Larry Lippert Founds B&L Industries
On May 17, 1956, Lippert Components, Inc. (LCI®) was founded as B&L Industries. Together, Larry Lippert and Don Baldwin formed B&L Industries. Don and Larry began manufacturing galvanized mobile home roofing, creating a product called Duratop. Detroiter Mobile Homes and Redman Industries were B&L’s first customers. In 1957, Don sold his shares of B&L to Larry. The strong foundation laid by Larry led LCI to develop many innovative technologies and improve industry processes.
Larry Lippert Purchases Riverdale Steel Works
Larry Lippert purchased Riverdale Steel Works (RSW) from Bill Langdin. At the time, Jack Keeler was the Plant Manager of RSW. Jack would go on to work at LCI for over 40 years. Riverdale Steel Works manufactured mobile home chassis and chassis components.
Planning for Future Expansion
Towards the beginning on the decade, LCI struggled to pay bills and expansion projects were temporarily put on hold. In an effort to rebuild existing plants and to fund additional expansions, Larry entered into a deal with William “Bill” Redman. Bill’s son, Donald Redman, became managing partner of B&L Industries, alongside Larry, in exchange for cash to rebuild the plants and to fund additional expansion. Shortly thereafter, B&L Industries expanded into Pennsylvania, Kansas, Georgia and Michigan. B&L’s corporate office moved into a larger building in Alma, MI, the old Alma Products building. In 1964, Larry bought out Donald Redman and once again became sole shareholder of B&L Industries.
B&L Industries expands to Syracuse, Indiana.
B&L of the Carolinas Founded
B&L Industries of the Carolinas is founded.
B&L Expands to Texas & Alabama
B&L opens plants in Bonham, Texas and Bear Creek, Alabama. Larry’s son, Doug Lippert, becomes Plant Manager of B&L’s Syracuse, IN facility.
B&L Industries Becomes Lippert Components, Inc
Larry worked to aggressively expand LCI in 1969, acquiring several manufacturing companies: D&H Tops, a manufacturer of Formica counter tops, Coachmen Draperies, Spreads by Cynthia, Comfo Sleep, maker of mattresses for housing, and C&B Manufacturing, which would eventually became LCI of Florida in Clearwater. These acquisitions would be crucial to attaining Skyline’s manufactured housing business decades later. The names of the aforementioned businesses would soon disappear, along with B&L Industries, to be replaced by Lippert Components, Inc. (LCI®).
LCI Refocuses on the Steel Industry
LCI begins selling its non-steel related businesses and closes both Comfo Sleep and Spreads by Cynthia in an effort to refocus on the steel industry.
Joint Venture with Riblet Industries
LCI continues to expand within Florida, opening an additional plant in Ocala. A joint venture is formed with Riblet Industries, combining forces in North Carolina and Kansas to maintain profitability for both companies within those states.
Division of Assets
Riblet Industries becomes a publicly-traded company, forcing LCI and Riblet to divide their assets between the two companies. With the flip of a coin, it was decided that Riblet would own and operate the facility in Burton, Kansas and LCI would own and operate the Henderson, North Carolina facility. This division would prove to be instrumental for LCI’s future growth: In many ways a sheer stroke of luck, North Carolina would soon after become a major hub for the manufactured housing industry. Clayton Homes and Oxford Homes became major players in the manufactured housing industry, boosting LCI’s sales to all-time highs. This began a kind of “golden age” in the manufactured housing industry. With the business now thriving, LCI further expanded into Kingston, Tennessee.
Doug Lippert Becomes CEO and President
Doug Lippert becomes CEO and President of LCI. LCI opens a second division in Harrisburg, North Carolina and relocates the Bonham, TX plant to Alvarado, TX. In 1977, after Larry’s retirement from the business, LCI acquired Farmville Manufacturing, a maker of axle hubs in Cordele, GA. Additionally, LCI of Indiana relocates to Nappanee, IN.
Industry Slump Limits Business Growth
The manufactured housing industry experienced meager productivity increases during the early 1980’s, and as a result, LCI’s business slowed. An energy crisis and tight governmental monetary policy caused the manufactured housing industry to all but tumble. Through it all, LCI managed to stay afloat.
LCI Acquires Horton Homes, Sales Increase
LCI expanded into Eatonton, Georgia and acquired the business of Horton Homes. Horton Homes became LCI’s largest customer at that time, taking sales from $30 to $40 million annually.
