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Goshen Ind.-based Supreme Industries Inc., a leading manufacturer of specialized commercial vehicles including truck bodies, trolleys and specialty vehicles, today (May 4) announced improved financial results for its first quarter ended March 28.

Consolidated net sales from continuing operations increased 18.5% in the quarter, reaching $63.3 million, compared with $53.4 million in the first quarter of 2014. Last year’s sales were negatively impacted by chassis shortages and severe weather, which did not repeat in the 2015 period.

First quarter net income from continuing operations increased to $1.9 million, or 11 cents per diluted share, in the current year compared with $0.2 million, or 1 cent per diluted share, in 2014.

Gross margin from continuing operations grew to 18.1% of sales in the first quarter of 2015, versus 14.8% of sales in the first three months of 2014. The improvement was mainly due to the increase in truck sales, with a larger contribution from retail shipments and labor utilization improvements associated with the fleet builds.

“Entering 2015, positive momentum continued on several fronts. New sales initiatives implemented last year as part of our profitable growth agenda, combined with strong customer demand for medium-duty work trucks, have been driving top-line growth,” commented President and CEO Mark Weber. “In addition to fleet awards received since the beginning of the year, retail orders also strengthened during the quarter increasing our backlog.”

The Company’s discontinued shuttle bus business was sold in the first quarter of 2014 to Forest River Inc. and generated a $1.6 million after-tax net loss in that period.