Melanie White, President of the fourth-generation company Hellwig Products, divulges the secrets to their success. Meanwhile, Holman remains active, acquiring a fresh set of wheels, and TSP achieves a significant milestone. Proudly sponsored by Nissan, in collaboration with Banks Power and Hellwig Products, this is The Truck Show Podcast.



The following transcription of The Truck Show Podcast was generated using a speech recognition software, and will contain errors. Please review the timestamp and listen to the corresponding audio for accuracy. 

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Jay “Lightning” Tilles (0s):

Holman before we start this episode of The Truck. Show Podcast. I gotta say that. My mom says hi.

Sean P. Holman (7s):

Hi Jay’s mom.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (9s):

It sounds weird, huh? But I was on the way here. Well, it’d

Sean P. Holman (11s):

Sound weird if I said hi lightning’s mom.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (12s):

Yeah, yeah. I was on the way here and I was talking to my mom and dad, And, they were on the freeway and I go I, I’m headed to the podcast. I gotta hang up. And she’s like, okay, well say hi to Sean. I hung up. I’m like, wait, why did my mom just give a shout to Sean? That’s awesome. What I think because she listens to the show so frequently. Yeah. She feels like she knows you

Sean P. Holman (32s):

Well, I wish I could return that favor. I just,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (34s):

It was weird. Can

Sean P. Holman (36s):

I come over for like a Tillis Sunday family dinner or So You Want

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (38s):

Some casserole or something on a, a Sunday night? Sure. Yeah. Why not? Great.

Sean P. Holman (42s):

Just be hanging out with the Tilles.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (44s):


Sean P. Holman (44s):

Weird. Where’s the till?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (45s):

IN Nah. Oh, don don’t know. It’s, I guess it’s Tillis.

Sean P. Holman (48s):

Tillis. Okay. Yeah. Yeah.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (49s):

That’s the last,

Sean P. Holman (50s):

Geez. Yeah. I I down some casserole with the Tilles. That sounds weird. That does sound weird. Yeah, I I just got back, I went to Palm Springs and drove the new Chevy ZR two bison. Oh, I saw

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (1m 2s):


Sean P. Holman (1m 2s):

Video. So the Colorado hd. So if you go to, I think it’s on The Truck Show Podcast page or at Sean P Holman. You can go and check it out on Instagram and did some, some videos. I still have to write some, some thoughts on it ’cause the embargo just lifted today. Hey

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (1m 15s):


Sean P. Holman (1m 16s):

And I’m just really behind on everything because when you are out for a week and you own your own business and then you come back, you go, oh, that was a bad idea. But it was for like, you know, once in a Lifetime deal. So, so after the ZR two drive, which took us through Johnson Valley, we were taking a brand new 95, 90 $6,000 Durmax, 2,500 hds down the backside of Chocolate Thunder.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (1m 37s):

And now if you have ever heard or haven’t heard of Chocolate Thunder, this is one of the main routes of the Ultra four cars. Yeah. And it is huge. Rocky Mars like terrain. Yeah,

Sean P. Holman (1m 47s):

Like waterfalls stuff. So we’re taking these big old trucks down there, the zero twos, So. I. Hopefully next week I’ll give you guys my truck review. But we’ve got so much going on in this show, so much to catch up on. I’ll save that. So then I went out to Goff’s to the M-D-H-C-A to our museum out there and met up with Desert Explorer Billy Creech. What?

2 (2m 5s):

Billy Creech? Desert Explorer

Sean P. Holman (2m 8s):

So I was posting all week. So if you follow me on Instagram, you would’ve seen, how many times

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (2m 13s):

Did you say that, by the way? How many Billy Creach? Hold

Sean P. Holman (2m 15s):

On. That’s what I’m trying to get at. All of these listeners kept tagging Billy and putting Desert Explorer and he, he

2 (2m 23s):

Billy Cre, desert Explorer.

3 (2m 26s):

Hey, who H us? What? You know. Go ahead Billy. We’re waiting Billy.

Sean P. Holman (2m 35s):

So we actually played that for the head of the BLM Needles field office. Oh, did you really? and I said, oh you, I’ve got this podcast and we’ve got this hilarious thing with Billy. You

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (2m 45s):

Had it on your phone.

Sean P. Holman (2m 46s):

And he’s like, yeah. And he’s like, it was funny at first but now everybody’s doing it. I’m like, well wait till you Come on the show to talk about So. I’m not gonna talk too much about our adventure. I’ll just give you a quick overview. We’ll have Billy on long story short Wait,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (2m 57s):

Which Billy This? Billy Billy

2 (2m 58s):

CRE. Desert Explorer.

Sean P. Holman (3m 0s):

Yes. In a upcoming episode, we will have Billy Creech, desert Explorer, Billy Creech

2 (3m 6s):


Sean P. Holman (3m 6s):

Explorer. And we’re gonna overplay that a lot ’cause it’s hilarious. Alright, so we started out in Ivan Paw and we worked our way up on old roads all the way up to basically the southern tip of Death Valley. And we had a BLM archeologist, a geologist, a botanist, and the field office manager. And then we also had Chris caller, who’s another photojournalist that you guys probably know. He shoots all of like Jeeps press photos. And he’s worked with Four Wheeler and all that stuff by day, well

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (3m 36s):


Sean P. Holman (3m 37s):

Dude, very well respected. And then Billy Creech. And we were able to take this caravan and we made it. and there were some trials and tribulations along the way. There was some stuff that we didn’t think we were gonna get through.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (3m 47s):

Don’t spoil

Sean P. Holman (3m 48s):

’em though. There were a couple times we thought maybe the trip was over and that it wasn’t gonna proceed. And So

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (3m 53s):

I saw some of that video where you look dejected and the bags under your eyes reached your navel.

