Hogebuilt has been making shiny stuff for vehicles right here in America for over seven decades. Ernest Hoge began manufacturing fenders for small trailers way back in 1944 – he called his new company Hogebuilt. Originally based in Lynwood, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, Ernest (AKA Ernie) made everything by hand – nothing was automated (he even loaded his products into trucks by hand with no forklifts). Seventy plus years later, Hogebuilt has changed hands and relocated a few times, but it still makes the finest, handcrafted, mirror-finished stainless steel fenders ever made for trucks.
Making handcrafted fenders for horse trailers, motorcycle trailers, boat trailers and other types of small utility trailers, Hoge was a master metal-worker who could create amazingly smooth, wrinkle-free fenders. In addition to a lot of patience and talent, it also required a lot of raw steel. Purchasing much of his steel from George Lombino, who was vice president of a steel company in Los Angeles and a former truck driver, the two became friends. Having no sons or anyone interested in taking over his company after he retired, Ernie Hoge sold the company to George in 1972.
To fully maintain the craftsmanship and quality of the Hogebuilt products, George sent his son, George Jr., to work side-by-side with Ernie for a year to learn his techniques. The following year, in 1973, George Jr. attended a trucking convention held in Anaheim, California and had a great idea – why not build show-quality stainless steel fenders for big rigs? Their first quarter fenders were 24 inches long, and soon thereafter they began making 27-inch, 30-inch, and even 34-inch quarter fenders, as well as full and half fenders – they even made grills, bumpers, trim pieces, and light bars for a while. Back then, they also did a lot of custom work for many of the local trailer manufacturers in California.
The early Hogebuilt fenders were all made out of chrome-plated steel, but chrome can chip when it gets a ding. To solve this problem, and improve the look of their products, they decided to begin using a special 304 Stainless Steel that featured a non-directional polished finish (put it next to a mirror and you cannot tell the difference). Hogebuilt fenders also feature a three inch lip on the edge, which is the largest in the industry, and are made with a thicker gauge of steel than their competitors. They also started making brackets that were custom fit for each type of suspension, which required no drilling or any extra holes.
Working together as a father-son duo, George Sr. and George Jr. created a quality product that folks were willing to pay more for because it looked good and would last. Because of this demand, Hogebuilt quarter fenders became a factory option for new Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks over 25 years ago. They also started selling them in the aftermarket segment directly to chrome shops across the country and, eventually, through PACCAR Parts, to virtually every Peterbilt and Kenworth dealer.
After working hard for over 30 years, George Sr. was ready to retire, but George Jr. did not want to continue on without his dad as his right-hand-man. Thankfully, the Marmon Group, a huge corporation that owns many companies, purchased Hogebuilt in 2004. A few years later, the company was relocated from its longtime home in the City of Industry (in Southern California) to Springfield, Tennessee in 2009. Then, to accommodate the company’s tremendous growth, in March of 2014, Hogebuilt was moved to Goodlettsville, Tennessee, where it resides today, in a beautiful 43,000 square-foot facility.
In 2008, investment mogul Warren Buffet and his Berkshire Hathaway company bought a majority stake in the Marmon Group, and then, over the next few years, acquired the rest of the shares to make the Marmon Group, and Hogebuilt, 100% owned by Berkshire Hathaway. But don’t let all those big names fool you – Hogebuilt is still a fairly small company and is still focused on making quality, handcrafted products, and providing unsurpassed customer service. In fact, both the Marmon Group and Berkshire Hathaway are known for buying good companies and then leaving them alone – which is exactly the case here, with Hogebuilt. Throughout all of these moves and acquisitions, Hogebuilt not only never missed any deliveries or deadlines, but they actually grew, too.
Although Hogebuilt is best known for their fenders made of 304 Stainless Steel with a mirror-finish (they are the only fender company using this material), they also recently introduced a mid-grade line of fenders made out of 430 Stainless Steel, too. These lower-priced fenders are manufactured with the same exacting standards and quality craftsmanship as the higher-end fenders, they just aren’t quite as shiny. The company offers a few fenders in aluminum and carbon steel, as well. To this day, Hogebuilt products are not mass produced and still handcrafted, which is why their products are visually different from their competitors.
Currently, with about 20 employees, Hogebuilt produces quarter fenders, half fenders, single hump fenders, full tandem fenders, and custom mounting brackets. Besides the raw materials, which are not available here in the United States, everything else is done at their plant in Tennessee. Once the fenders are cut, bent, formed, and polished (some things get polished twice), they all undergo a rigorous inspection process – no product ever leaves the facility until it has been determined to be in “pristine” condition. After that, every Hogebuilt fender is carefully packed in an enclosed box to make sure it arrives at its final destination undamaged and ready to install.
Customer service is very important at Hogebuilt. Kyle Denu, the company’s president for the past few years, is very hands-on, along with the rest of his staff. The current Vice President of Operations is Helbert Flores. Helbert has been around since 2004, and was the one who took over operations in California when the company was bought by the Marmon Group. Since then, he has also overseen two moves, and, along with Kyle, helped Hogebuilt to grow exponentially over the years. Some of the employees from California even followed the company when they moved to Tennessee – currently, there are two people who have been with Hogebuilt for over 30 years, another two that have been around for over 15 years, and several more that have already been there for 5-10 years.
Leading the charge on the customer service front is Teresa Tedder. Anyone who deals with Hogebuilt knows Teresa, and if you call them up, there is a good chance that she will be the one you talk to. Teresa has been with Hogebuilt for eight years now. Another key figure is their sales rep Joe Gotmer. Joe is the face of Hogebuilt at the truck shows and, like Teresa, many know him well.
Today, Hogebuilt is on the grow and looking to expand. Investing in new machines and hiring more people, the company is working to increase their reach to other manufacturers. Providing “The Ultimate Finish for Trucks” for decades, Hogebuilt has a “bright” future, for sure. We are proud to have them in the 10-4 Magazine family of advertisers, and wish them nothing but success in the future. To learn more about their quality American-made products or to locate a dealer near you, call (800) 421-1589, visit them online (www.hogebuilt.com), or find them on Facebook.