New economic realities drive coachbuilder’s decision to take manufacturing out of America’s leading limousine-building hub.
SPRINGFIELD, MO — One of America’s top coachbuilders is leaving its home of three decades as part of a consolidation effort driven by the tough new economics of limousine manufacturing.
DABRYAN COACH BUILDERS plans to move all of its vehicle production to an Accubuilt factory in Lima, Ohio by the end of August, said Ed MacDonald, chief operating officer of DaBryan, on Wednesday. The months-long merging process is already underway as the company gradually transfers in phases all of its models from its 50,000 square foot manufacturing plant in Springfield to Accubuilt’s 185,000 square foot plant in Lima.
Accubuilt Inc. has owned DaBryan since it bought the company in 2005. DaBryan first opened in Springfield, Mo. in 1979. DaBryan plans to make and market all of its current limousine models in Ohio under the DaBryan label.
“In times when things slow down, you have to sit down and do the math and make sure the economics make sense,” MacDonald said. “How can we take advantage of [the] space and resources we have to make it more economically viable?”
One advantage of the production move is that it enables DaBryan to review the design, engineering, and technology of all of its vehicles so it can make changes to improve and upgrade them, MacDonald said. The Accubuilt plant in Lima includes the vehicle manufacturing conglomerate’s funeral vehicles and sedan manufacturing divisions. DaBryan does not disclose numbers on its annual vehicle sales and production.
Like most coachbuilders in the chauffeured transportation industry, DaBryan has experienced a 60-70% decline in vehicle orders since the recession started in December 2007. The severest economic downfall to hit the industry has prompted a wave of mergers, sales, cutbacks, and consolidations during the last two years among coachbuilders and operators.
DaBryan has not decided yet if the 30 remaining production employees in Springfield will be transferred to Lima, MacDonald said. At its production peak, DaBryan employed about 85-90 workers in Springfield. The company will keep an office staff of about 10 employees in Springfield to handle sales and marketing, customer support, and warranties.
The DaBryan move marks another major blow to the limousine manufacturing hub centered in the Ozark Mountains region of southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas. The DaBryan pullout follows a few months after FEDERAL COACH MOVED OPERATIONS out of Fort Smith, Ark. Federal had the most storied manufacturing legacy in the industry, stretching back to the stagecoach era.
The exits of Federal and DaBryan leave two key coachbuilders in Springfield: Executive Coach Builders (ECB) and Imperial Coach Works. Another coachbuilder, SPRINGFIELD LIMOUSINES, closed and liquated this year following the death of its founder and owner JOHN BUMGARNER on Dec. 31, 2009, who was an industry legend and one of the original limousine manufacturing founders in Springfield, Mo.
Founded in 1979, DABRYAN COACH BUILDERS quickly developed a reputation for sophisticated, elegant stretch limousines that reflect the high quality craftsmanship of the region. It was recognized by Ford Motor Company as one of the first companies to attain status as a Quality Vehicle Modifier (QVM). DaBryan also was one of the first companies to earn General Motors’ designation as a Cadillac Master Coachbuilder (CMC).
In June 2001, DaBryan received the Missouri Impact! Award from Missouri Enterprise, a non-profit corporation affiliated with the University of Missouri, for excelling in continuous improvements in manufacturing. DaBryan has twice been awarded the “Best Product Demonstration” award at the International LCT Show in Las Vegas for producing the show’s most forward-thinking, elegant vehicle.
In 1996, DaBryan implemented an employee ownership program to reward its employees based upon the success of the company. In 1999, DaBryan built a new state-of-the-art production facility to further enhance its commitment to quality and service. Accubuilt bought the company in 2005.
Accubuilt is the largest Cadillac Master Coachbuilder, accounting for about two thirds of all custom-built Cadillacs produced worldwide, including the Cadillac DES Luxury sedan, sold exclusively by Cadillac dealers. The company is also a leading Lincoln Quality Vehicle Manufacturer and is completely NMEDA-QAP and Ford FTQP certified.
Accubuilt also has purchased the rights to market and manufacturer six-door limousines under the LCW nameplate. LCW of San Antonio, Texas had established a very competitive dealer network, but its main manufacturing focus was in the VIP industry.
More background: ACCUBUILT SELLS COMMERCIAL MOBILITY VANS DIVISION
— Martin Romjue, LCT Magazine
Other sources: DaBryan, Accubuilt