Sean P. Holman (3m 58s):

Don don’t know if that’s totally true, but no, there was definitely times of frustration and dejection, but at the end of the day, we made it happen. We routed it. The BLM was happy. We’re moving forward. This, we are literally on sections of road that were over 120 years old that hadn’t been driven on in literally decades. Trying to find the Trace Crossing alluvial fans in the desert. Massive washouts from the storms. Like there were times where we would come up to a ledge and it was a seven foot drop down to the river bed and we’d have to figure out how to get down. But there was wilderness area on one side, so we couldn’t drive that way. Or crossing the arm of Armagosa River. I mean just on and on. So amazing trip. Can’t wait to bring it to you guys. The adventure Jeep did amazing I know a lot of you will go, well, what happened with your MagnaFlow exhaust tips?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (4m 42s):

Oh no, you crushed ’em again.

Sean P. Holman (4m 46s):

No, here’s the thing. This freaking trail my Jeeps up on 30 sevens bent my rear license plate.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (4m 55s):

Oh my gosh.

Sean P. Holman (4m 55s):

And barely kissed the MagnaFlow tips. So the MagnaFlow tips. So here’s the thing, stock tip, you touch the ground. Instant pancake, right? The MagnaFlow tips are these like double walled stainless steel. They’re like skid plates. Really? I drunk the crap out of ’em. They don’t look any worse for the wear. So I was all worried about m like, oh no, here go the tips. and I looked at ’em and it’s like a little scrape on the bottom. Tips look great. Didn’t even move position.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (5m 18s):

I’m like, no kidding. Like

Sean P. Holman (5m 19s):

Sweet. So I’m like, I’m even worried about the tips anymore.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (5m 22s):

That’s good to know. So if you want strong exhaust tips, yeah, reach our, reach out to our friends at Magda Flow. So

Sean P. Holman (5m 26s):

I working to get Rich on the phone. I don’t know if he’ll be on before SEMA or after, but we’re, we’ll, we’ll get him on to talk Mag Flow, but

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (5m 34s):

We’re gonna need to carve out about six hours for him. Yeah, he’s

Sean P. Holman (5m 37s):

Got stories. He’s got stories. But yeah, the exhaust was awesome. And then we also talked about the Curry High clearance steering system that I did. Phenomenal. So I. Wanna talk about that a little bit? I wanna get the, the guys from Rock Jock on to talk about that product because Game Changer for for backcountry travel. And then had Apex had the steering boost kit that we put on as well to turn up the hydraulic pressure of the electronic pump. Did you also have their valve damages for quick deflation? I don’t have them on this because my Wheels don’t allow for their collar boo. But did you see he just released a brand new one? I did. And those will fit in my wheels.

Sean P. Holman (6m 17s):

So. I saw the ad, but I didn’t have time to pause and then hit go on the shop button to go investigate. But yeah, go to, I think it’s Apex performance and check those out. But yeah, so a lot of people were asking me, well you’ve got a 3 92, it was 95 degrees, you’re crawling off road. Did you ever overheat? Never came close. I was able to check my I dash to see what my maximum temperatures were. Didn’t you set up some alerts before you left? Yeah. So I’ve got that on there and then I can check what my maximums are. And then the other cool thing is a lot of people with three 90 twos or the eco diesels that have so much heat generated under the engine compartment that their power steering system will do an overheating alert and then they lose the assist.

Sean P. Holman (6m 59s):

Well the Apex system is supposed to help that out. I can tell you, driving miles across the desert with that Apex kit with the cooler, the boost turned up to, I think it was 1800 PSI, no issues whatsoever. The steering was fantastic. That and the curry system together, man, I was so happy. And then the 81 hundreds this trip would’ve been untenable if I didn’t have good shocks on that thing. So I know it sounds like a commercial for a lot of different brands, but honestly I’ve curated what’s on that Jeep and I’m happy to tell you the stuff that I put on there is, it was worth it. It works. So I’m gonna take a zag really quick here. A couple of emails that we don’t really have to read, but they were requesting a product page on our website.

Sean P. Holman (7m 41s):

They’re like, you guys are talking about stuff all the time. Yeah, I know. And so I’ve reached out to a couple of of our friends at the companies where we mention them and we’re working on some affiliate links. So you’ll be able to not only get discounts on products, but support your boys at The, Truck Show Podcast. We would greatly appreciate that. And then I have one photo I wanna show you. I didn’t even tell you about this and I’ve been waiting to show this to you because it’s going to tickle your fancy. Alright. This is not something that you posted on the gram. I have not posted this on the Gram. Okay. Alright. So I’m gonna put a picture up on the pod shed TV here and it’s going to be something that you are going to be very happy to see.

Sean P. Holman (8m 22s):

So, what you’re saying is, you’re making me guess what it is. I’m not saying that, but if you’d like to guess, I would like to guess, oh, wait a minute. I have an intro for me. Guessing

4 (8m 30s):

How wide, how tall? Is it big or is it small? Is it more or is it less? If I describe it, can you guess? Partly flat and partly round blue. And it makes a ring sound. Now I’ve described it. Can you see what this thing is bound to be?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (8m 55s):

What is, is it? You gotta tell me. That’s horrible. That’s freaking what?

Sean P. Holman (8m 58s):

Wow. What? Where did you find that?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (8m 60s):

I’m gonna play that again soon. ’cause I love it so much.

Sean P. Holman (9m 2s):

Do we own the copyright off that? Yes,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (9m 4s):

I sang it. Reproduced it. Yeah, it’s fine. Some dude on some seventies TV show.

Sean P. Holman (9m 9s):

Okay, that’s Super weird.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (9m 10s):

You ever ang that’s dead?

Sean P. Holman (9m 12s):

It might not be. Yeah, the rights holder’s not though. Alright. It is something that you know about.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (9m 21s):

Okay. No, tell me it was the bathtub full of marbles. No, it’s not the bathtub full of marbles. No. In the middle of the desert. No. Okay. That I I don’t have any, was it a mine? Were you in a mine? No. Well, I, what else do I care about?

Sean P. Holman (9m 32s):

There’s red and black.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (9m 34s):

Red and black. There’s a lot of things that are red and black. I don’t know.

