RV PRO

January '19

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18 • RV PRO • January 2019 rv-pro.com O R I G I N A L E Q U I P M E N T I n the 1967 movie "The Grad- uate", protagonist Benjamin Brad- dock (played by Dustin Hoffman) struggles to define the direction of his post-college life, prompting a friend of his parents to offer a single word of advice: "Plastics." It's solid advice, as far as it goes. Just ask the founders of Steele Rubber Prod- ucts and Trim-Lok. The two companies have made places for themselves in the RV industry manufacturing a range of plastic and rubber products. Although the two companies both came to the market with similar back- grounds, Lynn Steele with Steele Rubber Products and Gary Whitener with Trim-Lok have seen their com- panies grow in different directions to serve different segments of the RV pie. However, their successors are confi- dent there's plenty more they can be doing with these not-so-glamorous but important products. Tool-and-Die Guys Both Steele and Whitener came to launch their businesses from back- grounds in tool-and-die manufacturing. However, one grew out of a hobby, while the other came from a change in direction. As the older of two operations, the Denver, N.C.-based Steele Rubber Prod- ucts celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2018. Now under the direction of a third generation of the Steele family, Matt Misener, the company's project coordinator for new markets, says its start dates to a purchase Steele made of a 1930s-era Cadillac. "It did not have the proper rubber products, and he wanted to replace them as part of his restoration efforts," Misener says. "Being a tool-and-die guy, he gained access to the actual rubber compounds and some injection machines and started making the rubber parts to restore his car." Seal the Deal Steele Rubber Products and Trim-Lok offer a variety of plastic and rubber products designed to keep 'the outside' on the outside of RVs. By K. Schipper PHOTOS COURTESY OF STEELE RUBBER PRODUCTS AND TRIM-LOK Steele Rubber Products worker Randy Wilson operates a CNC milling machine at the company's manufacturing plant in Denver, N.C. The company got its start serving the automotive aftermarket but has since branched to serve the RV industry, among others.

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