Bedline Story

Feb 22, 2013

Spray-on bedliners are one of the best investments truck owners can make, regardless of what they use their truck for. When it comes to heavy work, truck owners and fleet operators alike know the value of a good-quality bedliner.

For different needs, spray-on bedliner manufacturers suggest specific formulas. For example, those who use their vehicle for heavy-duty hauling, their truck beds usually endure a tremendous amount of wear and tear. Maybe a vehicle’s fenders or its entire rear storage interior benefits from a sprayed-on liner. So real protection is needed.

Liner choices

Customers who are in the market for a liner will need to first determine how they are going to use the truck. This will assist in choosing the correct formulation of liner.

“For example, all materials have a grade hardness, either Shore A or Shore D. Shore A is softer, this gives the material a much more tacky feel, keeping items from sliding,” John Jamroz, vice president of sales and marketing for Ultimate Liners, Houston, says. “Shore D material is more popular and much harder. Ultimate Liners offers both formulations in a 1:1 and 2:1 ratio,” Jamroz adds.

Once usage and formula grade are determined the owners will also need to consider, what other traits and qualities they want their liner to provide. Qualities such as non-slip tread are an option many choose because in this example, it ensures safety and limited material movement in the bed.

This and other features, “are definite concerns which are addressed and considered during the manufacturing process of spray-on liner compounds,” says Dana Mitchell, account executive for Cloverdale, Ind.-based Al’s Liner / Scorpion Truck Bed Liners. “What Scorpion has been able to do with our polyurethane formulation is to develop a simple inexpensive additive you can introduce while mixing your batches, which will increase hardness (by adding a vinyl flattener additive) or add additional non-slip properties by introducing granules (rubber crumb or gripper granules). Vinyl flattener will increase the shore hardness providing more impact resistance and reducing the sheen to a semi-gloss. Rubber crumb and gripper granules add an aggressive non-slip surface. How aggressive a non-slip surface one may need will help determine which granule best suits the job,” Mitchell says.

Another well-known brand within the spray-on liner realm is Line-X Protective Coatings, Huntsville, Ala. Executive vice president Paul DeSmet suggests that before settling on a spray liner a work truck owner should consider a product’s flexibility, strength, impact absorption, color options and UV protection when choosing the best formula for a customer’s needs. DeSmet notes his firm’s product provides strength and flexibility, and “can handle a tough workload by absorbing impact,” DeSmet says. “That’s important because if the liner is too rigid or brittle it cannot absorb impacts from heavy loads and may deteriorate faster.”

“Line-X also offers formulations that can be sprayed thicker for added protection against gouges and abrasions,” DeSmet adds. The spray-on bedliner manufacturer also offers a premium formulation product, which provides additional UV protection.

Spraying outside the box

Bedliner protection is just one use for spray-on formulas. Todd Ishmael, brand manager of GatorHyde Protective Coatings, St. Louis, elaborates: “GatorHyde products are commonly used for bedliners, bumpers, ladder racks and areas like the top of toolboxes that require a non-slip surface for walking,” he notes.

Another very important area that [the company’s] spray is utilized for is to protect vehicles’ underbodies.” Ishmael continues. “Manufacturers have found that the use of flexible monolithic elastomers -¦ work well on the underbodies not only to protect against corrosion but water migration and penetration. Also, if one owns a compressed natural gas (CNG) conversion truck, they need a protective coating for the tanks and tank guards (mounted underneath the body) to provide an impact-resistant coating from rocks and road debris.”

Spray-on liner coating also might be used for, “wheel wells, rocker panels, tread areas, truck boxes, storage boxes and even as an undercoating or interior protective coatings for floor pans,” Scorpion’s Mitchell adds.

Tools for the job

As a consumer, choosing the best spray-on bedliner can be quite a process. That is why businesses that offer, or are considering offering, spray-on liners should first learn customer’s needs, and next learn the market by finding who provides the best products for each need and the best equipment to use in order to apply it.

And the tools needed must be able to accommodate the process.

“GatorHyde products require a 1:1, heated high-pressure pump like the Graco Reactor line of plural component pumps for the application process,” Ishmael said. “These are the standard in the industry and are a proven and reliable delivery method for these products.”

Another important part of the application process is wearing “protective clothing such as Tyvek® suits, gloves and respirators or forced air systems which are a must for any spray applied system,” Ishmael adds.

There are many types of application products to choose from. Al’s Liner / Scorpion is working on a spray gun that recently achieved an award at the 2012 SEMA show. “We are currently wrapping up research and development on the electric spray gun, which was recognized as an innovative product of the year,” Mitchell says. The gun will, “alleviate the need for air supply, and allow applicators to work off of a simple generator.”

Using a generator can definitely bring usage costs down. Pricing for standard air pressure and cartridge systems, though, has a very broad range. For spray-on equipment “a cartridge system will cost in the neighborhood of $1,000 and would include the applicator gun, one case of material and basic supplies to get started,” Ultimate’s Jamroz says. “High-pressure systems have a broad range and can get started at $23,500-$28,000.” Low-pressure systems are not mentioned because they are phasing out in the U.S. market.

Fleet street

But for the spray-on liner industry, the U.S. market is thriving. Some of the best contracts to obtain within the industry are fleet vehicles and businesses with utility trucks.

“Line-X is ideal for businesses whose trucks routinely haul cargo. The textured surface can keep contents from sliding around when the vehicle is moving, but does not hinder the ability to load or unload heavy items,” DeSmet says. “For organizations whose trucks handle corrosive chemicals, such as lawn services vehicles, [our product] can be applied to prevent staining and chemical damage that may otherwise put a truck out of service,” DeSmet adds.

There are numerous ways in which to approach potential large-scale clients. Jamroz suggests “working with the local governments/municipalities to make their service or product approved on spec (specifications).”

“Another way is to find out who the dealer (who provides the trucks) is and work with them to show how they can make additional profit by adding a spray-on product that many customers prefer.” It also helps to, “show the durability of the material and spray one or two (of the potential customers’) trucks at no charge. Networking with truck dealers is a good idea so you can become one of their preferred applicators, Jamroz adds.”

Expanding the opportunities

Appealing to commercial clients is the most profitable, and adding a mobile unit also can assist in profit, convenience and client appeal.

“In the world of mobile units the world becomes very large and is not limited to just automotive,” Jamroz notes. “In fact, oil and gas field businesses use our applications for pipelines, sub-sea valves, safety walkways and geo textiles.”

Other avenues to look into when seeking business are organizations that deal in, “automotive, commercial and industrial, marine and aviation,” Mitchell says. The aim of the business is to, “give customers materials that provide impact resistance, non-slip properties, sound and vibration control, heat reflection and reduction as well as a general-purpose sealer to prevent corrosion,” he adds.

For those who find their clientele are eco-conscious, GatorHyde offers its GreenGator line. “Its formulation allows OEM manufacturers to enjoy eco-friendly marketing benefits of using a ‘green’ product,” Ishmael notes.

The needs and uses of spray-on bedliners are endless, and the bottom line has to do with protecting one’s investment. If a client has, “a well-maintained truck, it will help build their business’ reputation and raise their vehicle’s resale value,”
DeSmet says.

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