Sean P. Holman (9m 41s):

Had a screen on it.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (9m 44s):

Red and black with a screen on it.

Sean P. Holman (9m 47s):

You. Ready.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (9m 47s):

Yeah. I don’t, I don’t honest I have no clue. Red and black with a screen on. Show me.

Sean P. Holman (9m 52s):

Turn your attention to,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (9m 54s):

Whoa, you actually use the antigravity batteries. Microstar XP 20 heavy duty Jumpstarter. What

Sean P. Holman (9m 60s):

Happened? So. You. Remember when I told you I was taking it on this trip? All right, so we had it on the show and we said, Hey antigravity set us these jump packs, right? And went, well this is smaller than the NOCO that I have. I’ll bring this. And sure enough, halfway through the trip, Chris Callard has a Toyota Tacoma first gen with a V six with 300 plus thousand miles on it. And he’s still prow in the desert. Okay. But he had a aftermarket welding system on it and the voltage regulator took a crap. And so he wasn’t charging anymore. And so the sun was going down. We had to find a campsite and we basically drove until his battery about killed itself. And the only way we were able to start it was with that jump

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (10m 39s):

Pack. No way.

Sean P. Holman (10m 40s):

And Chris just happened to have, because he knew the voltage regulator on this particular welding system has issues. He had a stock alternator on him. And. they were able to swap out the alternator at camp that night. And we started in the morning with the XP 20.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (10m 55s):

That is like, you made it up.

Sean P. Holman (10m 57s):

I didn’t make it up. That’s why I took a picture. I’m

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (10m 60s):

Like, the fact that we mentioned this two episodes ago

Sean P. Holman (11m 2s):

And I said, I’m bringing it. And

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (11m 4s):

He saved the dude, dude.

Sean P. Holman (11m 5s):

And it literally saved the day.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (11m 7s):


Sean P. Holman (11m 8s):

So tell your friends at Antigravity that we actually have a real used story. And here’s the thing that I thought was really interesting. So the XP 20 is their heavy duty. It’s supposed to jump the Peterbilt or whatever.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (11m 18s):

Yeah, like a 16 liter.

Sean P. Holman (11m 19s):

Yeah, whatever. So this is a 3.4 liter V six. It was about five or 6% a start an attempt. That’s how much the percentage would go down.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (11m 28s):

Didn’t even affect the 10. So

Sean P. Holman (11m 30s):

We, I think by the time they jumped it a bunch of times as they were letting it run, turning it off, reading voltages, doing all that stuff, 5, 6, 7 times, I I still have 50%, still would’ve jumped another couple cars. So I was really impressed. My point is,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (11m 43s):

Did it, did it get warm?

Sean P. Holman (11m 44s):

No. Wow. Okay. My point is, I was, I was super impressed. It worked as advertised. It saved the day. There’s not a lot of times that we have something on the show that is for use in emergency, and then we actually get to use it. So I was just super stoked. I I, you know, they’re like, oh, does anybody have jumper cables? And I’m like, hold that thought. And, and here’s the thing that’s better about that is

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (12m 4s):

Did you, when, when, when they said that, did you just like, I got this.

Sean P. Holman (12m 8s):

Of course, because who wants to, like, you’re on a tight trail. You can’t drive off road, you can’t drive off the trail. How are you gonna turn a vehicle around on a two track, point the nose at it in a line of seven vehicles, hook up your jumper cables, make sure the battery’s on the right side, all that stuff. All I did was unzipped this out of a pouch, walked back three cars and went here, put this on, started right up. That’s cool. So

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (12m 29s):

I, that’s a great endorsement.

Sean P. Holman (12m 30s):

Yeah, no, it’s, it’s a, it’s a great, it’s a great product and yeah, it actually happens. So, so

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (12m 35s):

If you’re wondering about the size, it’s about, it’s a little bigger than like a new iPhone. It’s a brick 15.

Sean P. Holman (12m 40s):

It’s a brick cut half.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (12m 42s):


Sean P. Holman (12m 42s):

Go. It’s a long brick. And you cut it. Yeah, you’re right. And half lengthwise like so it’s kind of flat. And that’s about the size of it. It doesn’t take up any room. It takes up way less room than my heavy duty jumper cables do. So now I’m gonna be pulling out of my jumper cables outta the vehicle. No

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (12m 57s):

Reason to have jumper cables. No.

Sean P. Holman (12m 58s):

Right. No, not for what I do. I just wanna be able to start somebody who, who needs it. So that’s super cool.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (13m 3s):

Well, again, I talked about getting an affiliate link on the site. This is exactly what we need to be promoting. Yeah. Stuff that actually works for us in the field. So there it is. Super cool. All right. All. So Howman, before we get into the rest of the show, can we think Nissan

Sean P. Holman (13m 15s):

Trucks with brand new batteries don’t require jump starting? Yes. Yeah. Yes, we can do that. So if you’re in the market for a new half ton or mid-size pickup truck, you can check out the Titan, the Titan XD or the Nissan Frontier. Any of those trucks are going to deliver you value, reliability, durability, dependability. It’s a great truck, great brand, we love ’em. Head over to Nissan where you can use their build and price tool. And you can even I think, see pictures of the new hard body, which is going out, which looks super rad. Or you can add down to your local dealer where they’re gonna be happy to show off all the great features of the Nissan truck product line, like the zero gravity seats, the Fender audio system, utility track, bed rail system spray, and bedliner, and all the other stuff that you expect from a truck and more.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (13m 58s):

And as Holman said earlier, the bank’s ID dash comes in incredibly handy. Whether you’re on the road or on the trail, you are setting your own temperature alerts. You’re setting low oil pressure alerts, or let’s say you need to pull diagnostic codes or trouble codes when you’re in the middle of nowhere, what’s actually happening to the engine. The ID dash does all that stuff, right, that every other diagnostic device does. But it adds an entire layer of patented parameters. These parameters help you if you are an engine developer or if you are an at-home tuner. Whether you change your inner cooler, your turbo system, your intake. Did you spend money on a performance mod that increased the performance?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (14m 39s):

Or did you throw money down the toilet? The ID dash will tell you what you’ve added or subtracted. Check out the bank’s ID dash. It works with any car on the road. If you don’t have a modern car with sensors, Banks has all the sensors. Whether you’ve got an old school thirties hot rod, or a brand new Durmax truck, the Banks ID dash is the answer. You’ll find yours at Banks

Sean P. Holman (14m 59s):

And of course, we gotta thank our brand new sponsor, Helwig Products, who will be hanging out with the show for the next month or so. And In fact, we have Melanie, White, CEO of Helwig be on this show. But Lightning, I believe you have a Hellwig clip you’d like to share. Hit

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (15m 12s):

It Steve.

