Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Business

February 14, 2013

Jason Lippert to lead Drew Industries

GOSHEN — Drew Industries Inc. of White Plains, N.Y., has appointed Jason Lippert of Goshen chairman and chief executive officer.

Lippert will replace Fred Zinn, who will retire May 10. Lippert is now chairman and CEO of Lippert Components and Kinro based in Goshen and has also been serving as a director on the Drew Industries board. The company said Lippert will continue with these duties in addition to his new duties.

Drew will also relocate its corporate headquarters from White Plains to the Lippert and Kinro corporate headquarters.

Drew supplies components for RVs, manufactured homes, modular housing, truck caps, buses, and trailers. The company has 30 factories located throughout the United States,

In addition to the leadership change, Drew announced other changes in its executive team.

Scott Mereness has been appointed president and chief operating officer of Drew effective May 10. Mereness will continue to serve as president of Lippert and Kinro, as he has since 2010.

Leigh J. Abrams, chairman of the board of Drew, praised Zinn’s leadership. “Fred has been Drew’s CEO through very challenging times, including the ‘Great Recession,’ and he has helped guide our strong growth that followed. In the past four years, Drew has generated over $200 million in operating cash flow, enabling the company to complete 13 acquisitions, pay nearly $80 million in special dividends to stockholders, and still close 2012 with no debt. The board is grateful for the substantial contributions Fred has made to Drew for more than 30 years, first as CFO and then during his distinguished tenure as CEO and a director.”

Abrams also expects the new leadership team to continue that success.

“This carefully conceived leadership transition brings Jason Lippert and Scott Mereness to Drew’s top executive positions,” Abrams said. “Both these executives are highly experienced, and they have the vision, energy and ability to lead the company through its next phase of growth.”  

Lippert said, “We will continue our strategic initiatives to enhance Drew’s cash flow and profitability. We intend to accomplish this by providing the highest quality products and superior service, both to our existing customers, and to new customers in the adjacent markets we have been developing in accordance with our ongoing strategic planning process. We have always provided our customers with products that add value and offer innovative solutions to their business needs. It is essential that we maintain our outstanding reputation among both our customers and the investment community.”

Joseph S. Giordano III, chief financial officer and treasurer of Drew since 2008, will relocate to Indiana and continue to serve in those capacities. “For the past decade, Joe has played a crucial role in our success,” said Abrams, “and we are delighted that we can continue to rely on his broad knowledge and experience.”   

Also, Harvey F. Milman, general counsel will retire July 31. He will be succeeded by Robert A. Kuhns, a partner with Dorsey & Whitney, Minneapolis.

As a result of Drew’s leadership transition and corporate relocation, the company will record a pre-tax charge of approximately $3.3 million, including $1.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, and the balance in the first and second quarters of 2013, related to contractual obligations for severance and the acceleration of equity awards. According to the company, after the transition the company will save an estimated $2 million annually in general and administrative costs.

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