Mark III Industries, a leading conversion firm in Ocala, Fla., has agreed to buy financially troubled Tiara Motorcoach Corp.
Mark III on Friday, July 11, announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Tiara, a converter in Elkhart, Ind., for an undisclosed sum.
Both companies convert full-sized vans, minivans, pickups and sport-utilities from the Big 3.
The combination would be the largest conversion company in the United States.
As part of the acquisition process, Tiara will file for protection from creditors under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, according to a press release issued by the companies.
Tiara, which converted about 15,000 units during the last 12 months, has felt the pressures of a slumping van conversion market, said Robert Stein, Tiara president. Tiara is owned by McCown De Leeuw & Co., a New York buyout firm. Mark III produced about 23,000 converted vehicles last year.
Mark III is interested in Tiara for its strong domestic brand name and its international and commercial business, said Larry Lincoln, part owner and CEO of Mark III.
Tiara exports conversion vans to Japan and Korea, Western Europe and the Middle East.
Two years ago, Tiara diversified by launching a commercial van conversion business, Stein said. One of Tiara's commercial clients has a fleet of 10,000 vans. Tiara does about 3,000 conversions annually for the client, Stein said.
Mark III will continue to use Tiara's manufacturing facilities in Elkhart, Lincoln said.
The Elkhart location will give Mark III a distribution site for the Midwest, a region where demand for conversion vans has always been high, Stein said. Stein does not anticipate any layoffs at Tiara.
'We hope that this will put us in the building mode, not dismantling,' Stein said. 'We will become stronger with Mark III.'
Stein anticipates that more consolidations will occur as full-sized conversion van sales slide.
There were more than 2,000 U.S. conversion firms 10 years ago. Today, there are fewer than 100.
Mark III will retain the Tiara brand name and will honor all valid Tiara warranty claims, Lincoln said.