By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Last month's International CES served as a coming-out party of sorts for VAC Service Corp.
The company, a longtime industry player and an acknowledged innovator in extended warranty products, is undergoing a rebirth following its acquisition late last year by Bankers Warranty Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bankers Financial Corp., based here. And given the timing and prominence of CES, the event proved the perfect venue for past, current and potential clients to meet the new corporate parents.
Prior to the acquisition, VAC had been one of the last remaining independent service plan administrators. But, as founder and former president/CEO Jim Tucker noted, the company faces an even brighter future under Bankers' aegis, given the financial strength and stability that its new owner brings.
Indeed, Kevin Rupkey, president/CEO of Bankers Warranty and himself a longtime veteran of the extended service contract business, anticipates doubling VAC's sales within three years by leveraging new opportunities in major appliances, PCs, CE and fitness equipment.
“We want to get stronger in PCs” — both on the extended service and manufacturer's warranty sides — and in CE overall, Rupkey said. He also acknowledged new opportunities in white goods as manufacturers reduce their major component coverage in an effort to shave costs while limiting price increases.
VAC also anticipates accelerated growth through the development and delivery of customized programs and ancillary services, and an expanded Canadian presence.
To support this fast-track growth, the company plans to open additional call centers across the country, Rupkey said.
Rupkey described VAC as a “great strategic fit” with Bankers and called the acquisition an important strategic move for the parent company into the CE warranty business. Indeed, VAC's business represents a natural extension of another Bankers unit, Bonded Builders Risk Management, which is a leader in the whole-home warranty industry.
While founder Tucker has stepped down as chief executive of the business he had owned and operated since 1980, he will stay on in a consultative capacity. Meanwhile, Rupkey will bring to bear his extensive experience in the service contract industry, which includes 14 years at General Electric and later stints running Warrantech Consumer Product Services and Warrantech Home Service Company. He also served as president/COO of Assurant Consumer Services (a.k.a. Federal Warranty Service Corp.), a Fortis subsidiary. Most recently, Rupkey served as VP/COO for 2-10 Home Buyers Resale Warranty Corp.
Supporting Rupkey at Bankers Warranty/VAC is an experienced team that includes Frank Trigo, a former executive with Assurant Consumer Services, HMS/Cross Country Home Services and Panasonic.
The team also includes longtime VAC veterans Vincent Romano, OEM sales senior VP, and executive VP Bruce Wolfson.
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