Thursday, October 20, 2011

Things the car and RV industries have in common include an abundance of private equity interest and a recovery from dismal times a few years ago. Where they differ is that RVs haven’t had a high-profile revival icon to match Eminem, but we think Alexander Payne enthusiasts would forgive an “About Schmidt” cash-in if it creates American jobs. Keystone Automotive Operations Inc., backed by frequent auto-sector player Platinum Equity, is expanding its RV presence with the purchase of NTP Distribution Inc. NTP, of Wilsonville, Ore., sells aftermarket products and accessories to dealers in the RV and towing industries, and has over 200 employees. Exter, Pa.-based Keystone distributes aftermarket items including light truck and SUV accessories, trim items, wheel, tires and suspension parts. Platinum completed a debt-to-equity restructuring of Keystone earlier this year. Littlejohn & Co., which sold a majority of Keystone to Bain Capital in 2003, still held a minority stake after this year’s restructuring. According to its website, Keystone is a $600 million company with over 17,000 customers.Platinum said in March that “we will work closely with Keystone to identify and pursue opportunities to grow the business organically and through additional acquisitions.”

In another step into the RV realm, Keystone announced in May that it would stock Carmanah Technologies Corp. solar power products ranging from charging kits to pure sine wave inverters.