Riblet Industries & Skyline
LCI acquired the assets of Riblet Industries, their largest competitor within the manufactured housing industry at the time. This acquisition led to expansions in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Wisconsin. Doug Lippert formed a long-lasting relationship with Jim Miller, VP of Purchasing for Skyline. Skyline would quickly become LCI’s largest customer, allowing LCI to supply all of their manufactured home chassis, chassis parts and galvanized roofing products. By the end of 1988, LCI’s sales grew from $45 to $80 million annually.
Hurricane Andrew devastated families in and around Homestead, Florida, requiring 18,000 FEMA housing units to be built for misplaced families. LCI was called upon to provide chassis for the 18,000 FEMA units. 10,000 of those chassis were needed immediately. LCI teams rallied around the effort, operating three shift, 24 hour days for an entire year. With the sharp increase in demand, LCI’s facility in Florida increased chassis production from 15 to 55 chassis per day. LCI’s ability fluidly increase production capacity and to produce such a high number of chassis caught the eye of Drew Industries, a New York-based holding company that would eventually acquire LCI.
LCI acquired Winn Industries, expanding into Fitzgerald, Georgia. In 1995, LCI opened its second Indiana plant in Goshen.
Acquired Continental Stamping
LCI took a major step in vertically integrating the company with the acquisition of Continental Stamping, a Goshen-based steel parts fabricator. This acquisition helped LCI gain better quality control for the various steel parts for its chassis production.
Drew Industries & Travel Trailer Chassis
1997 was a big year for LCI in many ways. Seeing a need for diversification, a young Jason Lippert, the son of Doug Lippert and grandson of Larry Lippert, received the green light from management to start a travel trailer chassis line in McAdoo, Pennsylvania. As fate would have it, this would become the single largest turning point in the company’s history. LCI is acquired by Drew Industries, a long-established investor in the manufactured housing and RV markets. Having acquired Kinro decades earlier, the LCI acquisition further strengthened Drew’s portfolio in the manufactured housing and RV industries.
Expansion to West Virginia
LCI expands its RV operations into Berkley Springs, West Virginia.
LCI Becomes an International Company
LCI becomes an international company with the opening of a facility in Lindsey, Ontario in Canada.
LCI acquired We-Shape and expanded its RV Chassis product line.
Expanding Chassis Production Capabilities
LCI acquired Coil Clip, manufacturer of fabricated steel parts in Boaz, Alabama. Keeping pace with the growing RV industry, LCI acquired three Indiana-based RV chassis manufacturers: Quality Frames in 2001, We Shape in 2002 and ET&T in 2003. Drew Industries purchased Better Bath, adding plastic thermoformed kitchen and bath components to the growing portfolio.
Jason Lippert Becomes CEO of LCI
Doug Lippert stepped down as CEO of LCI and handed the torch to his son, Jason Lippert. Jason became LCI’s third generation of leadership.
West Coast Expansion
LCI acquires Zieman Manufacturing, its largest purchase to date. Zieman Manufacturing added boat, small watercraft and equipment trailer production to LCI’s growing list of production capabilities. The acquisition also expanded LCI’s operations into the west coast of the U.S.
The RV Accessory Market
LCI acquired LTM Manufacturing, marking LCI’s entry into the RV accessory market. Today, LCI is known as the industry leader in RV accessory and component innovation.
Acquisition of Venture Manufacturing
LCI Acquired Venture Manufacturing, increasing manufactured and residential housing chassis capabilities and capacity in Howe, Indiana.
HappiJac & Steelco
LCI acquired HappiJac, a manufacturer of numerous patented RV products such as bed lifts, slide-outs, camper jacks and tie down systems. LCI also acquired Steelco, a manufacturing company that held numerous slide-out patents.
Acquired Coach Step
LCI began manufacturing Coach Step products, adding motorized entry steps to the list of capabilities.
Trailair, an industry leader in ride improvement components, was a major acquisition for LCI. The Trailair brand products include the Equa-Flex® rubberized equalizer, the Air Ride Pin Box and the Center Point Air Ride Suspension system.
Acquired Extreme Engineering
LCI acquired Extreme Engineering and began building specialty trailers for high-end watercraft, further expanding marine trailer capabilities.
Acquired Seating Technologies
LCI Acquires Seating Technology, marking LCI’s entry into the RV Interiors market with a variety of custom RV furniture and mattresses, allowing LCI to begin producing comfortable and durable RV furniture and mattresses to OEM’s custom specifications.
Acquired JT's RV Accessories
LCI acquired JT’s RV Accessories and began producing JT’s Elephant Pads, Strong Arm Stabilizers and Digital Levelers – products that dramatically reduce rocking and promote better rest and a more enjoyable camping experience.
RV Entry Door Market
The Nappanee Door acquisition marked LCI’s entry into the RV entry door market. In just four years, LCI has introduced more than forty innovations to the RV entry door. Over the next two years, LCI would amass almost half of the RV entry door market.
