Rod and Cindy Brakhage started the WHEELDOCK™ Co. in the spring of 2004 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In the first year of business, WHEELDOCK™ offered one product: the original WHEELDOCK™ wheel chock. In 2005, a patent was awarded for the chock (Pat. #7,150,359).This original product was invented and developed by Rod Brakhage and his buddy Mike Lyons.
During the first year of business, the company outsourced production of the chock to another local company, which handled the manufacturing and shipping. This allowed Rod to concentrate on sales and marketing and traveling to motorcycle rallies around the country to introduce his new product. On occasion Cindy traveled with Rod to rallies and was with him at his first rally in Branson, Missouri.
During the first summer, it became obvious that the wheel chock was a great design, and there was a large market for this product. Sales were so good that the manufacturer of the WHEELDOCK™ product had trouble keeping up with orders.
Rod decided to manufacture the wheel chock in-house. He invested in the equipment necessary to do this and leased and set up a small manufacturing shop in Stillwater. Because Rod’s background was in tool and die making, he was able to build the tooling and precision fixtures needed for manufacturing theWHEELDOCK™ wheel chock. Rod was ready for business in December 2004. In the first week of January 2005, WHEELDOCK™ shipped the first wheel chocks built entirely by WHEELDOCK™ employees.
NOTE: The WHEELDOCK wheel chock is sold directly to customers without the associated dealer margins. This decision lowered the retail price by 38% without sacrificing quality. Dropping our dealer network was a very tough decision, but it was one way to compete with offshore manufacturers using cheap labor to sell low quality “cheap” wheel chocks. We believe that “cheap isn’t good and good isn’t cheap.”
One year later, the company was at full speed and needed more space. On April 1, 2006, the company leased and moved into a new 7,500 sq. foot building in Stillwater. The additional space was quickly filled with new equipment, including a new powder coating system. (Powder coating greatly improves the looks and durability of our products.)
In the fall of 2006, Rod designed and developed the EZ-Up™ drive-off center stand for the Harley touring bikes. The WHEELDOCK™ Company offers an EZ-Up™ center stand to fit all Harley touring bikes from 1979 through current models in several sizes. From the beginning, the EZ-Up™ center stand has been very successful.
In the fall of 2008, WHEELDOCK™ leased part of an adjacent building with 2,500 square feet to set up a machine shop. The new shop provided Rod a place to develop new products. All tooling, fixtures, and prototypes are built in-house. This addition allowed WHEELDOCK™ to take a new product from concept to completion. The Park-n-Move motorcycle dolly is a product we were able to re-design and produce for theLegal Speeding Co., which is another great American success story.
To increase our wheel chock production, we added a new CNC vertical milling machine that performs all the drilling, tapping, counter boring etc. This CNC also machines the spacers we use to change one size chock into a smaller one. (This is another part which was once outsourced and now built in-house with the savings passed on to our customers.)
In the fall of 2009we made a major investment with our new Kuka robotic welding center. This machine is absolutely amazing and currently performs many of the welding operations on our products. Cutting-edge technology is another way to reduce cost in order to be more competitive with foreign manufactures. With the Robot we discovered we now had extra capacity and began taking on outside welding work for several companies in the area.
In the spring of 2011 WHEELDOCK™ subcontracted to weld parts for the Ditch Witch Company. Ditch Witch has continued to be a great company to work for and as our relationship grows, so does our work load for our robotic welder.
In the fall of 2010, our company was in growth mode again and needed space. We leased the rest of the building where the machine shop was and added another 5,000 feet of space. We were now working out of two buildings with 15,000 feet of total space.
In the summer of 2011, Rod decided to build a plant from the ground up to get the entire operation under one roof with a bit of room to expand. A two- acre lot was purchased and construction began on a new custom built facility with 16,000 sq feet of space located at 4520 Territory Lane in Stillwater, Oklahoma. WHEELDOCK moved into its new home on January 1 of 2012.
Jeff Yerby was named the general manager of WHEELDOCK™. Jeff, a mechanical engineer, is an OSU graduate. And, he rides a Harley FXDL. Jeff has helped Rod with rallies and shows for several years and brings a new dimension to our company.
January of 2012 was a very busy time as WHEELDOCk™ introduced its third product, the EZ-Air® management system for Harley touring bikes. This product (patent pending) was in the development phase for nearly a year. Tom Yerby, Jeff’s dad, another one of Rod’s riding buddies “from back in the day” helped with the design and development of this new product.
The WHEELDOCK™ Company is very proud of the fact that we manufacture our products in the USA. All of our products carry a limited, lifetime warranty to be free of defects in materials and workmanship: the way it used to be.
In this day and time, most companies focus on how cheaply a product can be made (usually in a foreign country) and then sold for the most profit possible. At WHEELDOCK™, we believe in building a great product here in America, sell it at a fair price, and then provide great service after the sale. We believe this simple philosophy is why we have been successful and continue to grow even in a tough economy. Our toll-free number is posted at the top of every page on our site. We encourage our customers to call with any questions, comments, or complaints. Rod is always available to visit with customers who need help or assistance in any way. We encourage you to take a few minutes and read what some of our customers think of our products and services here: testimonials
Rod and Cindy make their home in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Rod was employed by Oklahoma State University for 23 years. At OSU, Rod built research hardware for the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology (CEAT). Rod has a passion for motorcycles and enjoys riding whenever he finds the time.
Cindy is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and a senior editor at Fire Protection Publications at Oklahoma State University. Cindy writes and edits fire service training manuals for the fire service.