ABOUT PHOTO: The new synergy was apparent with the locations of Tiffany and ECB displays on the trade show floor. (Photo by Ron Rennells).
2011 INTERNATIONAL LCT SHOW: ECB’s David Bakare becomes the majority owner of two leading coachbuilders in the chauffeured transportation industry. The companies will continue operating as separate entities with respective model lines.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — It was entirely appropriate that the vehicle displays of EXECUTIVE COACH BUILDERS and TIFFANY COACHWORKS were side-by-side at the 2011 International LCT Show this week.
The juxtaposition allowed for seamless access among the coachbuilders’ vehicles and easy interaction between their CEOs on the trade show floor, since the once competing companies officially joined on Feb. 4. In a private deal, ECB CEO David Bakare bought Tiffany Coachworks, retaining Tiffany CEO Bill Alden as a consultant and business partner.
Bakare — who will commute between ECB’s headquarters and factory in Springfield, Mo., and Tiffany’s in Perris, Calif. — is the majority stakeholder and CEO of the new venture. Financial terms of the low-key deal were not disclosed.
Both companies will retain their distinct identities, model lines, factories and employees, said Bakare in an interview on the Show floor. He said the companies will “allow the dust to settle” before considering consolidating any aspects of the operations.
The combined companies in some ways are complimentary, despite their previous competition. ECB, as the second-largest coachbuilder in the U.S., specializes in stretch sedan and SUV limousines, popular with wedding and leisure clients, while Tiffany builds an upscale line of limo-buses and mini-buses, along with stretch sedan limousines.
Both companies are certified by Cadillac Master Coachbuilders (CMC) and Ford’s Quality Vehicle Management (QVM) programs.
The deal originated in Bakare’s frustration with the general quality of available mini-bus shells. He liked the high-quality and design of Tiffany’s fiberglass bus bodies, so he started buying them to meet demand from ECB clients requesting limo buses.
“I started making limo buses and buying shells but I had problems with them falling apart,” Bakare said. “People kept hounding me to build them. Tiffany makes the most beautiful fiberglass bodies. Although we are competitors, I swallowed my pride and asked them to make some shells for me, and that’s how the conversation [about a deal] started. Bill and I started talking.”
Bakare emphasized that the deal keeps the production lines and customer service of both brands fully intact. The companies are looking to expand their dealership networks.
[NOTE: This article will be updated with comments from Bill Alden as they become available].
Although no specific financial motives were given for the deal, ECB’s purchase of Tiffany is the latest milestone in the trend of consolidated and/or closed limousine coachbuilders of recent years. The trend coincides with the previous recession and fallout from a major manufacturing and sales downturn that hit the chauffeured transportation industry from 2008 to 2010.
LCT BACKGROUND: Among the major coachbuilder developments of recent years:
KRYSTAL EMERGES FROM BANKRUPTCY
DABRYAN MOVES PRODUCTION TO ACCUBUILT
SALE OF FEDERAL COACH MODEL LINES
IMPERIAL COACH BUILDERS EXPANDS INTO ELECTRIC VEHICLES
— Martin Romjue, LCT editor