June '17

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36 • RV PRO • June 2017 rv-pro.com O R I G I N A L E Q U I P M E N T for example. So it is really a statistically controlled environment in our manufacturing today versus what it was 25 or 35 years ago when it was more of an inspection-based environment." Acquisitions Fuel Opportunities The company, majority owned by private equity firm The Sterling Group, recognizes talent outside its walls, too, and has been very busy, according to Dexter. "If you look back over the last year, we had three acquisitions. The most recent, in February, was Tie Down Engineering, an axle and brake manufacturing business that focuses predomi- nantly on the recreation boat trailer industry," he says. "It does bring to our portfolio some products that we will be able to offer into the RV space, specifically with upgrade disc brakes and brake actuation systems. We're looking forward to that." In January, Dexter completed the purchase of Ingersoll Axles, a Canadian specialty heavy-duty axle and suspension manufac- turer in Ingersoll, Ontario. "Their focus is really around a product that would be largely outside of the capacity ranges of the RV industry," Dexter says, "except for maybe something that would be used on a big Class A with a tag axle, but chances are that's not going to be an area we're going to be involved with any time in the near future." In mid-2016, Dexter bought Texas-based Rockwell Amer- ican, a combination manufacturer and trailer parts distributor. "They have an extensive product offering around trailer axles, fenders and leaf springs," he says. "They also sell a whole host of replacement parts into many different channels in the industry." With that acquisition, according to Thursby, Dexter has gained a new level of expertise in leaf spring manufacturing the company – nor its closest competitors – ever had. It gives Dexter a chance for OEMs to purchase domestically made leaf springs instead of the foreign offerings that dominate the industry. The purchases have been good for Dexter. "When you look at all the acquisitions we've done, they've really been for complementary products that are very close to what we're currently doing, so things like hydraulic brake actu- ation systems that we previously hadn't done, we now do," he says. "We have increased the focus around the engineering and quality in manufacturing processes in all these businesses we acquired. We're implementing the Dexter Operating System in each of the manufacturing sites. There is a high focus around a desire to expand our product offering from what we're currently doing and of course taking the opportunity to improve what we've got once we've bought it." While the company hasn't introduced anything new for RV market in the recent past, Dexter notes a number of OEMs are buying disc brakes from Dexter and made by its Titan unit. "We've seen a lot more demand from the customers to outfit their trailers with disc brakes because the performance is very good," he says. "It has been a recent addition to the Dexter portfolio." At right: Dexter Axle makes its own brakes, hubs, drums and other components that are incorporated into its axles. Doing so gives the company an extra measure of quality control on its finished products. Above: Dexter Axle has recently optimized its brake assembly operations, allowing for increased capacity producing nearly 13,00 brakes per day.

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