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TravelTiger
10-04-2016, 01:52 PM
<article class="field-body" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 16px;">Grand Design Initially Sought Private Equity Partner


By Jesse Sidlauskas (https://rv-pro.com/authors/jesse-sidlauskas-0)


October 4, 2016


The pending $500 million stock-and-cash deal to acquire Grand Design (https://rv-pro.com/news/winnebago-acquire-grand-design) began with the company’s ownership group seeking a replacement for its original private equity partner, according to Grand Design CEO Don Clark.
The original private equity deal backing the 5-year-old towables manufacturer had a definitive ending built in. The Grand Design founders group, consisting of Clark and brothers Ron and Bill Fenech, initially had hoped to find a new private equity backer and continue business as usual.
During their search, however, a new vision for the future of the company began to emerge, culminating in a deal that would sell the company to Winnebago and have it operate as an independent group under the Winnebago brand.
“We weren’t really looking for a strategic partner, but we got word about Winnebago, and Winnebago was intriguing,” Clark said. “Frankly, (Winnebago) was the only strategic partner that we would entertain.”
Clark did not disclose the date or circumstances of the original equity deal’s expiration, but said that he, along with co-founders Ron and Bill Fenech, began the search process early.
“Ron, Bill and I have always been the type that wants to get out in front of something and not just watch the clock tick away,” Clark said.
Though not originally seeking the acquisition, Clark said the group was open to a discussion with Winnebago because the companies share similar cultures and business values. He added that the group would not have entertained other RV industry offers.
“They’re such an iconic brand that everybody recognizes the name Winnebago. It’s almost synonymous with our industry and with motorhomes, specifically,” Clark said. “Two, they have a long-standing reputation for building with quality, great relationships with their dealers and a zest for customer satisfaction after the sell.”
As discussions with Winnebago advanced, the Grand Design group was further convinced when Winnebago executives spelled out a relationship between the two companies that would satisfy the Grand Design group’s original goal of obtaining capital and growing the young brand.
“In talks with them, they made it clear that Grand Design could operate as an independent unit within Winnebago Industries,” Clark said. “And with Winnebago, we would have a much bigger footprint in the industry, and that footprint can help survive and thrive during economic downturns.”
Still, the decision to hand off ownership of the company, which has expanded rapidly in its first five years, was not an easy one for the founders. But in the end, Clark said the group was confident that they’d made the best decision.
“It was very hard. The whole dialogue is that ... this is our baby and you want to keep it in safe hands,” he said. “We were very careful with it. We have 830-some employees we’re responsible to, and we were extremely careful about who we would talk to and who we would consider, and we’re confident that the Winnebago people are going to be great people to be aligned with in the coming years.”
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TravelTiger
10-04-2016, 02:07 PM
<article class="field-body" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 16px;">Grand Design Initially Sought Private Equity Partner




By Jesse Sidlauskas (https://rv-pro.com/authors/jesse-sidlauskas-0)


October 4, 2016


The pending $500 million stock-and-cash deal to acquire Grand Design (https://rv-pro.com/news/winnebago-acquire-grand-design) began with the company’s ownership group seeking a replacement for its original private equity partner, according to Grand Design CEO Don Clark.
The original private equity deal backing the 5-year-old towables manufacturer had a definitive ending built in. The Grand Design founders group, consisting of Clark and brothers Ron and Bill Fenech, initially had hoped to find a new private equity backer and continue business as usual.
During their search, however, a new vision for the future of the company began to emerge, culminating in a deal that would sell the company to Winnebago and have it operate as an independent group under the Winnebago brand.
“We weren’t really looking for a strategic partner, but we got word about Winnebago, and Winnebago was intriguing,” Clark said. “Frankly, (Winnebago) was the only strategic partner that we would entertain.”
Clark did not disclose the date or circumstances of the original equity deal’s expiration, but said that he, along with co-founders Ron and Bill Fenech, began the search process early.
“Ron, Bill and I have always been the type that wants to get out in front of something and not just watch the clock tick away,” Clark said.
Though not originally seeking the acquisition, Clark said the group was open to a discussion with Winnebago because the companies share similar cultures and business values. He added that the group would not have entertained other RV industry offers.
“They’re such an iconic brand that everybody recognizes the name Winnebago. It’s almost synonymous with our industry and with motorhomes, specifically,” Clark said. “Two, they have a long-standing reputation for building with quality, great relationships with their dealers and a zest for customer satisfaction after the sell.”
As discussions with Winnebago advanced, the Grand Design group was further convinced when Winnebago executives spelled out a relationship between the two companies that would satisfy the Grand Design group’s original goal of obtaining capital and growing the young brand.
“In talks with them, they made it clear that Grand Design could operate as an independent unit within Winnebago Industries,” Clark said. “And with Winnebago, we would have a much bigger footprint in the industry, and that footprint can help survive and thrive during economic downturns.”
Still, the decision to hand off ownership of the company, which has expanded rapidly in its first five years, was not an easy one for the founders. But in the end, Clark said the group was confident that they’d made the best decision.
“It was very hard. The whole dialogue is that ... this is our baby and you want to keep it in safe hands,” he said. “We were very careful with it. We have 830-some employees we’re responsible to, and we were extremely careful about who we would talk to and who we would consider, and we’re confident that the Winnebago people are going to be great people to be aligned with in the coming years.”
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I found this interesting, since a couple of the people I talked to at the RV Show said they were comparing Heartland and Grand Design. Grand Design seems to be advertising their attention to quality.
48013

However, their business model does not seem to be self sustaining, based on this article.

danemayer
10-04-2016, 03:45 PM
I agree. When investors are hard to find, it's usually because there's a financial problem.

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jayc
10-05-2016, 09:24 AM
I read that they had been looking for investors for "awhile" before finding Winnebago.

SilverRhino
10-05-2016, 07:06 PM
I have been very impressed with the Grand Design coaches that we have looked at. Quality and craftsmanship was some of the best out there today and if I were looking to purchase another coach they would be on the top of my list.

Aandaar
10-05-2016, 07:31 PM
When we purchased our HL last year at The Pomona RV show it came down to GD and HL.

What tipped the scale was the way the salesman treated us and our friends while we decided and our friends purchased their GD.


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Chuck, Victoria, and Miss Callie

sengli
10-06-2016, 06:43 AM
So who owns winnebago?

Gary521
10-06-2016, 10:24 AM
A company called Winnebago.

sengli
10-06-2016, 01:43 PM
Well that is weird, Thor doesnt own them? Howd they miss that one? I really liked the GD coaches, but none of their models have rear fiberglass caps on them. I just like the looks of the rear capped units, especially in that price range.

Shortest Straw
10-06-2016, 03:13 PM
We had a lot of interest in a Grand design but they didn't have the model we wanted to look at.