NTP-STAG News Article

In an era when the U.S. RV industry has exhibited consistent growth and resilience, consolidation continued to reshape the North American RV market­place in a big way in 2015 just as it has in an array of other U.S. business sectors.

On the manufacturing side, Thor In­dustries Inc. acquired key vendor Pos­tle Aluminum Inc., Cavco Industries Inc. bought Fairmont Homes Inc. and Chariot Eagle Inc. and California-based Pacific Coachworks Inc. purchased Northland Industries in Nampa, Idaho.

Supplier Patrick Industries Inc. made headlines with the acquisition of North American Forest Products Inc. and Structural Composites of Indiana Inc., while Elkhart, lnd.-based Dexter Axle completed the late-year purchases of AL-KO Vehicle Technology and Titan lnternational's brake and actuator business. Lippert Components Inc. and Valterra Products LLC also finalized significant acquisitions.

On the retail front, Camping World Inc., Lazydays RV, Campers Inn RV, Pete's RV Center and Woody's RV World were among the retailers buying existing stores.

But it was consolidation in the RV aftermarket parts and accessories end of the business that arguably generated the most "buzz" in the trade press over the past year and ultimately made LKQ Corp:s Exeter, PA-based Keystone Automotive Operations Inc. and NTP­Stag RV distribution unit a slam-dunk choice as the "2015 RVBusiness Newsmaker of the Year:

"It wasn't a tough choice for the staff of RVBusiness, given the sheer volume of news stories on this topic in the com­petitive trade press; reported RVBusi­ness Publisher Sherm Goldenberg. "The fact of the matter is that LKQ in two years has amalgamated a substantial share of the U.S. RV aftermarket by pur­chasing the nation's top three RV after­market distributors, including Keystone Automotive itself and its Oregon-based NTP Distribution Inc. division plus Atlanta-based Stag-Parkway Inc. and, in August, The Coast Distribution System Inc. out of Morgan Hill, California.

"And when you look at the general ongoing wave of consolidation and the attention Keystone's acquisitions spawned among dealers, suppliers and competitive distributors, there's really no question in our minds that Keystone Au­tomotive was the most newsworthy sin­gular news story in the RV arena over the past year:"

Of course, there were plenty of other buzz-worthy headlines in 2015, among them:

"Winnebago's Potts Retires; Olson is Interim CEO" - The abrupt August exit of Winnebago Industries Inc. Chairman, President and CEO Randy Potts after 32 years with the Iowa manufacturer was a complete surprise to the rest of the industry, as was the temporary appointment of retired chairman Bob Olson and, subsequently, the interim tenure of Board Chairman Larry Erickson as the search for Pottts' replacement continued.

"Huge/meyer Succeeds Coon as RV/A's President" - Change at the top of the manufacturer-led Recreation Vehicle Industry Association doesn't occur all that often. Richard Coon, a former Cummins/Onan sales execu· tive, served 1 0 years before his October retirement. So, people are watching closely the transition to a new era at the Reston, VA-based trade association during which ex-Outdoor Industry Association President Frank Hugelmeyer should bring plenty of energy and new ideas.

"GE Sells Commercial Finance Arm to Wells Fargo" - Less than a month after GE CEO and Chairman Jeffrey lmmelt visited the RV industry's leadership in February in Elkhart, Ind., he informed General Electric Co. share· holders that the returns from its massive banking operations had fallen below the company's cost of capital, adding urgency to its consideration of an exit from the business. Sure enough, in mid-October, GE Capital, a major RV floorplan lender, was sold to Wells Fargo & Co.

All things considered, though, Key­stone's NTP-STAG rollup clearly was the story of the year, even though Keystone Vice President and General Manager Bill Rogers wasn't altogether flattered by all of the press coverage and the at­tention it involved. On the contrary, Rogers said in an early December inter· view during RVIA's 53rd Annual Na­tional RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., that his top priority right now has little to do with publicity and everything to do with the integration of all three companies under the corporate umbrella of 2,000-employee Keystone. Keystone Headquarters

As part of that effort, Rogers and his RV team at Keystone - already one of the world's leading distributors of specialty automotive parts and accessories - are methodically working their way through the ranks of North American dealers and suppliers to further assure them that they will like doing business with Keystone and NTP-STAG over the long haul, given a chance to do so.

