by Rob Mullner, Chief Enthusiast JC Whitney
One of the many things we love about the Auto Aftermarket is its affinity for problem solving. Features or functions overlooked by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OE) create opportunities for those who see a deficiency and have the imagination and ability to envision a solution. After touring AMP Research® and meeting their engineering, facilities and manufacturing teams, we know these traits are thriving in Southern California.
The back story of AMP Research® began with an Austrian immigrant by the name of Horst Leitner and his interest in motorcycles and specifically motorcycle suspension. Horst founded his first company ATK Motorcycle in the early 80’s. Honing his skills for innovation and problem solving, ATK became a force in the design and manufacturing of off road motorcycles. In 1989, Horst created Advanced Moto Products to focus exclusively on suspension projects, capitalizing on the surging interest in Mountain Biking.
With the success of his companies, Horst continued to instill his personal mantra of
See, Invent, Prove, Build to his team of engineers and his vision continues today at AMP Research®.
Anthony, who has worked at AMP Research® for nearly 20 years, told us about the challenges of seeing
a problem that has been accepted and applying simple innovation to solve the “invisible” problem.
Anthony shared the example of the AMP Research® BedXtenderHD™ Cargo Cage and how it applied its
DNA in the motorcycle world to the automotive industry. The BedXtenderHD™ Cargo Cage is one of
those products that embody Horst’s design philosophy: simple, elegant and useful. The BedXtenderHD™
Cargo Cage secures loads that extend beyond the dimensions of the truck bed with the tailgate down,
creates a “pocket” with the tailgate up to secure smaller items and can be removed completely when
not in use. Debuting In 1997, the BedXtenderHD™ Cargo Cage was a big hit for AMP Research® and was
immediately accepted by the Aftermarket and became a “must have” accessory for OE’s like Nissan,
who saw the BedXtenderHD™ Cargo Cage enhancing the usefulness of their trucks.
Today, a portion of the AMP Research® business comes from OE’s who seek their unique design and manufacturing capabilities and high standards for engineering and quality control. We left the front office where engineers design parts in SolidWorks CAD and entered the R&D workshop. Here is where the ideas envisioned by AMP Research® engineers become prototype parts for fitment and testing.
While many companies are actively adding 3D rapid prototyping to their design arsenals, we were very impressed to learn that AMP Research® has employed them for nearly 20 years!
Daryl showed us a new Jeep JL that AMP Research® and ‘sister’ brand Rampage™Products are collaborating on. AMP Research® has developed items for the MOPAR parts catalog.
Anthony pointed out that while other auto accessory manufacturers will “design out” OE material costs for products going directly to the Aftermarket, AMP includes the same OE grade hardware and fasteners for a more efficient and trouble free installation. Another capability that sets AMP Research® apart is its willingness and ability to design and create products in multiple materials of construction via multiple manufacturing processes. This ensures that whether a part is molded, extruded or die cast, the best possible production method for that particular part is being used rather than being “tied” to one process that may not yield the highest quality part. With mechanical and electrical engineers in-house, supported by sourcing and purchasing departments under one roof, AMP Research® has the technical and commercial skills of much larger organizations with the agility of a start-up.
We were even more impressed that AMP Research® sources component parts and specialized manufacturing capabilities from local companies rather than off shore channels. Anthony mentioned that the value of enhanced communication and higher quality of the partners AMP Research® chooses for supplying parts has far exceeded projected cost savings of sourcing parts from global suppliers.
Our next stop was the plant floor and we walked into a hive of activity, with streams of sourced goods arriving for inspection. Once these parts clear QC they are fed into their respective product assembly lines in just in time fashion. Pablo told us that Richard, the Operations Director, works with the master scheduler to set the daily plan for assembly and packaging of products based on historical demand data. From this 60,000 sq. ft. plant in Tustin or a nearby warehouse in Fullerton, CA, finished products are distributed to OE’s and retailers like JC Whitney. Each production line produces hundreds of units of BedXtenderHD™ Cargo Cage, Bedstep® Flip Down Bumper Step, Bedstep2™Box Side Access Step, Fuel Doors and Powerstep™ Electric Articulating Running Boards every day!
Pablo led us to the Powerstep™ Electric Articulating Running Boards line where AMP Research® employees with an average tenure of 15 years assemble the components that make the Powerstep™ Electric Articulating Running Boards the leading motorized running board available. We saw the precision shafts, hinges, motors and step assemblies being built and carefully packaged by skilled hands to ensure a trouble free installation job for its new owner.
As we completed our tour, Daryl reminded us that when Lund International™ acquired AMP Research® in 2013, the plan was to continue and foster what Horst Leitner created and we can confirm that the spirit of See, Invent, Prove, Build is alive and well at AMP Research®.
To see all of the AMP Research® products available at JC Whitney, please visit https://www.jcwhitney.com/amp-research
To learn more about AMP Research® please visit http://www.amp-research.com