Selecting a manufacturer to design a command vehicle can be a daunting task, especially when some vehicles exceed a million dollars. To feel confident in your manufacturer selection, here are a few questions to consider before making a selection:
- Does the manufacturer have an existing spec you can use?
- Is the manufacturer equipped to produce the unit entirely in house?
- What is the manufacturer’s reputation for quality?
- What is the manufacturer’s market share?
- Does the manufacturer provide support for the complex vehicle after the sale?
Captain Thayer with Cobb County’s Department of Public Safety and a team of four other individuals from various agencies asked themselves these questions when selecting a manufacturer to complete their custom command vehicle.
Does the manufacturer have an existing spec you can use?
Many times, larger manufacturers have an archive of existing specs on file. Purchasing through a consortium can also be a viable option for utilizing existing specs; however, be sure the spec is tailored (or can be tailored) to your needs.
To avoid spending months writing a tedious spec, Cobb County utilized an HGAC purchasing contract that provided a spec which could be modified up to 25%. While the team only changed about 3% of the spec, using an existing spec saved copious amounts of time and made it easy to prepare a very complex command unit spec.
Is the manufacturer equipped to produce the unit entirely in house?
Having a highly complex vehicle with advanced communication technology equates to numerous vendors and could prove to be challenging when completing a project.
Frontline Communications is a turn-key company that uses internal resources only to manufacture command vehicles (there are no sub-contractors). For Cobb County, avoiding sub-contractors was a major selling point when identifying a manufacturer to work with.
What is the manufacturer’s reputation for quality?
Confirm the manufacturer has proven experience manufacturing a complex vehicles. Research the company and look at criteria such as are welders certified, what type of materials are used for the body, how long has the company been established, etc.
To ensure high quality welds, Frontline Communications ensures all of its welders are AWS (American Welding Society) and manufacturers all smooth-skin-rivet less bodies (giving vehicles a smooth and seamless appearance).
What is the manufacturer’s market share and longevity?
Selecting a manufacturer that has proven experience and longevity is a strategic move. Experience positively correlates with expertise and quality. Longevity ensures the manufacturer will be around to support the command vehicle post purchase and have the resources to assist you.
Frontline Communications produces half of the broadcast vehicles in North America and manufactures around 250 vehicles annually. Equally as impressive is the company’s longevity and stability. Frontline Communications has been producing command vehicles for over thirty years and is an Oshkosh Corporation company.
Does the manufacturer provide support for the complex vehicle after the sale?
Many times command vehicle manufacturers lack the ability to produce a vehicle entirely in house. Consequently, the customer is left to deal with multiple vendors when trying to resolve warranty issues (assuming it is clear which vendor is liable).
Being a turn-key manufacturer means that Frontline eliminates sub-contractors and provides you, the customer, with one vendor to work with post-purchase. Frontline Communications, a Pierce company, uses Pierce Manufacturing’s dealer network to sell and service command vehicles in their entirety. Ten-8 Fire Equipment, Inc. and Ten-8 Fire and Safety Equipment of GA, LLC are the exclusive sales and service dealers for Florida and Georgia.
Do research to ensure you produce a command vehicle specialized to your needs.
Use these questions to conduct research and evaluate command vehicle manufacturer alternatives. Doing research ahead of time can help ensure you produce a command vehicle tailored to your needs, maximizing your ROI. If you would like to continue researching Frontline Communications, please see our command vehicle page.
Thank you to Captain Dennis Thayer, Cobb County Department of Public Safety, for sharing his valuable insight as to what helped drive his team’s purchasing decision. Thank you to command unit team members: Kevin Gardner, Assistant Director of Emergency Communications; Vaughan Nasse, 911 Solutions Analyst; Jeff Patellis, Police Major; and Dan Dupree, Lieutenant with Cobb County Fire Department.