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ELKHART, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Elkhart-based Thor Industries (NYSE: THO) is investing in Dragonfly Energy, a Nevada-based lithium-ion battery producer to the RV industry. Thor says Dragonfly, which develops battery packs, energy systems, and cell manufacturing technologies, offers a distinct approach to energy storage.

The recreational vehicle manufacturer did not specify the exact amount of the investment.

Thor Chief Executive Officer Bob Martin calls the alignment with Dragonfly a “natural fit” to the evolution of the company’s product lines.

“Dragonfly has been a valued partner to one of our largest and most successful North American RV companies, Keystone RV,” Martin said in written remarks. “The proven success of the products in the field and synergistic value-add relationship made this investment an important one to us.”

Earlier this year, Dragonfly entered into a merger agreement with Chardan NexTech Acquisition 2 Corp. (Nasdaq: CNTQ), a special purpose acquisition company headquartered in New York. The deal, valued at $500 million, is expected to close in the second half of the year.

“The leadership team at Dragonfly has demonstrated the success of its operations model that focuses on inventory management and domestic production, thereby reducing supply chain risk,” said Todd Woelfer, Thor’s chief operating officer. “Keystone currently enjoys an exclusive relationship with Dragonfly for certain battery brands that, in time, will expand to an exclusive relationship across the entire family of Thor brands.”

The move is the latest in Thor’s efforts to grow its electrification profile. Earlier this year, the company unveiled its eMobility strategy, as well as its electric motorhome and travel trailer concepts.

In an interview for our quarterly INPower newsletter, Woelfer said it is important for Thor to remain ahead of the curve when it comes to electrification.

GOSHEN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Goshen-based Viewrail is looking to add to its portfolio. The modern stairs and railing manufacturer has inked an agreement to acquire Simmons Stairways Inc. in California, though financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.

Simmons Stairways, which has been in business for more than 30 years, specializes in custom curved hardwood stairs and handrails.

“We are thrilled to have a physical presence in one of our largest markets with other well-trained and well-known experts working alongside us,” Viewrail Chief Executive Officer Len Morris said in written remarks. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to bring Viewrail’s design ability and manufacturing power to the California region.”

Simmons Stairways owner Howard Simmons says joining with Viewrail seemed like a good fit.

“When I first met Len a few years back at the Las Vegas International Builders Show, I knew that what he was doing would revolutionize the building industry,” said Simmons. “I am glad to be a part of that change before my working years come to an end.”

Viewrail says its director of California business development, Trent Jacobs, will run Simmons Stairways until the end of the year, at which point all new business will transfer to Viewrail.

The company did not specify if any jobs would be affected by the deal. Viewrail did not immediately respond to a request for more information from Inside INdiana Business.

In February, Viewrail detailed plans to implement an inflation protection plan for employees. Through the plan, the company would review inflation rates each quarter and increase wages to match inflation.

The move came less than a year after Viewrail announced it would increase pay to $25 per hour for hourly employees and at least $55,000 annually for salaried employees.

ELKHART, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Elkhart-based Tepe Sanitary Supply Inc. has been acquired by Imperial Dade, a distributor of food service packaging and janitorial supplies located in New Jersey. While financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Imperial Dade says customers will benefit from the expanded product and service offerings.

Tepe is a full-service janitorial supply and industrial product supplier founded by President and owner Steve Tepe.

“Like Imperial Dade, Tepe has a deeply rooted family culture and high standard for customer service, making the business a great addition to our family,” said Imperial Dade Chairman Robert Tillis.

Tepe serves northern Indiana, Michigan and Chicago.

“We are excited to grow our presence across the Midwest and look forward to partnering with Steve and the Tepe team to capitalize on the many growth opportunities that we see ahead for the business,” said Imperial Dade Chief Executive Officer Jason Tillis.

The acquisition is Imperial Dade’s 49th with Robert and Jason Tillis leading the company.

