Seat maker’s sale to bring growth

Small local vehicle seating maker sells out, expects employment to more than double in less than a year under new owner.

Posted on Dec. 6, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 6, 2013 at 1:18 p.m.

An Elkhart vehicle seating maker has sold out to a larger company that plans on expanding the local operation.

Hickory, N.C.-based HSM announced it has acquired Summit Seating Inc., 2601 Northland Drive. Summit Seating makes seating for buses, limousines and commercial transit vehicles.

HSM, which employs 2,500 at more than 50 manufacturing plants in 17 states and China, is increasingly moving beyond its core furniture and bedding products by buying up smaller transportation seating makers. The Summit Seating acquisition positions HSM’s Transportation Solutions’ unit, which largely produces seating for buses, to enter the recreational vehicle and commercial vehicle markets, said Dwayne Welch, HSM’s executive vice president/chief marketing and innovation officer.

Summit Seating founder Ray Fink said he employs about 30, a figure he expects will “more than double in less than a year” under HSM.

“They’re not buying us just to buy us,” Fink said. “It was to grow the business. I know they already have plans to expand this building.”

Fink will remain with the company as director of seating systems-commercial vehicles, a product design and development role. His wife, Sue, will retire.

Fink called HSM a “world-class operation” known for treating its employees well.

“They will be a very strong partner to the Elkhart community,” Fink said. “We would not have sold it if we didn’t feel highly about these people. This was not a fire-sale type of situation for us. We didn’t have to sell. It will make us proud to watch the growth that they will bring surpass our original expectations.”

Signage on the building will soon change to reflect the HSM brand.

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