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Hopkins Acquires Back-Up Safety and Related Products from DesignTech


EMPORIA, KANSAS, June 17, 2005 -- Hopkins Manufacturing Corporation announced today that it has acquired certain product lines from DesignTech International, including its back-up safety products. The acquisition of these product lines positions Hopkins as one of the leading suppliers of back-up safety products to the automotive aftermarket.


The products acquired include the Back-up Alert®, a patented combination back-up beeper and halogen bulb; Back-up Sensor, a wireless ultrasonic back-up and parking guidance system; 50 Watt SuperBrite Halogen replacement back-up bulbs, which are 250% brighter than standard back-up bulbs; Trail BlazerT Electronic Deer Alert, an electronic device to warn deer and other animals of an approaching vehicle which can be activated by switching on the car ignition or utilizing the high beam headlights; the LED Test Light, a combination voltage/polarity indicator and flashlight; Daytime Running Lights, which automatically activate a vehicle's headlights anytime the engine is running; and the Truck Box Light, which automatically lights when a truck box or tonneau cover is opened.


"This acquisition makes Hopkins a leader in back-up safety products in the automotive aftermarket. We are excited about the opportunity to work with our customers to expand their sales of back-up safety products and to develop innovative new products based on the unique technology we acquired from DesignTech," said Bradley T. Kraft, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hopkins.


"Our research shows that there is increasing consumer interest in back-up safety products, due to the difficulty of backing-up the growing pool of large size cars, SUVs and trucks on the roads today," said Michael S. Williams, Hopkins Vice President of Marketing. "The increasing popularity of these devices as an option on new cars has created a significant opportunity for back-up safety products in the aftermarket."


In a separate transaction completed last week, DesignTech sold its AutoCommand® product line of remote car starters and alarms to Directed Electronics. According to Mark Gottlieb, President and CEO of DesignTech, "We have determined this is the right time for our company to re-focus our energies around an emerging market for our 911 Safety Phone. We see the sale to Hopkins of the Back-Up Safety products as an excellent fit, given Hopkins' strong engineering capabilities and customer relationships."  Hopkins will distribute all of the newly acquired products from its Emporia, Kansas warehouse. The acquisition is the second this year for Hopkins, which acquired Carrand Companies, Inc. in April 2005. Hopkins is majority owned by Friend Skoler & Co., a private equity firm based in Saddle Brook, New Jersey.


About Hopkins Corporation


Headquartered in Emporia, Kansas, Hopkins is a leading manufacturer and marketer of quality, innovative specialized towing products and functional accessories for the automotive and recreational vehicle aftermarkets. Hopkins markets its products under a number of well-recognized brand names, including Hoppy®, TAPTM, LiteMate®, BrakeBuddy®, Carrand, Spillmaster® and FloToolTM. Hopkins' products include vehicle-to-trailer wiring and control accessories, RV supplemental tow brakes, automotive everyday cleaning accessories and a variety of automotive winter care, fluid handling, and storage & organization products. Built on the philosophy that its products will deliver meaningful innovation, performance and value to the consumer, in 2005 the company is celebrating its 52nd year serving consumers in the automotive aftermarket. For further information, please visit, or


About Friend Skoler & Co.


Founded in 1998, Friend Skoler & Co. is a private equity firm that invests in leading companies in the smaller end of the middle market in partnership with management. FSC typically invests between $10 million and $40 million of equity per transaction and manages Friend Skoler Equity Investors, L.P., a private equity fund with $231 million of capital commitments. Friend Skoler is headquartered in Saddle Brook, NJ. For additional information, please visit


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