MITO Corp., a leading distributor in premium electronics, has entered into a partnership with NTP Distribution Inc. to increase distribution of the WiFiRanger Sky, according to a press release. WiFiRanger Sky, a BlueMesh Networks WiFi router, combines waterproof engineering with signal-boosting technology for the best outdoor connection.
The partnership allows MITO to continue to supply manufacturers in the RV, marine and truck industries with NTP serving WiFiRanger’s aftermarket dealer needs. With five strategically located warehouses stocked and over 17,500 parts and accessories, NTP has been fulfilling the RV supply chain since 1962.
In addition to fulfillment, NTP offers a number of merchandising and marketing solutions for dealers’ aftermarket needs, including an online ordering system.
“They’re the complete package — a one-stop shop for dealers,” said Rod Hire, the WiFiRanger Product Manager for MITO Corporation. “Partnering with NTP is the best way to reach more of our target market.”
Paired with MITO’s Elkhart distribution facility, central to most of the nation’s RV manufacturers, the partnership strengthens WiFiRanger’s availability.
“The addition of the WiFiRanger to the NTP product offering is one more item that our dealers can offer their customers that is not available from most other sources,” said Jeff Schlegel, operations category manager for Keystone Automotive Operations, parent to NTP.
The WiFiRanger Sky strengthens any accessible WiFi signal, allowing RVers to blast past large downloads, stream videos and browse the web, even without being impeded by a low signal. The WiFiRanger Sky can also broadcast a separate, secure signal while receiving a public WiFi hotspot — all without being confined to one location.
“WiFiRanger’s ability to find and boost a WiFi signal is critical for today’s connected consumers. The ability to provide a secure and strong connection is essential for travelers who need to check in without the worry of intrusion into their personal network,” Schlegel said. “Installation is simple. Connecting your devices is even simpler, and tech support is available wherever and whenever you need it.”
To learn more about WiFiRanger Sky and its capabilities, view the digital brochure at http://mito-em.com/wifiranger-
LKQ Corp. announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Keystone Automotive Operations Inc., parent of NTP Distribution Inc., for $450 million. According to a press release, the transaction is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2014 and is subject to customary closing conditions and necessary regulatory approvals.
Established in 1971, Keystone has more than 1,500 employees with 25 locations serving more than 20,000 specialty retailers and equipment installers throughout North America, offering a broad product line of more than 300,000 SKUs from more than 800 suppliers. Keystone markets products to serve the following six category segments: truck and off-road; speed and performance; recreational vehicle; towing; wheels, tires and performance handling; and miscellaneous accessories.
“LKQ will become a leading player in the specialty aftermarket equipment and accessories business with this acquisition,” said Robert L. Wagman, president and CEO of LKQ Corporation. “In addition, our addressable market opportunity in North America will be significantly expanded. The entire specialty aftermarket equipment and accessories industry is a highly fragmented $31 billion market, and Keystone’s current product categories represent about $5 billion of the industry.”
NTP Distribution is raising the bar for its annual trade show with “a new name, new location and new opportunities,” according to a press release.
“The Expo brand was created to give a unique identity to our annual event – one that differentiates it from other wholesale events in the RV industry, and truly communicates the scope and level of engagement that our dealers and suppliers can expect from NTP,” said Jane Donnelly, marketing director.
The Expo will take place at the Sands Convention Center within the five-star Venetian Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Jan. 28-30, 2014. According to NTP, the event will bring together the RV industry’s top manufacturers, new products, educational seminars and exclusive event-only promotions. There will also be NTP sales support specialists available to assist dealers with leveraging adjacent market opportunities and business-building strategies.
“We considered many beautiful cities when we were deciding where to launch The Expo,” Donnelly adds. “The energy in Las Vegas, the ease and affordability of travel, and the grandeur of the Venetian are the perfect compliments to our event.”
NTP Distribution is an affiliate of Keystone Automotive Operations Inc., a wholesale distributor of aftermarket accessories and equipment. NTP services customers in all regions of the United States and provinces of Canada from five strategically located warehouses, with over 17,500 products in stock and a fleet of over 300 trucks.
In the wake of aftermarket supplier NTP Distribution Inc.’s 2013 Tradeshow, the Wilsonville, Ore.-based company reported “exceptional growth” in its customer base in the U.S. and Canada.
“RV dealer attendance at the 2013 NTP Tradeshow exceeded all expectations,” said Jon White, vice president of U.S. sales at NTP. “The U.S. and Canadian attendance at the NTP show was up over 50%.”
