said LCI Vice President of Sales Andy Murray.
According to a press release, ToyLok is a patented tamper-resistant, retractable cable lock that can be permanently mounted to any RV or trailer chassis. ToyLok allows customers to easily secure valuable personal property outside an RV or trailer by extending the self-retracting cable, looping it through valuables and locking it with the specialty padlock.
ToyLok features a strong, 15-foot PVC-coated nylon cable that guards personal items from abrasion damage; an internal pulley and braking system that allows users to choose optimal cable length; and a built-in clutch to prevent cable snap-back when retracting.
“Every RV and trailer owner has a need to secure certain items when they are away from the site,” added Murray. “ToyLok is a product that makes this process — and thus the camping experience — a little easier.”
The recently completed move by Lippert Components Inc. and Kinro Inc. of a plastics production operation from Texas to Elkhart, Ind., could result in 100 new jobs in the next 18 months.
The South Bend Tribune reported that about 50 of the jobs already have been filled, said Gary McPhail, CFO for Lippert and Kinro. Fewer than five people will be transferring from the thermoforming plastics business in Waxahachie, Texas, he said.
The 100 jobs were part of the spring announcement from Lippert and Kinro that indicated 800 jobs would be coming to Elkhart and Goshen over the next several years.
“It was a natural move for us to relocate a portion of our thermoforming manufacturing to Indiana,” said Scott Mereness, Lippert Components president, in a news release. “The new location allows us to collaborate more closely with customers on product development.
“We will use the open manufacturing space in Texas for axle production. Now both of these product lines have room to grow and are strategically positioned closer to the customer base they will primarily serve.”
Lippert Components and Kinro are subsidiaries of Drew Industries Inc. in Elkhart.
Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) held daily product drawings and gave away several products — including an RV Supreme Euro Top Mattress from Denver Mattress — during the second annual Forest River Owners Group (FROG) International Rally at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds Aug. 4-10.
According to a press release, LCI performed complimentary laser alignment and safety checks on more than 80 RVs and performed many upgrade product installations throughout the week. LCI’s aftermarket and customer service teams led seminars, gave product presentations and conducted install demonstrations for attendees. They were also on hand all week to answer questions, provide safety tips and get feedback from customers on products.
“The FROG Rally gives us a great opportunity to talk to customers who are using our products every day,” said General Manager Steve Paul. “We want their feedback so we can continue to improve products and provide the best customer experience.”
Forest River Owners Group Director Bob Byrne was happy to see LCI at the rally following up with customers. “LCI is a VIP partner at the rally. They pitch in and contribute to the effort with service and components. We’re really excited that LCI is offering the laser alignment and safety check to all of our towables at no charge.”
Interestingly, Jay and Maria Thomas of Avon, Ind., sat down to purchase the RV Supreme Euro Top Mattress, when they realized they had won it. “I handed the LCI rep my credit card, and she said ‘You aren’t going to believe this, but you won the mattress,’” said Jay. “And it’s wonderful. It sleeps like the one at home.”
Lippert Components Inc. has introduced StrapTek, a new weight distribution product that employs a ratchet winch and heavy-duty polyester straps instead of traditional chains and snap-up brackets. According to a press release, StrapTek allows users to safely and easily adjust weight distribution spring bars on travel trailers and cargo trailers with a standard socket wrench.
“Like other RVers out there, hooking up my weight distribution system made me anxious,” said product developer Dave Gramlin. “I was tired of dealing with noisy, cumbersome and potentially dangerous chain systems that sometimes left me with bruises.”
Traditional chain systems can require raising and lowering the tow vehicle with a jack several times to get the right tension. StrapTek adjusts by simply tightening or loosening the straps using a standard socket wrench, saving time and energy.
“StrapTek is a safe alternative that also provides superior sway control,” added Gramlin.
StrapTek integrates easily with most weight distribution hitch systems on the market and is available in a fully integrated OEM version as well as a “universal-fit” aftermarket kit. In addition to the towing benefits and easy hookup StrapTek provides to the end user, the OEM version provides manufacturers another benefit.
“Because of the fully integrated OEM design, manufacturers no longer need to leave open space on the draw bars to accommodate aftermarket bracket systems,” said LCI Vice President of Sales Andy Murray. “This gives OEMs more freedom on placement of LP tanks, battery trays, spare tires, etc. We believe this is a significant benefit and know our customers will find innovative ways to take advantage of this added flexibility.”