"I guess I don't see it (a "Newsmaker of the Year" designation) as all that significant in itself," said Rogers, as his company prepared for its first combined NTP·STAG 2016 Expo trade show Jan. 19-20 in New Orleans. "I think what we've done has made good logic in terms of helping build a supply chain for dealerships that is efficient, that is able to offer high service levels, that is economically helpful. And the more vol­ume that goes through that supply chain, the more runs (delivery cycles) we can have to the customers."

Although Keystone will continue doing business in the RV sector as "NTP-STAG" for the time being, Rogers says that name could change once Key­stone gets its arms around the Coast acquisition. NTP-STAG has already consolidated three of Coast's warehouses into Keystone's overall network - which today includes seven warehouses, 47 stand-alone shipping cross-docks and $200 million in field inventory.

"So, we're 'NTP-STAG' for now, and since Coast isn't integrated yet, it still stands alone - and that's the way it's staying for awhile," said Rogers, seated next to NTP-STAG Director of Market­ing John Spaulding in the South Wing of the Kentucky Exposition Center dur­ing the Louisville Show. "I think we'll always do a different branding for the RV side versus the Keystone (automotive) side. Whether it changes over time remains to be seen."

Reflecting on his experiences over the past two years and some of the mis­understanding that sometimes surfaced, Rogers feels that he and his RV team could have done a better job of commu­nicating at times with both suppliers and dealers in presenting their overall game plan. That said, he thinks that Keystone's management has been making progress lately in conveying one essential message: That Keystone and its NTP·STAG division have no interest in doing anything but bringing improved service and better products to its customer base.

"Yes, we are making progress," said Rogers. "We are getting a good response from dealerships and the overall customer base. I think there was some early concern about it and I think we've tried to address those concerns - probably not quick enough. If there was anxiety in the supply chain, it wasn't, I don't think, anything that we did to create it other than a lack of communication or a lack of getting in front of the communi­cation around that. But the more time goes by and the more we're consistent and the more we're doing what we say we'll do, our channel partners are responding well. I am optimistic about our ability to stay connected with our customers and deliver an improved customer experience."

Keystone Headquarters"And now that I've had the opportu­nity to visit with customers, I think there's a couple of things that we can do to help the industry in addition to just the normal stuff we do," added Rogers, whose company brought a staff of 40 people to the Louisville Show. "I think there's an area around training and helping to get more technicians into the industry that we can take a leadership role on. So, John (Spaulding) and I have talked about doing much more on that in 2016. Where we have training theaters at our facilities, we can provide space to hold meetings and help coordinate supplier engagement. We can help co­ordinate with suppliers to do training and really work with RVIA and the other industry associations to come up with programs that support the certification requirements that help get techs into the industry.

"And if we do that, it will help the deal­ers; I think they'll be appreciative. It's a win for them, but I think it's a big win for us, too, because the more business they do, the more business we'll do."

For his part, Spaulding, a former front-line Stag-Parkway executive, says he's looking forward to 2016 and to let­ting his company's veteran staff - representing all three formerly independent distribution firms - do what it does best at the New Orleans "Expo" show and beyond.

"Yes," Spaulding told RVB, "2016 will be an exciting year for us. We'll have all three entities operating in concert at the Expo and our goal is to prove ourselves and earn the business that customers are good enough to give us. Our priority is to provide what they need when they need it, very consistently, and to earn the right to be their first choice for aftermarket parts."  RVB

 

Recent Articles

NTP-STAG Welcomes Pure Liberty Manufacturing

EXETER, PA – NTP-STAG welcomes Pure Liberty Manufacturing, LLC to its fresh water category. Headquartered in Ottawa Lake, Michigan, Pure Liberty Manufacturing has been supplying top quality stainless steel and ceramic sinks, glass vessel bowls, and faucets to the residential, commercial, and RV industries since its founding in 2005.

