Innovation helps Truckman pick-up business

Innovation helps Truckman pick-up business

Truckman has been designing, engineering and building hardtops for the pick-up market, for more than 35 years, developing an unrivalled reputation for quality.

A common site on UK roads, Truckman hardtops, renowned for being robust, secure and stylish, are the chosen UK OEM approved accessory supplier for all leading pick-up manufacturers, including Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Nissan Toyota and VW.

At the heart of the Black Country sits the company’s manufacturing facility, paint-shop and customer service centre, which features a showroom and workshop with multiple fitting bays. The extensive range of Truckman hardtops is complemented by an impressive range of accessories for cars, pick-ups, vans, SUVs and 4x4s.

Opportunity seized

The Truckman business was bought out of administration in 2008, by growing 4×4 accessory distributor, Auto Styling UK Ltd, who recognised the potential behind the brand. The hardtops, long admired for their strength, space and security, were to be given a new lease of life, with an extended range and new manufacturing techniques.

black country growth hub TruckmanProduction was increased and the business began to recover lost ground, under the expert guidance of Chairman, Mike Wheeler and Managing Director, Richard Langman. Growth has been steady and sustained, with around 20 new jobs created in the last 18 months bringing the total to approximately 80 dedicated individuals.

Location, location, location

To meet increasing demand, more manufacturing and storage space was required and the management team began the search for a suitable site, with enough room to bring all the elements of the business together in one location.

Advice was sought from the Black Country Growth Hub, which was able to signpost suitable support and available funding to ensure Truckman remained within the region.

In 2015, the business moved into its new home in Dudley, with 120,000 sq ft of floor space spread across two sites on the same industrial park. The largest of the sites houses the showroom, offices and warehouse, which holds up to 25,000 stock items at any one time, from tonneau covers and bedliners to ladder racks and tow bars.

Innovation by design

Also located in the company’s HQ is the all-important design team, which plays a pivotal role in the ongoing success of Truckman hardtops. Adaptability and versatility are key attributes for the design team, with a need to react quickly to client needs in both the commercial and leisure markets.

Although a comprehensive range of standard hardtops are available in an almost limitless number of configurations, clients will often require designs tailored specifically for their work, like utility companies, emergency services and infrastructure operators.

“From the outset, there has been tremendous growth potential in the Truckman brand and we’re only now seeing what is truly possible. Increasing sales of pick-ups and our export plans ensure growth and jobs for a region undervalued for what it delivers to the UK economy.”

Mike Wheeler

Managing Director

Once the specific challenges posed by these customers are addressed, typically displaying the innovation for which Truckman is renowned, the specially designed hardtops are offered as standard variants, allowing other smaller customers to take advantage of this practical development work.

Export optimism

Investment in the UK production and distribution facilities has been significant and with good reason. The UK’s commercial vehicles sector is in rude health, with demand for the new vehicles, including commercial pick-ups, remaining strong and set to increase on 2016 levels.

black country growth hub TruckmanAs the only UK manufacturer of hardtops, Truckman is well placed to take advantage of the growing market for pick-ups in the UK and beyond.

Recent contracts to supply hardtops to Sweden and accessories into the French and Spanish markets demonstrate the strength of the firm’s offering, with exports currently accounting for 10% of the company’s £12.5m turnover.

Truckman has created a dedicated team of Export Advisers to assist international customers, as it targets export growth to around £2.8m over the next two years.

The innovation at the heart of the Truckman business combined with its expertise and undoubted ambition to ensure a bright future for this corner of the Black Country and the workforce it supports.

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