If the sale of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.’s RV business is approved by a federal bankruptcy court on Wednesday, the headquarters for the RV operations could be moving to Decatur, Ind.
New York equity firm American Industrial Partners was the first and only bidder to put a price tag on most of the company’s RV business, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise. For $53 million, less liabilities, the firm has agreed to buy Fleetwood’s intellectual property and RV brands in addition to two motorhome manufacturing plants, two motorhome service centers and the company’s subsidiary Gold Shield supplier, all located in Decatur.
“It’s not our place to say, even though we think that’s a possibility,” said Sydney Rosencranz,a Fleetwood spokeswoman, in response to the issue of the headquarters moving to Decatur. The headquarters for Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. and the manufactured housing division would remain in Riverside in the meantime.
Citing a confidentiality agreement signed with Fleetwood, Paul Bamatter, spokesman for American Industrial Partners, wouldn’t comment on the deal.
Decatur, located in eastern Indiana just south of Fort Wayne, is a city of about 9,500 people in a county of 33,000.
“People are on unemployment now that have never been on unemployment,” said Decatur Mayor John Schultz. The unemployment rate in Adams County where Fleetwood’s Decatur plants are located has risen to 15.1%. Layoffs at the RV maker’s plants there started before Christmas, he said.
Since American Industrial bid for Fleetwood’s RV business — primarily for plants in his city — Schultz hopes his out-of-work residents will be able to go back to work.
“You don’t buy a manufacturing plant unless you’re going to manufacture something. Maybe that’s me being optimistic,” he said.
Larry Macklin, the county’s economic development director, couldn’t confirm if the company planned to relocate Fleetwood’s RV headquarters to Decatur.
“It would be one of the greatest boosts we could see,” Macklin said. “We’ll be looking forward to Wednesday, that’s for sure,” he said of the bankruptcy hearing.
Fleetwood filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy March 10. Since then the company has sold its travel trailer division, its military housing operations and various assets.
The bankruptcy court is scheduled to decide Wednesday whether to approve the deal with American Industrial.
The Riverside plant still has 150 on payroll, said Rosencranz.
American Industrial didn’t buy the company’s motorhome manufacturing plants in Riverside and Paxinos, Pa., or its manufactured housing division. Fleetwood Enterprises would still own those assets, although the fate of remaining plants is unclear.