Drew CEO Will Retire, Sparking a String of Management Changes

On Tuesday, mobile-home parts manufacturer Drew Industries (NYSE: DW  ) announced that President and Chief Executive Officer Fred Zinn has decided to retire, effective May 10. Taking his place with be Jason D. Lippert, currently chairman and chief executive officer of two Drew subsidiaries, Lippert Components and Kinro. Lippert will simultaneously remain chairman and CEO of the subsidiaries.

Zinn will continue working for Drew in the capacity of a consultant through the rest of this year.

In related news, Drew announced that Lippert and Kinro President Scott Mereness will be promoted to president and chief operating officer of the whole company -- also on May 10, and again, while retaining his current posts at the subsidiaries.

Finally, Chief Legal Officer Harvey F. Milman will be retiring on July 31, then to consult for the company through 2014. His position will be filled by an outside hire, former Dorsey & Whitney partner Robert A. Kuhns.

Drew Chairman Leigh Abrams noted in a statement on the management shifts that these have been in the works since the company's board began drawing up a "carefully conceived leadership transition" plan back in 2011.

Simultaneously, Drew announced that it is moving its corporate headquarters from White Plains, N.Y., to Elkhart County, Ind., co-locating the corporate HQ with the headquarters of the Lippert Components and Kinro subsidiaries, "where more than 80 percent of all RVs produced in the U.S. are manufactured." The company described this as a move both "cost-effective" and designed to facilitate "exchange of ideas and expertise between Drew's management team and executives across the RV and manufactured housing industries."

Drew noted that the financial effect of all these changes will be a pre-tax charge to earnings of approximately $3.3 million for severance and accelerated equity awards, of which $1.5 million will appear in Q4 2012 results, with the rest being spread out over the first and second quarters of 2013. On the plus side, Drew noted that it expects to save an estimated $2 million annually in general and administrative costs.


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