According to a press release, the show ran Feb.12-15 in San Diego. “Each year, the NTP show gets better and offers more experiences and training for our parts and service team,” offered an NTP customer. “I am looking forward to their event in 2014 and what they will be creating for sales promotions as well as training.”
With the growth, NTP has expanded its Canadian sales team. The company said that, in part, success came from the logistics expansion that NTP gained by utilizing Keystone Automotive Operations Inc.’s network of five distribution centers and 20 cross-docks servicing North America. Keystone Automotive acquired NTP in October of 2011.
“We are now able to offer the same level of service that RV dealers receive in the U.S. to our Canadian counterparts”, said Ralph Ruzzi, vice president of sales for Canada.
Rob Edwards, RV sales manager for Canada, added, “Since last fall, we’ve added three outside sales representatives to our RV team in Canada.”
• Craig Williston is representing NTP Canada across British Columbia and Alberta. Edwards stated, “With his extensive product knowledge, enthusiasm and decade of RV aftermarket experience, Craig has already become a very valuable resource for NTP and Western Canada’s RV Dealers.”
• Bryon Booth is representing NTP Canada across Central, Eastern & Northern Ontario. “With an incredible 26 years of RV aftermarket experience, Bryon has an invaluable wealth of knowledge for NTP Canada, and his Ontario RV dealers to enjoy and appreciate,” Edwards noted.
• Brian Campbell is representing NTP Canada across Western Ontario. He has over 25 years of experience and expertise, encompassing a broad selection of consumer goods, RV products, safety, and towing equipment. “His proven customer service and passion for the RV community will be a great asset to our expanding Canadian Team”, says Edwards.
For the fourth consecutive year, Progress Manufacturing Inc. received the Top Vendor Award from NTP Distribution Inc., presented during NTP’s 2013 National Dealer Conference in San Diego.
“We are honored to receive this award again,” stated Rich Elliott, sales manager at Progress Manufacturing, in a press release. “This award is recognition of the continued investment we make in building strong relationships with our distributor and dealer partners.”
Progress Manufacturing, creator of The Original Equal-i-zer Sway Control Hitch, supplies the RV industry with high performance towing hitches and other innovative towing product solutions.
Plymouth, Mich.-based Cequent Performance Products was presented with a 2012 Vendor Partner Award at the 2013 NTP Distribution Tradeshow and Conference last week.
According to a press release, the honor follows last year’s “Vendor of the Year” award and is a reflection of “the mutual respect held by both organizations.” The show was held Feb. 12-15 at the San Diego Convention Center and was the largest event in NTP’s history.
“We are honored to receive this award,” said John Walsh, vice president of sales and marketing for Cequent. “Cequent works hard to maintain great relationships with all of its distributors but it is always very gratifying to receive their appreciation. Working face-to-face with the NTP sales team and the RV dealers who drive our mutual success is a great opportunity to share our new product features and cement a strong start for the coming season.”
Cequent supplies NTP with some of North America’s most recognized brands including Reese, Tekonsha, Bulldog, Bargman, ROLA, Tow Ready and Draw-Tite.
Atwood Mobile Products was presented with a 2012 Vendor Partner Award at the 2013 NTP Distribution Tradeshow and Conference. According to a press release, the show was held Feb. 12-15 at the San Diego Convention Center and was the largest event in the company’s history.
Trey Miller, director of sales, aftermarket, for Atwood noted, “We are very pleased to receive this award. Atwood is focused on continued support of our customers and continuous product improvement and advancement. With Atwood bringing so many new products to market it is imperative that we are in close contact with our distributor partners to ensure their teams are well versed on the advantages these products bring to the market.”
In keeping with the event’s movie theme, Atwood’s booth featured various props depicting the movie The Wizard of Oz.
“The venue provided a great environment to interact with dealers,” Miller added. “The addition of various decorations to people’s booths based on the show theme, including many suppliers dressing in costumes, added an extra touch of fun.”
After a year of hard work integrating the operations of Wilsonville, Ore.-based NTP Distribution Inc. and its new parent company, Keystone Automotive Operations Inc., the company’s management feels the mission of fusing the two companies’ cultures and operations together was complete before the lights went on last week (Feb. 12-15) for the NTP Show at the San Diego Convention Center.
Spokesmen from both the automotive and RV sides of the aftermarket parts and accessory distributor were candid last week during the company’s trade show and dealer conference about the challenges they faced in 2012 after Exeter, Pa.-based Keystone purchased NTP in October of 2011. And they all felt that the company was better off in terms of delivery times, dealer support, revenues and market share.
