RV PRO

June '17

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rv-pro.com June 2017 • RV PRO • 35 We have a significant amount of installed capacity to make these types of products and we tend to utilize that and add to it. "So, when we get additional volume, we look at should we make the products or should we buy the products and we tend to have a very efficient manufacturing process and good suppliers that were able to find raw materials domestically and convert into finished goods." Put another way, developing a company with the capabilities of Dexter today would cost lots of time and money, according to Dexter. Benefits of Vertical Integration To get a better idea of vertical integration at Dexter, Thursby says to consider the company's brakes. The supplier makes the brake linings, stamps the backing plates, cures the shoes and the linings, as well as machines the hub and drums domestically. Even magnets, a fairly simple item to outsource, are manufac- tured in-house. "Those are all things we do that our competition typically doesn't," he says. "Those are key components to the axle. Out- side of that, there's really only the tubes, the bearings and some of those things that are easier duplicated." Thursby notes Dexter's technique of friction welding spin- dles, a more proven and reliable method than others, is another example of the differences between Dexter and its competition. "We put our focus on performance," he says. "You can make it look pretty, but our competitors don't have 50-plus years and over 50 million axles worth of performance history in the field." Competitors "do more of an assembly (process). They're trusting someone else to manufacture those off-shore and the components aren't as consistent as ours, regardless of what kind of marketing pitch they put on it," according to Thursby. One of the things the company has always done, says Dexter, is evaluate performance of material that's been in actual use. "We've had the practice of setting products out in the field with high-mileage users so we've got some customers who are full-time transporters," he says. It's a practice that gives Dexter engineers a chance to study wear and tear under real-world conditions so the company can develop better components. "The processes today are significantly more different and I would categorize them as extremely more capable today than they were back then," he says. "All our suppliers are generally better today than they were 30 or 40 years ago. Our understanding of manufacturing process control is at a different level today than it was 30 or 40 years ago. "We have the ability to analyze and predict in our processes and adjust before we have a product that goes out of tolerances,

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