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Thor Reacquires Stock From Thompson Estate

August 15, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Jackson Center, Ohio-based Thor Industries Inc. announced today (Aug. 15) that it has entered into a repurchase agreement dated as of Aug. 12 to purchase 1 million shares of its common stock at a price of $20 per share from the estate of Wade F. B. Thompson in a private transaction.

The estate currently holds all of the stock of the late Wade F. B. Thompson, Thor’s co-founder and former CEO. The repurchase transaction was evaluated and approved by directors of Thor’s board who are not affiliated with the estate.

The repurchase represents 1.8% of Thor’s common stock currently outstanding. Thor will use available cash to purchase the shares. The transaction is expected to close on or before Aug. 16.

Thor is the world’s largest manufacturer of recreation vehicles and a major builder of commercial buses.

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Industry Veteran Hi-Lo Trailer Co. Closes Shop

July 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Recent Hi-Lo product

Ohio-based Hi-Lo's unique telescoping trailer.

Hi-Lo Trailer Co. Inc., Belleville, Ohio., a respected long-term player in the RV industry, has closed its doors.

In a July 6 letter to Hi-Lo dealers, President Jim Beveridge said shareholders ”have voted to liquidate the assets of the corporation and dissolve same, effective immediately.”

”In light of the current economic situation and the downturn in sales of recreational vehicles, Hi-Lo Trailer can no longer continue to operate,” the letter said.

Hi-Lo, the company that originally brought late Thor Industries Inc. Chairman Wade F.B. Thompson into the RV industry, manufactured a unique telescoping travel trailer that used a push button hydraulic system to automatically raise, lower and lock the top that fit over the lower portion of the trailer when in travel mode.

Hi-Lo announced late last year that it had streamlined its 2010 product lineup to include four floorplans based on the Hi-Lo Classic.

The company was founded in 1955 as Snyder’s Hi-Lo Trailer Co. by the late Don Snyder, who engineered Hi-Lo’s basic design because he wanted a popup-like trailer that was safer to tow and had hard sides so that it could be used in the winter.

The company later passed to the founder’s son, Jim Snyder, who remained active in the company after selling it to New Zealand native Thompson, who came across Hi-Lo while working in marketing in New York City.

”I thought this was a neat little company with a great little balance sheet,” said Tompson, who had met Peter Orthwein, now Thor chairman, at a New York conference.

”I called him up and asked if he would help me finance this little company called Hi-Lo,” Thompson recalled in a 2002 interview with RVBusiness. ”He said he could get the financing, but he wanted to be a partner as well.

”We did the deal, and Oct. 28, 1977, we bought the company (and) for the next three years I commuted between New York where my family was — literally every week.”

Thompson ran Hi-Lo for three years before he and Orthwein acquired Airstream Inc. from Beatrice Foods, beginning to build Thor Industries into a national power.

Thompson and Orthwein owned Hi-Lo into the middle of this decade, before quietly selling the company in July 2003.

Efforts to reach Beveridge and recent Hi-Lo executives Jim Snyder and Larry Mills were unsuccessful.

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Wade Thompson Estate Sells 1M Thor Shares

April 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The estate of Wade F. B. Thompson, co-founder of Thor Indiustries Inc., continues to dispose of stock in the industry-leading company.

The estate soldf 1 million shares of Thor stock on Tuesday (April 21) at a price of $32.40 per share. The transaction was valued at $32.4 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The buyer was not identified in the SEC filing.

Thompson’s widow and co-executor of the estate, Angela E. Thompson, signed the SEC document.

As of Nov. 10, the day Thompson stepped down as Thor chairman and CEO and a short time before his death, Thompson beneficially owned 15,753,470 shares of the company’s common stock, which represented 28.4% of the issued and outstanding Thor stock.

This latest sale left Thompson’s estate still holding approximately 8.4 million shares of Thor stock, according to the latest SEC filing.

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Friends, Family & Peers Honor Thor’s Thompson

December 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Wade F.B. Thompson

Wade F.B. Thompson

Hundreds of families, friends and associates of Wade F.B. Thompson, the late co-founder, chairman, president and CEO of Thor Industries Inc., gathered today (Dec. 18) in a wintry New York City for a memorial service in his honor.

Thompson, who built Thor into a highly competitive, multi-divisional RV manufacturer based in Jackson Center, Ohio, passed away Nov. 12 after a 14-year battle with cancer.

The 11 a.m. service was held at the Seventh Regiment Armory, a historic Park Avenue art center that the 69-year-old Thompson had worked to restore. The armory’s 60,000-square-foot, seven-story high Drill Hall is named for Thompson.

In attendance were Thompson’s wife of 42 years, Angela; his children, Charles A.Y. Thompson and Amanda Jane Thompson Riegel; his daughter-in-law, Olya A.Y. Thompson; son-in-law, Richard E. Riegel III; and six grandchildren.

