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Forest River Inc.’s Pete Liegl purchased Vanguard Industries of Michigan Inc. because he believes he can make the company’s Palomino brand folding campers and truck campers “more competitive” in the market place.
“They have a good name and they are a good company that has been around almost 35 years,” Liegl said. “We need to look back at what made them great.”
Liegl believes Vanguard recently “took their eye off the ball” by extending its reach into larger trailers. Liegl said Vanguard will continue building folding campers, truck campers and “the hybrids (expandable travel trailers) they are building now.”
Liegl bought Vanguard earlier this month from Vern Landey, who wanted to retire. But, otherwise, Liegl will retain current management and employees because he believes the experience of Vanguard’s veteran managers and production workers will help the Colon, Mich.-based firm capture more market share for Palomino products.
Vanguard was purchased by Liegl as an individual, instead of by Goshen, Ind.-based Forest River, “for tax purposes,” he said.
The acquisition of Vanguard is the latest move by Liegl to increase the production volume of the companies he controls and, thus, put himself in a position to get quantity discounts from suppliers. That will allow Palomino sales executives, and Forest River’s folding-camper sales reps, to price their products more aggressively, Liegl said.
Forest River is a distant No. 2 in retail sales of folding campers. It trails Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.’s Coleman operation in Pennsylvania, the leading folding-camper builder.
Fleetwood had a 42.5% retail market share in folding campers for the first seven months of this year, compared to Forest River’s 14.3% share, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., an independent market research firm.
Meanwhile, Vanguard’s Palomino was No. 7 in folding camper retail market share with a 3.8% share year-to-date through the end of July.
Forest River’s folding campers will not compete in the same market segments as Palomino folding campers, Liegl noted.