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A company headed by Fred Hassan, owner of Florida-based SunCoast RV which operates 16 stores primarily in the southeast, acquired Ameri-Camp LLC of Syracuse, Ind., in late April.
“We intend to continue production and add two lines in a couple of months and grow the company considerably over the coming year,” said Jim Tilbrook, CFO of RV Manufacturing Enterprises (RVME) LLC, which acquired the 3-year-old towable manufacturer on April 29. “Fred’s vision is that this company will expand five-fold.”
The financial arrangements of the deal were not disclosed.
Tilbrook, from Jacksonville, Fla., with a background in accounting and the railroad industry, was brought in by Hassan for an unspecified period of time to manage RVME through the transition. Former Ameri-Camp President Peter Recchio will remain with RVME as general manager, Tilbrook said.
The company, which recently earned high marks in the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association’s (RVDA) dealer satisfaction survey, employs about 110 people at its Syracuse plant.
Hassan’s dealership, with headquarters in Jacksonville, operates stores in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Indiana. The Hoosier facility opened in March in Elkhart, bringing a sales presence for Winnebago Industries Inc., Forest City, Iowa, to northern Indiana for the first time.
Tilbrook said Hassan intends to keep his manufacturing and dealership interests at “arm’s length” from each other.
“The Ameri-Camp venture is separate from SunCoast,” Tilbrook said. “There is no relationship, other than Fred is involved in both of them.”
SunCoast’s stores, he maintained, will not receive special treatment or deals from RVME. “We need to keep a relationship with all of Ameri-Camp’s dealers,” Tilbrook said. “And as a dealer, SunCoast needs to keep a relationship with all of its manufacturers.”
Tilbrook said RVME will retain the Ameri-Camp brand and add a new stick-and-tin travel trailer and mid-priced, full-profile fifth-wheel series to the Ameri-Camp brand by the end of the year.
A letter forwarded to Ameri-Camp’s dealers Tuesday (May 3) signed by Hassan and Recchio indicated that Hassan “brings financial stability (that Ameri-Camp) never enjoyed.”
“Further, this financial strength puts Ameri-Camp on par with any competitor in our business,” the letter said.
The letter signed by Hassan and Recchio concluded by referring to the financial circumstances that apparently led to the acquisition. “We have experienced some difficult times over the last past couple of months,” the two wrote.
“Many of the rumors were inappropriate, frivolous and simply untrue. You have the story now, in stone. We will continue to be the best manufacturing partner you have.”