5 (15m 13s):

This is Jim. Jim loves his truck. He uses it to hauler his camper construction materials and tow his boat. The problem is that all these things make the back end of his truck sag. This sagging leads to a reduction in control, difficulty braking, uneven wear of his tires, increased wear and tear on the rear end components, and his headlights raise and hit people in the eyes instead of pointing at the road. He started to notice that the delivery vehicles lifted trucks, fleet vehicles, and older vehicles that were carrying a load or towing sagged in the back end. He visited his friend Tom, who was leaving for a cross country trip in his overland vehicle.

5 (15m 56s):

He was amazed that even when it was loaded with all his equipment and supplies, it was not sagging. Like so many other vehicles, Tom shared his secret, no maintenance, set it and forget it. Helper springs from Hellwig products. To find your Hellwig helper spring visit Hellwig,

Sean P. Holman (16m 16s):

Fight saggy bottom for the rear of your vehicle with a set of Hellwig helper springs. And of course there’s no more white knuckle rides. If your truck or tow vehicle drives like a teeter-totter, Helwig products, sway bars can help alleviate unwanted body roll and make your next road trip smoother. Helwig products are made right here in the USA and have been since 1946. So if you’re looking for some additional load control, head over to Hellwig,

6 (16m 38s):

The truck show. We’re gonna show you what we know. We’re gonna answer What? The truck, because truck rides with the truck show. We have the lifted, we have the lowered end. Everything in between. We’ll talk about trucks that run on Diesel and the ones that run on gasoline. The truck show. The truck show. The truck show.

7 (17m 10s):

It’s the truck show with your hosts Lightning and Holman.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (17m 17s):

All right, Holman, let’s do this. Let’s start off the show officially with Melanie White of Hellwig products out there in Visalia, California.

10 (17m 31s):

This is Melanie

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (17m 32s):

Melanie Lightning and Holman Truck. Show Podcast. How you doing? Yay.

10 (17m 36s):

How’s it going? How

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (17m 37s):

Are you? Fantastic. Good. You sound so exuberant.

10 (17m 40s):

I’m just sad. I know, I’m bummed. I’m not in your the room with you though. So in the

Sean P. Holman (17m 45s):

Pod shed. Yeah. Yeah. you don’t, you don’t wanna be,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (17m 46s):

Well wait a minute. So it’s a great place. You’ve been with us in person before and you know how ugly we are. So it’s good that you’re not near us.

Sean P. Holman (17m 54s):

It’s not about looks lightning, it’s about the experience. Oh, is it? And that’s just as bad.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (17m 59s):


Sean P. Holman (17m 59s):

If Melanie was here, we’d offer her like a Dr. Pepper

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (18m 1s):

I weirdly.

10 (18m 2s):

Yeah. I weirdly like that though. So

Sean P. Holman (18m 4s):

I. Don’t know.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (18m 5s):

Alright, so we Holman we didn’t discuss which intro we should

Sean P. Holman (18m 9s):

Play over write. That’s, do you have one in mind? I. I

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (18m 12s):

Feel like it’s inside Job.

Sean P. Holman (18m 14s):


Jay “Lightning” Tilles (18m 14s):

But she’s,

Sean P. Holman (18m 15s):

But you’re, you’re borderline lawing. She’s

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (18m 17s):

Borderline truck famous because she’s a big wig now. It’s sema. She’s the CEO of Hellwig. What, what are you thinking?

Sean P. Holman (18m 28s):

Oh, let’s do Truck Famous. We haven’t done That one in a while.

7 (18m 30s):

Here we go.

10 (18m 31s):


7 (18m 33s):

Truck famous, hero Star. VIP, ACE, big Weight. Hot Shot truck. Famous Big shot. Big deal. Big Gut. Big cheese. Heavyweight Superstar Truck. Famous. That’s what you are.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (18m 45s):

There you go. Could you hear that

10 (18m 47s):

You know what I did? I have been wanting walkup music. So thank you

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (18m 54s):

Melanie. We have had you on the show before, so thank you for being so gracious and, and returning. You’ve got a lot of good stuff to talk about. As you know, I recently put a set of Hellwig sway bars on the TRX on my 22 TRX. We’ve, we’ve talked about it at length, but just as a recap in case we’ve got new listeners just tuning in, I was so impressed with the, with the handling improvement on the truck. So

Sean P. Holman (19m 18s):

So, You, gotta remember Jay’s the type of guy who,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (19m 20s):

Lightning bath,

Sean P. Holman (19m 22s):

Jay. It’s weird. We’re

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (19m 23s):

Friends here. I don’t I know, but it’s

Sean P. Holman (19m 24s):

All lightning. Yeah. That’s the, you think me calling you Lightning is less weird than me calling you by your actual name. It’s just So

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (19m 30s):

What? You and I start calling each other. Jay. Sean. The magic goes away. Our listeners start to Yeah, the magic’s going away. They’re

Sean P. Holman (19m 35s):

Emailing you as Jay

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (19m 36s):

I know don don’t like it. They, they’re like,

Sean P. Holman (19m 37s):

Hey, Sean and Jay. All right, so here’s the deal. It’s

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (19m 40s):

Like you and e coming out just saying, yo Mel, what’s up? We’re like, we’re not, we like, we love Mel, but we’re not that tight in there. Right. I,

Sean P. Holman (19m 46s):

I have seen selfies every year with her So. You

10 (19m 48s):

Can call me Mel. Really?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (19m 49s):

Yeah. Okay. All right. Mel, what’s up? All

Sean P. Holman (19m 50s):

Right. So yeah, J Jay says, Hey, what’s up? All right. So Lightning. Yes, Lightning. Lightning came mostly in a lot of ways from more of the car world, the sports car stuff. I mean he’s had a couple trucks here and there, you know, blah, blah, blah. But the thing is, is he got his tx he’s like, wow, this thing feels kind of like soft and mushy on the road and it doesn’t really handle well. I’m like, What, are you talking about

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (20m 13s):

Well, So I didn’t say handle well.