Richard ”Dicky” Riegel is Thor’s COO and co-chairman of the RV industry’s Go RVing Coalition.

Also in the audience was Thor interim Chairman Peter B. Orthwein, with whom Thompson launched Thor in 1980 with the acquisition of Airstream Inc. as well as representatives of Thor corporate and its independent RV divisions, Keystone RV Co., Airstream Inc., Dutchmen Manufacturering Inc., Four Winds International Corp., CrossRoads RV, Damon Motor Coach, Breckenridge, Komfort Corp., General Coach and commercial bus manufacturer Champion Bus Inc. So, too, were RV industry suppliers, association executives, retired Thor personnel and friends from New York City — to which Thompson was attracted during his early days in his native New Zealand.

Park Avenue Armory, site of today's memorial service for Wade F.B. Thompson

Park Avenue Armory, site of today's memorial service for Wade F.B. Thompson

Orthwein, Riegel, daughter Amanda, granddaughter Amelia, son Charles, cancer society officials and Armory representatives were among those who spoke at the memorial in which Thompson was portrayed as generous, adventurous, fiscally tight, “fiendishly” detailed, visionary, opinionated, “beligerantly honest” and as a man who “achieved the utmost American dream.”

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Thor Buys 3.98M Shares from Thompson Estate

December 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Thor Industries Inc. announced Thursday (Dec. 17) that it purchased shares of its common stock from the estate of Wade F. B. Thompson in a private transaction.

The estate currently holds all of the stock of the late Wade F. B. Thompson, Thor’s co-founder and former CEO, according to a news release.

Pursuant to the terms of a repurchase agreement, 3,980,000 shares of Thor’s common stock were purchased at a price of $29 per share. The repurchase transaction was evaluated and approved by directors of Thor’s board who are not affiliated with the estate. The repurchase represents 7.2% of Thor’s common stock currently outstanding. Thor used available cash to purchase the shares.

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Thor’s Thompson Left Mark on U.S. Space Program

November 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Astronauts with AistreamEditor’s Note: Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition, noted to RVBUSINESS.COM, that as the family and friends of Wade F.B. Thompson, founder of Thor Industries Inc., were saying goodbye Monday (Nov. 16) to the famed RV leader, the space shuttle blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center after the crew was transported to the launch pad in one of Thor’s Airstream Inc. travel trailers. The unit  has been used since early in the American manned space program.  The photo at left of the astronauts in front of the Airstream was taken by recreation industry friend Dennis Biela, who is working with the Smithsonian and NASA on a 3D shuttle launch movie.

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Thor’s Wade Thompson Loses Long Cancer Battle

November 13, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

 

Wade F. B. Thompson

Wade F. B. Thompson

The board of directors of Thor Industries Inc. announced today (Nov. 13) that its co-founder, chairman, president and CEO, Wade F. B. Thompson, died Thursday after a 14-year battle with five cancers.

Thompson, 69, founded Thor in 1980 with Peter B. Orthwein, Thor’s current vice chairman, with the acquisition of Airstream Inc., the renowned travel trailer builder. Thompson turned Airstream around from a $12 million annual loss immediately prior to purchase to a $1 million profit in its first year. Thor went public on Jan. 11, 1984, and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange on Aug. 29, 1986, six years to the day after its founding.

Thompson always said that his major business legacy was not only helping build Thor into the leading manufacturer of recreation vehicles and buses. Also part of that legacy was Thor’s history of never losing money. “Even during fiscal 2009, a year of world-wide recession and a depression in the RV industry, Thor made money,” Thor’s release adds.

From his office in New York City, Thompson devoted his last decade to helping find a cure for cancer, most notably by founding the Drive Against Prostate Cancer in 2000. “The Drive,” consisting of two Airstream mobile medical vehicles, has given over 101,000 free prostate cancer screenings to men, particularly the under-served and veterans.

“About 5% of the men have an abnormality and “The Drive” has saved about 5,000 lives due to early detection,” according to Thor’s release. “He was a major contributor to Zero-The Project to End Prostate Cancer, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Cancer Research Institute and actively financed clinical trials for melanoma and colon cancer in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.”

Wade Thompson was also deeply dedicated to the arts, historic preservation and conservation and was the founder and chairman of the Seventh Regiment Armory Conservancy whose mission is to restore and revitalize the historic Park Avenue Armory at 66th Street in Manhattan into a world class venue for the performing and visual arts. The Armory’s 60,000-square-foot, seven-story-high Drill Hall is named in his honor.

He was a major supporter of Central Park Conservancy, the Municipal Art Society and Mystic Seaport Museum. His other interests were tennis and collecting contemporary art.

Thompson is survived by his wife of 42 years, Angela; his children, Charles A. Y. Thompson and Amanda Jane Thompson Riegel; his daughter-in-law, Olya A.Y. Thompson;, son-in-law Richard E. Riegel III;, and six grandchildren.

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