Thor buses

Thor Industries announced plans Wednesday, July 31, to sell its bus business to Allied Specialty Vehicles.

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on July 31, 2013 at 5:43 p.m.

ELKHART — Thor Industries, the Elkhart-based recreational vehicle giant that’s also a major player in the shuttle bus industry, is getting out of the bus business.

The company announced the sale of its bus units to Allied Speciality Vehicles on Wednesday, July 31.

When the deal closes by Nov. 1, ASV will pay $100 million to Thor for Champion Bus, ElDorado National and Goshen Coach.

It’s the second sale of a business unit from Thor to Allied Speciality Vehicles, with Thor selling its ambulance unit to the company on April 30.

The announcement didn’t make clear what would happen to the Goshen Coach operation, the only local part of the bus business. Goshen Coach employs more than 150 people on Leer Drive in Elkhart, and until the April sale of the ambulance business to ASV, both businesses operated together.

A message left for Guile at ASV’s Florida headquarters seeking information on Goshen Coach’s future wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

The move comes less than a year after Thor acquired two bus businesses, according to the company’s latest quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Thor bought Krystal Enterprises and folded it into its ElDorado National operations in Kansas on Sept. 17, 2012, and on Dec. 20, 2012, Thor bought Federal Coach from Forest River and folded it into Champion Bus.

The latest sale is the third major business transaction between the companies, with Thor buying the former Monaco plant in Wakarusa from ASV.

The latest move will put all of Thor’s eggs in the RV basket. Thor President Bob Martin has spoken of the bus unit as one that is different from the core RV business, but also one that helps offset downturns in the RV market.

The bus unit represented about 14 percent of Thor’s net sales in the company’s quarter that ended April 30.

“Although the bus business has been a valuable part of Thor, this transaction allows us to focus on maintaining and growing our leadership position in our core recreation vehicle (RV) business,” said Peter B. Orthwein, Thor chairman, in the company’s announcement of the sale.

“From an investor perspective, divesting the bus business will simplify our overall operations and solidify Thor’s position as the leading company in the RV industry, which is recovering strongly. Pursuing the strategic development of our RV business enables us to drive growth in sales and earnings, ultimately delivering improved value for our shareholders,” said Orthwein, cofounder of the company.

Peter Guile, president and chief executive of ASV, said in the announcement, “We are excited to add the Thor bus business to our diverse line-up of specialty vehicles.

We view the opportunity to expand our business into the transit and shuttle bus markets as a key initiative in broadening our markets and providing products that meet the needs of our dealers and end consumers.

“We are eager to welcome these new bus brands to the ASV family,” he said.

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