About / History

Rival - Special Service Vehicles
About, History, & Qualifications.

(A) Relationship With Express Custom Mfg.

Express Custom Trailer Mfg. Inc. was founded in 1990 and restored in 1992 under the full name “Express Custom Trailer Mfg. Inc”. Express Custom Trailer began up-fitting Emergency Vehicles in August of 2006. Since then, Rival-SSV was fully established to distinguish its product line from Express Customs’. We have built our own 6,000 sq. ft manufacturing facility for Rival – SSV, however, its operations are still managed from the office of Express Custom, and many resources are shared between the two brand’s production.

(B) History And Values

I. Brief History

Express Custom™ Trailer Mfg. Inc. is a custom aluminum fabrication & manufacturing facility in Parksville, BC. Established in 1992, the company began by selling imported trailers from the USA. Since then, Express™ has expanded into truck decks & skids, residential gates & fences, emergency transport vehicles, fire modules, bridges, and much more.

Rewinding back to 2006, Express Custom Mfg. had the opportunity to refurbish a couple old logging crummies, followed by another couple years later. These crummies were converted into medium security prisoner transport buses for parks, roadside clean-up, and landscaping for Nanaimo Correctional Centre. Shortly after, Fleet managers in the Ministry of Attorney General took interest and paid us a visit. We were encouraged to bid on the manufacturing and up-fitting of 20x 10-prisoner transport vans. Express Custom Mfg. has now manufactured over 200 vans, S.U.V.’s, and buses for the Province of B.C. as well as both Victoria and the Vancouver Police Department. Express Custom Mfg. also has had the opportunity to up-fit several other purpose-built police vehicles for K9 Drug and Bomb units, traffic analysis, forensic ID, Emergency Response Team (E.R.T.) transportation and firearms transport. To top it off, Express Custom Mfg. has also up-fit 100 Conservation Officer and Environmental Protection vehicles.

Following the 2013 development of the Rival™ Truck Division, Rival™ - Special Service Vehicles was identified as a separate division of the Express Custom Trailer Manufacturing in 2014 during the 95 Conservation Officer truck contract. It was time to distinguish the emergency vehicle products from the standard product line-up at Express. The distinct identity of R-SSV™ has opened the door to both national and international recognition in the special service communities.

II. Values (The 6 A's)

Affordability - We make it our mission to keep our prices as low as we can. When estimating custom jobs, we will provide a low and high end expectation and do our best to stay in the low. We manufacture as much standardized components as possible to keep design costs minimized. Production runs maximize efficiency through repetition.

Availability – By producing as many standard, production run components and modules as possible, we can assemble products on demand and they are deliverable within short timelines. We keep an inventory of our hot sellers for immediate sale. We can ship our products anywhere in North America or install locally.

Adaptability – Modular components allow customers to choose a truck deck that will fit his/her truck and then later be quickly and affordably modified to fit a different truck. Truck decks and Canopy-Skids are installed with universal/adaptor sub-frames for easy and quick installations. Having a variety of standard accessories allow customers to continue to improve the products and even change the original purpose of the deck, etc.

Appearance - Rival™ products not only meet our customer’s needs with proven track records – they also look good! We produce products that our customers are proud to own. Our products are often the flagship of company fleets. Rival Products include standard trim packages with custom upgrades available.

Assured Quality – Longevity is the key. We build our trailers/decks/apparatus to last well beyond the original purpose/installation. Truck decks are frequently installed on a second, and even third chassis. Our truck decks outlast the Energizer Bunny. Our products have a proven history, and we stand by them!

Always ECO-Aluminum – Aluminum is Lighter than its counterparts and therefore improves vehicle economics and reduces emissions. Aluminum melts (welds) at a lower temperature than Steel and therefore requires less manufacturing power. Aluminum requires Argon or Argon blends and therefore doesn’t introduce more CO2 into the atmosphere. Aluminum doesn’t require welding flux, which produces harmful byproducts. Aluminum is custom mostly with carbide steel cutters which is quick and efficient, while steel mostly requires abrasive consumables and or oxy/acetylene torches to cut. Aluminum doesn’t require paint for corrosion protection, which reduces environmental impact and the use of harmful solvents. Aluminum outlasts steel, thereby reducing replacement costs.

(C) R-SSV Commitments

III. On-Time Delivery

We will avoid delays:
• by using as many standard, off-the shelf products as possible.
• by using proven, trust-worthy components.
• by avoiding custom or cutting edge innovation until it has been industry proven.
• by ordering all required components at the start of the contract.

