Itasca, IL-based truck and trailer suspension and components maker Hendrickson announced plans to roll out a number of new products over the next five years as it gears up to become a more global company.

On the truck suspension front, Hendrickson is introducing two rear suspensions, the Softek Plus and Vocational Airtek, as well as a yet-unnamed independent front suspension.

According to Keith Stevenson, chief development officer for the Boler Group, Hendrickson’s parent company, “The Softek is available to the heavy-truck market now, with plans to roll out the Vocational Airtek and independent front suspension we’ve designed in mid-2007.”

The Softek uses a new patented “monoleaf” design that, in conjunction with a proprietary Hendrickson front axle, shaves 110 lb. out of the front suspension, yet still fits neatly within the existing front end “envelop” of a heavy truck, said Stevenson.

The Vocational Airtek is based on the company’s original Airtek, but with more capacity and less weight. While the original maxed out at 14,000 lb., the Vocational model is available in 16,000-, 18,000-, and 20,000-lb. configurations, yet weighs 175 lb. less.

Initially earmarked for the RV industry, the new independent front suspension will eventually be available for heavy-duty vehicles. Stevenson said Hendrickson is currently in discussions with truck OEMs about offering it as an option on 2010 to 2012 model trucks.

On the trailer side of Hendrickon’s business, Stevenson noted that the company is introducing a new generation of P-90 wheel-end spindles, the second generation of its Hendrickson Unitized System (HUS) along with a brand new HNP wheel end designed to offer a new equipment option between the P- and N-spindles commonly used on trailer wheel ends.

These product development efforts are part of Hendrickson’s new global expansion strategy, as it seeks to become less reliant on North America to provide the bulk of its business.

“Today, 90% of our revenues are generated in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico,” said Stevenson. “Over the next five years, we’d like to see that percentage fall to 65%… with business from the rest of the world climbing to 35%.”

Hendrickson is also beefing up efforts to form joint ventures abroad. Ownership in a Spanish joint venture has been increased to 50%, and the company has formed a 50% joint venture with India’s largest truck maker, TATA, to build suspensions for that market under the name TECO.

In addition, Hendrickson has a commitment from China’s National Heavy Truck Co. to be the standard suspension on f its trucks starting in 2007. The company even opened a sales and engineering office in Turkey, with an eye on that country’s 50,000 truck and bus market.

“We’ve traditionally been a North American company, and that’s going to remain our base; we are not shipping manufacturing plants and jobs overseas with these deals,” stressed Stevenson. “What we want to do is be more strongly entrenched in markets across the world, especially in Europe, so we can bring more of that sales money back home here to North America.”

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