A leader in the design and manufacture of custom/standard dump truck bodies, and truck equipment up-fitting, Diesel Equipment Ltd. (DEL) has commanded a top spot in an ever-changing industry through velocity and an innovative spirit. Lorie Greenspan tells the story of a family enterprise that has withstood the test of time.
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It was 1945 – immediately after World War II – when four friends got together to start a business. All members of the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME) the friends, Jack Martin, Vic Williams, Walter Sanderson, and Bill Tucker, wanted to build and supply truck bodies and truck equipment based on what they believed was their own unique vision and penchant for solid design. And so, DEL (Diesel Equipment Limited) was born.
DEL’s earlier days were as a Toronto-based service station, but through the years, it grew into one of Canada’s biggest truck body builders and up-fitters with seven up-fit locations in Canada, altogether employing more than 200 people nationwide.
All branches have full-line up-fitting capabilities and are certified under a National Safety Mark #901 by Transport Canada. “We’re driven by lean manufacturing and process driven up-fitting that follows industry standards and best practices,” said Marketing Specialist John Supnet. “DEL Toronto is the core manufacturing facility where standard bodies (dump bodies and custom bodies) are designed and manufactured.”
Although all DEL’s branches have manufacturing capabilities, the company, he said, has centralized manufacturing to save on costs and streamlined the process of delivering manufactured products to the market. “This has allowed us to deliver a diverse offering of truck equipment with a focus on up-fitting cranes, hook lifts, snow and ice equipment, and dump bodies,” he said.
Joining in that same heritage of manufacturing innovation is Unicell, producer of one-piece fiberglass van bodies. Together, and teaming through the years with other companies that would complement its portfolio, DEL and Unicell have won a sizeable portion of the vocational equipment market in Canada. Today both companies are still family owned by brothers Paul Martin, who runs DEL, and Roger Martin, who heads up Unicell.
Superior Truck Bodies
DEL first embarked on the vocational truck industry in the 1960s and shortly after was recognized as one of Canada’s largest manufacturer of dump bodies, reports Supnet. “Our success was highly attributed to our ability to meet design and supply demands. This resulted in DEL’s dump body design to become ubiquitous and stand the test of time as the standard in today’s light duty dump body market,” he said.
DEL’s vision, Supnet said, is to deliver a superior truck body up-fitting brand experience for every customer, every time, in the company’s markets across Canada. “We do this by delivering superior products and services of exceptional value so our customers experience ‘Toughness you can trust™’— we are Canada’s premier truck body up-fitter and advisor.”
In recent years, DEL has evolved its company objectives to emphasize its place in the market as the preferred supplier and manufacturer of premier truck equipment and accessories in the vocational truck market. “We plan on achieving this by delivering a superior brand experience through exceptional products, service, and truck equipment advisory,” Supnet said.
From basic truck bodies to highly engineered solutions, DEL has extensive product offerings that cover a multitude of markets. “What sets us apart is our advisory approach,” Supnet said. “We work with the customer, the operator, the financing, the fleet manager to determine specific needs and ensure that their required application is met. Whether it’s helping a customer procure a vehicle, finding them leasing or financing, or making sure that the application they require is both functional and safe, DEL aims to deliver a superior brand experience.”
Known For Dump Bodies
Dump bodies was the first product line DEL introduced to the market in the 1960s and has since gained the company national recognition.
“We were one of the first adopters for manufacturing this type of body – we sent them as rail car loads from Halifax to Vancouver,” Supnet said. “That’s what we are most known for. Over the years we have grown and have become known for our versatility and creativity in providing one-stop shopping and turnkey solutions. We deliver solutions that are driven by market specific applications and accommodate the customers’ needs and wants.”
DEL, he said, has gone from a body builder to full-line truck equipment up-fitter able to deliver complex, highly engineered products from cranes, snow and ice equipment, and railway truck equipment, using trucks delivered from top auto manufacturers, including Ford, General Motors and Dodge.
For example, the company’s landscaper dump body, the DEL Job Boss, was designed and engineered with the landscape and construction industry in mind, and has become the standard among landscape and construction contractors: It is the must-have truck body for their fleets.
To keep up with the versatility of landscape contractors, DEL also offers a variety of truck mounted equipment that allows customers to remain competitive or gain an advantage in their industries.
“We offer solutions driven by the market,” Supnet said. “We are very accommodating and able to deliver complex and highly engineered products.”
He added, “We have a different approach; we try to go above and beyond and deliver something more premier. We work with customers and set targets, goals based on what they want.”
Surviving into this century has taken a lot of effort on the part of DEL not to become stagnant; among its mantras is to strive for continuous improvement. “DEL is not the same company that we were in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years ago,” Supnet said. “DEL has lasted as long as it has because of the commitment to the company’s growth and the people that it employs. We are driven by innovation and fostering an environment that encourages creativity and inspires people to make a difference.”