WITH THE ACQUISITION of Crysteel Mfg Inc on December 22, Truck Bodies & Equipment International Inc (TBEI) is now larger and more diversified.
Dale Pilger, the new president and CEO of TBEI, says the combination of Crysteel, Ox Bodies Inc, and Rugby Mfg Co — both of which were purchased by Kirtland Capital Partners in July — will position TBEI to offer a well-rounded product portfolio that will satisfy customers and stockholders.
“We have an unusually complementary portfolio of products, of business capabilities, of channels to market and customers, and a geographic diversity that we believe we can build on to raise performance,” he says. “At the end of the day, performance is what this is all about.
“All three of these companies have been successful through their primary focus on customer satisfaction. That's a common element that attracted Kirtland Capital to these. We're going to be all about performance — performance to our customers and performance to our stockholders. We will retain, and actually enhance, the brands because all of the brands are very well-recognized and have a strong position in the marketplace. We have no intention of disrupting that in any way.”
Crysteel, headquartered in Lake Crystal, Minnesota, is one of the leading hoist, platform, and dump body producers, with manufacturing plants in Minnesota and New York. Crysteel serves the municipal, military, and private markets through over 300 distributors in the United States and Canada.
Ox, headquartered in Fayette, Alabama, is a leading manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty steel dump bodies. Ox serves the road-building and maintenance, construction, waste-hauling, excavation, and demolition end markets.
Rugby, headquartered in Rugby, North Dakota, is a leading manufacturer of light and medium dump bodies and hydraulic hoists. Rugby primarily serves contractors, municipalities, landscapers, and waste management companies.
Pilger says the Crysteel's product portfolio is complementary to those of Ox and Rugby.
“There is more overlap with Rugby's product line and Crysteel's than there might be between Crysteel and Ox,” he says, “but the geographic focus has been different and their manufacturing footprint has been different. Ox has been very successful in the South with primarily a Class 8 portfolio. Rugby has been very successful in the Northeast, primarily with Class 3-5 and some 6-7. Crysteel has been very successful, primarily in the Midwest. While there are some product overlaps and some channel conflicts, when you lay out the mosaic on the wall and really look at what these three businesses are, they fit well together — almost as a puzzle.
“I look at the plants we now have in our portfolio and where they're located. We can take advantage of each of the locations on behalf of some of the rest of our product portfolios to better have access to markets near those operations. We've already begun to produce some Rugby product in some traditional Ox operations. We want the operations to become product-agnostic.
“A plant that used to be part of Ox would not necessarily continue to produce exclusively Ox product. Our operations are going to be recognized for the locations — where they are rather than the company names that used to operate them. We will consider the very best place to produce our products dependent on cost and proximity to our customers. We can be strong in one particular functional discipline in one company and strong in another functional discipline in another, and bring the best of all of them together in an efficient, and hopefully lower cost, fashion.”
Pilger says that while TBEI will try to “eliminate some unhealthy or unnecessary elements in that conflict,” he feels that effective integration is manageable.
“With the opportunities created by being a $200-million company, we're intending to leverage the best relationships we have with suppliers today or look for new relationships where maybe we may not have a strong player in today's portfolio,” he says. “Relationships are key.”
Pilger says TBEI already has entered into a transition phase in terms of utilizing some of the prior leadership. He says Crysteel's Pete Jones, Ox's Lehman Pendley, and Rugby's Mal Stevens will continue to play key roles, although they will be “less consuming.” Pendley also will be on the board of directors.
“They'll be transitioning into special roles, leveraging their unique and specific experience and capabilities while we transition in the group leadership that will run the business,” he says.