Glenn Cushman, the former investment banker who now is majority owner of Carriage Inc., had some trying times during his first year leading the Millersbrug, Ind.-based manufacturer of mid-to-highline towable RVs.
“It wasn’t fun, but it has become fun,” said Cushman, a Phoenix, Ariz., resident who now spends half his time in Northern Indiana serving as Carriage’s chairman and president. “My family will own a part of this company at least until I die.”
Cushman bought Carriage, a 34-year-old firm, in 1999 from Clarence Yoder, one of its co-founders. Cushman’s original plan included having his former business partner, Dean R. Johnson, move to Indiana to operate Carriage on a day-to-day basis as its CEO.
But Cushman and Johnson had a parting of ways during June 2001 that included Carriage filing a civil suit against Johnson in Kosciusko Circuit Court in Warsaw, Ind., claiming Johnson made unauthorized use of around $250,000 in Carriage funds.
The lawsuit demanded that Johnson repay Carriage. But Johnson has since filed for personal bankruptcy, so Carriage’s court case now essentially is moot, Cushman said.
The quality of Carriage’s 230 employees provides the reason for Cushman’s optimism about the company’s future. “This has become kind of family here,” he said. “I like to be here every other week. When I’m here, I make, maybe, two decisions that I really could do by phone, and sign a few things which really could be faxed to me. But I come up here because this is a good group and this has really been fun.”
Cushman now wants to expand Carriage with the acquisition of a manufacturer of entry-level towables, which would be operated as a separate subsidiary. And Cushman added, “Now, our bank loves us. Our bank is looking to finance any kind of acquisition we’re looking at. They’re actually showing us other companies, asking if we could help turn them around.
“So, it’s gotten a whole lot friendlier,” Cushman said. “And it gets easier and easier the more profitable you get.”