Following a two-year distribution agreement with Lippert Components, HSM Transportation Solutions (formerly Hickory Springs Mfg.) will begin distributing its Hickory-brand RV steps direct to buyers in March.
The two companies entered into a distribution agreement in October 2013 that allowed Lippert sole distribution rights on the product. HSM plans to begin shipping March 7.
HSM National Market Manager Mark Snyder said that the distribution deal with Lippert made sense at the time, but market changes, including the introduction of aluminum hybrid steps and import competitors, require the company to make changes to keep up with competition.
“A lot of things have changed, which we really want to try to take better control of internally, and help ourselves to remain more cost-competitive,” Snyder said.
Snyder said he hopes the product’s reputation and made-in-the-U.S. construction will set it apart from newer market models.
“It’s the same step that has been out there for several years, and it enjoys a very solid reputation, so we’re going to continue to work and improve upon that and expand on the products we’re offering,” he said.
The move doesn’t entirely eliminate Lippert as a distribution option, either.
“We’ll still sell them stuff; they’ve got some applications, but what they won’t have is the preferential pricing,” Snyder said. “They’ll have the market-pricing, just like we have with the OEs. So we will still work with them and continue to sell with them. “
The company will begin distributing the product on March 7 through its freight services, and Snyder said the rollout would be gradual depending on buyers’ lead times with Lippert.
“It’s going to stagger because several customers have longer lead deals out there with LCI, so we’ll just pickup after those forecasted orders have expired and run their course,” he said.
Snyder said the original deal with Lippert was mutually beneficial, allowing HSM to focus on quality system and product improvements such as its coating process, durability and product design.
HSM Transportation Solutions is a division of HSM Solutions. The company’s step production represents a portion of its overall business. Through its various industries, which include home furnishings and bedding, in addition to transportation, HSM amassed nearly $1 billion in sales across various industries last year, according to a news release.