Who is A.R.E. Accessories and how has the brand survived for 50 years? It is no easy task to start, grow, and transform a business over a 50-year period, but that is exactly what A.R.E. Accessories did in the pickup truck aftermarket.
The A.R.E. story started in the heart of Ohio’s Amish country in the late 1960s when friends Sal Gatti and Jonas Yoder started manufacturing wood frame truck caps out of the small garage of a lifelong friend and first employee, Aden Miller, in order to service this small, niche market. The three-man operation quickly became four when the company expanded into the storage shed business and started experimenting with different production materials.
Fast-forward 50 years and what began as three friends in a garage with a dream has grown into an industry leading company manufacturing high-quality, highly customized products. Today A.R.E. manufactures its products in three different ISO 9001:2015 certified facilities.
With only 4 percent of businesses surviving past the 10 year mark, how was it A.R.E. not only survived, but continued to grow and thrive well into the 21st century? In A.R.E.’s case, the answer is a fairly simple concept but one that is not easily executed over a long period of time. “The principles of quality, service, and innovation are the foundation on which A.R.E. was built and what has carried A.R.E. through all these years,” Bryan Mutchler, marketing manager of A.R.E., says.
Identifying a market need and providing a solution to that need is a recurring process for A.R.E.’s long-term success. A.R.E. believes that Mikhail Gorbachev said it best when he said, “If you’re not moving forward, then you’re moving backward.” Keeping this in mind is vital to A.R.E.’s success to stay in touch with ever-changing market demands for new and improved products and services.
HISTORY OF EVOLUTION
Over the years, as the pickup truck market expanded beyond the farm and found a place in the driveways of everyday American households, the demand for more style, features, and capabilities grew. A.R.E. benefitted from this growth in the pickup truck industry, paying close attention to customer feedback, which led to the expansion of the brand’s product offering to meet those emerging needs.
In the early 1970s, A.R.E. moved away from wood framed truck caps and adopted aluminum as the material of choice. The change to aluminum was the direct result of a national corporation located in nearby Wooster, Ohio, that approached A.R.E. about developing an aluminum truck cap specifically for the new wave of smaller pickup trucks making their way into commercial fleet applications. Thus the extremely popular Deluxe Commercial Unit (DCU) was born and with it the need for more production space. Today the DCU continues to be a contractor’s top pick for commercial use. Of course the DCU has undergone many improvements over the years, but its lightweight, high strength, and customization keeps pickup truck owners coming back year after year.
The dawn of the ‘80s ushered in a new focus on style and design. This shift in the consumer’s mindset led A.R.E. to once again innovate and introduce an entire new product segment—fiberglass caps. Fiberglass, as a material, provided a wealth of design and production benefits vital to meeting the increasing desire for style and durability. This move fueled a long period of rapid growth for A.R.E. due to high demand for its products in a rapidly expanding pickup truck market, making it necessary to add more production capacity.
This need for additional capacity led to the construction of an environmentally conscious, state-of-the-art facility located in Massillon, Ohio, which is still the site of A.R.E.’s corporate headquarters. The increased capacity would meet growth projections well into the 21st century and allow A.R.E. to grow to a national company.
POSITIONED FOR SUCCESS
“Over the last several years A.R.E. has invested heavily into our business by upgrading our manufacturing facilities with the latest technology and production processes,” Mutchler says. “During this same time we have also developed and released a number of new products and many more new applications of current product lines.”
A.R.E.’s growth and continued success can mostly be attributed to the company’s ability to regularly evolve over the last half century. Throughout A.R.E.’s history the desire to seek and embrace customer feedback has spurred new product development, use of the latest high-quality materials, and state-of-the-art manufacturing methods. Today A.R.E. Accessories is a market leader because of its ability to continuously change and innovate in order to meet the styling demands and functionality needs of today’s pickup truck owner.
MODERN WORKTRUCK SOLUTIONS: FEBRUARY 2019 ISSUE
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