Posted: October 19, 2013
Westin Finds Growth Potential In The Towing Market
Interview with Bob Westin, on the company's new towing and towing electrical products.By Dan Sanchez
Manufacturers and retailers are always looking for new areas of growth and opportunities. So when Westin announced it was expanding its product line into the towing and towing accessories market, many truck accessory retailers took notice. Although it seems like a new product line for Westin, the company's Executive Vice President, Bob West, explained to Trucking Times, that it wasn't a far reach to get into this market, and that the areas of expansion that they've identified might not be what many have expected.
TTM: Why did Westin move into the towing market, and does it see additional growth in that area?
WEST: In the past two to three years, there had been some changes to the supplier base for receiver hitches in the aftermarket. We saw this as an opportunity to expand our product offering for our customer base looking for alternative sources. We also have actually been in the towing market for over 30 years through our Fey Bumpers, so this wasn’t as unexpected as it may appear. As far as additional growth, it definitely opens up new opportunities in the electrical and towing accessory markets.
TTM: Did the increase in light-duty truck sales this year, have anything to do with Westin's
decision to expand its product line?
WEST: Not really, we have always had a strong base in the light-duty truck market regardless of the annual sales figures and they traditionally have been the tow vehicle’s of choice. Now with some past truck buyers opting for more fuel efficient vehicles, we see this product as a way for us to move into the sedan, CUV and SUV classes in a larger way so that the consumer has a way to handle their cargo more efficiently.
TTM: How will truck accessory retailers that already sell Westin products, be able to integrate the towing line in their stores?
WEST: We have a full program of merchandisers available that will be a key to our program. We think we have a product that looks great and the best way to show the differences, is to see all the available products side by side.
TTM: What are some of the differences beetween Westin's towing products versus the competition?
WEST: As you know, Westin has been developing and providing accessories for over 35 years and we are proud of the fact that we can give our customers a functional product that looks great and actually adds to the appearance of the consumers vehicle, this is where we wanted to separate ourselves from our completion.
The outer ring on a receiver reinforces the receiver tube so that there is no deformity at the end which could cause a loose connection between the ball mount and the receiver. Competitive products perform this task adequately but we wanted to “Westinize” the look so that it isn’t just another receiver hitch, that’s the difference.
With regards to the “Delta Cut” safety chain loop, this is another styling feature we added to our designs, we have used a single look to identify a Westin receiver hitch rather than just making a square or round or oblong or rectangular hole without considering the finished look of the product on the rear of the vehicle. The other appearance item you didn’t ask about is our finish, we apply an E-Coat and then a Textured Powder Coating to all of our receivers. This is done to make the hitch blend in better with the bumper pads and other plastic trim pieces, it really does look good.
TTM: Do you have more information/details on the brake controls and other 12-volt towing accessories?
WEST: On our electrical products, we use only 100 percent copper stranded wire, and OEM style connectors to ensure a fast and easy installation for the life of the vehicle. Our carded program is “color coded” for easy look up and product identification. Our “Brake Control” program, of course, is red. We wanted to offer a simplified program that was easy to understand while providing a product for any level of consumer. We offer entry level “time actuated” LED and Digital LED controls, “proportional control” digital LED and a top of the line “gyro accelerometer” digital LED controller.
TTM: Will truck accessory retailers that carry the towing line, be able to get additional marketing support from Westin?
WEST: We have merchandisers available now and will be offering many additional displays and marketing support after SEMA and into the Spring selling season.
TTM: Will some or all of these products be available to see at this year's SEMA Show?
WEST: All of our new towing products will be on display and available for purchase at the SEMA show. Our booth number is 34039, please come by and see us.
For more information on Westin products, visit www.westin.com.