Drew Industries Inc. announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Lippert Components Inc., has reached an agreement in principle to acquire certain assets and the business of Star Design LLC, an Elkhart, Ind.-based manufacturer of thermoformed sheet plastic products for the RV, bus and specialty vehicle industries.
Closing of the transaction, anticipated to take place within 30 days, is subject to completion of due diligence, agreement on final terms, the execution of definitive transaction documents and satisfaction of customary closing conditions. According to a press release, the purchase price is expected to be approximately $12 million, which would be paid at closing from available cash and borrowings under the Lippert’s $75 million line of credit.
“Star Design has an excellent management team, and a great reputation in the markets they operate,” said Drew President Scott Mereness. “And we look forward to the Star Design management, including Kevin Gipson, president of Star Design, continuing to serve existing customers after the transaction is completed. In 2013, we relocated our RV thermoforming plastic production from Texas to an Elkhart location large enough to accommodate expected growth. We have continued to grow our RV and specialty markets plastics business since then, and we are excited to boost further growth with the acquisition of Star Design.”
Lippert believes the additional product lines and diversified customer base will accelerate its expansion into specialty markets. Star Design has annual sales of approximately $10 million.
Star Design Chairman Kelly Rose, who will not remain with the business, believes he is leaving the company and operations team in good hands. “Star Design has experienced strong growth in the past few years, and we are confident Lippert Components will continue to strategically drive the business forward,” said Rose. “We also believe Lippert Components will benefit by adding our experienced team, and also provide the Star Design team with great opportunities for professional growth and advancement.”
Drew Industries Inc, parent to RV and manufactured home suppliers Lippert Components Inc. and Kinro Inc., today (Feb. 13) reported a double-digit increase in sales for its fourth quarter – driven by strong performance in its RV segment – while topping $1 billion in revenue for the full year.
Sales in the fourth quarter increased to $225 million, 12% higher than the 2012 fourth quarter. Net income totaled $11.1 million, or 46 cents per diluted share, compared to $4.7 million, or 21 cents per diluted share.
Revenue for the year increased by $114 million to a record $1.02 billion from the year prior while net income rose to $50.1 million, or $2.11 per diluted share, from net income of $37.3 million, or $1.64 per diluted share.
Fourth-quarter sales growth was primarily the result of a 16% increase by Drew’s RV segment, which accounted for 88% of consolidated net sales this quarter. In addition, sales of recently introduced components for towable and motorhome RVs increased, as did sales to adjacent industries and the aftermarket.
“The retail demand for RVs in 2013 was the largest the industry has experienced since 2007,” said Jason Lippert, CEO for Elkhart, Ind.-based Drew. “The RV lifestyle continues to grow in popularity each year. Although the RV industry is sensitive to economic conditions, we are optimistic about the potential for continued long-term growth in retail demand for RVs. The strong industry fundamentals combined with our sales gains are positive signs for the future. We strive to maintain our position as a leading supplier to the industries we serve by staying ahead of the market through innovation and investing in customer support resources.”
For the year, Drew’s RV segment sales increased 14% compared to the 10% increase in industrywide wholesale shipments of travel trailers and fifth-wheel RVs. Sales growth in new markets and new products continued to be key factors in enabling Drew’s sales to exceed RV industry growth rates.
In addition, Drew continued to grow outside its core RV and manufactured housing markets, with aggregate net sales of components for adjacent industries increasing 20% to $121 million, and aftermarket net sales increasing 21% to $39 million. Together, these markets now account for 16% of consolidated net sales, an increase from 10%of consolidated net sales in 2010.
“Achieving our $1 billion sales milestone was a significant accomplishment for the company,” said Lippert. “As we look towards future sales growth, we continue to identify the areas where investments are needed for long-term profitable growth. A key area of focus for the past year was our employees, and in 2013 we made solid progress at reducing employee turnover. This year we are increasing our efforts to improve employee retention, which should further improve operating efficiencies. In addition, we continually evaluate our production capacity and while certain capacity expansion plans may have a short-term negative impact on margins, over the long term these investments should allow us to improve our operating results, as well as our industry-leading customer service.”
