Our Reputation is Stainless!
By Marek Krasuski
In the early 1970s Dieter’s Accessories, a small manufacturer of heavy truck accessories, began building sleepers on trucks in response to driver complaints that cabs of the day typically offered only the smallest accommodations. Drivers who at that time entrusted Dieter’s were among the first in North America to drive cabs with extended bunks. This significant innovation established an industry benchmark for what we know today as spacious luxury cabs that have since become the norm.
The decision to undertake such an innovative project more than 40 years ago foreshadowed Dieter’s subsequent success, first by demonstrating quality workmanship, and second by proving this start-up company could typically turn into reality any product imagined by its customers. Thus began the legacy set forth by company founder, Dieter Hohendorn, a highly skilled sheet metal tradesman with a passion for the art of metal fabrication and for his customers looking for a customized touch. Today, Dieter’s has become the largest and most trusted name in high quality stainless steel accessories for the heavy truck industry. It has also earned the distinction as the most awarded name in the OEM sector.
Dieter’s offers virtually thousands of accessories with the more popular providing both function and style; among them extended sun visors that help reduce eyestrain, fender guards and bug deflectors that protect against high mileage wear and tear, and cab and sleeper panels designed to enhance visibility at night.Colin Thur, Dieter’s National Sales Manager, summarizes the meticulous manufacturing process involved to produce superior quality products that underscore the company’s international reputation as a premier provider. “It begins with our design team that uses CAD models and modeling software to design products for the latest models of trucks. We rely on state of the art laser machines and the latest CNC brake presses, rollers and punch presses to complete the fabrication. As we work mostly with high quality 304 mirror finish stainless steel (this is similar in reflectivity to a household mirror), one can imagine the high level of training and care that is invested to ensure products are handled properly through the entire fabrication process. All it takes is one scratch or dent to turn a quality product into scrap metal,” he explains, noting the level of product perfection required to meet the strictest quality control standards. Indeed, Dieter’s is currently the only stainless steel accessory manufacturer in North America that maintains the highest quality standard for the automotive industry, taking pride in being TS 16949 and ISO 9001 certified as well as being ISO 140001 Environmentally certified. Colin Thur notes that these certifications are neither easy nor inexpensive to maintain, but nevertheless are necessary and beneficial as they demonstrate dedication to quality standards from start to finish as well as being environmentally conscious at the same time.
A perusal of Dieter’s website, www.dietersaccessories.com, provides in detail the intricacies of the manufacturing process. During the initial forming stage metal/plastic parts are shaped to various angles and degrees according to customer specification using multiple CNC controlled rollers and press brakes, including the industry-leading Beyeler press brake. Next is 2D laser scanning that ensures base materials are flawless, followed by polishing that entails first the grinding of weldments and burs, then the polishing of the area, and finally the buffing of material to achieve a finished gleaming surface. Other functions in the entire process include 3D scanning, laser cutting, punching, and laser etching – crucial to ensuring that the strength and quality of stainless materials will not be compromised.
Another distinguishing characteristic of all Dieter’s metal products is the quality of steel. The company insists on only the highest grade non-magnetic stainless steel. It uses 304 grade stainless, as distinct from most competitors who opt for the lower grade 400-series stainless steel. After just a few months under the strain of real world use, particularly in harsh northern climates subject to road salt and inclement weather conditions, the 400-series stainless is noticeably tarnished, whereas the 304 non-magnetic premium steel continues to shine, rust and corrosion free for years.
As many customers are unable to distinguish between the superior 304 non-magnetic steel and inferior iterations, Colin Thur offers this advice: “A simple household magnet will tell you all you need about the quality. If a magnet sticks to the stainless it’s not true stainless steel. At Dieter’s we source a higher nickel content in our stainless steel (type 304, non-magnetic) which allows it to look great for many years to come, if not the lifetime of your truck.”
Dieter’s stands on three pillars of success – product quality noted above, superior customer service and strong partnerships, both of which reinforce each other. One testament to Dieter’s commitment to customer service is that it is the only provider of stainless steel accessories that offers a two year warranty through its OEM distribution channels; this, in addition to a lifetime warranty on other products such as bug deflectors. Confirming Dieter’s commitment to service, National Sales Manager Colin Thur notes, “We believe most customers still want quality when it comes to their accessories. After all, how good will they look if they rust or corrode within the first year?”
Standing alongside warranty-backed products is the provision of additional custom work as their customers demand even more personalized accessories. Custom fabrication also includes products made from aluminum or a paintable stainless steel; body match products have become quite popular. Indeed, although the company fabricates primarily high quality stainless steel accessories, it also sources many components such as interior trim finishes, mirror arm covers, and light bezels moulded from chrome ABS materials.
A further demonstration of customer service is Dieter’s willingness to reach out to its client base with the creation of the Tool Tray, a solutions-based product built in response to customer requests. Designed for those who spend their days working on trucks, the Tool Tray securely fits on the top of a tire as a secure working station, either for a diagnostic laptop or a space for technician tools. The Tool Tray is sold under the Panelite brand of products. Panelite is the most recognized name for stainless steel accessories in the United States. Panelite grew to become the largest accessory provider to the US on a dealer direct basis. In 2010 Dieter’s purchased Panelite, their largest US competitor. Today Dieter’s and Panelite operate as one company under the two most trusted brands in the accessories sector. In addition to the Panelite brand, customers can also find Dieter’s products under the corporate flags, PACCAR Parts, TRP and Freightliner Alliance, as well as through all of North America’s large OEM truck plants and their aftermarket divisions.
Dieter’s products are available to the public through an extensive OE dealer network of some 2,000-plus locations throughout North America. Truck dealerships and their customers can select from Dieter’s thousands of products and have them arrive in a timely manner through their warehouse program. The benefit, says Colin Thur, “is that this allows customers to accessorize their rig at the time of purchase or during the pre-delivery inspection process. A significant advantage to this is the ability to finance and not worry about Dieter’s sourced products as our merchandise is designed to withstand our abusive northern climate, resulting in a onetime purchase that should last the lifetime of the truck,” Colin explained.
Compared to the early days when accessory products were almost the exclusive purview of Owner Operators eager to craft their unique brand, today’s customer also includes fleets mindful of the importance of driver retention. Allowing drivers to customize their trucks, Colin Thur concludes, is a small investment that yields substantial dividends by keeping drivers loyal to their employer and to the brand they can personalize through the help of quality accessories from Dieter’s and its affiliates.
The full measure of Dieter’s commitment to the three pillars of success – product quality, customer service and strong partnerships – is demonstrated by its countless satisfied customers, fleets and owner operators alike, who continue to rely on this exceptional company for premium stainless steel accessories and complementary products.
Let Dieter’s Accessories help create your image.
Visit us online at www.dietersaccessories.com or call 877.884.8555, or 519.884.8555.
We are located at 275 Industrial Road, Cambridge, Ontario, N3H 4R7.☚