Recognized Supplier Guide '19

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20 • RV PRO • January 2019 rv-pro.com O R I G I N A L E Q U I P M E N T What got the company going was a request from a man who was looking for a piece of plastic trim for motorcycle helmets. Rather than provide the machine to make the trim, the senior Whitener decided to make the trim and sell it to the would-be customer on a piece-by-piece basis. Dan Whitener says even his grandfa- ther thought the change was a bad idea. And, at least in its earliest days, it put a lot of stress on his dad. "I can remember when he would sleep on the floor next to a machine," the younger Whitener says. "When it would run out of material, it would stop, he'd wake up and load more material in it, then go back to sleep." As with Steele Rubber, Trim-Lok grew organically. Today, it has clients in several industries that encompass not just auto- motive and RV, but heavy equipment – think Deere Mfg., Caterpillar and Ditch Witch Co. – to name just a few. "If you've ever thrown away trash at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, you've seen our gaskets on the trash containers," Whitener says. Divergent Paths Because Trim-Lok has always had a business-to-business focus, it's grown in different ways than Steele Rubber Prod- ucts, and today one of its strengths is in the RV industry. It's telling that, along with its Buena Park headquarters, which employs almost 200 people, the company also has a facility and 20-person staff in Elkhart, Ind., that includes manufacturing, sales and quality control people. "That's the primary source of our plastic extrusions," Dan Whitener says. "We have a patented design on our slide-out seals and we manufacture them in Elkhart. However, it also allows us to keep product as a just- in-time for all the OEMs." Along with its slide-out seals, the company also provides plastic edge protectors, trim seals, rubber seals and locking gaskets for the RV industry. And, while Trim-Lok is happy to work with OEMs on specific items for a make or model, the company has reached a point where it's also working on coming up with innovative products its customers may not have thought of. "Over the last three years, I've taken our engineering talent and dedicated them to innovation," Whitener says. "We're not just creating a better mouse- trap, but in some cases we're building a brand-new mousetrap." An example he cites is a screw cap cover that often runs the length of a coach on the top. Typically made of aluminum with a vinyl insert, it's not unheard of for the wind to catch the vinyl insert, eventually peeling off the aluminum strip and leaving it hanging from the coach or by the side of the road. By integrating the aluminum with an extruded piece of plastic that snaps into the entire length of the screw cap, it virtually eliminates the aluminum pulling out. Trim-Lok is a family-owned and operated company. Pictured (left to right, back row) are: Robert Whitener, board of directors member; Gary Whitener, president and CEO; and Dan Whitener, vice president and chief operating officer. Pictured (front row, left to right) are: Travis Whitener, son of Robert, and Christopher Whitener, son of Dan.

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