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2008 PFE Upfitters' Challenge...Meet the Competitors

Written by Jennifer Gavigan

Here are the best of the best—the companies that participated in this year’s Upfitters’ Challenge. Thanks to all these companies for their commitment to the profession and willingness to share their talent with the Police Fleet Expo attendees. Congratulations to all the team members. When deciding on the best way to upfit your new vehicles, give these companies a good, hard look.

Adamson Industries Corp.™
Public Safety Vehicle Operations
Contact: Steve Contarino
45 Research Dr.
Haverhill, MA 01832
(800) 232-0162
www.adamsonindustries.com

Founded in 1984 by Kim Contarino, Adamson Industries provides quality law enforcement vehicle products and services worldwide. Adamson is one of the nation’s largest vehicle equipment installers. It picks up and delivers anywhere in the continental United States. Its partnership with United Road transportation (www.unitedroad.com) allows it to offer its customers competitive prices for vehicle logistics.

Officer safety is the number one priority at Adamson. Its technicians and service team have years of experience in the law enforcement industry. Over the years, Adamson has studied an officer’s day-to-day potential for hazards and injuries to help it design the most efficient and productive police vehicle. It enforces stringent quality control measures and ensures its vehicles are in compliance with Federal Regulations for Safety Standards.

Adamson currently has 50 employees. Adamson specializes in public safety vehicles. The company is a ship-through location for Ford, GMC, General Motors, Chrysler, Kia, Honda and Toyota. Adamson sells only to authorized law enforcement agencies. On average, it upfits more than 2,000 cars per year. This allows it to optimize space and productivity in a police car.

Adamson’s catalog offers a wide range of law enforcement vehicle equipment, including the exclusive Adamson Intimidator grille, vehicle warning lights, lightbar systems, prisoner partitions, siren systems, K9 units, and more. In terms of emergency gear, it installs and distributes Federal Signal, Whelen, SoundOff, Jotto Desk, Nova, Cruisers, ProGard, D&R, Signal Vehicle Products, Setina and Go Rhino products. Adamson installs all support equipment, including communications and data elements. Lead time at Adamson is anywhere from five to eight hours to turn a vehicle around.

According to Steve Contarino, the goal of Adamson Industries is to provide on-time delivery and safe and efficient public safety products and services to its customers. Its personnel are professional and responsive to customers’ needs. Customers will be treated honestly and fairly. “This is our pledge to you,” Contarino said.

Arizona Emergency Products
Contact: Mike Chamberlain
4120 E. Winslow
Phoenix, AZ 85040
(602) 453-9111
www.gotcops.com

Arizona Emergency Products (AEP) is the largest emergency vehicle upfitter in the Southwest. AEP produced more than 2,500 vehicles in 2007 for hundreds of municipal, county, state, tribal and federal agencies. AEP has been in business for eight years and currently has 100 employees. AEP specializes in all types of vehicles: police, fire, EMS, DHS, FBI, even F-450 trucks. It also upfits specialty emergency fire and utility vehicles and Honda police motorcycles. AEP is the western distributor for T3 Personal Mobility vehicles.

AEP is a drop-ship location for all auto-makers and a ship-through location for Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge, within 10 miles of the build facility. Once vehicles are brought to its location, AEP builds them up and distributes them to its customers. Delivery from the factory and to the customer is typically made by an auto transporter. AEP’s core upfitting business is police vehicles: Ford Crown Victoria Interceptors, Explorers and Expeditions; Chevrolet Impalas, Tahoes and Suburbans; Dodge Chargers; and Chrysler 300s.

Factory-trained technicians at AEP install both emergency gear and communications gear. It is a complete, turn-key facility. It installs lights, partitions, radios, tinting, etc., from all major manufacturers such as Federal Signal, Whelen, Code 3, SoundOff, Nova Electronics, Kustom Signal, Jotto Desk, Setina, Patriot, Pro-Gard, Lund and many more. AEP also maintains on-site and mobile factory trained servicing and repair teams.

AEP maintains a $1.5 million inventory of components on site at its 46,000-square-foot facility. AEP is capable of producing 15 to 20 cars a day. The total turnaround time—delivery from the factory to delivery to the client—is typically two weeks, but that can vary depending on the vehicle. AEP is dedicated to its customers and the communities it serve. “Fleet managers should always use a professional upfitter and make sure they are capable of getting the job they want done,” Mike Chamberlain said.

Command & Control Installations
Contact: Matt Ayers or Dave Cope
1589 Jasmine Trail
Sevierville, TN 37862
(865) 556-3746

Command & Control Installations (C2 Installs) was started in 2005 when Matt Ayers recognized the need for quality upfit services in East Tennessee. Ayers is a full-time sergeant with the Sevierville, TN Police and had assisted with the upfit and maintenance of his agency’s 60-vehicle fleet. According to Ayers, “It seemed like a good idea to take my experience into the marketplace,” so he partnered with a fleet technician / mechanic, David Cope. Cope and Ayers are the only two employees at C2 Installs.

C2 Installs specializes in police vehicles of all types and light to heavy chassis SUVs / trucks and apparatus. Ayers and Cope have worked on everything from bicycles to boats, but traditional cruisers make up the majority of their jobs.

The company is not a ship-through location for auto makers, but it has received shipments from large dealers for turn-key installations. It can arrange to take delivery of vehicles from the dealer where needed. In terms of makes of vehicle, C2 Installs specializes in all police and special service package cars and SUVs from the big three manufacturers (Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge).

Ayers said C2 Installs works closely with all major distributors and manufacturers’ reps in East Tennessee. While they can and do sell equipment and lighting products to their customers, the partners focus primarily on providing quality upfit services. They hope to increase sales presence over time, primarily to maintain greater control over the end product of the vehicle.

Ayers said they install all emergency and communications gear, such as lighting, equipment, accessories, radios, etc. Their typical lead time to turn around a vehicle is three days. “We are able to move faster when upfitting multiple vehicles of the same type and configuration and recently delivered 29 CVPIs to a customer in 28 days,” Ayers said. The lead time can be greater in peak periods near the beginning and end of budget cycles. C2 Installs stands behind its work with a three-year guarantee.

In late 2007, C2 Installs traveled to Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands to upfit two SUVs and two boats for a customer agency. The company coordinated the purchase, shipping, import, delivery and installation of almost $20,000 in equipment and services in under 30 days.

As an officer, Ayers understands that the lives of citizens and first responders depend on the quality of his services. Command & Control Installations approaches all upfits from the end-user perspective, and the results are ergonomic, practical, durable and easy-to-use vehicles. “We try harder than the big guys and maintain personal relationships with our customers,” Ayers said.

Cop Stuff LLC
Contact: Donnie Norman
612 Oil Mill Rd.
Van Alstyne, TX 75495
(903) 482-9357
www.copstuffllc.com

Cop Stuff outfits all makes and models of vehicles to suit the needs of agencies and departments across the country to include police, fire and EMS. It also outfits and supplies equipment to many state highway departments and construction agencies across the United States. Cop Stuff has been in business for 11 years. It currently has 27 employees at three locations: Little Rock, AR; Van Alstyne, TX; and Durant, OK.

Cop Stuff is a ship-through location for Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge. Additionally, it has in-stock Ford Crown Victorias, Explorers, Expeditions; Chevrolet Tahoes, Impalas; and Dodge Chargers in cooperation with Legacy Ridge Autoplex. Cop Stuff delivers units anywhere in the United States for a nominal fee after completion.

In addition, it is a master distributor for most all major brands, including: Whelen, Federal Signal, SoundOff, 911EP, Tomar, Rontan, Go Rhino, Setina, Patriot, Jotto Desk and Havis-Shields. It installs all types of emergency equipment. In-stock vehicle turnaround time is about two weeks, and special order vehicles average around 75 days, depending on the manufacturer delivery.

Managing Partner Donnie Norman’s message to PFM readers is to use qualified install shops. He recommends looking at the manufacturer’s Web sites to see if the installer or company the agency is purchasing from is a master distributor. This will ensure that the people installing the equipment have been properly trained. According to Norman, if an agency is not buying from a master distributor, there is a middleman, and the agency is probably not getting the best possible price. Norman also suggests asking for written warranties and references. “A reputable company will have no problem with this request,” Norman stated.

Emergency Vehicle Technologies
Contact: Steve Roake
9930 W. 190th St., Suite L
Mokena, IL 60448
(708) 479-6721
www.evtechnologies.net

Emergency Vehicle Technologies (EVT) is a Chicago-based installer of police and other emergency vehicle equipment, with a focus on integrating equipment controls and communications to increase officer safety and efficiency. EVT has been in business for two years. Steve Roake, the director of operations at EVT, has more than eight years of experience with emergency vehicles and 20 years of experience in the automotive field. EVT upfits about 150 vehicles a year. It currently has five employees.

EVT specializes in police, fire and utility vehicles. It is not a ship-through location, but it has a drop-ship code for Chrysler products. EVT specializes in the Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge vehicles. EVT installs any make of emergency gear, and it distributes the following: Federal Signal, Nova, Setina, Go Light, Patriot, Antenex, ICOP, Lund Industries, and ICOM. It resells many more.

EVT’s specialty is in turn-key upfitting. That includes all wireless voice and data communications. EVT’s lead time to turn a vehicle around is one day for a lights and siren package and two to three days for police package units complete with computer, radar, video, prisoner containment, etc. It takes four to five days for full packages in SUVs and K9 units.

According to Roake, anyone can upfit an emergency response vehicle, but “there are only a few who do it right.” In the PFE Upfitters’ Challenge, EVT teamed up with MPC Communications & Lighting.

Lund Industries Inc.
Contact: Paul Lundberg
303 Messner Dr.
Wheeling, IL 60090
(847) 459-1460
www.lund-industries.com

Lund Industries specializes in understanding vehicle equipment requirements and solutions. Lund has been in business for 28 years. It currently has 30 employees. Lund’s manufacturing facility in Wheeling, IL produces a wide selection of mounting equipment, including Control-Com Consoles and Computer Mounting Systems and Accessories; SFGH-100 Undercover Siren and Flasher Systems; CT-60 Power Distribution Centers; Flashers; and Electronic Accessories to resolve installation needs. In addition, Lund distributes most industry brand-name vehicle equipment products.

Lund specializes in police, fire, command, undercover, motorcycles, public works and federal agency vehicles. It is not a ship-through location. It specializes in Ford, Chevrolet and Chrysler vehicles. Lund installs or distributes more than 30 lines of vehicle equipment including: Lund, Code 3, Whelen, SoundOff, North American, Able 2, Setina, AEDEC, Laguna, Big Sky, CPI, AOI and many others. In addition, it installs everything it sells.

It installs emergency vehicle equipment, communications equipment, radios and computer systems, K9 systems, consoles, trunk trays, prisoner partitions, push bumpers, video systems and any other equipment required. Lund’s lead time to turn a vehicle around averages one week.

According to Paul Lundberg, Lund has a unique perspective on an agency’s vehicle because of its design, manufacturing, distribution and installation facilities. It provides high-quality and customized installations. Installations are done right the first time. Lund provides superior workmanship and continuing customer support, he said. “We service what we sell,” Lundberg said.

MPC Communications & Lighting
Contact: Marty Murphy
 1910 Willow Rd.
Northbrook, IL 60062
(847) 272-4323

MPC Communications & Lighting has been in business for eight years and currently has eight employees. It specializes in fully marked and undercover police vehicles, police / fire command vehicles, fire engine radio / computer installs, undercover surveillance vans, and other police support vehicles (CSO cars, vans, pickup trucks, motorcycles, etc.).

MPC is not a ship-through location for any auto makers. Departments come to the company with a purchased vehicle, then the department and MPC’s technicians come up with the best way to outfit that specific vehicle for the needs of the department.

MPC specializes in the following makes of vehicles: Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Toyota, Jeep, Pierce, Road Rescue, Foster Coach, International, Harley-Davidson. MPC intalls or distributes the following makes of emergency gear: Federal Signal, Unitrol, Pro-Gard, Nova, Maxxima, ICOP, Esmet, Troy, Rontan, Havis-Shield, Kussmaul, Star Signal, Kodiak, Pelican Cases / Flash Lights, and many other lines of equipment.

It installs all manner of communications gear, as well. “You name it, we have installed it,” said Marty Murphy, the director of operations at MPC. A standard police cruiser takes five working days to build, while an undercover or chief’s car takes three days. Command and surveillance vehicles depend how customized they are.

Murphy believes it is important for departments to learn what is involved with upfitting a vehicle and the proper ways to upfit a vehicle. Murphy also said having certified installers (emergency vehicle technicians) is critical. In the PFE Upfitters’ Challenge, MPC teamed up with Emergency Vehicle Technologies.

Patriot Enterprises USA Inc.
Contact: Kurt Murray
9200 E. 146th St., Suite D
Noblesville, IN 46040
(317) 774-7575
www.1patriot.com

Patriot Enterprises USA has been in business for four years and currently employs 20 people. It specializes in all public safety vehicles within municipal, county, state, federal, and Department of Homeland Security agencies. It is a ship-through location for General Motors and Ford. Patriot Enterprises specializes in all makes and models of vehicles.

It installs or distributes the following makes of emergency gear: Patriot Products, Whelen, SoundOff Signal, Code 3, Jotto Desk, Patrol Power, Kenwood, American Aluminum, Ray Allen, Decatur, Igus and many more. It install emergency and communications gear within the state of Indiana agency vehicles only. As far as lead time to turn around a vehicle, Patriot can process three complete, fully equipped vehicles each day.

According to Kurt Murray, Patriot Enterprises is a “one-stop” solution to an agency’s law enforcement vehicle product needs at fair prices and with timely delivery.

PDS Police Services Inc.
Contact: Jim Kelly
8940 W. 192nd St.
Mokena, IL 60448
(708) 478-7711
www.policedepartmentservices.com

Police Department Services (PDS) upfits for police departments in the greater Chicago area, but it also does upfitting for vehicles headed as far away as Alaska. PDS performs about 500 emergency vehicle upfits a year. PDS is the upfitter for Chicagoland’s Thomas Dodge, Sutton Ford and Jacobs Chevrolet.

PDS has been in business for nine years and currently has six employees. It specializes in police and emergency vehicles. PDS is a ship-through facility for Ford, and it also specializes in Dodge and Chevrolet vehicles. The technicians are, in fact, cutting-edge experts on Dodge vehicles, including the Charger, Durango, Ram and Magnum. They also upfit fire trucks, K9 and security vehicles. They have extensive experience in upfitting the Ford Escape Hybrid.

PDS installs emergency gear, as well as communications equipment, specifically Federal Signal, Whelen and Code 3 brands. According to Kelly, the lead time is two to five days for PDS to turn a vehicle around. Kelly said what sets PDS apart from other upfitters is the quality of its installations and its concern that the departments actually get what they want, even if it requires calls to question the request for quote and bid specs.

PDS strictly follows the “Best Practices for Vehicle Upfitters,” which was published in the Sept-Oct 2007 issue of Police Fleet Manager. The article is available online at www.pfmmag.com. The technicians use the correct wire size on their custom cables; they solder and shrink wrap all connections; and use split-loom to protect all cables. All electrical devices are properly fused.

They often make custom brackets to properly mount equipment, and they pay strict attention to airbag zones. The company knows that poor battery and alternator life are frequently due to improper upfits because it fixes many local police vehicles upfitted improperly. As such, it uses battery protection devices and calculates proper current loads.

Jennifer Gavigan has been writing for Police Fleet Manager magazine for more than five years, providing readers with cutting-edge police fleet information. She can be reached at jengavigan@comcast.net.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Nov/Dec 2008

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