NISKU, Alta. – When Raydan Manufacturing threw its hat into the truck suspension business in 1995, it had a prototype Air Link suspension and not much else.
Raydan’s founding president and chief executive officer, Ray English, fondly recalls the company’s unusual product debut at the International Trucking Show (ITS) in Las Vegas.
Nobody warned him about the glitz and glamour that usually surrounds product launches at one of the industry’s top trade shows, so he simply threw the prototype on an old snowmobile trailer and made the trek to the desert.
The trade show was an eye-opener for English, and also for the crowds who flocked around his somewhat primitive display to see what homespun marvel was attracting so much attention.
But Raydan proved appearance isn’t everything – and took home an award for being one of the top 100 new products at the ITS to boot.
Fast forward eight years and it’s clear the little suspension manufacturer from Nisku, Alberta has come a long way.
In response to customer demand, Raydan’s Air Link tandem rear suspension is now available on two of Mack’s high volume models.
“Mack Trucks are leaders by innovation, and we are extremely proud to have our innovative Air Link listed as a Mack factory option,” says English.
“This will greatly increase exposure of the Air Link suspension to the vocational truck market.”
It’s been a busy year for the company. Most recently, Raydan rolled out its new Air Link tandem front suspension – the only walking beam front air suspension on the market.
It’s not yet available as a factory option, but can easily be installed on any truck.
Meanwhile, rave reviews have continued to come in from users of the Air Link rear suspension. Recently, New York City endorsed the product after trying it out on its fleet of transport, sanitation, and fire trucks.
“New York City is a real proving ground for new products, but a lot of people won’t go in there because if you fail, it’s a miserable experience because everybody knows you failed,” says English.
The city endorsed the suspension due to its strong performance, and mainly because of the savings in maintenance realized by the department.
“There’s only one moving part, so once the suspension is installed, there’s literally nothing to maintain,” says English.
The Air Link rear suspension is also gaining in popularity because it’s about 450-lbs. lighter than a typical rear spring suspension. But perhaps the biggest advantage is ride quality.
English says the Air Link has proven to deliver four times better ride quality, which makes it a popular offering in the Northern Alberta oilfields. Mullen Transportation recently had Raydan equip several of its service trucks with the Air Link.
One of the most appealing attributes of the Air Link for oilfield applications is that it can operate with or without air, so if an air leak occurs in the field, the truck can still be driven back to the shop – even with a full load.
The truck suspension business isn’t an easy one to break into. The suspension is subjected to plenty of abuse, regardless of the application.
So how did Raydan manage to break into the market?
English attributes the company’s success to its ability to prove itself in the specialty markets – the suspension was installed on everything from cranes to military vehicles before heavy-duty trucks.
“It takes a long time to get onto a truck manufacturer’s assembly line,” says English. “Rather than sit back and wait, we tackled the specialty markets and were successful in a couple of ways. First, the recognition we got in the specialty markets helped us immensely to get into the truck market, and secondly it also gave us a lot of confidence because (specialty market applications are) much more rigorous.”
Currently all manufacturing takes place at the company’s Nisku, Alta. plant.
If an Air Link is not in stock, it can be built and shipped in about 30 days.
In 2004, manufacturing of the truck suspensions will be moved to Mexico, and the Alberta plant will continue to handle all the specialty modifications that are a big part of Raydan’s business.
For more information on Raydan, visit www.raydanmfg.com
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