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A family in Michigan City will be spotlighted in an upcoming episode of of the television show “Military Makeover with Montel,” hosted by Montel Williams. In partnership with Elkhart-based Patrick Industries Inc. (Nasdaq: PATK), U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Michael Stupar will receive a full home remodeling.

Stupar was injured while serving in Iraq, but ultimately was sent on four deployments. After recently moving to Michigan City, the family has dealt with family tragedies and health issues that the producers of “Military Makeover” say have made settling into a new home difficult.

BrandStar, the production company behind the show, says the process will involve local businesses and volunteers.

“As we begin this initial phase our goal is to generate awareness throughout the state of Indiana to garner support from local businesses, volunteers and anyone who wishes to simply be part of this amazing process,” said Mark Alfieri, founder and chief executive officer of BrandStar.

BrandStar says Patrick Industries has worked with the show before and will serve as the primary partner for the Stupar family project.

“Patrick is delighted to partner with Military Makeover with Montel in Q3 and provide the needed resources to help update and transform the home of the Stupar family,” said Andy Nemeth, CEO of Patrick Industries. “We strive to always put our customers, team members and community first and are committed to lending a helping hand in any way we can to make the dreams of the Stupar family come true.”

The project is expected to begin this summer.

ELKHART, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Elkhart-based Dexter Axle Co. has acquired Premium Supply Ltd. in Texas, a company specializing in custom trailer hoists, hydraulic kits, pumps, controls, and accessories. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Dexter is a manufacturer of utility trailer axles, doors, and other components for the recreational vehicle, marine and agricultural markets.

“Over the past six decades, DEXTER has developed the most diverse product offering in the industry,” said Adam Dexter, chief executive officer of DEXTER. “The Premium Supply business is a natural fit with the DEXTER organization. Their industry and product knowledge will enable our companies to better serve the marketplace.”

Premium Supply distributes its products and kits to the tilt, dump, and utility trailer markets.

“Together, we will drive exciting industry developments and offer a full range of towing solutions for our dump and tilt customers,” said Fred Bentley, CEO of DexKo Global. “Premium Supply customers should expect to see substantial benefits from DEXTER’s extensive national footprint for servicing large and small OEMs, dealers and service centers in the dump trailer market. Additionally, our combined supply chain expertise will enhance our ability to service customers with just-in-time delivery.”

Earlier this year, Dexter acquired The Expediter LLC, a trailer parts supply store in Florida.

Dexter is a subsidiary of Michigan-based DexKo Global Inc. The manufacturer employs nearly 4,000 people in the U.S. and Canada and operates 18 manufacturing facilities and more than 30 distribution sites.

ELKHART, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Elkhart-based THOR Industries (NYSE: THO) is divesting its digital application business, TH2Connect LLC, in a deal valued at $81 million. The platform, which operates as Roadpass Digital, consists of multiple applications that help RV owners find campgrounds, plan road trips, and locate overnight parking.

THOR says it has signed a letter of intent to sell a majority interest of the business to South Bend-based private equity firm Graham Allen Partners.

“We’ve accumulated invaluable learnings from operating a digital platform of this magnitude, positioning us to better understand the needs of customers in the digital age in a way that differentiates us from our competitors,” said Todd Woelfer, chief operating officer at THOR. “And as we move forward, THOR will be a customer of Roadpass to gain consumer insights and help serve the needs of THOR customers in improving their RV experiences.”

Roadpass Digital consists of Roadtrippers, Campendium, RVillage, Togo RV, Roadpass, and Overnight RV Parking.

THOR President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Martin says the platform has successfully attracted millions of users. Still, he acknowledges THOR is an RV company and not a software company.

“The sale of a majority position of Roadpass Digital comes at a time when it’s clear that Roadpass is positioned for great opportunities ahead, but it will require sustained amounts of focus and technology expertise to help it get to the next level,” said Martin.

The companies expect to close the deal before the end of the month.

