ABC Sold to Reading Group

Sept. 29, 2008
Leggett & Platt Incorporated completed the sale of America’s Body Company (ABC), part of Leggett’s Commercial Vehicle Products Group, to The Reading Group LLC

Leggett & Platt Incorporated completed the sale of America’s Body Company (ABC), part of Leggett’s Commercial Vehicle Products Group, to The Reading Group LLC.

Under the sale agreement, the Reading Group LLC will take ownership of ABC’s facilities and move all current ABC employees to The Reading Group. Leggett CVP will maintain operations from its group headquarters in Atlanta while operating 12 facilities in North America under its Masterack, Crown North America, Team Fenex and Gamber-Johnson brands.

“Our customers can continue to expect the same level of product quality and service that they’ve come to rely on with Leggett CVP,” Leggett CVP President Elliott Lyons said. “As in the past, our customers will have access to a unified network of companies who are in the business of providing meaningful and innovative products.”

“America’s Body Company is an excellent brand name with one of the largest and most respected sales forces in the nation,” said Dan Perlman, President and CEO of The Reading Group.

Perlman said ABC’s sales force will remain independent, continuing to sell only ABC-branded products.

“ABC’s innovative designs, technology and expertise on fuel-saving composites are not the only reason The Reading Group made this strategic decision,” he said. “Additionally, this acquisition will improve support of our independent Reading distributors by increasing distribution locations from which we will stock Reading products. Our independent distributors will also have access to the additional chassis pools maintained at ABC’s locations. Both initiatives will save our distributors time and freight costs to better serve our customers.”

ABC, founded in 1976, has one of the nation’s largest networks of truck equipment distribution, installation and manufacturing facilities, with 7 locations across the United States including Cleveland, OH; Columbus, OH; Tampa, FL; Clinton, MD; Portland, OR; LaGrange, TX; and Louisville, KY. ABC serves a wide range of customers including commercial truck dealers, fleets, municipalities and end users. ABC’s products include service bodies, Rugged American Platform and Stake Body Products, Marauder Dump Bodies, and City-Van Dry Freight Vans, as well as specialty equipment such as aerial buckets, snow/ice control products and truck accessories.

The Reading Group, headquartered in Reading, PA, was originally founded as Reading Body Works in 1955. The Reading Group owns Reading Truck Body, LLC, with two manufacturing plants in Reading, PA and Lancaster County, PA, and Reading Equipment & Distribution, LLC, with six installation facilities in Bowmansville, PA; Abington, PA; Mt. Airy, MD; Seneca, PA; Suffolk, VA and Pontiac, MI.

The Reading Group is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers and distributors of truck equipment products, including service/utility bodies, dump bodies, crane bodies, stake bodies, landscape bodies, toolboxes.

Leggett & Platt Inc. entered the commercial vehicle market in 1972 with the acquisition of Masterack, and eventually went on to acquire four other companies. In 2000 and 2001, Leggett bought Crown North America and Team Fenex, respectively. Leggett CVP was formed in 2005, to serve as an umbrella organization for the growing family of commercial vehicle companies. Later that year, ABC became part of the Leggett CVP family and Gamber-Johnson was acquired in 2007.

The sale is part of Leggett’s long-term strategic plan to generate shareholder return. Last year, the company announced plans to divest one fifth of its business portfolio, which included several business units and a portion of Leggett CVP.

“Leggett CVP’s core business will remain focused on manufacturing, designing and installing van interior storage solutions and truck accessories,” Lyons said. “We will continue to provide total fleet management services and to expand our product offerings in the coming years.”

Leggett CVP is on course to grow over the next three years through growth of current revenue streams and commercialization of new technologies.

“Product innovations like the application of eCoupled wireless technology will be an important part of our development,” said Lyons.

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