By Peter G. Hempenstall, NTEA Director of Outreach
This article was published in the August 2019 edition of NTEA News.
NTEA recently caught up with Auto Truck Group, a distributor member headquartered in Bartlett, Illinois. Founded in 1918 as Auto Truck Steel Body Company in Chicago, Auto Truck Group has been turning truck bodies and chassis into functional, task-specific work trucks for more than a century. Established during the nation’s industrial revolution, it has a rich manufacturing heritage under four generations of the Dondlinger family.
Starting as a single shop, the organization successfully navigated many challenges in the early 1900s and leveraged opportunities in the coal, oil and rail industries through the mid-20th century. From the 1970s–1990s, Auto Truck Group grew its ship-thru business and expanded its presence in the rail and fleet sectors. During the next 20 years, the company opened several new facilities throughout North America. In 2010, the business was purchased by Holman Enterprises, and in 2018, Auto Truck Group acquired Kargo Master, a manufacturer of van interiors, ladder racks and accessories.
Auto Truck Group manufactures more than 42,000 commercial vehicles each year across its 12 facilities throughout North America. Learn more at autotruck.com.
Today, under the leadership of Pete Dondlinger, Auto Truck Group designs and manufactures more than 42,000 commercial vehicles each year, offering ship-thru services for several OEMs. Across North America, Auto Truck Group has more than 615,000 square feet of manufacturing space, nearly 500 service bays, 110+ acres of storage and more than 900 employees.
The company attributes its growth and success to many factors, including its upfit professionals; long-standing, strategic partnerships with customers; and commitment to bringing solutions to a complex supply chain. The business has transformed from a truck equipment distributor to a manufacturer and distributor of products for use in commercial applications. The acquisition of Kargo Master helped to further diversify manufacturing capabilities.
Several years ago, the company recognized vans were being leveraged in a growing number of commercial applications. To capitalize on this trend, it made a significant investment in the distribution of light-duty vans and trucks (ship-thru for FCA, Ford, GM and Mercedes Benz) to serve evolving customer needs.
Auto Truck Group has been an NTEA member since 1973 and is part of the Association’s Member Verification Program (ntea.com/mvp), which recognizes eligible work truck industry companies for outstanding business practices and successful implementation of quality standards.
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