Drew noted that in January 2014, as a result of the negative impact of the severe winter weather conditions during the month on industrywide production of RVs and manufactured homes, as well as on shipments of the company’s products, Drew’s consolidated net sales were approximately $82 million, a decline of 3% from January 2013.
“As a result of the road and facility closures caused by the extreme weather conditions, industry-wide production schedules for January 2014 were delayed,” said Jason Lippert. “However, retail RV shows for the first part of 2014 have been strong, with reports of higher traffic and increased sales activity, and backlogs at our customers have increased from the prior year. As a result, we are optimistic that the production delays from January 2014 will be made up over the coming months. Further, based on open orders and scheduled shipments for February 2014, our net sales for the year to date February 2014 are projected to be ahead of the comparable period of 2013.”
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Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) announced that Thor Motor Coach is now using Linc Remote System technology for its Rapid Camp wireless control system on several of its Class A and Class C motorhome brands.
According to a press release, Thor Motor Coach’s Rapid Camp, powered by the Linc Remote System technology, allows users to control the patio awning, slideout rooms, exterior patio light, leveling jacks and generator from within 50 feet of the motorhome, as well as monitor the progress of each function.
“We recently launched the Rapid Camp wireless system on several brands,” said Jon Krider, Thor Motor Coach director of marketing. “It definitely simplifies using the coach for our customers. LCI’s Linc Remote System technology provides customers with easy access to their most-used features and allows them to be outside of the coach while operating jacks and slide rooms.”
He added, “For instance, if a rain storm rolled in and they were visiting a neighboring coach, they could simply retract the awning using the Rapid Camp without getting wet.”
Rapid Camp is now available on the Hurricane, Windsport, Miramar, Challenger and Outlaw Class A’s, as well as the Outlaw and -550 “Super C” Class models.
“Thor Motor Coach is the first company to use the Linc in a motorhome application, and that’s exciting because motorhome users don’t have to be standing in the center part of their motorhome to operate multiple functions anymore,” LCI Body Division Product Manager Chris Ganshorn explained. “Instead, Linc allows them to remotely control key functions from as far away as 50 feet, providing them a more convenient set up they can safely monitor from outside the motorhome.”
Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) partnered with the New England RV Dealers Association (NERVDA) to provide technician training, Dec. 10-11, at Flagg RV in Uxbridge, Mass., and Campers Inn of Merrimack, N.H.
Over two days, LCI Dealer Relations and Technical Publications Supervisor Rik Burgoyne trained 80 technicians on LCI products and systems, including Schwintek In-Wall Slideouts, LCI Through-Frame Slideouts, leveling and stabilization systems, and electronic products.
“We want every technician to understand our products as well as we do,” said Burgoyne. “This comprehensive training answers any questions technicians might have and allows us to teach consistent installation and maintenance techniques.”
“We consider this Lippert training to be a resounding success. Attendees enjoyed the sessions and appreciated having it so close to home,” NERVDA Executive Director Bob Zagami. “Well-trained technicians keep customers satisfied by diagnosing issues earlier, repairing units faster and answering operational questions thoroughly. A good service experience creates loyal customers who come back for future maintenance and product purchases.”
After the December training, LCI and NERVDA are planning another training session early in 2014. LCI also anticipates working with other dealer associations across the United States in the future to provide fundamental training to technicians in other areas.
LCI Vice President of Customer Support Services April Klein believes training sessions like these will produce a strong technician network across the United States. “Training dealer technicians is one of the most important things we can do to support our OEM customers,” she said. “We trained more than 1,400 technicians in 2013 and look forward to trying to exceed that number in 2014.”
