1979: Rod McSweeney began his automotive career 1979 by up-fitting and refurbishing commercial vans for Krispy Kreme and Royal Cup Coffee. During this time, interest rates were high, and the economy was depressed, which led businesses to refurbish their automotive fleets rather than purchase new vehicles.
1980’s: The business quickly transitioned to mass producing conversion vans under the brand name Southern Comfort Conversions, and became a Specialty Vehicle Manufacturer for General Motors. Under this business model GM would ship vans directly from their manufacturing plants to McSweeney’s facility in Tarrant, which was shortly thereafter moved to Moody, Alabama. The company then added GM SUV’s, GM Trucks and then expanded to begin working with Ford.
1990’s: In the early 90’s the company continued to grow and moved its facility to a new headquarters in Trussville, Alabama. This move was a major growth catalyst to provide the necessary resources to expand into a national player in specialty vehicle upfitting. During this time the company expanded its OEM relationships to Dodge, and was then working with all of the “Big 3” automotive manufacturers.
2000’s: The 2000’s represented a period of rapid growth. The company expanded and launched a new van plant in Oneonta, Alabama, while also expanding the truck operation at the home base in Trussville. Additionally, a new plastics manufacturing plant was launched, and the company began manufacturing plastic components for not only the internal automotive operation, but for the marine, RV and golf cart industries. Additionally, Southern Comfort acquired Starcraft Vans in Goshen, Indiana and consolidated its operations into the Alabama locations. This acquisition ultimately provided the launchpad to expand into China, South Korea and the Middle East. In 2007, the company moved to a 536,000 sq ft facility in Pinson, Alabama. Later that year, Rod McSweeney sold the controlling interest of the business to private equity firm, Comvest Partners. Following the transaction, the financial crisis of 2009 created hard times for the company, as the automotive industry was battling historically high gas prices and lack of consumer financing, which ultimately resulted in a significant company downsizing.
2009: In 2009, Rod, Matt and Michael McSweeney re-purchased 100% of the company’s assets from Comvest Partners, and re-located operations back to the former headquarters in Trussville, Alabama. Deidre Allman, Mike Clough and Bobby Kullman joined the McSweeney’s as the sought to grow the business again. From 2009 to 2011, the company generated 90% of revenues from the international markets of China, South Korea and the Middle East. In 2011, as the auto industry re-gained its footing, the business was re-focused on the U.S. truck market, where resources were deployed to grow the Black Widow lifted truck brand, initially focusing on GMC and Chevrolet truck models which were distributed to a loyal group of long-time dealer partners across the United States.
2011: In 2011, the company was re-organized under the McSweeney Holdings, LLC umbrella to make a provision to segregate various business segments, risks, funding and harvesting opportunities as the company aimed to add diversified growth.
2014: In 2014 a new entity, McSweeney Designs, was formed under McSweeney Holdings to design and manufacture luxury bullet-proof transportation for foreign government officials. When oil prices plummeted, and consequently many of the company’s foreign customers spending ability, the business pivoted to building luxury executive transportation for high-net-worth individuals, colleges and resorts on Mercedes Benz Sprinter vans. In 2015, McSweeney Designs was designated a Master Upfitter for Mercedes Benz.
2017: A new relationship was established with Ford Motor Company to manufacture specialty vehicles on the Transit, F150 and F250 models. This new relationship created an opportunity for rapid dealer growth.
2017: In-line with efforts to create diversification for McSweeney Holdings, but not gravitate away from the automotive industry, Matt and Michael acquired Bill Stanford Automotive (Cadillac, GMC, CDJR) in Talladega, Alabama, and immediately moved the Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram franchise to a newly constructed facility in Pell City, Alabama, and after multiple failed attempts to move the GMC franchise, returned it back to GM and closed the Talladega operation.
2018: In 2018, McSweeney Holdings sold 80% of SCA Performance to New York based private equity firm Kinderhook Industries. Kinderhook desired to focused the business and manufacturing capacity on the off-road truck market rather than vans, so McSweeney Holdings simultaneously sold McSweeney Designs to Chief Operating Officer Vern Kauffman, where he moved the business to North Carolina and re-branded to LA West. Meanwhile McSweeney Designs equity partner Jefferey Hunter, and many of the van divisions long-time employees moved on to launch Storyteller Overland.
2019: In partnership with Kinderhook, in 2019, SCA acquired competitors Rocky Ridge Trucks in Franklin Springs, GA and Rocky Mountain Truckworks in Fort Collins, CO, to expand it’s brand offering, dealer base and manufacturing footprint.
2020: In 2020, Kinderhook and McSweeney Holdings sold 100% of SCA Performance to Fox Factory (NASDAQ: FOXF). As of 2022, the Fox Factory vehicle upfitting business unit is upfitting over 16,000 vehicles annually out of it’s 5 U.S. plants, and recognized as the largest specialty vehicle manufacturer in the world.
2021: McSweeney Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram was recognized as Alabama’s #1 volume Ram Truck dealer.