Sean P. Holman (20m 15s):

Handles amazing. It it does.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (20m 16s):

So it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. But on the road it feels wishy-washy. Because

Sean P. Holman (20m 21s):

You’ve never had like an off-road performance truck before. Correct. You’ve had like lifted trucks, you’ve had show trucks, all that stuff. Lower trucks. Lower trucks. But you never had that. And so when the opportunity to put the Hellwig sway bars came on, lightning is like, he’s like, well what, what do you think it’ll do? Right? Because he doesn’t tow a trailer and he doesn’t necessarily hauler a bunch of payload. He just wants to have a cool truck to go drive. And I’m like, no, go ahead and do it because it’s gonna transform your everyday driving. And what was the first thing? Yeah, you, we pulled out of the parking lot and you’re like, I already feel a difference

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (20m 55s):

Immediately. So where I could tell is under acceleration in a turn, it didn’t wallow. But where I really notice it is when you’re on an overpass and you’ve got the joints in the road. Yeah. And so as you go, you’re turning expansion joints a long sweeper over, you’ve got expansion joints. It didn’t wanna kick out, it was planted. It just,

Sean P. Holman (21m 13s):

The steering went from being under steer to a lot more neutral.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (21m 16s):

Yes. Well said. Thank you. Which,

Sean P. Holman (21m 18s):

Which is what you were looking for. Without knowing how to say it. I

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (21m 22s):

Couldn’t, I couldn’t articulate it. I still can’t now. But I will tell you that the, the experience is so much better. It, it really is a confidence builder. And I I can’t imagine. and I haven’t towed with it yet. ’cause the T Rx really isn’t a tow. You can, but it’s not really, it’s not like a a, you know, A GMC 25, 3500, we can

Sean P. Holman (21m 38s):

Thousand pounds with it.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (21m 39s):

You can for sure. But yeah, where I would imagine this would come in, like Clutch is where you’re towing and you need that

Sean P. Holman (21m 48s):

Sway control. Now have you played with the adjustability on your rear sway bar?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (21m 51s):

I haven’t yet because

Sean P. Holman (21m 53s):

We, we set it, I think we set it

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (21m 54s):

At in the

Sean P. Holman (21m 55s):

Middle position. In the, on both sides. Yes. Because I know you can go Yeah,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (21m 58s):

You can split the difference.

Sean P. Holman (21m 59s):

Yeah. Do a half position.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (21m 59s):

No I haven’t yet. Okay. So for those of you that don’t know, Melanie is fourth generation at Hellwig

Sean P. Holman (22m 6s):

Family owned business. Started by her great-grandfather. And you guys were original founding members of sema. And by the way, we’re at the very first SEMA show in 1967 that was held at Dodger Stadium, which that show lives in infamy. You can hear all the old timers around Seema talk about it. I was there. I was there in 1967 at Dodger Stadium.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (22m 25s):

So that was indoors under the grandstand. Totally.

10 (22m 27s):

And everyone wore suits. It’s such a different vibe than it is today. Right. No one had vehicles there. It was just booth like 10 by 10 booths all around. But that was under Dodger Stadium. And my grandpa took Hellwig product there for the first time. I love that. We were there.

Sean P. Holman (22m 45s):

What was the product back in 1967 that he would’ve had on display?

10 (22m 51s):

He would’ve had Help Springs, helper Springs. Okay. So yeah, helper Springs and most vehicles were passenger cars in with Leave Springs And. they did everything right. They towed, they hauled Ed out of it. Everything. And so if a sagging, if a vehicle was sagging, my grandpa would be like, Hey, I can fix that problem. So everything was kind of focused around that passenger car. And then probably around, it probably was around the sixties when trucks became more popular too. And we started to put our products on those. Well,

Sean P. Holman (23m 25s):

I think because trucks finally got power steering and power brakes and a m FM radio. Yeah, exactly. Air, air

10 (23m 29s):

Condition. Exactly.

Sean P. Holman (23m 30s):

And we’ve talked about on the show before. Yeah. The Modern Station wagon today is the crew cab half ton truck. Right. If you want that traditional Yeah, totally. You know, towing, hauling, four door rear Wheel drive, you know, body on Frame experience. That’s, that’s the crew cab pickup. So You. You may have been helper Springs on wagons back then, but really it is a natural progression for Helwig to be into, you know, the half-ton trucks and, and pickups and things like that as well.

10 (23m 57s):

I have a image of like when they were advertising the first SEMA show and it’s really fun to like pick out. I’ll have to share it with you guys, but it’s really fun to pick out, like it’s a cartoon and it has like people on bases because it was in Dodgers Stadium and it has like the team name. So it’ll have like Hellwig, it has like ETL Brock, I think like comp cans has one. I’ll have to share it with you guys maybe. I’d love to see that. Maybe you can share it with your listeners. Super. That feels

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (24m 26s):

Like a T-shirt. It’s super fun. Like a retro t-shirt.

Sean P. Holman (24m 28s):

Yeah. You guys, should you do a retro t-shirt out of that?

10 (24m 30s):

Yeah. It’s cool. And when you see it, I bet you will want to.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (24m 35s):

What was the application back then? Was it like, do you remember like what was the number one application that he launched with what, what year make and model? Any idea?