Elkhart, Ind.-based Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) announced that it is partnering with Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. to provide customers with top-quality designer furniture for RVs.
“Ashley Furniture is one of the largest furniture manufacturers in the country. By offering this line to our customers, we are giving them a widely-recognized consumer brand that will add value to every RV they manufacture,” said Vice President of Lippert Interiors Ryan Smith in a press release.
LCI will offer a full line of Ashley sofas, sectionals, theater seating and recliners to the RV industry. The relationship between LCI and Ashley allows LCI to provide customers with extensive furniture options to choose from and allows Ashley Furniture to expand into a new market.
Smith noted the arrangement with Ashley Furniture is another example of LCI’s commitment to offering the best products to fit the customers’ needs. “We believe that offering the Ashley Furniture line, along with our other quality furniture lines, provides our customers access to the broadest furniture product line in the industry,” he said.
Lippert Components, Inc. (LCI) announced that it has launched a new, more user-friendly website that is better aligned with the company’s strategic vision for the future.
“We asked our customers and our employees what would make our website more valuable to them,” LCI Director of Marketing and Media Jarod Lippert said in a press release. “We integrated their feedback into our development process and delivered a website above and beyond our initial expectations, which includes comprehensive product and customer support sections.”
The new mobile-friendly LCI website offers a clean, modern design, easy-to-navigate responsive functionality, and a content-rich site experience. Its product interface allows customers to quickly and easily find product information, with OEM products organized into three main categories: Chassis, Body and Interior.
The website’s dedicated OEM and Aftermarket sections feature enhanced resources and functionality focused on the needs of LCI’s diverse customer base. Product pages offer photos, description and specifications; and History and News sections provide a glimpse into LCI’s diverse history, business and community initiatives not previously available. The website also features new Community and Corporate Responsibility pages, and provides social media integration and links to the company’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, where company and product updates appear on a regular basis. Additional sections and interactive features are planned for future development, to ensure the website continues to provide a fresh, versatile user experience.
“We are very excited for this new website and how it will serve our customers better by providing a useful, informative portal where customers can get to know Lippert Components and our products better,” said Lippert.
Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) announced that it acquired the business and certain assets of Fortress Technologies LLC for $3.3 million. According to a press release, Fortress Technologies is a manufacturer of specialized RV chassis located in Middlebury, Ind.
Fortress had annualized sales of about $3 million. The business will be managed by LCI’s chassis division, allowing the team to further strengthen and expand manufacturing capabilities.
“The people and assets we’ve added from Fortress Technologies will help us better serve our customers by increasing our capacity, allowing us to meet the projected industry-wide growth,” said Scott Mereness, president of Drew Industries Inc., LCI’s parent company.
Todd Driver, COO for LCI, added, “The talented Fortress team, as well as a 102,000-square-foot building with a state-of-the-art powder-coating paint booth and other equipment, allows us to expand and fortify current operations.”
Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) will introduce several new products, provide comprehensive customer support and offer a sneak peek at its new website at the Dec. 3-5 Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) National Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
According to a press release, LCI will be showcasing its upgraded Ground Control electronic leveling system, Linc Pad and Linc Digital Switch System, and Solera awning products. LCI will also debut several new products including Straptek, Flex Air Pin Box, Power Drive Tongue Jack, BlackJack, Tread Lite Power Step and Sure-Step.
“We are excited to be bringing several new products to market at the Louisville Show this year,” said Vice President of RV Sales Andy Murray. “We’ve talked with customers, identified their needs, and once again answered the call with these innovative new products.”
Lippert will be located at Booth No. 5, South Wing hallway at the Kentucky Exposition Center. New products will include:
• Straptek simplifies weight distribution hitch systems (WDS) for RVs by employing a ratchet winch and heavy-duty polyester straps instead of traditional chains and snap-up brackets. StrapTek also provides sway control and is compatible with most WDS.
