A family-run operation since 1962, Wilcox Bodies specializes in the manufacturing of truck bodies for its expanding clientele base. Over the years, the company has morphed from being a standard truck body manufacturer to becoming more involved with utility vehicles, building body sides, flooring, and more. More of these types of vehicle bodies have been released within the new and growing areas of the business, having expanded into new markets over the years.
Wilcox Bodies manufactures truck bodies and utility service truck bodies for towns, municipalities, contractors, individual users, and group manufacturers to distribute across Canada and the United States. All operations of the manufacturing process involve unique customization. In most instances, a customer will provide a design or idea, which is then manufactured by Wilcox Bodies.
Quite simply, anything that can have a body put on it, Wilcox Bodies can service, with its work ranging from hydro companies, to municipalities, to propane and gas companies, the emergency sector, fire and police vehicles, individual contractors, such as big construction agencies, providing a wide range of sectors serviced by Wilcox Bodies. In speaking with David Dick, Vice-President, Wilcox Bodies, a common theme of a high standard of manufacturing, among others, was illustrated when speaking with The Canadian Business Journal.
The Wilcox Standard
While many companies have seen cutbacks and business shortages during the recession, it’s the opposite for Wilcox Bodies. There has been plenty of growth for the company, something Dick attributes to the business expanding into new markets. Only three years ago, Wilcox Bodies concluded that its then-Mississauga, Ont.-based facility was too small to keep up with the growth of the business, meaning relocation to nearby Milton, Ont. was orchestrated. The new facilities offer double the square footage of the company’s former home, proving to be accommodating to Wilcox Bodies’ overall business flow. Said Dick, “We are now pushing stuff out the doors and getting the deliveries to the customers that much faster.”
“We really focus on the quality of our products, going right back to the start of this business. We recognize that we are not the cheapest, so we try to do the customization and we can give the customer pretty much anything they want,” Dick said. “We use quality products. Everything we use is stainless steel—typically a thicker metal than our competition, because it has to live up to our standards.”
In fact, Wilcox Bodies is so diligent of its product quality that the occasional project, when a company proposes cheaper materials be used, will not be picked up, not wanting a product on the market, of a lesser quality, stamped with the Wilcox brand. Standing up to its high standard of quality is key to the operation of Wilcox Bodies.
“There are a lot of companies out there, especially with the recent recession, where people are looking for better prices to reduce the price for the end user. But, we want to reduce our cost, and not the quality, whereas a lot of people who cheapen their price are producing a lesser quality product,” Dick said.
Prime among the environmental and “going green” offerings of Wilcox Bodies is its commitment to manufacturing aluminum bodies, something the company has been offering since its beginning. These bodies are manufactured through the same method as the more standard steel bodies, the only difference being the material used. Typically, the aluminum body is about 30 per cent lighter than the rival steel body, not only meaning lesser fuel consumption, but also on tire replacement, not worn out as quickly. Additionally, the aluminum bodies will not rust over time.
“Maybe up until about 10 years ago, we were an 80-20 split for steel products vs. aluminum products, but now we are pushing the environment and benefits to the end user by going to an aluminum product. Not many companies in our industry are doing that right now,” Dick said. “With an aluminum body vs. a steel body, the big difference is the weight reduction. It also reduces the amount of fuel used, and with the cost of fuel these days, that’s huge.”
Looking toward the future, the belief at Wilcox Bodies is that green initiatives will only continue to expand from where the company stands today. With that, the company would like to grow its operation in both central Canada and along the east coast, setting up more distributors, while also rebuilding its formerly stable market in the United States, still feeling the pains of the economic downturn.
“We’re at the point now where we are looking at doing a second shift because we are very busy,” Dick summarized. “I would like to expand our business and keep providing our customers a quality product at the best possible price and, along the way, help the environment.”