10 (24m 47s):

I I am I’m at my home office where I would have it. I have it on my, my wall. But we would, I mean it was passenger cars with everything and it was a very, like more, you know, there was a lot more space in the Wheel. Well ’cause we didn’t have near the, the equipment we have on our these vehicles now. And so it was, it was more of a universal fit one. I actually have the first, one of the first original springs that we made, we would dip it in Army green paint. ’cause we got started in 1946, like right after the war, there was little surplus of paint. And so we would, we used Army Green Paint for our first batches of Helper Springs and I I have one of those in my office.

10 (25m 34s):

It’s pretty cool.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (25m 35s):

Does your grandfather or great-grandfather?

10 (25m 38s):

My great-grandfather started the business. So my grandpa was a senior in high school. They actually started and my great-grandfather had a full-time job. So he would, they would work at night and build product all during the week nights. My grandpa was a senior in high school. He actually had like a job where he like scooped ice cream in the afternoons and then like went home after and helped his dad manufacture these helper springs. And then they would go on the weekends and they’d look for vehicles that were sagging. ’cause we have a policy no saggy bottoms. So they, if someone had like a vehicle that was sagging in their driveway, my great-grandfather would go knock on the door and say, Hey, I’ll install our products and fix your sagging vehicle.

10 (26m 28s):

And my grandpa, who is a senior in high school would lay on the driveway on its back and install the product all for $7.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (26m 37s):


10 (26m 39s):

In everything.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (26m 41s):

Although that was probably 700 bucks now, right? I

Sean P. Holman (26m 45s):

Mean, yeah. With inflation. Totally.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (26m 47s):

Oh my Lord. What? That is the great American

Sean P. Holman (26m 50s):

Story. The fact that they are four generations in that, that the family has had four generations of people who have wanted to be part of the business. Because I know a lot of family businesses now where they’re getting to the point where the owner is like, don don’t have an heir. I don’t have somebody who’s ready to take over the business or, or family member. I told them not to get into this business. Or my kids went to college to go do something else. Or they’re successful in their own ride or, or for whatever reason, there’s a gazillion

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (27m 15s):

Reasons. Or the kid is a total loser and the the, and he’s

Sean P. Holman (27m 17s):

Like, I don’t, yeah, you’re not coming.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (27m 18s):

Here’s addicted Loser a hole. I ain’t giving anything to you. Yeah, well that I’m gonna flush all my money down the toilet.

Sean P. Holman (27m 24s):

Yeah. So

10 (27m 25s):


Sean P. Holman (27m 26s):

The, the, the fact that you guys a have four generations. I mean, you, you’ve been there for what, almost 20 years now and you worked her way up to vice president and then what finally became the, she’s

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (27m 37s):

Like 27 years old.

Sean P. Holman (27m 38s):

She’s, she started So I know Melanie hasn’t aged at all. Right. Unlike us. Thank you. You’re welcome.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (27m 44s):

She started as a fetus. What I?

Sean P. Holman (27m 46s):

No. If I, if I look, if I look at the, the 20 years of SEMA pictures of us doing like SEMA selfies, I know she looks the same in every single one. And I’m just like older and

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (27m 57s):

Gray and, and fatter.

Sean P. Holman (27m 58s):

Well, horrible. Well, somebody told me, sent me a meme the other day and It was like, the three stages of adulthood is you believe in Santa, you look like Santa and you are Santa. and I

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (28m 7s):

Can see that

Sean P. Holman (28m 8s):

Progression. It’s completely

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (28m 10s):

Then why is Melanie still the kid waiting at the Christmas tree for the presents? I

Sean P. Holman (28m 14s):

I know. Seriously. She’s like, because she’s blessed. So yeah. So you’ve been there for a long time. It’s not like you and the fact that you’ve worked your way up all the way to the top. I mean that’s, yeah.

10 (28m 23s):

You said vice president is where you started. But I started freaking cold calling.

Sean P. Holman (28m 28s):

Yeah, you were in sales, right?

10 (28m 30s):

Yeah. Like I did sales cold calling. I mean, there was some times where I was like, don, don’t think I wanna do this. People aren’t very nice. But it taught me like, it taught me to like, you know, have a better spiel, be respectful, figure out what people needed, right? Like I still use some of the tricks and tips from that era because like, it’s not fun to cold call and like, you know, get brushed off or, you know, people don’t wanna like Yeah, they don’t want to interact with you. Yeah.

Sean P. Holman (29m 1s):

It it builds that moxie, right? I mean you, you end up, it does understanding to, to have a thicker shell. And, and like, I’m kind of curious, you started, you’re in the family business, you’re in sales, you’re kind of like, don don’t know if this is really for me, but eventually worked your way to VP and then onto CEO. Where was the pivot for you? At what point in the family business did you really feel like You know what this is for me? I wanna be the, the kid, the grandkid, whatever. I wanna be the one, I wanna be the one to take this business into the next, into the next era.

10 (29m 33s):

You know, honestly, It was like when I got involved in cma, So, I was only a year into my career in the automotive aftermarket. and I got introduced to someone within CIMA who, who offered to be my mentor. And she was freaking amazing. She let me like tag along with her so many places and I think that’s what’s really cool about like the industry is that people are incredibly generous with their time And. they have so much passion. They like want it, they like it bubbles over and So I think that’s where I just like, I caught the bug and it was, you know, first I’ve been volunteering for 18 years out of the 19 I’ve been in this industry.

10 (30m 16s):

So, but that’s how I got it was really like getting involved with CMA and the people here and like, you know, everything, like all the interactions, like people are passionate about what they’re doing. So it makes it really fun and easy. And like for me, selling a product like Lightning, were talking earlier about what the difference that’s made for your truck coming from a car guy, right? So like that, like that brings me so much joy that we get to like, make people’s driving experiences more fun. I mean, I have more fun too. I get to test drive all kinds of vehicles. And I, I really liked the TR Rx too. So, and I got to test drive that just recently.

