Thor announces Graves as first independent chairman

Andrew Graves

ELKHART — Thor Industries Inc. has announced that Andy Graves will assume the position of chairman of the board effective Thursday.

Graves will be the company’s first independent chairman.

Graves has spent the past 35 years in leadership roles in global manufacturing businesses. He has extensive international experience having managed significant international operations while at FMC Technologies, CNH Industrial (Case Corp.), Dresser Industries, as well as nine years at Brunswick Corp. as president of the Brunswick Boat Group.

“His expertise in brand management, product development and design, operations, and managing independent dealer networks have been invaluable to Thor during his nearly nine years of service on the board of directors,” the company said in a statement. 

Graves’ most recently served as president and CEO of privately held Motorsport Aftermarket Group (MAG) for four years, where he broadened his consumer durables experience beyond the recreational boat market and into the powersports marketplace. Additionally, MAG’s distribution and e-commerce businesses, as well as the company’s brand portfolio of leading aftermarket accessory products, focused beyond new unit sales and into aftermarket sales and service.

“These industries have significant parallels to the RV industry, allowing Andy to offer unique insights to the Thor leadership team,” the company said. “He is adept at managing decentralized businesses, and has a track record of maintaining a strong brand and distinct cultural focus while also capturing value from working across businesses to leverage scale advantages.”

Graves retired as a full-time CEO in August 2018. He currently serves on the board of privately held S2 Yachts, and provides consulting and advisory services on a contract basis.

“I’m honored by the opportunity to be Thor’s first independent chairman,” Graves said. “Over the nine years of time on the board, I have come to know and admire the management team. As I look forward to leading our board as chairman, I am confident that our management team has the leadership and vision to successfully navigate the global RV market.”

The company also announced that Jan Suwinski, who has served as a member of Thor’s board since 1999, will step down as lead director but remain on the board. During his time with the board, Suwinski chaired both the compensation and the audit committees. He has served as the company’s independent lead director since fiscal year 2013.

“As a company, Thor has been blessed to have had only two chairmen, both of whom were our founders and executive chairmen,” Suwinski said. “Establishing Andy Graves as our first independent chairman removes the necessity of an independent lead director, so I am stepping down from that role effective Aug. 1. I’m proud of the company’s performance during my time on the board and look forward to serving on the board through the end of our fiscal year 2020.”

Bob Martin, Thor’s president and chief executive officer, said Suwinski was an important voice in the boardroom for many years and instrumental in setting and monitoring the company’s strategic path.

“As we look ahead, our board will continue to be best in class with Andy Graves in the chairman role,” Martin said. “Andy’s deep experience in the recreation industry is invaluable to our boardroom discussion.

Additionally, the company announced that as Andy Graves assumes the role of chairman, he will resign as Compensation and Development Committee chairman, effective Oct. 1, and board member Wilson Jones will assume that role on that date.

Thor Industries, headquartered in Elkhart at 601 E. Beardsley Ave., is the sole owner of operating subsidiaries that, combined, represent the world’s largest manufacturer of RVs.

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