& By including sufficient buffer-time in our production schedule for:
• Parts and component ordering
• Logistics to and from sub-contractors
• Using trusted sub-contractors that will prioritize our interests
• Sick-time and holidays for employees

IV. Expectations

We will meet your expectations:
• By following the approved construction plans and designs provided prior to construction commencement.
• By following using only the Ministry approved parts and components.
• By maintaining open communication with the Provincial Contract Manager for production status, questions, concerns, etc.
• By making changes to the predetermined plan only if absolutely necessary once they have been approved in writing by the Provincial Contract Manager.
• By informing our staff of the importance of our commitments.

V. Quality

We will ensure our quality:
• By tracking the progress of each stage of production with check points to ensure that each stage is passes a quality review with high standards.
• By using proven products.
• By assigning our most capable staff to projects.
• By making the quality of our products a reflection of our company.
• By putting the final product through rigorous testing in order to ensure the final product delivered is once of excellence.

VI. Support

We will support our products:
• By offering a 2yr. Standard limited warranty for parts and labor for each product from the date of delivery.
• By offering on-call technical support.
• By including detailed as-built-drawings, wiring diagrams, parts list with names of suppliers.
• By working with subcontractors which also offer great support and Province-wide service.

(D) Manufacturing Capacity

VII. Scale & Equipment

At Express, we have approx. 38,000 sq. ft of manufacturing floor space. 6000sq.ft is now dedicated to Rival Special Service Vehicle production. Among several company division, our emergency services division is made up of about 15% of our staff and manifesting facility. We have two full time sheet metal breaks, two full-time shears, five full-time CNC cutting tables, ten TIG process welding machines, 20 MIG process welding machines and a small, well equipped machine shop. We have a fully staffed paint booth, and a dedicated Computer Drafting department. Our plant is situated on two 5 Acre plots, both with fenced storage areas, able to securely store up to 60 vehicles at once. (Last update: July 2018)

With approx. 65 full-time staff members at Express and over 38,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing floor space, Rival-SSV can resource the man power and facilities to get the job done, and get it done on schedule.
• Products are rush-ordered as soon as our contracts are finalized.
• Express has a base inventory of many of the components as well as a vast inventory of the aluminum required to manufacture our products.
• Our staff are prepared to dig-in and work extra time whenever necessary.
• Express will source components or find equivalent alternates if the original orders cause delays (for example, emergency lighting products may have to be purchased from a competitor at greater cost to us). Yes, we’ll even purchase from our own competition to meet deadlines.

(D) Manufacturing Qualifications & Experience

VIII. Purchasing Opportunities & Wholesaling

At Express, we have some excellent purchasing opportunities for parts and equipment. Due to our volume purchasing and regular order of products, we can achieve some excellent discounts and priority deliveries. For example: since we purchase hinges, latches, lighting products, fasteners and aluminum so regularly, we are offered both significant discounts and prioritization. We also now maintain a small stock level in order to better serve the Province. This helps us to jump into immediate production as soon as we are awarded Bids / Contracts.

IX. Employee Dedication

At Express, we are fully capable of pooling resources in order to complete contracts and bids on schedule. In fact, we are capable of completing multiple contracts simultaneously with other large contracts and still deliver supreme products on schedule. We can achieve this because we have dedicated employees with have proven time and time again that they can ramp up production when required. These skilled workers are prepared to put in extra time in order to achieve expected delivery outcomes, in fact, they often dare to beat proposed timelines. For our team, we flow right into the next build without having to re-tool or start fresh – That’s efficiency!

X. Subcontracting

At Express, we have chosen to offer our facilities to our subcontractors in order to keep the production model seamless. For example, before the S.U.V.'s are ready for spray tinting, we advise our subcontractor so that they can harmonize our schedules. Once the modules are ready, the subcontractor will come to our location to perform the foaming. We allow the subcontractors to come in after normal working hours in order give them the freedom they require for greater efficiency. This also allows them more flexibility of when to come in and how to harmonize with our schedules. We have negotiated with our subcontractors for priority service.

XI. Resources & Equipment

We have a hand as well as priority shipping of more parts. One very large bay is dedicated to part manufacturing, another building is just for electrical. To add to those, we have a dedicated paint booth, 3 Bays for CNC cutting and forming of sheet metal parts and one more for part installation (steps and bumpers, etc.). We are currently using several automated cutters, including our new water-jet which has improved our cutting definition.

XII. Express Production Categories

At Express™ we manufacture a wide variety of products which divide into several

  • Trailers and Accessories (Aluminum & Steel flatbed, utility, dumping, enclosed truck, concession, landscaping and other custom trailers, parts and accessories.)
  • Truck Skids, Decks and Accessories (Aluminum personnel transport, flatbed, mechanical service utility, portable rig welding, and custom truck skid, decks and accessories.)
  • Custom Gates and Fences (Aluminum and steel residential estate, personnel, industrial, commercial gates, fences and accessories, including custom art work, parts and automation.)
  • Emergency Modules (Aluminum Modules for first response rescue, wild-lands initial attack, fire command, water transport, search & rescue, traffic control, crash scene assessment, forensic identification, emergency medical transport, secure inmate transport (incarceration) cells and bodies as well as custom modules modifications.)
  • Miscellaneous Fabrication (Aluminum dock ramps & bridges, structures, telecommunication shelters, hydro transformer boxes, cabinets, tool drawers, refrigeration wagons, staircases, consoles, wheel houses, landing craft, automated food processors and much more.)