10 (31m 1s):

and I was just like sold So, I get to do really cool fun stuff all the time and then like go help make a difference in other people’s experiences too.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (31m 11s):

Were you always a car person or truck person or is that just bec you know, because you grew up around it obviously? Or did you grow into it, you’re like, oh, it’s a family business and then you grew to love it? Or were you always a car person?

10 (31m 25s):

So I always was a car person. But my first car like was a Caprice classic where the headliner was like falling down. Yeah.

Sean P. Holman (31m 36s):

You had to put the push pins on there to keep it up in the foam.

10 (31m 39s):

You just had to like, yeah. And then the, the, I don’t know why we didn’t have a better solution for this, but if you hit a bump, we had a back scratcher that would hold the, the glove box. So we would keep like a back scratch or to keep the glove box closed and to hit railroad tracks. It would like instantly exit like everything into your passenger’s seat or like lap. It was hilarious. so

Sean P. Holman (32m 5s):

That sounds like a total GM thing. Like GM’s always had the headliner where the felt pulled away from the foam and the cardboard backing. And then you’d always have like the friend who got the hand me down from the grandparents and there was like push pins to keep it from sagging So. You can see out the rear view mirror, the glove box would fall and then if you remember the old square GM ignition keys, it’d always wear out and eventually you could just turn it without a key just rattle. So my, my dad in high school had a, I think it was a Malibu and he was driving home from school and one of his buddies just grabbed his keys outta the ignition and threw ’em out the window into a field while he was driving

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (32m 38s):

And it kept going and it kept

Sean P. Holman (32m 39s):

Going. He’s like, what did you do that for And? They had to go back and find his

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (32m 42s):

Keys. Not, no, he didn’t. He just kept, could’ve left it running forever. Gas the cheap back there Drew. Wow.

10 (32m 49s):

That’s hilarious. So I had like a, a car that was not attractive. Right? So. I. This is also where I learned like some sales tactics. I would somehow get my dad because we’re in suspension. So my dad always had a cool vehicle that he was like testing suspension on. Right.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (33m 8s):

So how did you get screwed with that beast of a car?

Sean P. Holman (33m 11s):

She wasn’t in the business yet.

10 (33m 13s):

I wasn’t in the Yeah, So I was, but I I learned how to like swindle my way into his keys. Like I would try everything like, ’cause I always wanted to drive his cool vehicles. I remember he would like teach, like when we were young he would like teach us here I’m gonna show you a bat turn. So It was like really super sharp turns and then I would like go try to do it in his, in his super cool trucks. But I always got I. I was good you guys. So I always got to borrow his vehicle, which was a huge step up from my daily driver. And So I became like a truck person early on. Like I just fell in love with trucks and I always was driving something because it was his vehicle that handled super well too.

10 (33m 59s):

So I became a big fan.

Sean P. Holman (34m 1s):

Does he know about these stories now that you would take his trucks out? No, he doesn’t.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (34m 7s):


10 (34m 7s):

You guys,

Sean P. Holman (34m 9s):

So my mom listens to this podcast and I’ve told stories on the podcast and she’s like, I didn’t know that. Yeah. and I was like, oh, okay. Same for my mom. Yep. Sorry. Yeah. A few things. I

10 (34m 21s):


Jay “Lightning” Tilles (34m 21s):

Mel. ’cause we’re tight. Yeah. Is does it strike you as odd that after all these years you’ve got don don’t know, millions of helper springs and sway bars in the marketplace. Massive name in the scene, respected brand, all the oes know who you are and what you do. Does it surprise you that the oes just haven’t stepped up to like, eat some of your lunch? Like well there’s this, there’s this, well

Sean P. Holman (34m 45s):

There’s a lot of trucks that don’t come with a rear sway bar, for example. Well what

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (34m 47s):

I Okay. Right. So, I’m, I’m wondering No, it’s not. Does it, does it ever surprise you that the OE are still not supplying the vehicles with the stock?

Sean P. Holman (34m 55s):

Don’t say that out loud. Oh, she wants, she likes that.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (34m 58s):

Well I know she does, but it every once So I, she’s just like,

10 (35m 0s):

I do like that. Yeah. You know what honestly, like they can’t make a vehicle. That’s for everyone, right? Like I just, they it’s vanilla. They make very cool cars. So I’m not saying that right. Like, and I drive a a Raptor, of course it has our suspension on it, but that stopped, that is almost stock. Right? So like Ford made a freaking really cool vehicle, but they built that for a very, very specific niche. Right? So, You can’t build something for everyone. So I think that’s what’s kind of beautiful about the aftermarket is there’s like room for all of us to come in and make the vehicle better.

10 (35m 41s):

And so there are people maybe aren’t gonna push their vehicle like we are. And so they’re, you know, they don’t necessarily like think about that or need it. And So I think that’s why they haven’t gotten into that space either. And, they,

Sean P. Holman (35m 56s):

They’re building for

10 (35m 57s):

Opportunity for me.

Sean P. Holman (35m 58s):

Yeah. They’re building for the lowest common denominator of customer. Really. And then you guys are allowing the customer who needs that more. You can be the, the one-stop shop to pro provide that. Especially if they’re towing or hauling. I know we haven’t talked about payload too much, but payload especially like these sliding campers. Maybe you never had I know a a, a hitch on the bumper ever in the history of the truck, but you have a slide in camper or or a like a four Wheel popup camper or something like that, that has a higher center of gravity and is maxed out on payload. Well that’s when your products come. I mean that’s, that’s a huge upgrade to put a set of hell on.

10 (36m 31s):

Yeah. You weren’t at that big bear event, that overland experience, but everyone has a rooftop tent these days. Yeah. And So, you know, and I was talking to some other folks and you know, who are, are writers in this, in the aftermarket space and one of them was like, oh, I just thought I could put a rooftop tent and that’s all I’d have to do. But you don’t realize all the other things that need to go with that. Right. Like he was like, I think I amm gonna need sway bars. Yeah. Like front and rear. I’m like, you’ll have a much better experience if you do that because you get all of that high center of gravity and the vehicle it will sway and it will make you so uncomfortable.

