Heartland, Thor Acquire Cruiser, DRV

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Thor Industries, through Heartland RVs, has acquired towable RV manufacturer Cruiser RV along with luxury fifth wheel manufacturer Double Tree RV for approximately $47.4 million according to Thor President Bob Martin.

The deal, which was finalized Monday (Jan. 5), adds a high-end fifth wheel facility in DRV, along with two production plants from Cruiser.

“They have a great management staff with many years of experience in the industry,” Martin said. “The company was a good overall fit for Thor and Heartland as well.”

Combined, Cruiser and DRV generated sales of approximately $135 million in 2014. The newly acquired operations will become a part of Thor’s Heartland subsidiary with a management structure reporting to Heartland President Chris Hermon.

In the report of October numbers for the RV industry, Statistical Surveys reported that Cruiser was the 10th-ranked company by year-to-date retail sales of all towables with 2,455. DRV ranked 20th with 456 sales.

According to SSI, Heartland is Thor’s second-ranked division in terms of year-to-date retail sales of all towables with 12,726, trailing only Keystone.

“Thor has a strong history of successful acquisitions in our industry,” Cruiser President Jeff Fought said. “Partnering with Heartland gives us the opportunity to continue our record of outstanding performance while maintaining the culture and leadership that has driven our success.”

Martin added that DRV was a good fit for Heartland’s Landmark luxury fifth wheel lines, and that Cruiser should make a great addition to Heartland, specifically in the lightweight segment.

“We’ll test some of the (DRV production) with the Landmark products, but they’ll build a unit that’s higher than that in price-point,” Martin said of the acquisition. “They’ll build some customized units as well as the lightweight.”

Howe, Ind.-based Cruiser RV and DRV, will maintain their current production facilities, work force and management team after the acquisition, according to a company news release.

The location of DRV and Cruiser played a role in the decision as well. The Howe, Ind.- facilities are about a half-hour drive west from Heartland’s facility in Elkhart, where Martin said the workforce has grown competitive.

“It’s directly down the toll road (Interstate 80E/Interstate 90E) from Heartland, so it’s easy to get to for the staff, but it gets them a little further out from Elkhart, where that (workforce is) becoming a little tighter,” Martin said of the new location. “There are communities they can draw from in southern Michigan and La Grange County.”

Thor and Heartland would evaluate DRV and Cruiser production lines to determine how the facilities can learn from one another.

“We really don’t know at this time until we get in there and see what we have. In the short term, they’re a great company with a great reputation for quality and a great reputation with the dealers. I think we just look at helping them grow, and reach goals for the future.

“We will just go in and see where we can help them. I’m sure there will be ways that we can help them with the production process. We’ll have some of our specialists from Heartland come in and help them. There will be a lot of questions, but there will be things we learn from Double Tree as well.”

The deal includes the three production facilities belonging to Cruiser and DRV for $3.24 million.

“There is a possibility because there’s more real estate around them, and that’s a positive because Heartland is a little land-locked where they’re at,” Martin said. “For Double Tree, they have some land that could be expanded on in the future, we’d just have to buy the land.”

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