Posted: February 26, 2017
Built For The Working Class
Truck Caps And Tonneaus Evolve To Offer Heavy-Duty Work-Truck SolutionsBy Dan Sanchez
Work trucks and fleets make up a large customer base for many truck-accessory retailers. Because this segment of the market is growing, truck caps and tonneau covers have evolved into commercial-specific models that include features that provide easier access to tools, greater security, and heavier-duty components that can take daily abuse.
For retailers and restylers who are hoping to grow their fleet and work-truck customer clientele, one of the first priorities is to be familiar with what these features are, and how they relate to what commercial and fleet customers are looking for in a quality cap or tonneau cover.
While a contractor may have different needs from a service technician, most truck caps and tonneaus have basic features that are generally considered essential. “Some of the most important features work-truck customers are looking for are ease of use, accessibility, LED lighting, cargo management, and security,” said Truck Hero’s Marketing Coordinator Kelly Tuttle. “Truck Hero companies offer all of these features within our extensive product lineup.”
“Nearly all work-truck customers look for easy-to-access storage and hauling capacity, both inside and out,” said Kathy Adams
TAG VP of Marketing and Product Development. “SNUGTOP, for example, offers a variety of roof rack options that cater to specific trades, and only the SNUGPro line of fiberglass commercial caps offers the dual rear doors with a 49-inch opening for customers who cannot use a lift-up door and truck tailgate.”
While access, storage, and hauling capacity are important, many fleet operators also want a tougher exterior but with less weight. This is one of the reasons why manufacturers also make work-truck caps out of aluminum.
“LEER’s aluminum DCC caps offer a convenient, high-performance work-truck option,” said Adams. “Dual doors provide convenient access to tools and gear. Optional side doors provide superior access and organization. A selection of integrated racks maximizes hauling capacity for ladders and other bulky items.”
Security Is An Essential Feature
One of the features that manufacturers know is most important to work-truck and fleet owners is high security to prevent theft. According to tonneau manufacturers like Truck Covers USA, a tonneau cover’s security features can make or break a sale, as loosing tools is not an option on the jobsite.
“Work -truck owners are looking to keep their tools and equipment safe and secure while having them easily accessible,” said Nils Forssman, Truck Covers USA president “With the versatility of Truck Covers USA’s product line, we can provide many options, including power actuators for remote locking and unlocking of the toolbox.”
In addition to better locking mechanisms, cap and tonneau suppliers also make locking tools and gear easier with one-key operation. “Some truck caps also offer the option of e-lock, which locks your truck cap with your truck’s key fob,” said Tuttle. “For example, the Truck Hero tonneau cover line offers many products with an incorporated locking system that is either manual or electronic. The combination of a locking cap or tonneau cover, along with a locking tailgate, provides the ultimate secure environment for a work truck.”
Besides convenient locking and one-key operation, manufacturers also find it important to beef up locking components and latches to further improve security. “We offer a three-way locking system on the side opening doors that would be extremely hard to penetrate,” said Hartmut Schroeder, SNUGTOP president. “To keep tools out of sight, SNUGTOP offers a fiberglass panel rear door that replaces the more vulnerable glass. Heavy-duty locks are used all around and can also be coded to the ignition.”
Accessory Rack Compatibility
One of the latest features that cap and tonneau cover manufacturers have adapted to their work-truck products is the use of integrated or add-on cargo and accessory racks. In the past, mounting a ladder rack might have interfered with the use of a tonneau cover, and there was no way to bolt one on top of a truck cap. Manufacturers have worked around these obstacles to come up with some unique designs that are now easy features to add on. “Our truck-cap products offer the flexibility to install ladder racks, toolboxes and a variety of other auxiliary products,” said Truck Hero’s Tuttle. “Our tonneau cover lineup includes covers that allow access to the stake pockets holes and that work with toolboxes.”
Some manufacturers have integrated rack systems that can be an option for any of their products. “The American Truck Rack is really four racks in one,” said Forssman. “Not only does it install flawlessly with our American Roll Cover, but it can also be a stand-alone product. You can take the American Truck Rack from the base rack down to just the bed length side rails, add the secondary level option for carrying cargo right above the truck bed, and also add the cab-over extension pieces to extend it between two to three feet over the cab, depending on the truck model. With the new extrusions and their ability to hold tie-downs, lights and other accessories, the options for cargo accessibility with this rack are astounding.”
Integrating Cargo-Management Systems Improves Access
Another integrated accessory that many work-truck and fleet operators find extremely helpful is a cargo-management system. These types of products have proven so useful in this segment of the market, that many cap and tonneau manufacturers have added them as an accessory to their products. They range from simple solutions that hold tools and gear to larger cargo access and management systems for greater storage. For example, Truck Hero products offer several additional accessories for cargo management, such as the Truck Luggage Cargo Sling, BAK box and Swing Case.
For those work trucks that haul heavier cargo, manufacturers utilize cargo slides and locking drawer systems that are also very popular in this category. “Many of the products available from Truck Accessories Group offer the unique BEDSLIDE storage system,” said Adams. “This sliding track and rail system is capable of carrying up to 2,000 lbs. of gear and supplies. For less weighty gear, the LEER Locker is a cargo system that mounts to the top of the truck cap’s interior, providing storage and organization space for up to 100 lbs. of equipment.” TAG’s products can also be purchased with the DECKED cargo system, weatherproof full bed-length drawers that glide effortlessly on industrial-grade wheels beneath a 2,000-lb. payload-rated deck.”
While truck caps and tonneaus for the work-truck market have indeed become specialized, it’s also important for retailers and restylers to know their customers and provide solutions to their individual needs. Manufacturers always suggest that knowing your customers is ultimately the best way to seize on new opportunities and provide them with the products they need to be more productive and cost effective.
Truck Accessory Group (TAG)
Truck Covers USA