June '17

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34 • RV PRO • June 2017 rv-pro.com Although Adam Dexter, president and CEO, says the com- pany that bears his grandfather's name doesn't tout DOS exter- nally, it plays an important role in telling Dexter's story. "It literally is one of the biggest marketing pieces we use when we go on plant tours of our facilities. We can show you the differences standing in a manufacturing area and looking at true evidence of how things work and how things are different from what the competition does," he says. "You really get an impression when you go through our plants there's a very high level of control and process-oriented manufacturing." Ed Kopkowski, who oversees plants in seven states and Canada as Dexter's COO, concurs. "It goes above and beyond what you would find is required by the ISO standards. We've taken it much further," he says. "Every one of our plants has a continuous improvement man- ager and we have a corporate level director responsible for the implementation of our continuous improvement efforts and driving it consistently across our locations." Still Made in the U.S.A. Elkhart, Ind.-based Dexter has always made it clear that most of its products are made in the U.S., often directly from raw materials, for several reasons. "You can still find low-cost products around the world that may or may not meet design criteria, and that's one of the important approaches that we take," Kopkowski says. "We're always very cautious to make sure that the product requirements are fulfilled. When you control it yourself, you have a much better chance of that. You know who the raw material manu- facturers are, you know the processes used to manufacture, you know the quality systems to check the parts on an in-process basis. You control all that. When someone else is doing it for you, you're not quite sure." There's a lot that happens before Dexter products hit the road, according to Kopkowski. "I think we're very thorough and go through extensive testing and validation before we introduce anything," he says. "We follow a very rigorous protocol to validate that the product's ready for the marketplace. Most of our competitors would buy hubs and drums and brakes offshore from low-cost manufacturers wherever they can get it cheapest." By contrast, Adam Dexter notes his company not only has the embedded manufacturing processes, but it also owns the designs of the componentry. That's due to an engineering depart- ment with a research and development lab that creates products from the ground up. "Our competitors tend to have an industry standard approach using componentry that's available in the marketplace that is most likely a copy of a Dexter product," he says. "We manu- facture domestically because it makes sense for us to do that. O R I G I N A L E Q U I P M E N T A Dexter worker focuses on manufacturing a sprung axle. The Dexter plant in Albion produces upwards of 2,800 sprung axles per day.

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