Finding success as a supplier, the company expanded into manufacturing its own product lines in the United States, using locally-sourced materials. Pure Liberty built its Michigan facility in 2014 and, within three years, started bulk producing its own American-made stainless steel sinks.

Not only are we striving to create quality jobs locally but, by supporting other US businesses in the process, we can continue to promote manufacturing in the United States,” says Pure Liberty. “We strive to lead by example and push for improvement. Here at Pure Liberty Manufacturing, we continue to remain fluid everyday so we are able to provide a better company, better products, and the best service to our customers.”

In addition to residential and commercial offerings, Pure Liberty supplies quality stainless steel sinks specially designed for the RV market. Its standard line, introduced in 2010, consists of nine models, ranging from 10”-18” diameter round bowls to 25”- and 32”-wide double bay sinks. Each unit has been thoughtfully designed with cost, weight, and configuration in mind. Constructed of durable 22-gauge 304 stainless steel, each unit comes with a sound-dampening spray and rubber padding for the sink’s underside that minimizes noise and helps regulate water temperature. Sinks can be mounted either on top of or underneath the countertop, giving RV owners more design, versatility, and customization. All units are cUPC listed, adhering to high-quality standards of safety and sanitation.

New for Pure Liberty is its quickly-expanding line of handcrafted RV sinks. Employing 20-gauge 304 stainless steel, these units are available as a standard undermount sink in either a single or double bay configuration, with straight or curved apron front designs and similar sound-dampening and temperature-controlling treatments. They follow the same safety and quality standards and are backed by the company’s limited lifetime warranty.

Pure Liberty Manufacturing also offers a variety of sink accessories, including strainers, cutting boards, pop-up drains, sink grids, and drying racks in a variety of materials. Additionally, the company is working to incorporate personalized laser etching into its in-house capabilities, allowing the company to apply logos and names onto any of its sink offerings.

“We pride ourselves, not only on our product, but also our relationships,” says Pure Liberty. “Quality product gets you in the door but commitment to relationships, with employees, customers, vendors and others in the industry, keeps you there.” Partnering with NTP-STAG will maximize Pure Liberty’s consumer awareness within the RV aftermarket, allowing the company to access new business opportunities and customers through a vast network of dealers.

“Pure Liberty is a tremendous fit for our aftermarket portfolio. Focused solely on sinks and as a core supplier to the OEMs, Pure Liberty clearly understands the continuing trend of bringing home-like elements into the RV. Dealers will love the selection that they can now make available to their customers,” says Tom Probst, Category Manager. “Additionally, Pure Liberty has engineered single-piece packaging designed to withstand the rigors of shipping fragile, bulky, stainless steel sinks. Reliable packaging, along with Keystone’s truck delivery model, will give dealers the assurance that what they order will be ready for install,” he adds.

For more than 50 years, NTP-STAG has been serving fellow enthusiasts and professionals across the industry. Today, as a division of Keystone Automotive Operations, the company is highly regarded as the leading distribution company across the recreation vehicle market and is uniquely positioned to offer customers and suppliers substantial scale, the most comprehensive inventory selection in the industry, high levels of customer service, and innovative marketing support. NTP-STAG is committed to expanding its offerings to meet the ever-growing needs of its customer base, providing them what they need, when they need it most.

NTP-STAG Welcomes MAX-Tank

EXETER, PA – NTP-STAG welcomes MAX-Tank to its auxiliary water storage category. MAX-Tank is owned and operated by parent company, Mangold Advancements, a product innovation business based in California focused on forward-thinking consumer solutions for the RV, automotive, motorsports, and construction markets. MAX-Tank is its flagship product, which produces high-quality water auxiliary tanks and transfer pump kits that are designed to maximize RV holding capacity, thereby giving enthusiasts the ability to “stay longer and play longer” in remote locations.

