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Nation's Largest Customizer of OEM Pickup Trucks, Vans and SUVs Formed in Alabama

Southern Comfort Conversions to acquire Centurion Vehicles/Starcraft Conversions

TRUSSVILLE, Ala., Jan. 24 -- Southern Comfort Conversions, Inc. ( ) today completed an asset purchase of Centurion Vehicles of White Pigeon, Mich., a licensed upfitter of Starcraft Conversions. This move makes Southern Comfort the nation's largest OEM pickup truck, van and SUV customizer. Projected sales for 2006 are $80 million.

The acquisition brings Starcraft, one of the oldest, most recognized and respected brand names in the United States, to a new home in Alabama. More than 80 new jobs will result, for a total of 330 jobs at Southern Comfort.

"As the largest customizer in the nation, Southern Comfort Conversions will be able to continue our exceptional growth and quality service to the nation's automakers, dealers and customers," said Rod McSweeney, chairman and owner of Southern Comfort. "We look forward to returning the Starcraft brand to its once grand stature," he added.

Southern Comfort Conversions will provide its engineering, production and business strength to the Centurion/Starcraft brands, while Starcraft maintains its established name and international distribution with conversion vans. Beginning in 2007, the brand name on the trucks and SUVs could be Southern Comfort, Starcraft, Centurion, or COBRA, dictated by client's market needs.

Centurion/Starcraft's facility in White Pigeon, Mich. will close immediately.

"Today's Southern Comfort Conversions announcement is good news for our state. Alabama is home to over 300 automotive-related manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz US International, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama," said Steve Sewell, executive vice president of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. "This acquisition expands the state's automotive cluster and enhances our position in the Southeastern automotive corridor," he added.

As part of Southern Comfort's growth, the company is proposing to move to one of several locations under consideration in Alabama. This determination should be complete by July.


Founded in 1979, Southern Comfort Conversion is the #1 truck and SUV converter for General Motors and also produces vans and trucks for Ford, as well as trucks for Dodge. The company also produces the official RealTree licensed HVx Extreme Hunting Vehicle, and is the conversion vehicle manufacturer for Safari Club International. All vehicles have a three-year, 36,000 mile warranty. They also produce customized International Truck & Engine products, including the CXT. The company currently employs more than 250 people in two locations: Trussville and Oneonta, Ala.

In addition to customized vehicles, Southern Comfort also has other businesses affiliated with the automotive aftermarket industry. Their state- of-the-art design and engineering expertise has lead to numerous development projects with a variety of partners. Southern Comfort Ultimate Plastics creates high-quality plastic OEM and aftermarket products for automotive, boating and other recreational applications. The Southern Comfort accessories department includes a wide range of parts and accessories for full conversions, or for the do-it-yourselfer, including Southern Comfort Conversions custom wheels.


Beginning as manufacturer of farm feeders and tanks in 1903, Star Tank Corporation realized that its processes and materials could be applied to aluminum boats, as well as storage tanks, and turned the Starcraft name into one famous for top-quality recreational and fishing boats. The company expanded to top-quality, high-value recreational vehicles, camping trailers and "pop-up" campers in the '70s. They began their marketing relationship with Centurion in 2001.