GOSHEN — Jason Lippert will take over as CEO of Drew Industries, and the company will move to Elkhart County where Drew subsidiaries Lippert Components and Kinro are centered.
Lippert, 40, grandson of Lippert Components founder Lawrence Lippert, will replace Drew CEO Fred Zinn, who will retire May 10, the company announced Tuesday, Feb. 12 at their White Plains, N.Y. headquarters.
Scott Mereness, 41, will take over as president and chief operating officer of Drew.
Mereness and Lippert will both step up from the top roles at Lippert Components and Kinro, where Lippert has been chairman and CEO for six years and where Meerness has been president since 2010. Meerness will remain president of Lippert and Kinro.
Leigh J. Abrams, Chairman of the Board of Drew, said in a written announcement about Zinn’s succession, “Fred has been Drew’s CEO through very challenging times, including the ‘Great Recession,’ and he has helped guide our strong growth that followed. In the past four years, Drew has generated over $200 million in operating cash flow, enabling the company to complete 13 acquisitions, pay nearly $80 million in special dividends to stockholders, and still close 2012 with no debt. The board is grateful for the substantial contributions Fred has made to Drew for more than 30 years, first as CFO and then during his distinguished tenure as CEO and a director.”
Abrams added, “This carefully conceived leadership transition brings Jason Lippert and Scott Mereness to Drew’s top executive positions. Both these executives are highly experienced, and they have the vision, energy and ability to lead the company through its next phase of growth.”
Drew’s relocation here is the second major company recently announcing a headquarters move to Elkhart County, with RV giant Thor Industries in the process of moving its corporate headquarters to Elkhart.
Drew billed its move to Elkhart County as cost effective and something that will provide closer collaboration between Drew’s management team and executives across the RV and manufactured-housing industries, both heavily located here.
Lippert said, “We will continue our strategic initiatives to enhance Drew’s cash flow and profitability. We intend to accomplish this by providing the highest quality products and superior service, both to our existing customers, and to new customers in the adjacent markets we have been developing in accordance with our ongoing strategic planning process. We have always provided our customers with products that add value and offer innovative solutions to their business needs. It is essential that we maintain our outstanding reputation among both our customers and the investment community.
“Scott Mereness has provided Drew with exceptional operational leadership for more than a decade. Scott and I have worked closely together for over 15 years, with an emphasis on attracting and developing the best possible talent for every aspect of the company,” added Lippert. “Together with our extraordinary management team and dedicated employees, Scott and I will continue to develop strategic plans to benefit Drew, including our stockholders, employees, and customers.”
Zinn said, “I have been privileged and proud to work for this vibrant company. After more than three decades with Drew Industries, it’s time to transfer Drew’s executive responsibilities to a new generation.
“Jason is an exceptionally talented leader, and he has been key to the company’s success. Since he assumed an executive role more than a decade ago, Drew’s market share has grown consistently and significantly. Jason has gained the respect of business executives throughout the industries we serve,” Zinn said. Zinn will remain as a consultant for the company through the rest of this year, according to the company.
Drew acquired Lippert Components in 1997 and owns Michiana Mattress, Seating Technology, Zieman Manufacturing, Extreme Custom Trailers and Happijac.
Lippert recently expanded into a new Lippert Interior Solutions furniture plant on Hackberry Drive.