ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (May 4, 2005) – With assistance from the NASA-funded Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP), a unique light truck bed cover designed by local entrepreneurs may soon be on the market.
Dan Castilleja and Richard Gooding, co-owners of GoodCast Performance Products, LLC, recently found themselves in a bind and turned to SATOP for help. With the world’s premier automotive specialty performance products trade event less than two months away, their new truck cover was nowhere near design completion. To miss the event would mean months of lost time for presentation to potential buyers.
“We had a basic design, but needed professional drawings and engineering assistance to produce a complete design and presentable package for potential manufacturers and light truck OEMs,” said Castilleja, “and we needed it all within two months. As a small company, we simply did not have the resources to solve the problem internally.”
Fortunately, GoodCast’s patent attorney had heard of SATOP New Mexico, a program of the Santa Fe-based Regional Development Corp., and suggested it as a possible resource.
SATOP paired GoodCast with engineer Dave Merrill, president of C & H Merrill, Inc. Based in Palm Bay, Fla., C & H Merrill specializes in systems engineering, machine design and production, and integration and automation, and has provided valuable services and products to such customers as NASA, the United States Navy, Lockheed Martin, Walt Disney World and Sea World.
Merrill set out to rework and reorganize the basic design, as well as create an engineering design package, including the documentation necessary to create a prototype. GoodCast asked that he test the cover’s locking mechanism, hold-down points and design, determine what changes were necessary, and recommend optimum parts and materials.
All in all, Merrill incorporated design changes to make the truck top more complete; labeled, named, and catalogued the product components; generated a professionally recognized order for the technical drawings; provided the new design in CD-R and hardcopy format; enhanced the features of the AutoCAD software in which the original design was created; added proper dimension and scale; identified specifications for materials and parts; and produced a complete professional package for presentation to prospective investors.
Most importantly, Merrill met the tight deadline, allowing for the cover’s debut at the trade show.
“SATOP and C & H Merrill allowed us to cut at least 12-16 months off the introduction cycle time from initial design time,” said Castilleja.
Merrill considers the opportunity to provide help through SATOP an important civic responsibility. “SATOP is a wonderful program -- it allows for a return on tax payer investment in the Space Program by offering that expertise to small businesses for free,” he said.
Castilleja agrees, saying, “The professionalism and scientific expertise available at no cost through SATOP is impressive. SATOP helps companies like ours maintain a competitive advantage and helps keep manufacturing jobs stateside.
“If we are successful with the product’s introduction to the market, we will move forward with other products already on the drawing board.”