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American Track Truck Celebrates a Decade in Business

The Michigan-based maker of Dominator tracks has captured a global market but remains true to its small business roots and values

This year marks the 10th year of business for American Track Truck. For the Michigan-based company behind the Dominator track system, which can convert cars, trucks and SUVs into snow grooming vehicles, it’s been quite the ride.

Since the first tracks rolled off the line, Dominator sales have taken off, to the point where American Track Truck now has customers all over the world.

“Export is a huge portion of our business,” said Rob Caldwell, tech support and special projects advisor at American Track Truck. “We ship globally. It’s common for us to ship by ocean and air cargo to unique destinations nearly every week.”

A major factor behind this popularity is all the different ways Dominatorequipped vehicles can be used. The Dominator track system is essentially AMERICAN TRACK TRUCK a conversion kit for transforming a 4X4 or AWD car, truck or SUV into a tracked on-snow vehicle, which can then be utilized for a wide array of purposes.

“Ice fishing, hunting, trapping, snow wheeling, trail riding and general winter exploring are some of the uses,” said Caldwell.”Obviously, we serve many ski hills and trail grooming operations, and there’s also search and rescue, wreck recovery, law enforcement and goods transportation. And a great many of our customers use Dominators just to get to their remote cabins and camps on unplowed roads all winter long.”

Vehicles equipped with Dominator tracks have shown up in major auto shows in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Las Vegas, and they can even be found in movies and television.

Dominator tracks were on view in the 2013 sci-fi film, Ice Soldiers, and they’ve also appeared on the popular Discovery Channel TV series, Diesel Brothers and Bering Sea: Gold Under the Ice. A Nissan Titan truck outfitted with Dominator tracks appeared in a Diesel Brothers episode just this past September.

Not bad, for a small band of snowmobiling buddies who originally started American Track Truck as a side project. The group, which included an engineer, a mechanic and a product designer, got the idea for the tracks in 2005 when their snowmobiling club in Chassell, Mich. needed a grooming rig to prepare a race track for its annual ice festival and couldn’t find anything suitable or affordable.”

Tractor groomers were too large, and snowmobiles and UTVs were too small. There was nothing in between,” said Caldwell, adding that the group’s first tracks were created to fill this need.

“The word spread, and others asked us to build tracks for them. One thing led to another, and a side project turned into a corporation,” said Caldwell. He adds that all of American Track Truck’s originators are still with company.

It quickly became apparent that we had developed a terrific product, and that there was a real need for it,” said Caldwell. “The motivating force for us was the reactions we received from our first customers. Many had tried other options, such as snowmobiles, UTVs with tracks and snowcats, but only Dominators were able to meet their needs. Hearing how satisfied they were with Dominator tracks is what inspired us to grow so we could reach more customers.”

With the growth of the company, American Track Truck has expanded its manufacturing operations and it is now producing Dominator tracks at facilities located in Houghton and Baraga counties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Biggest challenge

Caldwell says the main challenge for American Track Truck during its decade in business has been how to grow without losing its small company feel.

Our biggest assets have been our accuracy, our attention to detail, our ability to react quickly to changes and our legendary customer service. These are the things you don’t really get from big companies. So, the trick is to grow but without losing our strengths, and that’s much easier said than done,” said Caldwell.

Today, American Track Truck remains true to its roots by sticking with the core values that made the company a success – quality, value and affordability – and which continues to be reflected in product pricing.

“We keep Dominator tracks priced lower than everyone else in the industry, and we do this by running a tight ship and by selling direct to the customer and avoiding dealers and distributors,” he said.”We can operate on lower margins this way.”

Caldwell believes Dominator tracks also represent a good investment for customers. They’re designed to last, he says, and all of their replaceable wear items are relatively inexpensive and easy to service. “Dominator tracks really hold their value and it’s hard to find a used system for sale. We have seen five-year-old systems sell for just 20 percent less than the cost of new,” Caldwell said.

American Track Truck’s conversion kits have evolved over time. The Dominator series incorporated design changes that enabled the tracks to be used on bare ground or ice, pavement or gravel without any significant deterioration problems.

Dominator tracks have also changed to accommodate larger vehicles.

“We have built our business by focusing on half-ton and under vehicles. However, we now have the capability of outfitting many three-quarter ton and one-ton vehicles,” said Caldwell.

Today, Dominator tracks come in two different lengths – Standard and XL. They also come in two different series – regular-duty and heavy-duty. Regular duty tracks are designed for half-ton and under vehicles, while the heavy duty series is designed for three-quarter ton and one-ton vehicles.

“Our most popular package is the XL tracks on the rear axle with Standard tracks on the front axle. It’s popular because it’s a great combination that maximizes performance at an affordable price,” said Caldwell. “We have some options and upgrades available as well which we can recommend, depending on a customer’s particular application. Studded track belts are a popular upgrade, for instance, especially for ice fishing and trail grooming.”

Caldwell points out that replacement items for Dominator tracks are common snowmobile parts. “If the customer needs to replace a bogie wheel or a track belt in the future, they don’t have to buy the parts from us,” he said.

Caldwell says vehicles equipped with Dominator tracks are capable of pulling groomer drags for snowmobiling trails, and they also are being used to pull cross-country grooming equipment such as rollers, ginzus and track setters. American Track Truck customers also include ski hill operators that find Dominator-equipped vehicles handy for moving equipment like snow guns and other general uses.

According to Caldwell, the Dominator track system provides great traction on snow, enabling light-weight 200-horsepower trucks and SUVs to pull heavy groomer drags on steep and icy grades with little difficulty.

“Dominator tracks allow vehicles to reach higher speeds than typical grooming tractors, allowing the operator to get a run on hills when necessary,” said Caldwell.”Dominator-equipped vehicles can be operated by nearly anyone, eliminating the need for specially trained trail grooming personnel. And one Dominator track system can fit many different vehicles, making it easy and economical to have backups in case of emergency.”

To commemorate its 10th anniversary, American Track Truck is planning to hold a contest with a major giveaway as a nod to all of their loyal customers over the years.

“We don’t have all the details yet, but the thought is to include all of our customers in this contest – every customer AMERICAN TRACK TRUCK The Dominiator system on a Jeep Cherokee right from day one,” said Caldwell.”We have never heard of anyone doing that before, so that makes it even more fun for us.