Saturday, July 07, 2007



RV Business
Friday, July 6, 2007

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) hired Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP to lobby the federal government, according to a disclosure form.

The Associated Press reported that the firm will lobby on fuel economy regulations, according to the form posted online Tuesday (July 3) by the Senate's public records office.

In June, the Senate passed legislation that would require an increase in average fuel economy to 35 miles per gallon for cars, SUVs and pickup trucks by 2020. There are also at least two House proposals that would boost gas mileage standards.

Association spokesman Kevin Broom said the group wants to make sure that a vehicle's towing capacity — the maximum weight of a trailer that can be hauled — isn't lost as fuel efficiency increases. He said about 75% of RVs sold are towed by another vehicle.

The industry fears that as fuel economy mandates increase, it could create vehicles that would lose their towing ability.

Despite high gas prices, the $14.5 billion RV industry has had five consecutive years of growth, with more than 390,000 shipments in 2006.

Winnebago Industries Inc., Coachmen Industries Inc. and Monaco Coach Corp. are among the 550 manufacturers and component suppliers that are members of the Reston, Va.-based group.

John R. Russell, former deputy chief of staff to former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., is among those registered to lobby on behalf of the group.

Under a federal law enacted in 1995, lobbyists are required to disclose activities that could influence members of the executive and legislative branches. They must register with Congress within 45 days of being hired or engaging in lobbying.



RV Business
Friday, July 6, 2007

Dura Automotive Systems Inc., an auto-parts maker that is reorganizing while in bankruptcy, agreed to sell its Atwood Mobile Products unit for $160.2 million to Insight Equity, operating under the name Atwood Acquisition Co. LLC. It announced the deal late Thursday (July 5).

With 2006 sales of approximately $330 million, Elkhart, Ind.-based Atwood supplies a broad range of products to the recreation vehicle, specialty vehicle and manufactured housing markets. The division’s lines include windows and doors, specialty glass, hardware appliances and electronics. Dura said in May that it was seeking a buyer.

"This agreement is a major milestone in our restructuring efforts," Dura Chairman and CEO Larry Denton said in a statement.

If U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Carey in Wilmington, Del., approves procedures for a sale at a hearing on July 24, an auction for the unit will be held in August. If no other bidders top Insight's offer, it would be declared the winner.

Under the proposed sale procedures, Insight would collect a $3.2-million fee if it doesn't win the auction for the subsidiary. Rochester Hills-based Dura said it hopes to complete the sale by the end of August.

The company proposed a deadline of Aug. 8 for initial bids and will ask Carey to schedule the auction for Aug. 14.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007



RV Business
Friday, June 29, 2007

In a surprise development to most in the industry, Monomoy Capital Partners L.P. has agreed to merge Western Recreational Vehicles Inc. (Western RV), a manufacturer of high-end recreational vehicles based in Yakima, Wash., with Pilgrim International Inc., a mainstream towable manufacturer in Middlebury, Ind.

The transaction is expected to close in July.

“The merger expands the presence of both companies in the RV industry and combines the resources of the two, well-established and well-known brands,” the two companies stated in a joint release.

Focused on travel trailers and fifth-wheels, five-year-old Pilgrim has grown to become the 15th largest manufacturer in the towable arena and “has become a recognized leader for innovation and value” in those product categories, according to the release. Western RV, in turn, is an old-line, 36-year-old company specializing in the design and manufacture of “premium” Class A’s, fifth-wheels and truck campers.

Western RV also builds the automotive chassis for its products, making it one of only a few vertically integrated manufacturers in the industry. It also distributes and services its motorcoaches, including the Alpine Coach, a premier diesel pusher, through a network of independent U.S. and Canadian dealerships.

The new company will continue to operate facilities in both Yakima and Middlebury with a combined 750,000 square feet of production capacity and more than 750 employees, while its corporate team will operate out of Middlebury. Pilgrim Chairman Dave Hoefer, a product innovator, will serve as board chairman of the merged company, while Pilgrim President Steve Bennett assumes responsibilities as president and COO of the new entity. Richard Fish, an operating partner from Monomoy, will be CEO of the new firm.

“This merger is a very positive step for the combined organizations, its business partners and customers,” said Bennett. “Monomoy will provide substantial capital and management expertise for the merger and help us be more competitive in western U.S. markets. This is great news for our current and prospective dealer partners.”

“This is a great opportunity for both companies,” noted Hoefer, a 30-year RV industry veteran and co-founder of the industry’s Dutchmen, Four Winds and Pilgrim brands. “Our merger will allow us to grow faster in the western U.S. and bring new and innovative products to the market more quickly. I have never seen a more perfect fit.”

Following it’s 2006 acquisition of Western RV, the planned Western RV-Pilgrim merger is the second step in creating a presence in the RV industry for Monomoy, a private equity fund that makes controlling investments in middle market companies.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to expand our presence in the RV industry by merging Western RV with a well-established brand like Pilgrim,” said Philip Von Burg, a Monomoy principal. “Pilgrim is a great brand and has one of the strongest management teams in the industry. Steve Bennett, Dave Hoefer and Richard Fish will focus our company on industry issues while creating substantial value for our dealers and customers. We look forward to our continued growth with this merger and will continue to seek opportunities to be a substantial player in this $14 billion industry.”

Combined, the company will market Alpenlite fifth-wheels, Alpenlite truck campers, Alpine Coach motorhomes, Cirrus travel trailers, Defender ramp trailers, Legends travel trailers and fifth-wheels, Open Road fifth-wheels, Peak chassis, Pilgrim travel trailers and fifth-wheels, and Pilgrim Lite travel trailers.

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