Thor Industries Inc. divisions will continue to operate as independent entities — in much the same way as they have for years — following today’s (Jan. 7) appointment of Keystone RV Co. President Ron Fenech as Thor senior vice president charged with overseeing the company’s RV operations.

”I fought for that independence when I was responsible solely for Keystone and I will support that in the way we are going to operate the divisions,” Fenech told RVBUSINESS.com. ”It’s been Thor’s model since the inception and it’s been very successful. That’s my job, to continue to propel that.”

Fenech’s appointment and that of Thor COO Richard ”Dicky” Riegel as senior vice president with responsibility for Thor’s bus group, investor relations and developing new business segments, was announced today (Jan. 7) by Thor co-founder Peter B. Orthwein.

An executive who had typically operated behind the scenes, Orthwein was thrust into the limelight as Thor chairman, president and CEO upon the Nov. 12 death of Wade F.B. Thompson, who founded Thor in 1980 with Orthwein. Thompson’s passing was among the factors that led to the management changes.

Keystone Executive Vice President Bob Martin was appointed president to succeed Fenech while Andrew Imanse will remain group president of Thor’s commercial bus division and report to Riegel, who will report to Orthwein.

Fenech, 52, was Keystone president for eight years and at one time was Coachmen Industries Inc. vice president of sales.

Besides Keystone, Thor RV divisions include Airstream Inc., Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., Four Winds International Corp. CrossRoads RV, Damon Motor Coach, Breckenridge, Komfort Corp. and General Coach.

Fenech said the most difficult part of the change will be ”having to leave Keystone and all the great people at the company.”

While Thor, with headquarters in Jackson Center, Ohio, will retain independent divisions, Fenech said it will be his goal ”to find ways to become even better within each of our divisions.”

”The biggest impact for Thor will be that I have a lot of operational experience and I’ll probably have a more hands-on approach with our divisions in terms of strategic planning and trying to do those things that make good companies great companies,” Fenech said. ”I want to remove roadblocks and hopefully help the companies see opportunity that they don’t see today.”

At the same time, Fenech said he won’t be reticent to make changes in Thor’s operations where needed.

”Some of our divisions are strong and some of our divisions are weak and need help,” he said. ”I don’t mind saying that some of them are not performing the way they need to be and that’s unacceptable. That will change.”