Today Spartan Motors, Inc. announced that it will acquire Classic Fire, the Ocala, FL-based fire apparatus manufacturer. This announcement comes on the heels of Spartan's recent earnings announcement in which it reported fourth quarter net sales for 2010 of $126.9 million, an increase of 31.4 percent over the same quarter in 2009.
“The acquisition of Classic Fire is a clear validation of Spartan Motors’ strategic intent. Our top-line growth strategy consists of three elements; growth through corporate alliances as demonstrated by our new Isuzu relationship, organic growth as illustrated by the recent launch of the Spartan Force, and growth through acquisitions as proven here by our acquisition of Classic Fire,” said John Sztykiel, Chief Executive Officer, Spartan Motors, Inc. (SMI). “This move illustrates our continued commitment to enhance our leadership position within the Emergency Response industry which will become even more evident in a few weeks at FDIC (Indianapolis, IN) at the largest ER show of the year”, added Sztykiel.
Spartan also states that Classic Fire features a complementary product offering to the current Crimson Fire portfolio which allows it to cover more segments, price points, applications, and customer needs than ever before. Crimson, by the way, recently announced an order for six rear-mount aerials and 11 pumpers from the Chicago Fire Department.
In his final column in Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment, Bob Barraclough predicted that, "we will see a decrased number of fire truck manufacturers (there will be a new merging of companies similar to the ambulance industry)." So is this a signal of an upcoming widespread M&A frenzy? Maybe or maybe not.
In Spartan's case, it took a very successful 2010 and followed it up with an acquisition to bolster its core services to a key market segment. Classic Fre feels the same. “We are very fortunate to become a part of the SMI organization as their reputation, and their level of commitment to the Emergency Response industry, is unparalleled”, said Ron Ewers, Co-Founder, Classic Fire. “All of us on the team (at Classic Fire) look forward to working together with SMI to grow the business and their innovation portfolio.”
The health of this industry is evident. Despite tightened municipal budgets, departments are still buying apparatus. The difference is the types of apparatus we are buying. Paul Darley, in his March 2011 guest column cites several buying trends in apparatus purchasers. So, we are still buying trucks, we just expect these trucks to do more and be more.
Be sure to check out the March issue of Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment. You'll get a taste for just how healthy this industry is.
Chris Mc Loone
Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment