By Peter G. Hempenstall, NTEA Director of Outreach
This article was published in the October 2019 edition of NTEA News.
NTEA recently caught up with K E Rose Co., a distributor member located outside Dayton, Ohio that was founded in 1980 as a landscape/site/development company. At that time, current president and owner, Erich Rose, was 16 years old, still in high school and taking college courses. Business grew significantly between 1980–1990, allowing the company to design, engineer and build truck upfits to service its own fleet needs and helping Erich pursue an aerospace engineering degree.
Through the late 1980s, K E Rose became one of the largest snow removal contractors in the Dayton region with more than 65 vehicles — most were built in-house with load-sense hydraulic systems before this technology was fully accepted in the work truck industry. As the company was also being sought to perform highly involved upfits requiring many engineering hours, its internal support garage was eventually unable to keep up with demand.
At this point, Erich’s colleague Guy Walters (who eventually became shop production director) suggested the company become a full-service, open-shop truck upfitting business, divesting from its snow removal and related construction industries. The pair wanted to share their collective military, firearm, aircraft and airport operation, master plumber, site excavation, concrete, electrical, landscape, firefighter and EMS, and public safety experience with the industry they now serve. This expansive knowledge is used in designing more efficient and reliable vehicles.
In 1998, the organization purchased land and built a dedicated upfitting facility, which has grown to include 9 acres, six buildings and over 50,000 square feet of space. A team of 34 skilled and dedicated staff services public safety, police, fire, dealer network, contractor, and all varieties of local, state and federal government vehicles. K E Rose recently invested in infrastructure (a dedicated warehouse, air-conditioned upfit shop, increased use of prefabricated components to save labor hours, new welders, and more) to increase efficiency. This employee-focused environment, along with the right tools, products and market conditions, helps the company produce turn-out vehicles needed to serve its region.
Three of K E Rose Co.’s six buildings — totaling more than 50,000 square feet. Learn more at keroseco.com.
After joining NTEA in 1998, K E Rose became a Reading Truck Body distributor and utilized Association membership to network with industry peers and learn about intricacies of selling different types of truck equipment. Looking back, Erich said, “Our tagline ‘quality without compromise’ has truly been an endearing part of our culture, as one cannot accept shortcuts if they compromise quality.” Through proper engineering and a highly trained, well-paid, skilled staff, the business has grown every year since inception.
K E Rose is part of NTEA’s Member Verification Program (ntea.com/mvp), which recognizes eligible work truck industry companies for outstanding business practices and successful implementation of quality standards.
For more information, visit keroseco.com, call 973-236-9702 or stop by 4595 Chambersburg Rd. in Huber Heights.