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Interview with Paul Zepf
For Immediate Release
Contact: Tom Frey, CEO
An interview with Universal Trailer Investor and Board Member Paul Zepf
CINCINNATI, Ohio/May 30, 2008 – In February 2008, Universal Trailer Corporation President and CEO Tom Frey announced that Corporate Partners II [CP] had invested $45 million in newly issued equity of Universal Trailer Corporation [UTC], thereby becoming UTC’s largest shareholder. UTC is the largest specialty trailer manufacturer in North America. The Company manufactures a wide selection of trailer and motorcoach products. Its brands are Haulmark, Haulmark Motorcoach, Featherlite, Exiss, Sooner and Miley. Paul Zepf, a Managing Principal of CP, talks about his firm’s recent investment in UTC. Mark Wicks of GateHouse Media Inc. is the interviewer. Below is a summary of Paul Zepf’s remarks (edited for clarity).
GateHouse Media: How do you view Corporate Partners II’s [CP] relatively new status as majority shareholder of Universal Trailer Corporation [UTC]?
Paul Zepf: After its first hundred days as UTC’s largest shareholder, Corporate Partners II has seen a unique strength emerge through the alliance of a large investment firm and the leading American specialty trailer company. From a number of perspectives, including capital resources, having an investment fund the size of Corporate Partners’ in support of Universal Trailer is unique in the industry.
GateHouse Media: What attracted CP to an investment in this trailer company?
Paul Zepf: We were attracted to UTC based on the strength of the company’s products and management, and its leading market positions.
GateHouse Media:The overall economy being what it is, how has UTC performed?
Paul Zepf: Despite a difficult economy and high commodity prices since we first made our investment, UTC is performing in-line with our expectations, largely the result of the steps management has taken to adjust to the current environment.
GateHouse Media: What stands out since CP entered into the relationship?
Paul Zepf: In the past four months UTC has showcased new product innovations at each of four dealer conventions, launched national retail promotions and brought greater efficiencies to its manufacturing facilities in seven states.
GateHouse Media: How does CP function managerially with UTC?
Paul Zepf: We made the investment in UTC to support the company and the management teams at each of the [divisions]. We bring to the table substantial capital resources and management counsel, and provide assistance in strategic development, both internally and through potential acquisitions. Going forward, these additional resources should position Universal Trailer well ahead of others in the competitive marketplace.
GateHouse Media: What do you see looking forward?
Paul Zepf: The first four months held few surprises. We did a lot of work and spent months researching the industry and Universal Trailer Corporation before investing. From this effort, I believe we developed a good understanding of the industry, the market environment and each of the UTC subsidiaries. The current market is challenging and metal prices have spiked upwards, but UTC management has made adjustments to operate profitably in this environment. Corporate Partners II expects to continue to work with UTC to build on its existing strengths. This relationship can effect higher performance in the current environment as well as in the coming upturn. Our efforts will continue to enhance our important relationships with our distribution partners and end customers.
ABOUT UNIVERSAL TRAILER CORPORATION
UTC is the largest specialty trailer manufacturer in North America. The Company manufactures a wide selection of cargo, horse, livestock, motorsports, snowmobile, ATV, motorcycle, utility, vending and custom specialty trailers. Its brands—Haulmark, Haulmark Motorcoach, Featherlite, Exiss, Sooner and Miley are “Signposts on the Road to Value.” UTC has eight manufacturing operations across the United States.
ABOUT CORPORATE PARTNERS
Corporate Partners is a leading private equity group targeting significant investments in established public and private companies. In 2005, Corporate Partners closed its most recent fund, CP II, with capital commitments of $1.1 billion. Corporate Partners Invests in Solutions® by providing equity and equity-related capital to support companies where there is a value-added use of proceeds such as a strategic acquisition, the pursuit of a growth initiative, strengthening the balance sheet, increasing shareholder stability and other important corporate needs. Corporate Partners is a business unit of Lazard Alternative Investments. For more information on Corporate Partners, go to www.corporatepartnersllc.com.