Morton Family, United Engines Buy Vico Diesel of Memphis / Market Expands to 7 States

Article excerpt

VICO GM Diesel, a five-state distributor of Detroit Diesel Allison engines and transmissions in Memphis, has been acquired by the Morton famil y and United Engines Inc. of Oklahoma City, it was announced Thursday.

Michael E. Johnson, vice president of United Engines, will be president and chief executive officer of the Memphis firm, which will be called Delta Detroit Diesel Allison.

Johnson is the son-in-law of Jerry W. Morton, president and chief executive officer of United Engines, which distributes, modifies and services diesel engines and transmissions for buses, trucks, yachts, oilfield equipment and standby generators.

"United Engines is financing the acquisition," said Jerry Morton. "Michael Johnson owns 20 percent of what is now Delta Detroit Diesel Allison, with an agreement to buy out the other 80 percent from United Engines."

Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

The Memphis firm was sold by Sam Vinson, who founded the firm in 1962 through acquisition of the Lewis Diesel Co. The Memphis firm occupies a 70,000-square foot facility as a distributor, parts andservice center for Detroit Diesel Allison engines and transmissions.

"Delta will be operated as a separate corporate entity, independent of United Engines," said Johnson, who will relocate to Memphis. "We will retain the facilities occupied by what is now Delta. These include a five-acre tract of land targeted for expansion.

"Projections call for a modest increase of up to 15 percent of the current workforce by the end of 1985, with a considerable increase in sales forecast over the next three years."

The facilities include a service area with dedicated dynamometers for diesel engines, truck chassis and transmissions, plus a paint spray booth approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

"This is a signficant acquisition for Morton family-owned companies," said Jay W. Morton, executive vice president and general manager of United Engines, and son of Jerry Morton. "It will give us an overall market area of seven states.

"We have the strength to expand in Oklahoma's down economy, because United Engines has diversified markets.

"Delta has had gross sales of $33 million since 1980. It services a network of about 35 dealers in the states of Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Kentucky."

There are 35 employees on the staff.

United Engines has had gross sales of $252 million since 1980 in Oklahoma, Louisiana and part of Arkansas. The firm now employs an average of about 325 persons.

The Oklahoma City firm occupies about 325,000 square feet of space with branch offices in Tulsa, Texarkana and Shreveport.

This includes a 66,000-square foot headquarters and service facility at 5555 W. Reno Ave. in Oklahoma City, plus facilities of 100,000 square feet at 3950 NW 3rd St. …