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The Better Bath division of Drew Industries Inc. subsidiary Kinro Inc. has sold certain intellectual property rights relating to a process used to manufacture a new composite material for bathtubs Drew believes will eventually have RV industry applications.
The buyer is VEC Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of pleasure boat-builder Genmar Holdings Inc., Genmar Chairman Irwin Jacobs confirmed.
VEC agreed to pay Better Bath $4 million consisting of $100,000 in cash and a $3.9 million note payable over five years.
Simultaneous with the sale, Better Bath has entered into an equipment lease and licensing agreement with VEC.
The equipment leased from VEC will be used at Better Bath’s plant in Waxahachie, Tex., for making bathtubs for manufactured homes, according David L. Webster, president and CEO of Kinro.
The new composite material made using the VEC process may eventually be used for shower enclosures for RVs and modular homes, Webster said. Other uses are possible too, he said.
“We plan to leverage our outstanding thermoforming skills and management expertise with this new technology,” said Leigh Abrams, president and CEO of Drew, a New York Stock Exchange-listed company. “We see great potential for Better Bath to thermoform new products both for manufactured homes and recreational vehicles and possibly some other industries.”
Better Bath will have the right to use the new composite material on a royalty-free, nonexclusive basis to manufacture various other products for the manufactured and modular housing industries and the RV industry, Webster added.
The composite material manufactured according to the VEC process is stronger, requires less maintenance, performs better and has a better overall appearance than either traditional fiberglass or thermoplastic products, Abrams said.
The VEC process replaces the traditional labor-intensive, open-faced molding process with a computerized closed mold system that produces complex fiberglass parts of precision thickness and strength in a fraction of the time, according to Genmar.
The closed mold system also reduces styrene emissions by more than 90% during lamination, Genmar reported.