Cincinnati-based AMP Holding Inc., through a newly formed subsidiary, Amp Truck Inc., has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Workhorse brand, logo, IP, patents and assembly plant from Workhorse Custom Chassis LLC, a wholly owned affiliate of Navistar International Corp. According to a news release, the parties expect to close the acquisition on or about March 13.
AMP plans to produce step-vans and other vehicle types using the former Workhorse Custom Chassis plant in Union City, Ind. A specific timetable to re-open the Workhorse plant will be announced as the transition occurs and order backlogs are established.
With this acquisition AMP will be positioned to be the first truck OEM in the United States to offer a range of alternative fuel vehicles produced in an automated assembly plant. By offering an all-electric Workhorse chassis along with gasoline-powered, and alternative-fuel powered models, AMP will become a premier OEM capable of building alternative fuel vehicles for the commercial market. AMP’s vehicles will be sold and supported through the existing Workhorse network of 440 dealers.
Steve Burns, CEO of AMP said, “Our acquisition of the Workhorse assets will enable us to continue producing the premium-quality chassis that Workhorse is known for while giving us the perfect platform for our battery-electric power-train technology. It makes good strategic sense for us and we expect to be well positioned to meet the ever increasing demands of the market.”
The Workhorse Custom Chassis plant in Union City, Ind., that assembles chassis for trucks, large vans and motorhomes, will be shut down by mid-November, affecting the jobs of about 225 employees.
As reported by the Indianapolis Star, the move was part of parent Navistar International Inc.’s consolidation plan laid out in early August that included moving motorhome operations from Coburg, Ore., to Wakarusa, Ind. Navistar said Workhorse operations would be consolidated into other existing facilities for greater efficiency and productivity.
Word of the Union City closing was in a letter from the company and posted on the website of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development on Monday (Sept. 12). The company said that 173 jobs represented by United Auto Workers Union Local 494 will be affected at Union City.
An August statement from Navistar indicated the total number of jobs impacted by the changes at Union City was about 225. Union officials said that higher number includes non-union workers.
Union members said they were recently informed of the layoffs but have not yet been advised if they will receive any severance or other compensation.
The Union City plant, which assembles the chassis of trucks, vans and buses for large customers including UPS, is one of the largest employers in the community that straddles the Indiana-Ohio state line north of Richmond.
Workhorse Custom Chassis was formed in 1998. The operation was formerly known as Union City Body and once had nearly 1,100 workers.
The 209,000-square-foot plant was bought in 2005 by Navistar’s International Truck and Engine Corp. division.
The company website indicates it is the largest strip chassis manufacturing facility in the world, referring to the type of internal framework used as the foundation for motor homes, large step vans and similar vehicles. The plant only makes the chassis portion of the vehicles.
Navistar’s International Corp.’s emergence as the suitor seeking an asset buyout of Monaco Coach Corp.’s RV interests represents an extension of the engine builder’s growing stake in the industry – bolstered during the past several years through acquisition and strategic partnership.
Following an initial report of a pending buyout by a “major public company,” Coburg, Ore.-based Monaco revealed Thursday (March 26) that Navistar had issued a non-binding letter of intent to purchase its RV-related assets and assume certain liabilities for $50 million. Monaco, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy March 5 after a nearly two-year run of “right-sizing” to match faltering demand, reported that the companies are looking to finalize the acquisition in mid-April.
“If we are able to reach agreement, the purchase of certain Monaco assets would fit our strategy of leveraging our assets to expand our diesel business, serve the end customer and would also complement our Workhorse Custom Chassis business,” stated Jack Allen, president of Navistar’s North American Truck Group, a U.S. market leader in large trucks that ranks second in the production of heavy Class A trucks with 13 North American plants.
The tentative deal expands Warrenville, Ill.-based Navistar’s presence in the RV industry while also adding another layer to a diversified, global portfolio that includes production of medium- and heavy-duty trucks, military vehicles, diesel engines and related components for a variety of industries.
Navistar reported net income of $234 million on revenue of $2.97 billion for its fiscal first quarter, ended Jan. 31, including $955 million in military sales – notably a contract with the U.S. government to supply MRAP armored vehicles,
In fact, Navistar currently is a player in the RV sector, perhaps more so than most people realize, looking back over the past few years:
- In mid-2005, GVW Holdings Corp., Highland Park, Ill., sold its Workhorse Custom Chassis LLC and Uptime Parts LLC subsidiaries to International Truck and Engine Corp., an operating unit of Navistar. Workhorse, Union City, Ind., is a major manufacturer of chassis for Class A motorhomes, buses and walk-in trucks. Uptime Parts, located in West Chicago, Ill., and Reno, Nev., supplies replacement and aftermarket parts for the RV, truck and bus markets that Workhorse serves.
- Monaco in January of 2007 formed a joint venture with International to manufacture rear-engine diesel chassis. Monaco and International own 49% and 51%, respectively, of the newly formed company — Custom Chassis Products LLC. Production continues at Monaco’s 210,00-square-foot Roadmaster chassis plant in Elkhart, Ind., which Monaco said was not impacted by its bankruptcy announcement.
- Navistar chairman, president and CEO Daniel C. Ustian has been a Monaco board member since 2003 and has aggressively pursued complementary markets and businesses for Navistar’s truck and engine lines, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- Navistar engines to date have been used in a number of motorhomes, including Damon Motor Coach’s fuel-efficient 31 ½-foot Avanti Class A.