Acquired certain Schwintek products
LCI Acquires Certain Products of Schwintek. The revolutionary Schwintek In-Wall Slide-Out changed the landscape of the RV industry with it’s compact and efficient design.
Acquired Level Up®
LCI acquired the rights to manufacture Level Up, an innovative automatic hydraulic leveling system for fifth-wheels, providing both front-to-rear and side-to-side leveling to protect the chassis. In 2010, there were no RVs that were manufactured with an automatic leveling system. In 2016, it is almost the standard or optional across the board.
Acquired EZ-Ride and Sellers Corporations
LCI acquired EZ-Ride and Sellers Corporations and began producing E-Z Cruise rubber suspension systems to dramatically reduce road shock and vibrations on motorhomes. The acquisition of Sellers marked LCI’s entry into the motorized chassis modification market.
Acquired M&M Fabricators & M-Tech
LCI acquired M&M Fabricators & M-Tech to grow and diversify products into the RV motorhome and bus chassis modification business.
LCI acquired Home-style, further expanding RV furniture capacity to the west coast.
LCI acquired Starquest to expand further into specialty markets by producing windows for truck caps and windows and doors for truck caps, horse trailers and buses.
Introduced Solera Awning Line
LCI introduced its popular Solera line of manual and electric awnings and protective slide-out sleeves. In just four years Solera would account for 50% of all awnings produced to the RV OEM market.
Acquisition from Dexter Chassis Group
LCI Acquires towable chassis and slide-out mechanism from Dexter Chassis Group.
LCI acquired Amerimax and launched an innovative line of RV entry door products developed from combined Amerimax and LCI technology.
Acquired Agile Resources
LCI acquired Agile Resources to expand its thermoforming product production in the Midwest and to further expand plastic production for specialty markets.
Formation of Aftermarket Sales Division
LCI officially begins its aftermarket sales division, focusing on retail and aftermarket product offerings and marketing programs.
Lawrence Lippert inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame
LCI’s founder and patriarch, Larry Lippert, was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in August of 2013, surrounded by his two children, six grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren, for his lifelong work in the industry.
Jason Lippert named CEO of Drew Industries
Just ten years after being named CEO of LCI and Kinro, Jason Lippert was named CEO of Drew Industries. Jason’s strong leadership continues to move the company forward to further growth and diversification.
Acquired Midstates Tool & Die
As part of LCI’s automation initiative, LCI acquired Midstates Tool and Die in order to streamline manufacturing efficiencies.
Acquired IDS Electronics
LCI Acquires IDS Electronics integrated electronics business. This was a critical turning point for LCI, adding the capability to design and engineer specific electronic technologies for RV towing, leveling and actuation products.
Acquired Star Design thermoforming business
LCI acquired Star Design, further expanding RV and adjacent market thermoforming capabilities.
Acquired Duncan Systems
LCI acquired Duncan Systems. Duncan is the industry leader in RV glass replacement and further expands LCI’s customer service capabilities.
Acquired Power Gear/Kwikee
LCI acquired Power Gear/Kwikee, adding two industry trusted brands in the entry step, slide out and leveling categories.
Acquired EA Technologies
LCI acquired EA Technologies, giving LCI e-coat capabilities for the RV and other adjacent industries.
Acquired SpectAL in Quebec
LCI acquired SpectAL, officially forming Lippert Components of Canada, Inc and further expanding LCI’s window production capabilities in adjacent industries.
Acquired Signature Seating
LCI acquired Signature Seating, a Fort Wayne based Marine seating manufacturer.
Partner with Furrion
LCI agrees to mult-year distributer agreement with Furrion LMT, maker of high end audio-visual electronics, camera systems, appliances and power solutions.
Sales for Drew
Drew Industries eclipses one billion in sales for the first time.
LCI acquired Highwater marine seating, further expanding marine furniture manufacturing capabilities.
Acquired Flair Interiors
LCI acquired Flair Interiors, further expanding RV furniture and mattress manufacturing capabilities.
LCI celebrates 60th anniversary in May.
LCI makes first European acquisition, purchasing Project 2000 SRL, Italian manufacturer of innovative products for the European and North American RV markets.
Acquired Atwood Mobile Products
LCI acquired chassis and seating businesses of Atwood Mobile Products
Acquired Camping Connection
LCI acquired Camping Connection, an RV service provider with locations in Florida and South Carolina.
Drew Industries officially changes its name to LCI Industries
Acquisition of Italy's Sessa Klein
LCI acquired Sessa Klein, an Italian manufacturer of rolling stock windows for high-speed and commuter trains.