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Drew’s Zinn to retire, Lippert takes helm

Keywords: Tags  Drew Industries, Fred Zinn, Lippert Components, Kinro, Jason Lippert, Scott Mereness, Harvey Milman, Robert Kuhns management changes

CHICAGO — Drew Industries Inc. president and chief executive officer Fred Zinn plans to retire effective May 10 as the company makes a series of management changes and looks to move its headquarters to Elkhart County, Ind., from White Plains, N.Y.

Zinn, 61, will be succeeded by Jason D. Lippert, chairman and chief executive officer of Drew subsidiaries Lippert Components Inc. and Kinro. Lippert, 40, will continue in his positions at aluminum extruder Lippert Components and Kinro, roles he has held for the past six years.

Drew, through Lippert Components and Kinro, makes parts for a host of sectors, including recreational vehicles (RVs), manufactured housing and trailers.

Zinn has been an executive officer with Drew since 1986 and served as president since 2008 and chief executive officer since 2009. "After more than three decades with Drew Industries, it’s time to transfer Drew’s executive responsibilities to a new generation," Zinn said in a statement. He will work as a consultant to Drew through 2013.

Also changing roles is Scott Mereness, 41, who will be president and chief operating officer of Drew effective May 10. Mereness, who has held executive positions at Lippert Components and Kinro since 2001, will continue to serve as president of those companies.

Drew chief legal officer Harvey F. Milman, 71, who has served with Drew since 1969, will retire effective July 31, but will continue as a consultant with the firm through 2014. Milman will be succeeded by Robert A. Kuhns, 47, who for the past 13 years has been a partner at the Minneapolis office of law firm Dorsey & Whitney.

The executive changes and headquarters move are expected to result in a pre-tax charge of approximately $3.3 million, including $1.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 and the rest in the first half of 2013, Drew said. Once the transition is complete, the company expects to save about $2 million per year in administrative costs.

Eighty percent of all RVs made in the United States are produced in Elkhart County, which Drew said is part of the reason it is moving its headquarters there. In addition, merging corporate operations with manufacturing facilities in Indiana will save money and allow a better flow of ideas among Drew management and executives in the RV and manufactured housing industries, the company said.

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