Have you ever wondered who owns Airstream? Look no more. We´ve got you covered.
Airstream is easily one of the most recognizable brands of travel trailer in the country. They love that retro style. However, they also have a few more modern offerings in their range too.
Due to the more retro-style version of their travel trailers, a lot of people believe that Airstream is a small family-owned company.
So, is it? Who owns Airstream? Airstream is owned by Thor Industries. Thor Industries is probably the largest brand of RV manufacturers in the world. They produce 25% of all the RVs that are built in the United States.
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The History of Airstream
Airstream is easily one of the most recognizable travel trailer brands in the United States. Having been around since the 1930s, they are easily one of the oldest RV brands in the country.
The company is well known for its retro aluminum travel trailers. However, they have a wealth of products in their range.
The company currently employs 800 people. All of their manufacturing takes place at Jackson Center, Ohio.
Despite the age of the company, they were inactive for a few years during World War II and shortly after.
This was due to the shortage of aluminum that they needed to build their products. However, by the 1950s, the company was back in action, and they have been like that ever since.
Now, up until the 1980s, Airstream was owned by a food processing company; Beatrice Foods. This company is now defunct.
As you can imagine, while it was probably good that Beatrice Foods owned Airstream to give them funds to play about with, a food processing company and an RV manufacturer don’t really go hand in hand.
There doesn’t seem to be that much information about how Beatrice Foods managed to acquire Airstream. However, we assume that they spotted an opening in the market and decided they would go for it.
The materials that Airstream travel trailers were being manufactured from back then would have been fairly close to the materials used in food processing.
During the 1980s, Airstream was making millions of dollars in losses a year. If they couldn’t find a new owner, the company would become defunct. Enter their new owner; Thor Industries. Although, Thor Industries hadn’t quite been created just yet.
Introduction to Thor Industries
In 1980, Wade F.B. Thompson and Peter Busch Orthwein partner up and bought Airstream from Beatrice Foods. It is unknown how much they paid for it. However, since Beatrice Foods were probably keen to offload a massive lossmaking company, the price can’t have been that high.
The pair then decided to name their new company ‘Thor Industries’, and Airstream would have been the first brand that they had under their business.
Now, as you may well know, Thor Industries is probably the largest brand of RV manufacturers in the world. They produce 25% of all of the RVs that are built in the United States.
This is because they have a huge number of RV brands operating under them. The major ones include:
- Keystone RV
- Heartland RV
Plus a few other smaller manufacturers underneath their brand. So, they have a lot of companies that they represent. A lot of these businesses do not make it clear that they are partnered with Thor Industries either. For example, if you head to the Heartland RV website, it is kept pretty well hidden.
Thor is a multi-billion dollar business. Although, like many of the companies in the RV business, they do not make huge sums of profit.
This is because there is an astonishing amount of cash that needs to be poured into the development of the RVs.
The prices also have to remain fairly competitive. As a result, you will find that the company only makes a couple of hundred million dollars of profit each year, and a good chunk of this is going to disappear to taxes and being reinvested in the business.
Ownership of Thor Industries
You are about to get a quick economics and business lesson here!
Thor Industries, technically, has thousands of owners. This is because it is a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Anybody is able to buy shares in the business.
Obviously, since Airstream is a subsidiary of Thor Industries, all of these shareholders also have a stake in Airstream too.
The Major Shareholders in Thor Industries
At the time of writing, each one of these companies owns a greater than 4% stake in Thor Industries:
- Capital Research ; Management Co.
- The Vanguard Group, Inc.
- Blackrock Fund Advisors
- Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment
- Wellington Management Co. LLP
- JP Morgan Investment Management
As you can see, none of these companies are RV manufacturers. As near as we can tell, no RV manufacturer has a stake in Thor Industries. They may do if you start diving into the fraction of a percent ownership of the company.
But, let’s be honest, nobody is going to be diving that deep into company ownership. We doubt there is even a solid list of all of the stakeholders in Thor Industries at this level.
