John serves as the Production Manager for Estes AWS, overseeing day-to-day operations and ensuring projects are completed and deadlines are met. He also communicates directly with customers, giving order advice and support, and making sure each customer’s product is an excellent fit for their unique in-vehicle storage needs.
John also has extensive CAD/engineering experience and is responsible for the designing, prototyping, and testing of all Estes AWS products. We asked John a few questions about his law enforcement experience, the design and product testing process for Estes AWS products, and custom solution options.
Q: You currently work in law enforcement. Tell us a little more about that and your role within your department.
A: I serve as a reserve patrolman for the Indiana Greenfield Police Department. I do road patrol and help supplement shifts when the department is low on manpower.
Q: How does this experience help when designing new Estes AWS products?
A: My experience helps me understand what really matters to law enforcement. I know from first-hand experience what a typical shift for law enforcement personnel consists of, so this helps me create and design products catered to these specific needs. I know how important it is to have gear and equipment secured and organized when I’m out on patrol, and I’m passionate about helping my other law enforcement brothers and sisters do the same. Being in the industry myself allows me to not only understand the unique needs of law enforcement for in-vehicle weapon and equipment storage, but also the nuances behind some those needs.
Q: Walk us through the process of creating and designing a new Estes AWS product from start to finish.
A: New products typically start with either a specific customer request or our national sales manager recognizing a need within the industry. Once we have a product idea in mind, next steps would be identifying design criteria, establishing how to make the new product that works with our existing product lineup, and creating a design that will work with multiple vehicle platforms. Then the design phase begins – we start with a conceptual design and work from there. Usually, the first design is never perfect and requires some tweaking. Once we dial in a design concept, we prototype the product to ensure fit and function. I like to call it the “rough draft” product. This “rough draft” design allows us to identify any additional improvements that need to be made, and then we can enter the product testing/validation phase.
Q: What kind of product testing/validation is performed on Estes AWS products?
A: The testing phase is most enjoyable for me because I get to prove either how good or how bad my design is. My goal is to put out a sustainable product on the first or second try.
Our 2.0 Weapon Locker has gone through some very vigorous testing. When testing and getting ready to launch that product, we had an automated test fixture that cycled opening and closing the locker over ten thousand times. This process tested the daily wear parts of the locker like drawer slides, gas springs, electronics, etc. We also performed several rounds of break-in testing which consisted of simulating the placement of the Weapon Locker inside the rear of a vehicle and then performing a 2-minute break-in test using crow bars, screw drivers, and other similar tools.
In-vehicle testing is another important step for all Estes AWS products. We put the new product in various law enforcement vehicles to verify that the installation fits as it should with our drop-and-bolt installation formula. While in the vehicle, I run each product through some intense, mock emergency runs to ensure the robustness and durability of each product. We have also partnered with several local law enforcement agencies to help us test products and ensure their viability. This helps us get real-time feedback directly from the end-users of the product and make adjustments as necessary.
Q: What do you like most about the Estes AWS setup you have in your patrol vehicle?
A: I have a SUV Storage Box on riser brackets in my Chevy Tahoe. This storage option provides me with all the necessary space I need to hold equipment on each shift. The dividers make it easy to keep gear separate and organized, which in turn, makes it easy to access the items I need during any given circumstance while on patrol.
Q: How do you think Estes AWS products improve the lives of law enforcement officers?
A: The durability of all Estes AWS products is a huge benefit. If officers take care of the products, then they could potentially last their entire career. Each product is also tailor designed for a variety of police vehicles to maximize space and give officers the most amount of storage potential in their vehicle. I work to design and engineer each product with end user functionality in mind.
Q: Talk to us about the custom solutions Estes AWS can provide to law enforcement.
A: We have the unique capability to not only create new products but also adjust or modify existing products. With access to design software and state-of-the art equipment, we have the capability, the flexibility, and I think most importantly the desire to help provide custom solutions for law enforcement. When working with customers on custom designs, we get lots of feedback on how most other manufacturers don’t want to be bothered with custom solutions. A large state agency recently came to us needing to customize our standard product line to best fit their in-vehicle storage needs. During this process, we were able to customize both existing products and also create completely new products that allowed them to switch all their gear and equipment from Tahoe vehicles into their new Durango fleet.
Q: What is your favorite custom build that you have worked on?
A: My favorite build was a completely custom setup we did for an agency. They needed approximately eight to ten inches under a locker and auxiliary drawer setup so they could also fit SWAT gear under the locker setup. This required completely custom mounting brackets and auxiliary drawer. It was a very challenging build, but I enjoyed the challenge.
Contact the Estes AWS team today to learn more about our versatile product line and discover how our custom design capabilities can be put to work for you!