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Press Release: Western Star Trucks & Grote: Shining a Light on the OEM & Supplier Relationship

Date: April 27, 2021

HDMA member companies are an innovative group, always working to augment the industry through technology to enhance safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. HDMA is proud to serve these visionaries in the commercial vehicle industry, which is why we’re starting The Beam: to put the spotlight — or headlight, if you will — on member companies that are moving the industry forward.

It’s only appropriate that we start by spotlighting groundbreaking lighting from Grote Industries, whose LED headlamps are used in the new Western Star 49X work trucks. These new trucks from Western Star Trucks — a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) — are among the toughest vehicles on the planet, and Grote’s industry-leading LED technology assists in assuring these trucks are safe and efficient as well as comfortable.

“We have such a great partnership with DTNA that we were able to collaborate on a level that was unheard of,” says Brandon Scroggins, OEM global account manager at Grote. “Together, we focused on delivering the best driver experience possible with an unparalleled light pattern, the industry’s best heated lens technology, and a striking signature lighting package.”

Grote’s 49X headlamps are built around a patented bi-optic system that delivers a perfect mix of wide, long-range visibility, supplying best-in-class visibility to keep drivers safe and aware on the road. Countless night drives were conducted to develop the signature 49X light pattern that helps drivers detect objects sooner.

Additionally, the Western Star 49X headlamps are equipped with a proprietary lens technology that automatically melts ice and snow in cold temperatures and clears the lens of fog in humid weather. This active safety feature delivers incredibly important increased up-time while ensuring the best possible visibility for the driver to see and be seen.

“We know that in this business, uptime is non-negotiable,” says Scroggins, “and that’s why we designed these lamps to tackle any environment.”

“Grote’s patented lighting solutions undoubtedly provide the best visibility for operators in every imaginable weather condition,” says Jim Martin, manager of Exterior Lighting & Mirrors at DTNA. “Whether it’s the smooth, uniform light pattern for forward or peripheral visibility, or their proprietary lens technology that melts ice and clears condensation, it’s a game-changer in every way.”

“We know our customers operate in diverse environments where visibility and safety are critical,” adds Samantha Parlier, vice president of Vocational Market Development at DTNA. “It’s only right that we partnered with a supplier like Grote that dedicates itself to best-in-class headlamp solutions.”

Western Star Trucks’ to maximize every facet of technology for the betterment of drivers and fleets in the commercial vehicle world led to the exceptional collaboration between these two companies, notes Dave Giroux, president and chief operating officer of the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA).

“Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) rely on numerous supplier partners — like Grote — in the vehicle development process,” he adds. “All industry vehicle launches contain the power of OE and supplier collaboration with the bar continually being elevated in the areas of safety, technology, fuel efficiency, quality, durability, and comfort for the betterment of the end-customer.”

To deliver on Western Star’s request for superior technology with the most collaborative experience possible, Grote moved swiftly to ramp up production with a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility built specifically to produce LED headlamp platforms. Called the Next Generation Manufacturing Center (NGMC), the location in their world headquarters in Madison, Ind. serves as Grote’s LED headlamp production headquarters.

The manufacturing process from molding to assembly is consolidated at NGMC to optimize the one-piece flow. Additionally, the facility features 1,500-ton injection molding for large components and 250-ton injection molding for smaller parts and accessories.  

“Our team worked tirelessly over the last couple of years to get the facility up and running,” says President and CEO Dominic Grote, “all while successfully launching a headlamp program for a major OEM with the first commercially available de-icing technology for an on-road heavy truck application in the middle of a pandemic.”

Has all this dedication paid off? We’d say so. For their efforts in engineering their high-quality, safety-enhancing headlamps for the Western Star Trucks, in late 2020, Grote was awarded the Daimler Trucks North America Masters of Quality award, where only the best suppliers are recognized.

“I take pride in knowing that every aspect of the 49X was designed with intent and focused on the needs of vocational customers,” says Parlier. “This is clearly reflected in the design of the dual stage LED intelligent headlights.”

“Both Jim and I strongly believe in this product and spent a lot of time working with Grote to make the best vocational headlamp in the industry,” adds Andrew McLandress, director of Exterior Systems.

“Technology partnerships between OEMs such as Western Star Trucks and first-class suppliers such as Grote highlight the inimitable nature of the commercial vehicle marketplace,” says Giroux. “This prime example between Western Star and Grote is just our first exploratory example of the power of synergies in our industry and one that will be explored with every OEM and HDMA member company. Placing the first Beam on Grote provides an appropriate spotlight of exceptional association for the benefit of drivers and society alike.”

The new Western Star 49X launched in September 2020 equipped with Grote’s stunning lighting package. Check them out on the road — and talk to Grote about the amazing tech they built for them.