Supreme Industries Inc., a leading manufacturer of specialized commercial vehicles, including truck bodies, shuttle buses, armored vehicles and homeland response vehicles, Tuesday (Nov. 10) announced financial results for its third quarter and nine months ended Sept. 26.

Goshen, Ind.-based Supreme continued to experience the impact of the economic recession, the company said in a news release. Third-quarter net sales were off 18% to $50.1 million from $61.1 million in the same period a year ago. For the first nine months, net sales declined 30% to $149 million, versus $212.3 million in 2008’s first nine months. Total sales backlog stood at $61.9 million, versus $64.9 million as of September 2008.

The company’s reported net loss was $1.5 million, vs. a net loss of $600,000 in last year’s comparable quarter. For the first nine months Supreme reported a net loss of $4 million, compared with the 2008 net loss of $200,000

Commenting on the results, Robert W. Wilson, Supreme president and COO, said, “During 2009, we incurred losses primarily due to the decline in the commercial truck market over the past 12 months, which is down approximately 40% according to the latest Polk report, an industry commentary on the U.S. commercial vehicle market. With core dry freight trucks and related products having historically represented approximately 65% of our revenues on average over prior periods, our revenues have been dramatically affected by these conditions. To date, we have reduced our annualized operating costs in excess of $15 million to help mitigate the effects of the decline in our core truck revenue. We are continually executing a strategy to improve our operational processes, reduce costs and research new materials to increase value to our customers, with an emphasis on ‘green’ materials and technologies, while also upgrading existing and developing new product offerings.”

Wilson concluded: “We believe the truck market is building pent-up demand as the average age of vehicles in use is estimated to be more than nine years, compared with the historic average of six years. However, when we will benefit from this market condition is unclear. On the other hand, our armored and bus divisions are anticipated to perform favorably for the balance of 2009 and into 2010. Our focus is to lower our cost structure (particularly in the truck division), restore profitability as soon as possible, maximize cash flows and reduce debt.”