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Old 10-08-2005, 08:55 AM   #1
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Can Henschen Survive?

It's been reported elsewhere that Airstream has dropped Henschen as their axle vendor.

If this is true, what does it mean for the survivability of Henschen?

Looking at their website, it appears that Airstream was, by far, their largest customer.

There are hundreds of examples of companies that lost their legacy client and survived. Most do it by rapidly developing new markets and innovative new products.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of companies that did not survive.

Can Henschen survive?
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Old 10-08-2005, 09:01 AM   #2
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I am sure they will. I picked up my axles directly from the factory. I saw all kinds of weird axle configurations and sizes. Some were downright huge! Not knowing the details of their breakup, it is hard to say why Airstream did it, but I would guess economics played a huge role. Even though they are next door to each other, it is possible to get Mexican axles delivered cheaper, due to lower labor costs.
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Old 10-08-2005, 09:31 AM   #3
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Cool Wow

Quote:
Originally Posted by markdoane
It's been reported elsewhere that Airstream has dropped Henschen as their axle vendor.

If this is true, what does it mean for the survivability of Henschen?

Looking at their website, it appears that Airstream was, by far, their largest customer.

There are hundreds of examples of companies that lost their legacy client and survived. Most do it by rapidly developing new markets and innovative new products.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of companies that did not survive.

Can Henschen survive?
Markdoane,

If you are correct and Airstream is the biggest customer of Henschen then I must state the obvious. Airstream will build around 3000 units a year if they were ALL triple axles (and you know they are not) that would equate to 9000 axles. If I had to take an educated guess I would say 4500 may be more realistic. Divide that by 52 weeks in a year and they consume about 87 axles a week. Henschen can produce about 100-500 axles a day based on my research. Thus, I like you, understand the concern. Hopefully they are more diversified than we are aware (like Pick said). I like competition and I love the Henschen history and story (bet you did not expect that did you ) so I too share your thoughts. I will be interested to track their future progress.

My two cents,
Henry
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Old 10-08-2005, 09:42 AM   #4
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If this is true, my belief is Henschen cut the nose off not selling directly to the public and only offering one outside vendor. I will keep an eye on the RV industry rags for info.
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Old 10-08-2005, 09:58 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by axleman
Markdoane,
. . . . Henschen can produce about 100-500 axles a day based on my research. . . .
Henry
That's pretty darn good for a company that Thor dumped a few years ago for a little more than $1 million. They should have held onto it.
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Old 10-08-2005, 10:52 AM   #6
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Cool Perhaps!

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Originally Posted by markdoane
That's pretty darn good for a company that Thor dumped a few years ago for a little more than $1 million. They should have held onto it.
The axle business is very tight margin. You literally make a few dollars an axle. When compared to other items such as cars or RVís (with profit margins at 40% or so) it takes a large quantity of axles to keep the lights on. Average axles sell for $200.00 retail (3500# simple configurations are the bread and butter of the axle industry) the axle company can expect to make between $13-$40 per axle . When a new car or RV sells for $30,000 you do the math. Smaller axle companies are a tough business. It is getting fiercer by the day. I was told when I worked in the axle industry that you have to be a bit nutís to get involved Ė with making axles. The 1-million dollars in the hand would take a long time to recoup without a lot of knowledge of the axle industry. Perhaps I would have taken the money and ran (if I were in Thorís shoes). Interesting thread dude!

Regards,
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Old 10-08-2005, 01:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axleman
Perhaps I would have taken the money and ran (if I were in Thorís shoes).
When I took the Airstrem tour, I thought I recall Don saying that Airstream use to be a large part of Henschen. I don't believe they still are involoved in Henschen, so in reality, they did take the money and run if I recall the story correctly.

This past April, I was in Jackson Center getting some work done on the Safari and took a self tour of sorts and you are right, they clearly make far more axles than what Airstream uses.

I also seem to recall that somewhere on this forum someone said a while back that any axle on an Aistream now would not be a Henchen axle.
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Old 10-08-2005, 02:26 PM   #8
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Torsion Axle inventor

Axleman,

Do you know what company made the first torsion axle?

Bill
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Old 10-08-2005, 03:46 PM   #9
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Cool A bit of history!

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Originally Posted by wkerfoot
Axleman,

Do you know what company made the first torsion axle?

Bill
Mr. Kerfoot,

Good day sir. I hope all is well with you.

As I understand it, the Germans pioneered torsion axle technology, Henschen was one of, if not the first, to incorporate it into the United States, I believe in the 1950ís.

Dexter soon followed I believe in the 1960ís.

Alko-Kober, the world leader in axles, and a dominant force in the European markets may have been using it longer. I am not sure how that history book reads. The Alko axle is different than all the others. They use a triangular axle tube with three cords, not the rectangular tube with four cords.

Axis Products was put into business in the 1970ís (called LaSalle Axle) by Dexter to build axles for small customers (1-25 axle orders).

Reliable Axle learned from Axis Products, I believe in the 1990ís.

A small-unknown fact is that there are two, or three, rubber suppliers that provide all of the rubber to all axle companies.

This technology is very temperamental; many folks have tried to build torsion axles successfully and failed.

I hope that this helps!

Best Regards,
Henry
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Old 10-08-2005, 09:00 PM   #10
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A bit of history

Henry,

Thanks for the history lesson.

Bill
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Old 10-08-2005, 09:26 PM   #11
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Cool No sweat!

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Originally Posted by wkerfoot
Henry,

Thanks for the history lesson.

Bill
Bill,

You are welcome!

Regards,
Henry
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