Elkhart-based Lippert Components buys RV replacement windshield distributor

Lippert Components said the acquisition will not threaten anyone already employed at Duncan Systems Inc. 

Posted on Aug. 19, 2014 at 8:46 a.m.

Lippert Components Inc. on Monday, Aug. 18, announced its purchase of Elkhart-based Duncan Systems Inc., a distributor of replacement windshields, windows and awnings for the recreational vehicle and specialty truck markets.

The acquisition marks Lippert’s long-term strategy to enter the lucrative RV aftermarket business and gives the company a foothold in the insurance claim market, which is a large part of Duncan’s business, said Lippert president Scott Mereness.

"We also like that they’re headquartered in Elkhart, which makes it easier for us to run and grow the business,“ Mereness said.

Duncan already distributes some Lippert-made windows, along with those made by other companies. Lippert’s control of the company should boost its window sales, Mereness said.

Mereness said the acquisition poses no threat to the livelihoods of Duncan’s roughly 60 workers, contrary to rumors swirling last week as word of the deal moved through the Duncan plant.

"We told the employees this morning that we acquire companies to grow them ... investing in more people, plants and equipment,” Mereness said. “There will be no layoffs or job cuts. If anything we’re going to be adding to their headcount.”

Mereness noted job growth will be modest, perhaps five to 10 new positions, there over the next few years.

Lippert bought Duncan Systems from Indianapolis-based private equity firm Hammond Kennedy Whitney & Co. for $18 million, closing the deal on Friday. It’s the fifth company Lippert has bought in the past nine months.

In December Lippert purchased Middlebury-based RV chassis maker Fortress Technologies Inc. for $3.3 million. In February Lippert made two acquisitions, paying $35 million for Troy, Mich.-based Innovative Design Solutions, a manufacturer of remote control systems for RV awnings, slideouts and levelers, some of which Lippert had been distributing; and spending $12 million for Star Design, an Elkhart-based maker of thermoformed sheets used in the RV, bus and specialty truck markets.

In June Lippert paid $35.5 million for Mishawaka-based Power Gear/Kwikee Products, which makes leveling systems, slideouts and steps, mostly for motorhomes.

Mereness declined to comment on whether the company has any other deals in the works.

"We’re always looking for good fits,“ he said. ”We’re a disciplined acquirer, even though we’ve done a lot in the last seven to eight months,“ he said. ”We were a little lacking in 2013 so we’re making up a little for lost time.“

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