Running out of water while traveling or camping is a common concern for RV owners, often limiting them from enjoying the full range of their vehicle’s on-board conveniences. MAX-Tank portable water systems seek to provide a safe and sustainable solution that can withstand the rigors of frequent use and real-world conditions.

The MAX-Tank product line offers two systems, one for fresh water storage and the other for gray water management. The fresh water system is designed to carry 50 gallons of water that can be easily transferred to an RV or accessed for alternate use, such as tent camping or gardening. Constructed of high density, UV-stabilized polyethylene, the tank features a vented, screw-on cap and pre-installed bulkhead and brass inlet plumbing. Operation is simple. By virtue of a custom-designed 12V water transfer pump that inserts into the hitch receiver, a 7-pin connector for power source and 10' and 25' fresh water transfer hoses.

The gray water system includes a 50-gallon tank of the same material, as well as an easy-to-operate vented, screw cap and pre-installed bulkhead and inlet valves. Designed to extract gray water from the RV’s system for easier transport and dumping, it features a standard RV sewer discharge valve with additional plumbing parts for right, left, and straight discharge configuration options. The system also includes a 10’ sewer hose, clear sewer valve cap with garden hose adapter, 10’ and 25’ gray water transfer hoses and the same hitch-mounted transfer pump and power source as the fresh water system.

“Max-Tank has brought to market a superb niche product. Developed themselves as recreational enthusiasts, they have prototyped, field tested, and refined this product through extensive off-grid research. It’s an ingenious solution to a pervasive problem in the off-grid recreational market that is growing tremendously,” says Thomas Probst, Category Manager. “Dealer feedback at Expo was excellent with the common refrain being that consumers will immediately recognize the utility, simplicity, and value of these systems.”

For more than 50 years, NTP-STAG has been serving fellow enthusiasts and professionals across the industry. Today, as a division of Keystone Automotive Operations, the company is highly regarded as the leading distribution company across the recreation vehicle market and is uniquely positioned to offer customers and suppliers substantial scale, the most comprehensive inventory selection in the industry, high levels of customer service, and innovative marketing support. NTP-STAG is committed to expanding its offerings to meet the ever-growing needs of its customer base, providing them what they need, when they need it most.

NTP-STAG’s Nashville EXPO One for the Record Books

EXETER, PA – If an event’s success is measured by attendance and sales, NTP-STAG’s 2019 EXPO would be one for the record books. By almost every measure – attendance, exhibit hall size, sales, new product and program reveals, the 2019 EXPO appeared to break all the previous show records. “We had high expectations going into the event,” stated Bill Rogers, President of NTP-STAG. “The results were exactly what we hoped for – strong attendance, busy show floor, solid representation by leading suppliers in our market, and great sales,” he adds.

The 2019 EXPO, held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, had over 3,000 preregistered NTP-STAG customers, supplier personnel and staff scheduled to attend.  The two day event had the largest RV University attendance ever and the 150,000 square foot exhibit hall was humming with people and deals until the closing bell.

“Our training and education programs continue to be a strong draw for the EXPO,” says John Spaulding Director of Communications and Events. “It reinforces the fact that there is a desire for people to be better at their jobs and have a deeper understanding of the products, business practices and trends that impact their success. Having over 1,100 people signed up to participate in our education programs this year was incredible.”

During EXPO, there was definitely a focus on new items, product categories and marketing programs that can help dealers grow their businesses. The traditional model store was transformed into an idea center where attendees could see how a variety of categories like, pet supplies, portable lighting, kitchen items, smart technology products and PDI components can be merchandised to improve impulse shopping and overall store sales performance.

Fred Petrivelli, Vice President of Sales says, “Helping customers find new products and showing them how to sell them was a key initiative for us at the show this year. Based on the level of interest we saw in the merchandising area and with the 17 new suppliers we had on the show floor, I would say we delivered on that one.”  When asked if the on-the-floor promotions delivered, too, he said, “Keeping the energy up on the show floor was easy. The power hours were terrific!”

