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Thor Industries: Intrapreneurship Initiatives at Recreational Vehicle Leader


Code :ENT0012

Year :

Industry :Automobiles

Region : USA

Teaching Note:Not Available

Structured Assignment :Not Available

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Introduction: Wade F. B. Thompson and Peter B. Orthwein founded Thor Industries3 Inc., the world’s biggest Recreational Vehicle (RV) manufacturer, in 1980. It produced and sold a range of RVs and small and mid-sized buses in the United States and Canada through its subsidiaries. As of 2004, there were fourteen different companies under Thor umbrella. Ten of the fourteen companies made RVs and commanded a market share of 23% of an $8.5 billion recreational vehicle market4 . In 2003, Thor had revenue of $1,571 million and earnings of $79 million, which grew at an average of 18%and 26%a year respectively over last five years5 . Moreover, Thor’s net income at $83.64 million in 2003 was much higher as compared to industry average of $6.22 million and other major players. Winnebago, Thor’s closest competitor in the RV market, had revenue of $946.87 million and net income of $54.91 million in 2003. Thor’s business was driven by the practice of encouraging entrepreneurial culture, autonomy and customer focus. Each of the subsidiaries under Thor’s umbrella had the autonomy to operate and managers held rights to make all the decisions related to products andmanagement of the plants. Richard “Dicky” Riegel, president of Airstream, a subsidiary of Thor once said, “Each Company has the autonomy to run itself. That makes us closer to the market, closer to our dealers and more nimble. The company empowers its employees so that they feel a real sense of ownership in their operation. That, by far, is Thor’s greatest strength.” Thor dominated the towable RV market and planned to expand further into the big leagues with themanufacture of drivable RVs, which weremore complex to build and sell compared to lower-end towable RVs.

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