Robert Tuerk

Serving Up Solutions

Aero’s innovations are all about solving customers’ problems

It’s no secret that forward-thinking and innovation have been key ingredients in Aero Industries’ recipe for success. Aero’s ability to use those strengths to solve transportation problems for its customers is another important part of the company’s history.

Robert Tuerk, longtime Aero CEO and son of founder Paul Frederick Tuerk, knew to be successful his company had to respond to customer needs. Robert would listen to truck drivers about their struggles, then develop solutions for their problems. Often those solutions would turn out to be popular products. “You can’t just sell tarps. You need to sell solutions,” he once said. Here are four examples of that philosophy in action.


Putting tarps and bows together

Even before Robert Tuerk led the company, Aero had long-standing relationships with leaders in the trailer bow business, including Andrew Amblie, the inventor of the adjustable trailer bow. In the 1960s, Aero expanded its market beyond Indiana and extended its line of products beyond tarps.

Tuerk introduced innovations that served customers better and kept Aero ahead of its competition. One of his ideas — selling trailer bows along with tarps — made truckers’ lives easier. At the time, the concept seemed revolutionary, as no one else packaged bows and tarps together. Aero’s reward for helping its customers? Selling a tremendous number of tarps and bows.


Creating sturdier dock plates

Another innovation of the 1960s ignited when Robert Tuerk met a Chicago customer, John Jacobsen, who asked if Aero could make a dock plate that would not warp or bend. Through testing, Tuerk found an aluminum alloy that made dock plates safer, stronger and more durable than steel, and since they were much lighter, it took fewer people to move them around warehouses.

Tuerk called it the AL-O-ITE 16 Plate because it had a 16,000-pound capacity. Aero made Jacobsen happy and also sold the new plates to other customers. Later, when Jacobsen requested two- and four-wheeled metal carts for moving materials in his warehouse, Aero obliged with variable-sized carts.


Cranking out solutions

Another major innovation in Robert Tuerk’s time was the Side-to-Side Roll Tarp, which Aero introduced in 1965. Aero added a pipe at the top of the trailer that could be cranked to roll the tarp. This allowed truck drivers to stand on a platform and open or close the tarp over the trailer as needed. This handy innovation was a major boon to both the company and the industry and is still used today on grain and dump trucks.


Out with the old, in with aluminum

In 1969, Robert Tuerk filed his first patent: The Delta-T stake. Before the Delta-T, most flatbed trailers were enclosed, with side kits consisting of 2-by-4 wood stakes and plywood panels covered with bows and a tarp. Tuerk replaced the wood posts with the triangular aluminum Delta-T, which extruded in a “T” to hold the panels. The invention eliminated the need for nuts, bolts or panel locks.

The panels slid over the stake for a tight fit. The ingenious design not only made truckers’ lives simpler, it also provided flexibility for different types of trailers. It could be used on both grain haulers and steel haulers. It also was a catalyst for turning Aero into a patent-driven inventor.

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