“We have over a thousand dealers here, by far our largest show ever, including being up triple digits (in dealer attendance) from Canada,” NTP Vice President of Sales Jon White said in addressing dealers and exhibiting suppliers on opening day. “We’re very happy to see that growth over the border. We have the largest number of suppliers ever, and our biggest booth count. So, we are very excited for the next couple of days.
“Now, we know that in 2012 we had our challenges — like any integration, we had our ups and our downs and things took some time to be resolved — and we appreciate your loyalty and your patience,” he added. “I am very lucky to have such a tremendous sales team out in the field, working with you guys on the phones and in person, and also to have such a great customer base who came up with the patience as we worked through our issues. So, for that, I thank you.”
Although NTP never announced it, the supplier involvement reportedly exceeded 200 companies.
Keystone President & CEO Ed Orzetti sees “phenomenal momentum” within the company, not only in the extent of integrated operations. “But when I say we’ve integrated fully, it’s the whole fulfillment system, and that’s what Keystone brought to the party for NTP and for the RV dealers. It’s a fairly unique logistics network,” Orzetti told RVBUSINESS.com.
As an individual who’s experienced plenty of private equity acquisitions, Orzetti describes the company’s 2012 transition as one of the best he’s seen. “Now, look, with integration, there’s always bumps in the road and its ugly,” he said. “But when you move fast, you get through them. You figure out what the problems are and you move forward. But I will tell you this: The nice thing is that the integration is fully behind us.”
At the same time, Orzetti maintained, NTP jumped from the nation’s No. 3 to No. 2 distributor of RV aftermarket parts and accessories.
“By the way, a couple of other exciting things happened,” he added. “You know, NTP was predominantly a West Coast company. They laid the foundations for some things in the Southeast and Central (regions). NTP is now a full national company.
“But it gets even better because there’s now an NTP Canada, which didn’t exist when we entered the picture,” said Orzetti. “And while we don’t reveal the numbers, we had a lot of Canadians here (in San Diego) and we had special Canadian social events for both our Canadian and U.S. customers on separate nights. The NTP business model has now been rolled out to Canada as well as the rest of the U.S.”
NTP President Greg Boyd says the transition started “right out of the gate” with a plan that involved the blending, where appropriate, of warehouses. The end result is a distribution system that includes 23 cross-docks across North America plus warehousing and facilities expediting next day service.
“Our success is also represented in our customers,” said Boyd. “Certainly, we had their loyalty going through the change. But the true test of success is the fact that we’ve grown exponentially over this last year, all while going through this change. So that’s a true test, not only with our existing customer base — and certainly some of the trials and tribulations we had in transitioning — but gaining market share and new accounts as we went through it all.”
During the 2013 National Dealer Conference in San Diego, NTP Distribution Inc. honored Winegard Co. as a 2012 Vendor Partner. This marks the fifth consecutive year Winegard has received an award from NTP.
“It is a great honor for Winegard to receive this elite award once again,” said Keith Larson, national sales manager for mobile products at Winegard. “Winegard is committed to innovating new cutting-edge, high quality antennas. This year we launched the Carryout Anser Portable Satellite Antenna and Rayzar Portable Indoor HDTV antennas that have resulted in great success at the dealerships.”
Winegard, based in Burlington, Iowa, supplies their diverse line of satellite and over-the-air HD antennas to NTP, including TRAV’LER, RoadTrip, Carryout, Sensar, Rayzar and RoadStar along with a wide variety of accessories. For additional information visit Winegard.com.
Private equity firm Platinum Equity is exploring a sale of Keystone Automotive Operations Inc., which makes specialty auto parts and is also parent to NTP Distribution Inc.
According to a Reuters report citing “three sources familiar with the matter,” Platinum Equity, which acquired Keystone through an out-of-court debt restructuring in 2011, has hired investment banks Baird and UBS to run a sale process that could fetch between $400 million and $500 million.
Representatives for Platinum, Keystone, UBS and Baird were not immediately reached for comment. The sources declined to be named because the matter is not public.
Exeter, Pa.-based Keystone sells aftermarket automotive equipment and accessories in North America, such as light truck accessories, specialty wheels, tires and suspension parts and high performance products. It acquired NTP in October of 2011.
Keystone changed hands among private equity owners a few times over the past decade.
Private equity firm Bain Capital LLC bought Keystone in 2003 from investors led by buyout firm Advent International.
But the company, which makes discretionary items tied to the economic cycles, grappled with the recession in the following years and Bain’s equity was wiped out when Keystone agreed to an out-of-court restructuring in 2011.
Platinum Equity, one of the company’s bondholders, acquired a majority interest in Keystone by converting its debt to equity.