ELKHART, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Elkhart-based LCI Industries (NYSE: LCII), through its subsidiary Lippert Components Manufacturing, Inc., has acquired substantially all of the business assets of Girard Systems and Girard Products LLC. The Alabama-based manufacturer produces awnings and tankless water heaters for OEMs and aftermarket customers in the recreational vehicle, specialty vehicle, and related industries.

Financial details were not disclosed. Last year, the manufacturer acquired several companies, including Furrion in Elkhart, Trazcor Inc. in Goshen, and Texas-based Ranch Hand Equipment LLC, among others.

Girard has served the RV industry since 1995 and has locations in Indiana, California and Alabama.

“The addition of Girard will allow us to provide a wider range of exceptional products to our customers, especially in the higher-end motorized segment of the RV Industry,” said Ryan Smith, Group President of Lippert – North America. “Girard’s great product lines will further bolster our service offerings in categories that we’re already strong in, perfectly aligning with our focus on enhancing the customer experience.”

Lippert says its sales and operations teams have plans to take Girard’s designs and products and expand them into broader customer channels.

ELKHART, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Elkhart-based Thor Industries Inc. (NYSE: THO) is reporting fiscal second quarter net income of $267 million, compared to $133 million during the same period a year ago. Chief Executive Officer Bob Martin says the company’s performance was extremely strong, despite supply chain challenges.

Martin says the results show continued strong demand in the recreational vehicle industry.

“In addition to our second-quarter record top line, we reported consolidated gross profit margin of 17.4%,” said Martin. “Our increased margins were driven by the increase in net sales, improved quality and operating efficiencies, a reduction in sales discounts compared to the prior-year period and certain selling price increases put in place since the prior-year period to offset known and anticipated material cost increases. We continue to outperform the market and continue to hold a positive outlook.”

Martin says the RV manufacturer’s consolidated wholesale shipments were up by 14.5% compared to wholesale shipments during the same period in 2021.

“Our consolidated RV backlog for the second fiscal quarter of 2022 increased by more than 60% compared to RV backlog as of the second fiscal quarter ended January 31, 2021. At the same time, our order backlog declined sequentially from our fiscal first quarter ended October 31, 2021 and dealer inventory levels are improving. Our backlog at the end of our second fiscal quarter of 2022 decreased by approximately $344 million to $17.73 billion from $18.07 billion at the end of our first fiscal quarter on October 31, 2021.”

You can view the full earnings report by clicking here.

ELKHART, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Elkhart-based Truck Accessories Group LLC has rebranded to LEER Group. The company, which manufactures components for the automotive aftermarket, says the name change better reflects its collection of companies and the strength of its brands.

“As we looked to the future of the company and the industry, it made sense to lead with a brand that has decades-strong recognition among truck owners,” said Peter O’Connell, president of LEER Group. “LEER Group is comprised of some of the most valued brand names in the industry.”

O’Connell says while the group name has changed, the names of individual brands including LEER, SnugTop, Century, BedSlide and Pace Edwards by LEER will remain unchanged.

LEER Group’s brands manufacture fiberglass and aluminum truck caps, tonneau covers and accessories.

GOSHEN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Goshen Health is joining a growing list of health systems in Indiana that are increasing their minimum wage. The healthcare provider says it is raising its minimum wage to $16 per hour.

Randy Christophel, president and chief executive officer of Goshen Health, says the pay increase helps demonstrate the health system’s appreciation for its employees’ contributions.

“Given the increases in living costs, as well as increased competition among employers, we wanted to give applicants another reason to consider joining us at Goshen Health,” Christophel said in written remarks. “In addition, our colleagues who are impacted by this pay increase are essential to enabling us to deliver high-quality, safe healthcare services to our patients.”

Goshen Health is currently hiring for a variety of jobs, including administrative, nursing, and support services positions.

Last year, Community Health Network in Indianapolis, Mishawaka-based Franciscan Alliance, and Columbus Regional Health each announced they were increasing their minimum wage to $15 per hour.