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Other important acquisitions included the EZ Coupler product lines in 1987, and their most recent addition was completed in December 1999 when Valterra bought EZ RV Trine, an environmentally friendly RV toilet chemical line.
However, Valterra's growth is not only through acquisitions; they are product innovators as well. An example of this innovation is the patented cable activated waste valves. Grengs said, "We developed the cable activated waste valves with a six-foot flexible stainless steel cable so the dump valve can be put in position under the RV with an easy to access handle on the sidewall of the RV or within a control access compartment with bulkhead installation.
"Its been well received by OEMs, especially high-end motorhome manufacturers. For the aftermarket it's a little too expensive and complicated for a do-it-yourself installation. It's not something most people want to take off the shelf and install."
Valterra's product balance is predominately aftermarket generating about 60% of total sales, but the OEM side is growing all the time.
Grengs said, "When we started we probably had 50 different parts. We now have about 400 products - around 250 aftermarket products and the rest to OEMs."
As Grengs and Lunder look down the road, they see more acquisitions in Valterra's future. Lunder said, "We are looking to continue to grow, be a mainstream supplier and do additional acquisitions, larger acquisitions than we've done historically. We have some exciting things in the works.
"What we're really focusing on is product lines we can manufacturer -- mostly plastic items -- but also any kind of product that really ties in with sanitation or plumbing. That's where our strength is and that's where our future success will be. We're serious about being a major supplier - trying to get a bigger package together so we can continue to strengthen our relationships and become more important to our customers. We want to be able to manufacturer and compete with anyone in the world and we can do that."
One of Valterra's major strengths is that they sell to just about every distribution channel in the industry.
Grengs said, "We do sell just about everyone in the industry. We try to structure our programs so everyone is on a level playing field. Everybody knows what the programs are and what the pricing is. There are no games played. There is a set program and everyone can participate. And over the years customers have learned to trust us.
"And I think the benefit for the RV industry is that we can make any channel competitive.
Lunder said, "The overall reason why all of our products have done so well is because we make quality products and fix whatever problems there are whether it's one of our customers or a consumer. We don't hassle anyone about problems."
Grengs added, "Just the other day a consumer contacted us and said, 'Your Potty Toddy tabs don't work at all.' We wrote back to him and explained, sometimes when you use different tank cleaners, they neutralize the effects of the tabs. We explained how to solve the problem, and he wrote back saying, 'I'm a water-quality engineer and I should have known all this. And he added, 'The hardness of the water also affects it so as I travel around the country I'll send information.' Here's a guy who was really upset about the product and he turns into our on the road consultant, a researcher on the road."
It's no wonder that Valterra is being honored for its achievements in the RV industry - it's the type of company other companies want to do business with.
Grengs said, "When people want to do business with you its great, and that has to be the overriding reason for our success. We keep our noses clean and really try to support everyone and take care of those things that we are responsible for. And that means being attentive and proactive about dealing with product or situations whatever they might be."
But the bottom line, what has made Valterra a successful company over the years, is the relationship it has with its customers, distributors, dealers and consumers.
Lunder said, "We want to do two things in the future -- continue to grow through acquisitions and product development, and then manufacture our products at the right price and the right quality so we have the room to promote and provide customer service where we can take care of any and all problems fairly and honestly. We're going to develop products that fit in with making recreation easy -- that's what we do. "
So keep your eye on Valterra. With this kind of dedication and business philosophy, Valterra's greatest successes may be yet to come.