Supreme Industries keeps businesses rolling, rolling on the road. The company builds and distributes specialized commercial truck bodies and buses, such as armored trucks, dry-freight and insulated cargo vans, service vans, shuttle buses, and trolleys. Its custom-made options include cargo-handling devices, lift gates, refrigeration equipment, and special doors and bumpers. Supreme Industries sells its lineup under the Kold King, Iner-City, Spartan, StarTrans, and other brand names. In addition to vehicle bodies, which represent most sales, the company makes Fuel Shark branded fiberglass wind deflectors. Supreme Industries' customers are truck distributors, commercial dealers, and end-users mainly in the US.
Despite a slowly recovering economy coupled with constrained access to credit for truck dealers and end-users, Supreme Industries managed to increase sales more than 15% in 2010 over 2009. The improvement was driven by a rebound in demand from government agencies for armored vehicles and retailers for fleet trucks. Nonetheless, it followed a consecutive four-year erosion in consolidated sales -- more than 45% in 2009 from a record high achieved in 2005. The company's loss in 2008 -- the first in over three decades of business -- continued to widen through 2009 and 2010 to approximately $11.3 million. Cash generated from operations ebbed in 2010 due to funding operating losses, debt, and capital expenditures.
Supreme Industries' position is impacted both by the flagging commercial vehicle industry and a restructuring initiative that has impaired buildings and equipment, and discontinued operations. In early 2011 the company axed its Oregon manufacturing facility (deemed an unpromising geographic market), and, in late 2009, its luxury motor home business (Silver Crown), hurt by the recession's hit to consumer spending and employment. The company's efforts to regain its financial footing also include eliminating low-ticket, low-performing lines, and reorganizing its workforce. Although it added a number of jobs in 2010, headcount remains approximately 30% less than 2006.
Moving forward, Supreme Industries is focusing on new product offerings, technology, and sales force development to help refill its coffers. It has expanded and streamlined production of truck bodies for shuttle buses, commercial dry-freight vans, and armored suburban vehicles. Company R&D is emphasizing green materials, too. Supreme Industries launched Aero-Body, a van body used with Isuzu's ECO-MAX chassis, touted as functional, more fuel efficient, yet durable. In addition, sales also are buoyed by a five-year contract awarded by the US State Department to produce up to $100 million armor-plated vehicles.