Thor Industries acquires Tiffin Motorhomes

Management of the company will remain with the Tiffin family

Motorhomes sit in the manufacturing yard at Tiffin Motorhomes in Red Bay in this file photo. (News photo/Jason Collum)

RED BAY | Nearly five decades after it was founded in Red Bay, ownership of Tiffin Motorhomes is changing to Thor Industries.

In an announcement released Monday morning, Elkhart, Ind.-based Thor Industries finalized a deal on Dec. 18, 2020 to acquire Red Bay-based Tiffin Motorhomes and its related companies for $300 million. Tiffin Motorhomes will now operate as Tiffin Group, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary and standalone company owned by THOR, and will be managed by the Tiffin family and existing senior management team. There are also no plans to close any operating facilities or relocate manufacturing of the Tiffin brand of recreational vehicles.

The purchase by Thor Industries covered a host of Tiffin Motorhomes-related companies, including Vanleigh RV, Tiffin Door Co., Inc., of Vina, Drive-A-Way of Red Bay, Inc. (RV transport company), Water-Way, Inc. (fiberglass supplier), Wynne Enterprises (window manufacturer), and Roma Enterprises, Inc. (furniture manufacturer).

Tiffin Motorhomes Founder Bob Tiffin said the move provides the Tiffin Group with important industry partnerships going forward, and said that other than new corporate ownership, the company will continue to look very much like it does now – with him and his sons and family members continuing in their roles.

Tiffin Motorhomes founder Bob Tiffin (News photo/Jason Collum)

“As a family-owned business since 1972, finding the right partner for the future of the Tiffin Group of companies was crucial,” Tiffin Motorhomes founder Bob Tiffin said in the prepared release. “The future of this group of companies is critical not just to the Tiffin family but to our employees, our dealers and our incredibly loyal customers. We needed a partner who we could trust would sustain all of those elements and help us grow the business in a manner that is consistent with how we’ve done business at Tiffin for nearly 50 years. I have known of Bob Martin (Thor President and CEO) for many years and have always respected THOR’s business model and how effectively they have added new businesses to their portfolio, while maintaining the independence and legacy of each new addition. THOR’s strategy to empower its companies to compete with one another and to avoid a centralized operational strategy for its different companies was very important to us. The dealers and customers who love the Tiffin brand will continue to receive the high-quality products they have grown to expect. And I am not going anywhere as I will continue to operate the Tiffin companies as I have with no timeline for change. My sons, Van and Tim, as well as my grandson, Leigh, will also continue to have major roles in the Tiffin business. Instead of feeling like I sold a business, I feel like we have aligned with a great company that will enable us to take Tiffin to a new level while maintaining the Tiffin culture and brand integrity that has set us apart from our competitors for years.”

Though the acquisition had not been publicly discussed or confirmed by either company prior to Monday’s announcement, the impending purchase by Thor had been a topic of local discussion for several months. Social media postings back in September led Tiffin Motorhomes management to issue a memo to employees reassuring them everything was business as usual.

Thor President Martin said adding Tiffin Motorhomes to the Thor portfolio would be a strategically strong move for the company, especially with adding the geographic footprint covered by Tiffin Group, LLC.

“The Tiffin brand is synonymous with quality and customer satisfaction in our industry,” Martin said. “For many decades, Tiffin has set the standard for the luxury class A market. Its strong presence in the luxury class A segment makes it very complimentary to THOR’s current North American portfolio. I have known of and respected Bob Tiffin and the Tiffin brand for many years. Bob and his family have built Tiffin into an industry leader, well known for its Class A motorhomes, quality workmanship and outstanding customer service. I was therefore thrilled to be contacted by Bob when he wanted to talk about joining the THOR family of companies. From the start, it was a great conversation which established a natural fit for both companies and quickly led to this acquisition. The Tiffin Group operates in Alabama and Mississippi with more of a vertically integrated business model than is typical for our industry. The geographic separation from Elkhart offers numerous strategic opportunities including an expanded and talented workforce and a host of potential new suppliers.”

According to the release, the purchase price was funded through existing cash on-hand as well as $165 million in borrowings from THOR’s existing asset-based credit facility. Subsequent to this transaction, THOR’s availability under the ABL remained robust at over $550 million. We anticipate that the ABL borrowings related to the acquisition will be repaid by the end of our current fiscal year and also anticipate further debt reductions on our Term Loan B facility during the fiscal year. 

“Tiffin is firmly established as a top performer in the industry,” said THOR Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Colleen Zuhl. “We see great opportunity, working with the Tiffin management team, to realize significant growth in its value. While Tiffin’s motorized gross profit margin and operating margin have, in recent years, been lower than our North American Motorized gross profit margins, our experience with prior acquisitions leaves us confident that, in a relatively short period of time, the Tiffin Group margins will become more reflective of our North American Motorized segment for similar products. THOR’s ability to assist the Tiffin Group in developing high quality products at competitive pricing in the market creates a great opportunity for growth in the future. Exclusive of the effects of purchase price accounting and transaction-related costs, Tiffin will be accretive to our fiscal 2021 earnings.” 

“We are excited to be a part of the future of this great company and see many opportunities to drive growth of both its top and bottom lines,” Martin said. “While well established in the luxury Class A space, Tiffin is relatively new to the towable and Class C markets. Tiffin currently has no offerings in either the travel trailer or Class B segments. Growing the great Tiffin brand name into these segments will be well-received by dealers and consumers alike. In Tiffin, we really acquired a company that was incredibly well-established but, at the same time, had very large opportunities for growth. It’s a unique scenario that offers great upside to us. As we move into a new calendar year with strong momentum of industry growth and a growing and diverse end-consumer base, we are very confident in the future of THOR. It is with this confidence that we are excited to add Tiffin to our North American portfolio and look forward to realizing the benefits that such a well-established company will add to THOR for years to come.” 

Tiffin Motorhomes FAQ on the acquisition: