In today’s competitive market, developing products for commercial fleets has never been more challenging. To maintain its position as a leading innovator of commercial truck caps, A.R.E. Accessories uses an approach that blends market interaction with the latest technologies, manufacturing methods, and customer service. Throughout its nearly 50-year history, the company has used this successful formula to provide truck caps that offer the storage, organization, and durability that is required by workers in construction, landscaping, and dozens of other trades.
To meet the demands of hard working fleets, A.R.E. Accessories employs a highly skilled team of engineers that continually focuses on product development and improvements. The engineering team and sales staff spend a lot of time at industry events getting valuable feedback from customers about what’s required to stay productive in the changing work world. The company believes there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction with the people that rely on its products daily.
“When we attend events, we serve as problem solvers,” says Bryan Mutchler, marketing manager, A.R.E. Accessories. “We ask for input on how our products can improve the user experience. That’s how we have developed more than 200 options that go into our customizable commercial truck caps.”
By listening to its authorized re-sellers and interacting with end-users, A.R.E. has expanded both its Deluxe Commercial Unit (DCU) and fiberglass truck cap lines to offer many customizable features beneficial to its commercial users. These truck caps fit the most popular pickups and can be designed with a variety of door and window configurations, toolboxes, ladder racks, interior lighting and power box options, side panels, and cap heights.
A.R.E. incorporated an optional back-up camera system into its DCU truck cap line to help improve visibility for fleet drivers when reversing their trucks. The company’s integration of Slick Locks, which use a patented Spinner 360 mechanism for opening and closing, into select double full rear DCU doors was a direct result of contractor feedback.
“Our customers were experiencing some difficulty with latching the door when their hands were full. So, our engineers went to work on how to make the door easier to operate when crew members are loaded down with tools. Through trial and error, we came up with an innovative industry-first roller rod locking system that makes one-handed operation extremely easy. It has proven to be a useful design feature on our commercial products,” Mutchler explains.
IN-FIELD PRODUCT TESTING
Beyond talking with customers about what they would like to see in new products, A.R.E. seeks input from customers who put the company’s existing products to the test in punishing work conditions. The Diamond Edition DCU, made with .063-thick diamond plate aluminum for durability in the harshest work environments is a perfect example. The idea for the Diamond edition product came from workers in the oil fields of Texas.
Mutchler explains: “They told us how much abuse products take in that environment and asked for a truck cap with maximum durability. In addition to securing equipment and being impact-resistant, our caps are made to be out in the weather all day long, getting used and abused on the job. Due to the extreme environments our products can be used in, we put them through rigorous testing, which includes vibration, corrosion resistance, and UV resistance testing.”
Technology is changing everything from the way fleet professionals schedule appointments and monitor inventory to the way they communicate with their managers. The reality is no different for equipping fleet trucks. By staying involved with industry partners and end-users, A.R.E. gains valuable feedback about how the latest technologies can be used to enhance its products.
A.R.E’s fleet sales team spends time with fleet managers, upfitters, and leasing companies to find out what technologies will add the most benefit for them. To its credit, the truck cap specialist was one of the first in the market to introduce LED lighting for its products. The idea evolved from A.R.E.’s participation in outfitting a project truck for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show.
The light technology available for A.R.E.’s commercial truck caps includes a variety of LED lighting options that are brighter than standard lighting and can be applied to the truck cap interior and exterior. The lights make transitioning from day to night work seamless.
“The development of our LED lighting package was a direct result of engaging with the market,” Mutchler says. “Older lighting methods don’t provide the same visibility. They are inefficient, so we found an attractive and functional way to solve that problem.”
Another innovation from A.R.E. that works with the company’s LED lighting is its power box wiring unit. The company uses OEM-style and quality wiring components that reduce the need to tap into the wiring system by cutting wires with old-fashioned methods. The power box also helps with troubleshooting, should problems arise.
“We created a clean look with our power box that no one else in the industry has. The box provides the capability to plug and play our LED lighting and our keyless entry systems,” Mutchler explains. “The benefit comes from not having to run a lot of wires; fleets can just tap into the truck’s electrical system once using a small box located in the truck bed.”
Mutchler continues: “There is less downtime for the end user if the upfitter can figure out any issues quickly. Our power box contains various indicator LED lights that help technicians narrow down power supply problems so you don’t have to hunt down every wire. That feature means the job can go from an hour to 15 minutes.”
A.R.E.’s commercial truck cap designs have the added credibility of the company’s ISO-9001 certification. As the only truck cap manufacturer backed by this quality manufacturing standards certification, A.R.E. says the credential has helped it further relationships with major fleets.
Mutchler offers this explanation: “We see ISO-9001 certification as a feather in our cap that tells the industry we follow the best processes to produce the best products. Many large upfitters will only work with ISO-approved manufacturers, so that gives us an advantage. It is not only a wonderful credential to have, but it is often a mandatory requirement from some customers.”
THE EXTRA MILE
In addition to product development, A.R.E. has also applied innovation to its customer service practices. Web-based tools are available for technicians that provide valuable information about the installation and service of A.R.E. products. On the sales side, A.R.E. offers tools to help fleet installers educate end-users about their options. One of the company’s main digital tools is its product visualizer called “Build Your Own,” which allows mixing and matching of available products and options so a truck cap can be built to meet a customer’s unique specifications.
Ultimately, A.R.E. Accessories is committed to having a commercial fleet team that is backed by the latest technology for communicating with and assisting customers, so selecting and ordering truck caps can be as seamless and efficient as possible
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Find out more about A.R.E. Accessories commercial truck cap products, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.4are.com/fleet, or call 844.411.3533.