XIII. Innovation

At Express™ we employ between 60 and 70 workers which are skilled in welding, fabrication, machine and equipment operation, electrical, electronics, finishing and more. Most of our employees are cross-trained which improves our adaptability to subjective manufacturing.

At Express™ we love to innovate. One of the ways we do that is by training and encouraging staff to "think outside the box". We are willing to look at problems from multiple angles; by comparing many approaches, we can isolate the best solutions and pursue an efficient course of action. Our willingness to risk trial and error paves the way for new innovations. This has allowed us to place cameras in discreet locations, add switches to more ergonomic and esthetic locations, etc.

Another way we like to innovate is through technology: We have reduced the dimensions our electrical distribution panel dimensions by 70% and reduced the weight by 90% by using a combination of software and custom-built circuit boards. Complicated panel shapes have been simplified by our draftsman in 3D Computer drafting and then cut and formed with our CNC automated cutting tables(1 water-jet, 1 plasma and 4 routers) and sheet metal breaks (benders).

XIV. Manufacturing Synergy

At Express™ we have developed a synergy between emergency equipment fabricators and electricians. Staff perform in a more succinct manner, resulting in a greater production consistency. Forward thinking allows designers to plan out routing and mounting, and it allows fabricators to be considerate of electrical, HVAC and component installation.

As previously mentioned, cross-trained staff aid with the over-all production schedule and reduce down-time. Shared understanding of the design helps mitigate problems and reduces oversights.

XV. Safety

Our Employees have a broad spectrum of skills. These employees have learned several key techniques which they apply in order ensure the best possible product outcome. Having quality personnel means a greater attention to detail which ultimately results in producing safer products.

At Express™ we are manufacturing products with consumer safety as a top priority. Calculations are made for center of gravity, weight distribution and payload capacities in order to ensure that the completed apparatus meets compliance within the specified safety limits from the OEM manufacturer, Transport Canada and the Ministry of Transport. Modules are designed and installed with industry proven techniques, in order to provide the best level of safety.

Cells are bolted to chassis frames using approved, grade 8 hardware, suitable to the requirements of Commercial Vehicle Inspection Policies.

XVI. Design

Sheet metal parts are designed on a computer with 3D Computer Drafting (3dimensional computer assisted design) software. These drawings are then sent down to a CNC cutting table for automated cutting. Shapes are cut out to exact specifications and then de-burred prior to being formed into components. This process is also used for polycarbonates such as Lexan, as well as other non-ferrous materials such as foam or wood.

3D Computer Drafting design allows a designer to see the objects from multiple angles in virtual space prior to construction. This allows the designer to foresee problems which may arise without wasting time or materials in R&D.

XVII. Metallurgy

During the manufacturing process, the least amount of stress placed on aluminum fabricated parts, the better. Stress can be added when aluminum is forced into place with spring pressure, or by adding too much heat. These problems can be avoided simply by correctly sizing metal parts to fit, and by reducing the amount of welding in one area. Other techniques include, controlling the rate at which the metal cools, annealing the metal afterwards, and engineering relief into the design.

TIG welding is the primary method of welding parts. TIG welding will apply more direct heat the welding area, which allows for optimal weld penetration. This ensures that the whole point of weld is fully bonded, rather than just the upper surface. Minimal welding is also preferred, as heat will stress the aluminum, which can cause deformation structural integrity loss of the metal.

Fastener choice has often proved more important than expected. Common fastener choices for aluminum include: standard stainless-steel bolts (with a plethora of head styles), a couple types of Huck bolts, a multitude of rivets types, pins, and custom designed extruded aluminum components. Knowing the application for each fastener helps to determine which fastener will work. Specific details will further refine the selection process.

XVIII. Metal Coatings & Finishing’s

The application of paint and other coatings requires careful attention to metal adhesion, to avoid scratches in the metal showing through the paint, and to eliminate dry spots. Therefore, epoxy based primers are used for the metal bond, aluminum surfaces are scratched more than steel and other surfaces and sufficient time is allowed between coats for the evaporation of solvents. Scratches are avoided by adding protective barriers during the finishing process. Dry spots can be prevented by controlling the paint chemistry.

Many parts, such as consoles and light brackets are powder coated to improve aesthetics and longevity. Powder coating is an improved paint system that actually spray a negatively charged powder onto the positively charge metal which is then melted to the metal while it is baked at around 250 degrees centigrade. This method improves the bond to metal, and proved a harder, longer lasting finish.