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Don Pletcher turned over the reigns of Elkhart, Ind.-based Damon Corp. on Tuesday, shortly after the finalization of the sale of the motorhome and park trailer manufacturer to Thor Industries Inc., Jackson Center, Ohio.
In doing so, Pletcher told the South Bend Tribune that he was confident that he was leaving the company of which he was chairman, president and CEO – as well as majority owner – in capable hands.
“It really marries the company to a real strong financial player,” Pletcher said of the sale.
“It was a great opportunity to provide a secure future for the Damon team.”
Pletcher, who was affiliated with Mallard Coach Co. Inc. before acquiring Damon’s assets in 1988, expressed no regrets about leaving the company.
“It’s time for me to let it go,” he said. “It should thrive as part of Thor.”
Among the assets of Thor, which purchased Damon for about $46 million in cash, are three other Elkhart County RV makers: Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., Four Winds International Corp. and Keystone RV Co.
The Jackson Center, Ohio-based RV and bus maker has a reputation for giving its subsidiaries a high degree of autonomy, said Joe Chumbler, an analyst with Stephens Inc. in Little Rock, Ark. That reputation, Pletcher said, made a partnership with Damon particularly attractive.
Pletcher said he was not interested in again heading up a publicly held company. Still, as the majority owner of a privately held business, he found himself constantly looking for capital, he told the Tribune.
Conversely, Thor’s appeal was its strength in the industry, coupled with its “entrepreneurial spirit.” Plus, because Thor needs production capacity, Pletcher said he was confident the deal was in the best interest of Damon’s 600 or so employees. Damon employs about 450 people at its RV plant in Elkhart and another 150 or so at Breckenridge, its park trailer division in Nappanee.
Damon’s annual sales are about $200 million. Thor’s preliminary annual sales were $1.57 billion for the year ending July 31.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Thor said it expects the acquisition to add about 20 cents per share to its fiscal 2004 earnings. “On the whole, I can’t imagine a better transaction for two companies,” Pletcher said. “It’s a real win-win situation.Thor stock closed at $56.63 per share on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, up $2.44 per share for yet another 52-week high.