The company reported that their pre-cart order building process was a success this year with more than 64% of the registered dealer accounts having come prepared with some of their buying pre-planned. The pre-cart sales totals were up over 50% from 2018. Ralph Ruzzi, Vice President of NTP-STAG Canada said, “Obviously, coming to the show prepared gives people more time to spend with suppliers on the floor learning about new products and I think that really helped us achieve our overall sales plan at the event.”

“Based on what we experienced in Nashville this week, I’d have to say that things are off to a pretty good start,” says Rogers. “The suppliers were very complimentary. Our customers were appreciative and upbeat, and they really showed a keen interest in a lot of the new things we introduced. From our Marketing Garage digital content solutions and Parts VIA to product and service offers from DISH, Pet Comfort, Blue Ox, Airxcel, Carefree, Valterra and others, I really couldn’t be happier with what I saw this week.  The best part was being able to build on so many great relationships that we have.”

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For more than 50 years, NTP-STAG has been serving fellow enthusiasts and professionals across the industry. Today, as a division of Keystone Automotive Operations, the company is highly regarded as the leading distribution company across the recreation vehicle market and is uniquely positioned to offer customers and suppliers substantial scale, the most comprehensive inventory selection in the industry, high levels of customer service, and innovative marketing support. NTP-STAG is committed to expanding its offerings to meet the ever-growing needs of its customer base, providing them what they need, when they need it.

NTP-STAG’s Pre-Cart Functionality Makes Preparing for EXPO Easier Than Ever

Exeter, PA – One of the most important things a dealer can do before they attend NTP-STAG’s EXPO, is prepare. “Over the past several years we have integrated technology solutions into our trade show to make it easier for our customers to maximize their time on the show floor with us and take advantage of all the special offers we provide,” states John Spaulding, Director of Events and Communications. “Early preparation and utilization of these new tools can really improve a customer’s experience at the show,” he adds.

The company found that dealers who reviewed their purchase histories, took stock of their inventory and forecasted their demand for certain products before the show typically had more time to visit with suppliers about new lines and learn about new products and services offered by NTP-STAG. “Our Pre-Cart option within VIA allows our customers to get a head-start on building their show orders. The functionality is available now, giving everyone attending EXPO plenty of time to develop a buying plan for when they are with us in Nashville January 22-23,” says Fred Petrivelli, VP Sales NTP-STAG.

NTP-STAG’s pre-cart works just like an e-commerce shopping cart. Customers can add items to the pre-cart by selecting the Add-to-Expo Cart button available on product list and product detail pages within VIA. Pre-cart contents can be modified at any time and show pricing will appear on those items at the opening of the show.

EXPO attendee can also use the Pre-Show Upload tool available in the EXPO site. The Upload tool uses a simple Excel file format that allows customers to build their show buy and upload directly into a pre-cart. This is extremely helpful for customers that use their point of sales software to output usage reports. The information those reports generate can now be easily translated into a shopping cart making it much faster to build an order.

To see a quick tutorial about Pre-Cart go to Expo Precart Tutorial to learn more.

Technology advancements have also influenced how orders are placed at the show. Electronic ordering was introduced at EXPO two years ago, and is fast becoming the most popular way to submit orders. “Dealers are realizing that the time savings, order accuracy and other benefits associated with the technology makes the order writing process easier, faster and more enjoyable,” says Spaulding. “We use a bring-your-own-devise-and-data approach to our web-based solution and found that it is easier for people to use equipment they are familiar with. If it can connect to the internet, it can be used to place orders at the show.”

NTP-STAG EXPO is the industry’s largest warehouse distributor sponsored event. It draws attendees from across North America and features educational programming, exhibits from over 200 suppliers, season-best buying opportunities and a variety of networking functions. The event is being held January 22-23 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN. To learn more about the event or pre-cart ordering, customer should contact their sales representative or visit expo.ntpstag.com.

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