Editor’s note: This is part of a series reviewing the top trends from 2015. Read Monday’s breakdown of travel trailer shipments here, or the year’s most-read stories here. Wednesday’s installment will include a breakdown of 2015 motorhome shipments.
In a year as crammed full of news as 2015 was in the RV industry, there is certainly room to debate what was the biggest story of the year. In fact, we invite you to join us on our Facebook page to cuss and discuss our selection of what we thought were some of the biggest developments of the year.
It’s hard to argue, though, that RV news was dominated by changes in the world of distribution in 2015. In October 2014, Keystone Automotive, the company that owned major distributor NTP bought Stag-Parkway, sending waves throughout the industry as the top two distributors became one.
Then in July 2015, Keystone’s parent company, LKQ Corp., announced it was acquiring previous No. 3 distributor Coast. Not long after that, Meyer Distributing, a major competitor of Keystone’s in the automotive world, announced it would be entering the RV market.
And if all that wasn’t enough, a few days earlier in July, Lippert Components announced an exclusive distribution deal with Furrion that would make Lippert the equivalent of a marketer for the high-end electronic products and, some said, could change the face of the two-step distribution process.
Catch your breath and we’ll take a look back at the other big headlines from 2015 that included the departure of some well-known faces from the industry and changes for other company makeups.
Below are some brief descriptions of news events that include links to our initial coverage. Keep in mind there may be other stories about the topics through the year as developments occurred.
- NTP-Stag owner Keystone Automotive acquired Coast Distribution. The transaction was completed in August and valued at $28.7 million.
- Lippert Components agreed to a six-year distribution deal with Furrion Limited. Lippert paid about $11 million to acquire Furrion’s current inventory and deposits on inventory and gains distribution rights for Furrion’s product line.
- Richard Coon announced he would retire as president of the RV Industry Association after nine years in the position. Coon later was replaced by Frank Hugelmeyer.
- Meyer Distributing acquired the U.S. operations of 5 Seasons RV Distribution in Portland, Ore., and announced its intentions to enter the RV market. The company has 750 employees and 54 total locations touching nearly every state in the nation (including 10 stocking facilities).
- General Electric announced it planned to sell most of its banking assets to focus on its industrial business. In October, GE and Wells Fargo agreed to a deal for the Commercial Dealer Finance arm.
- The early part of the year was dominated by a contract dispute with the Pacific Longshore Workers Union, which led to backups in supply shipments from West Coast ports. The dispute ended in late February, but backups persisted for much of the first quarter.
- Torklift International in February implemented a resale price policy aimed to protect its dealers from being undersold by online retailers. In December, dealers were reporting their margins were increasing due to the policy.
- Longtime Winnebago CEO Randy Potts retired in August. He had been with Winnebago since 1983. After a pair of interim CEO’s briefly filled in, Winnebago named Michael Happe of Toro Co. its new CEO.
- TriMas spun off its towing, hitch and accessories manufacturer Cequent under the name Horizon Global. President John Aleva told RV PRO the company will look to re-invest in the business and make potential acquisition.
- Camping World acquired a major Midwest dealer, as it signed a deal to buy the three locations of Tom Raper RV in Richmond, Ind., and Fairfield and London, Ohio. The Fairfield location reopened in July after the transition.