• The Flex Air Pin Box combines the time-tested Trailair air ride technology with a Rota-Flex pivoting head to create a stable, smooth ride, reducing chucking and the vertical tug-of-war between fifth-wheels and tow vehicles.
• LCI’s Power Drive Tongue Jack allows for manual cranking, but also features a detachable handle, allowing RV owners to use a 3/4-inch hex head and power drill to easily run the jack up and down. Two integrated LED lights make it easy to operate at night.
• LCI will showcase several upgrades to its Solera awning line, including a redesigned short arm application with patent-pending friction joint adjustment; in-awning speakers; flood lights; and a variety of LED lighting options.
• The Linc Pad and Smart Switch System can wirelessly control sliderooms, awnings, lighting and landing gear. It monitors water tank and battery levels, and its CAN bus technology eliminates redundant wiring runs, creating BOM reduction opportunities.
• The revolutionary Blackjack automatic leveling system features the RV industry’s first and only self-contained hydraulic leveling legs. This fast and powerful one-touch system is easy to install and maintain with no hoses or power unit to set up.
• Ground Control 3.0’s “Hall Effect” leveling technology provides faster, more precise leveling with telescoping rear legs that do not need drop pins. The remote-compatible system features an auto-rehitch memory option, taking the guesswork out of hookup.
• The Tread Lite Power Step features lightweight aluminum treads, anodized components that stand up to the elements, a powerful heavy-duty motor and an upgraded mechanism that improves the sturdiness of the step.
• The aluminum Sure-Step fastens to the RV sidewall, rear wall, exterior slideout wall or over a wheel well, allowing OEMs to create versatile floor plans. Sure-Step’s adjustable feet contact the ground in the extended position, providing greater stability.
Elkhart, Ind.-based Lippert Components Inc. has introduced its new aluminum Tread Lite Power Step for motorhomes. According to a press release, the lightweight Tread Lite Power Step’s all new solid-drive mechanism allows it to extend and retract quicker, while providing more stability.
“For years the RV industry has been asking for a better, firmer power step, and our design team has again exceeded expectations,” said LCI Vice President of RV Sales Andy Murray. “The new Tread Lite Power Step has an upgraded drive system, coupled with a sleek European look. It is also designed to stand up against the elements with durable aluminum step treads.”
LCI’s research and development team collected customer feedback and conducted extensive research and testing to develop this premium Power Step, the company said.
LCI Motorized Sales Manager Marty McManus described the Power Step as quicker, stronger and much more stable. “We started from scratch on the design of this step and made substantial improvements,” he said. “The step features attractive aluminum extruded step treads which deploy and retract noticeably faster.”
The Tread Lite Power Step also features obstruction-sensing technology for added safety. A smart sensor monitors for obstructions during step extension and stops deployment if any are found.
McManus said the Tread Lite Power Step will be made to standard dimensions to fit current designs, but its extruded construction allows for custom sizes as well. He added, “For those who really want to set themselves apart, the linkage brackets can be color powder coated as well.”
The Tread Lite Power Step for motorhomes will also be available to LCI’s aftermarket customers.
Goshen, Ind., City Council members voted on second reading to approve an annexation agreement with Lippert Components Inc. involving a 56-acre plot of land.
Lippert, a supplier serving the recreational vehicle, manufactured housing and cargo/horse trailer industries, reportedly will develop the property for company uses.
The two-parcel plot of land is located north of C.R. 40, east of Corrie Drive and west of U.S. 33 — an area located outside, but contiguous to the city limits. Upon annexation, the property will be zoned Manufacturing-1 Industrial.
Referencing sewer and water needs for the property, Lippert has agreed to pay the city’s standard utility connection fee for the parcels when connections are made, as well as any sewer and water inspection costs and any future sewer or water tap-on fees. Lippert has agreed to construct a water main within the city right of way along the north side of C.R. 40 from Corrie Drive to the property when such a water connection becomes necessary.
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