February '20

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50 • RV PRO • February 2020 rv-pro.com its two-year warranty to a limited-lifetime warranty, which was recently introduced, but many customers aren't yet aware of. All Products Undergo Rigorous Testing Roadmaster's engineering department designs every part and tests every product the company makes. That wasn't the case in the company's early years, just because the technology wasn't available. Robinson says that, beginning nearly 25 years ago, Roadmaster became the first manufacturer in the industry to use a computerized testing system on its prod- ucts known as "finite elemental analysis" (FEA), which also is used by engineering companies such as NASA and Boeing. "It's a way for us to test a product to find its weak spots and make it stronger and lighter," says Robinson, who adds that Roadmaster also "fatigue" tests its tow bars. "The physical cycle tests are so severe that each time the testing machine compresses a tow bar, you can see the arm bow, and then come back into alignment." During the physical tests, a tow bar must experience 150,000 strokes for- ward, then 150,000 strokes backward, to see if any component part fails – then it's back to the proverbial re-engineering drawing board, which is conducted in computer software. "We 'over-test' everything to make sure that what we see in FEA computer testing shows up in the real-world testing," says Robinson, although he is quick to add Roadmaster not only tests for failure, but also tests throughout the manufac- turing process. The braking product department has several test stations along its assembly line, whereas some companies spot-test products only at the end of manufacturing, according to Robinson. "We actually test as we're building, so each key component that's added to our braking system is station-tested, such as an air compressor. 'Is it pulling too much amperage and is it shutting off at the right pressure?' for example. At the end of assembly, a final comprehensive test is exe- cuted. By doing it that way, it differentiates us from the competition." Roadmaster President Jerry Edwards says he has always been a believer in controlling the company's destiny – and that the only way to do that is to control the process. "When you're reliant on other people to provide assemblies, it's difficult to control the quality, as well as the supply," he says. In addition to manufacturing its own products from start to finish in-house, Roadmaster also designs its own packaging, writes its instruction manuals and produces its own marketing. But more than that, it has an in-house tool-and-die division to make its own tooling. Family-Owned Company with Family Values Roadmaster has won multiple "RV Vendor of the Year" awards recognizing the company for its high quality and its customer service. Those awards square with the company's unwavering focus on the customer, according to Robinson. "We have a lot of people answering the phones, and when there are issues, we take care of them – we don't stick our head in the sand," he says. "We're also proactive and maintain our stock levels and fill rates without many comebacks, which our dis- tributors really appreciated. "We're family-owned, and although we're big enough to be a real business, we maintain our family culture with a lot of longevity." (Robinson has been with the company since 1992, and other employees' tenure dates back to the 1970s). Robinson describes Roadmaster's cul- ture as "blue-jean company." "We're solid business partners and just normal, hardworking people," he says, adding, "and we don't ask our customers to jump through hoops." It all contributes to Roadmaster's charge and mission, according to Robinson. "We innovate, we create and bring new ideas and products to the category. We're not a technology company; we're a true manufacturing company – but we're not afraid to use technology in our products and manufacturing." Edwards adds, "We're always a leader in these new products while others play catch-up. Roadmaster is ahead of the curve and will stay ahead of the curve." Roadmaster continually checks parts specifications for proper tolerance even during the manufacturing process. Andrew Kolberg sets up a CNC turning center for parts production.

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