All of these companies are investment firms. Obviously, there is no data on who is investing in these firms. They exist purely to generate income for their investors.
They have a stake in many other major RV businesses too. For example, a good chunk of the investors that we listed above will also have a sizeable stake in Winnebago too!
Decision Making Power at Thor Industries
Because Thor Industries and, in turn, Airstream are public companies, the decision-making power is a little bit more complicated than your average company.
👉 The current CEO of Thor Industries is Bob Martin. The chairman of the company is Peter Busch Ortwein. The CEO is going to be the main person in the company, while the chairman is the one that oversees everything and ensures that the CEO is doing the best job possible.
As you have already guessed by now, the chairman of the company is one of the original founders of Thor Industries.
The day-to-day decisions of the running of the company will rest upon these two. They are there to make decisions that can help to generate a decent amount of income for the shareholders of the company.
👉 That being said, the shareholders still hold the full power. Now, no one shareholder has full decision making power over Thor Industries.
The largest shareholder has 12.25%, and you would need a 51% stake in the business to be able to make most of the decisions. However, all of the shareholders can band together and make decisions for the company if they have the required number of shares.
This means, for instance, if the majority of the shareholders didn’t want Bob Martin or Peter Busch Ortwein in power, then they would be able to remove them.
👉 Chances are that the shareholders are not going to be doing this. Obviously, they care if their ownership in the company is making them a bit of money. However, they don’t really want to get involved in the day-to-day running of the business.
👉 So, as with most public companies, the ownership of the business rests with people that aren’t ever really going to act as if they are owners of the company. They are just going to act in a way that makes them the vast majority of the money.
👉 Remember, due to the way in which stocks and shares work, the ownership of the company can change on a day-to-day basis.
So, while we are confident that the current major shareholders in Thor Industries and Airstream are going to be around for a few years to come, if they decide to change the way in which they run their investments, then they could disappear.
Decision Making Power at Airstream
Many of the manufacturers that Thor Industries runs will have their own CEO. However, because Airstream is the very first company to be owned by Thor Industries, Airstream will have the same decision-makers as the entirety of the Thor Industries business.
Many of the decisions that take place at Thor Industries are probably going to be impacting Airstream anyway. This is because many of the decisions are related to the recruitment of staff, finding manufacturing centers, etc.
Owning Shares in Thor Industries and Airstream
Because Airstream is a public company through Thor Industries, you could actually be an owner of Airstream if you really wanted.
Obviously, you would have to purchase shares in the business. Unfortunately, we cannot provide you with any advice on how you can do this. However, there will be plenty of information online for places where you can buy stocks.
👉 Once you own a share in Thor Industries, you will be entitled to a small percentage of the profits each year. Your share will be dependent on the number of shares that you own.
Don’t expect your share of the profits to be more than a couple of cents, though. While Thor Industries is a profitable company making billions of year, like most RV manufacturers, they make very little in the way of profit due to the competitive nature of the business.
Often, there are only a few million dollars to share among all of the investors.
👉 As a shareholder in Thor Industries, you would be entitled to have a say in the decision-making of the business. However, it is unlikely that you would ever hold enough shares in the company for you to have any major say in the decisions of the company.
👉 Remember, as with anything, do your research before you commit to buying shares in a company. While it may seem glamorous to claim that you are an owner of Airstream, things aren’t really going to be working out like that.
You can make losses if the company goes through a downturn. This is why we are not willing to provide you with any advice on how you can buy shares in the business.
As you can see, Airstream is owned by Thor Industries. In fact, Airstream was the very first company that Thor Industries ever purchased.
In turn, Thor Industries is listed on the stock exchange in New York. This means that anybody is able to purchase an ownership stake in the company if they really wanted to do so.
Don’t worry. None of the major shareholders have any impact on the day-to-day running of the business.
In fact, the chairman is one of the original founders of Thor Industries. Therefore, you know that he is going to be doing his best to help the company retain its sole.
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