Musical chairs in the RV…

October 22, 2007

On Friday, RV manufacturer Thor Industries (THO) issued this press release announcing that it had named a new Chief Operating Officer, Richard “Dicky” Riegel III. Missing from the release, but included in the 8-K filed later that day was the fact that Riegel, 41, is the son-in-law of Thor’s Chairman, CEO and President, Wade F.B. Thompson.

Also missing from the release was the fact that Riegel is taking over for someone who was just named to the post in mid-March of this year. It’s not clear from the filings whether H.Coleman Davis, who joined Thor when it acquired his company, Keystone RV in November 2001, was a total screw-up as COO, or whether he was being a bit too aggressive while Thompson was distracted with more important things. As the March release noted, Davis was promoted to COO because Thompson was undergoing medical treatment for cancer.

In the 10-K that Thor filed earlier this month, it noted that Thompson “has relinquished most of his day to day operating responsibilities to H. Coleman Davis, III, the Chief Operating Officer, while Mr. Thompson undergoes medical treatment for cancer”, so given the move to dethrone Davis only six months after he was named to the post and replacing him with a family member, my bet is that Thompson wasn’t too happy with whatever Davis was up to. While Davis is staying on as Chairman of Keystone, which is the company’s largest subsidiary, so he couldn’t have done anything all that egregious, it’s still clearly a demotion and a move to consolidate power.

Despite a healthy bounce in Thor’s price, this hasn’t been an easy year for the company. In January, the company announced an internal investigation “regarding certain accounting issues” at its Dutchmen subsidiary. In April, the company restated earnings dating back to 2004. While the internal investigation is complete, the SEC continues to ask questions, Thor noted in the 10-K. But because the investigation is still ongoing, there’s no comment letters available.

Adding to the intrigue was the announcement in Friday’s 8-K that its vice president of purchasing had stepped down in May, even though the company waited until Friday to note that in a filing. Granted, Ted Bartus wasn’t an executive officer. But it still makes you wonder about what’s really going on at the company.

Thanks to Liz MacDonald of FoxBusiness for the nice plug of footnoted.org earlier today.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.