Peter J. Liegl, founder and CEO of Forest River Inc., has turned over the day-to-day reins of the Elkhart, Ind., manufacturer to Brad Mart, who has been named president.
Mart, 42, came to Forest River five years ago after stint as managing partner of a private consulting firm. A graduate of Indiana University with an MBA from Northwestern University, Mart also worked in finance for General Electric Corp.
Most recently, he was general manager of Forest River’s finance division, and developed Forest River’s wholesale lending program. “Brad is a very competent manager,” Liegl said. “Making this move, we can maintain doing what we are doing.”
Liegl told RVBusiness that he will, in turn, focus on acquisitions. “The times are right to be aggressive in this area,” Liegl said. “There are some people struggling out there. It hasn’t been the greatest of times for everybody in the RV business, but, by the same token, it hasn’t been the worst for everybody, either.”
In an Oct. 1 memo to employees announcing Mart’s appointment, Liegl referenced the soft RV market and tumultuous national economy.
“This type of environment can provide greater opportunities for healthy companies to further focus on their operations and to grow,” Liegl wrote. “Additional advantages available to the strong companies are the opportunities, through acquisition, to build and expand their presence in the marketplace.”
The announcement of Mart’s appointment came as Forest River was planning its first dealer meeting in 10 years. The Oct. 22-23 gathering in Elkhart is expected to draw some 700 RV executives and sales representatives from more than 250 dealerships.
Liegl, formerly an executive with Cobra Industries Inc., founded Forest River in 1996 and, in July 2005, sold the company to Berkshire Hathaway Inc., a diversified holding company led by investment legend Warren Buffett. Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries include GEICO, Dairy Queen, Helzberg Diamonds and World Book Encyclopedia.
Forest River, with 6,500 employees and 62 factories in five states, builds towable and motorized RVs, cargo trailers, commercial buses and pontoon boats.