10 (37m 15s):


Sean P. Holman (37m 15s):

I get a lot of head toss on the leverage I mean. Yeah, totally. The lightest of the rooftop tents, you know, are it save for like a a go fast campers ultralight is probably around 120 pounds and you put some things in there like, you know Yeah. Some electronics or solar panels or crossbars. But a lot of people also don’t take into account you have to have a roof rack, you have to have crossbars, you have to have Yeah. A tent. And then once all that’s up there, you have a approximately 200 pounds with the roof rack and crossbar or however your setup is above your like another eight inches above your head above the vehicle. And now you’re trying to go off road and be off camera and things like that.

Sean P. Holman (37m 57s):

And god forbid there’s a crosswind. Well, yeah. Although I’ll tell you with my old Jeep, when I had the, the rooftop tent on it, tailwinds were awesome. I had like a 30 mile an hour tailwind and you get out like 90 miles per gallon. No, I was getting like 21 miles per gallon. Right. And it sounded like I was in a, a deprivation chamber. There was no wind noise. Oh. And It was like, man, this is the nicest my jeep’s ever Great fuel economy and I don’t hear any noise. Yeah. It was amazing. Highly recommended if you could ever follow the jet stream. Well that you can only go one direction forever. That’s true. Yeah. Forever, honey, I’m never coming home. I’m gonna follow the wind. Right, exactly. So I. I wanted, I wanna talk about Melanie’s credentials because right now she’s the current chair elect for the CMA board of directors, which that election process just happened not too long ago.

Sean P. Holman (38m 44s):

Right? Just a few months ago.

10 (38m 46s):

I was inducted in July as the incoming chair. So Yeah, not too

Sean P. Holman (38m 51s):

Long ago she So that’s a big,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (38m 52s):

Big deal. She smoked our friend Miles Ax,

Sean P. Holman (38m 54s):

Right? Yeah, yeah, she did from

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (38m 56s):

Dub Magazine and, and 20 Inches Strong and all those I

Sean P. Holman (38m 59s):

Competition. Yeah. But was, yeah. Was Miles one of the first 35 under 35 Young and rising talents in back in 2012 for sema I I. Don’t know. Was he named SEMA person of the year in 2018?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (39m 11s):


Sean P. Holman (39m 12s):

Was he the SEMA businesswoman of the year in 20?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (39m 16s):

I would say 17 miles was not the

Sean P. Holman (39m 19s):

Well that’s what I’m saying. Was he also the chair of the truck and Offroad Alliance Torah, which I’ve done some SEMA work for and hosting panels and things like that. I’m,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (39m 27s):

I’m surprised you’re not an official member of Torah.

Sean P. Holman (39m 29s):

I I. Think Ma Mikela just lets me hang out as Cima now, now that I don’t have a a a mother. I guess I have a mothership. I don’t know. I, I need to figure out what my, what my CIMA standing is now What are you

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (39m 41s):

Talking about See this this truck. Show Podcast. you don

Sean P. Holman (39m 43s):

Understand. Well, we’re media, we’re lucky ’cause we don’t, that we don’t have to pay the fees. It’s legitimate. Do you think our friend Melanie might be able to make sure that we can become members and stuff like that?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (39m 51s):

F of Torah? Yeah. I. think I she might be able to help us that. Yeah. So

10 (39m 54s):

I think I might know someone.

Sean P. Holman (39m 56s):


Jay “Lightning” Tilles (39m 56s):

Good. So Mel, tell for, for all of our listeners that hear about SEMA all the time, the SEMA show. The SEMA show. It’s both an organization that helps aftermarket companies and that’s also the big show, which we all talk about, which is coming up in just a couple of weeks for what does SEMA mean in a

10 (40m 14s):

Couple weeks.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (40m 14s):

Isn’t nuts Isn’t crazy nuts. It’s fricking nuts. Oh my gosh. Nuts. Everyone is in full SEMA Crunch right now. Yeah, I’m at SEMA Crunch. I. I, you know, I work at Banks during the day. We’re preparing a vehicle and all that stuff anyway. What does it mean for you? And then what do you think it means to the consumer ultimately? How does the CMA specialty Equipment Market Association, how does that trickle down to the average listener?

10 (40m 40s):

I feel like CMA is like the, it’s like the beginning of the year for every, for our, our aftermarket, right? Like it’s where people go to launch new products. It’s where you’re launching like new programs. You’re talking about new stuff. So, I feel like it’s like this pivotal experience, but there’s so much that happens outside of just the show. I mean, the show is just, you know, we’re, you’re gonna see trends happening. A few years ago I remember like there were maybe like one or two rooftop tents in the, in the truck call and then the last year, I don’t think I could find a truck without one on it. So it’s interesting like to see trends happen, but I also would then see them on the road more often too.

10 (41m 27s):

So like that I believe is like the spot where like you’ll start to see what’s happening and you’ll see new products, you’ll see new folks, new companies in the market. Like it’s a really fun experience. I think the other thing though is like, it’s 365 days of the year is like, seems working, right? It’s not just that the show itself and the show like allows us to have this like footprint to be able to like have advocates. There’s a a CIMA DC office, so they’re, they’re in dc I’m actually gonna be in DC next week and I get to meet with some of the CIMA team and we’re, they’re gonna set up a meeting with a congressman next week with me to talk about Helwig and, and our association.

10 (42m 20s):

And so it’s really cool to see like all of the influence that we’re able to have and it, we I I feel like we’re under this pressure right now where we have to protect our right to modify vehicles and to have like, drive vehicles that are modified and to be able to do it ourselves too. I mean, there’s all kinds of pressures happening right now, and seid works really hard on our behalf the rest of the year in that

Sean P. Holman (42m 43s):

Way. So, so one of those things that you’re talking about that is being advocated for in recent years is the RPM Act. So a lot of people listening might go, well, but how does it affect me as an enthusiast? Well, if it weren’t for SEMA lobbying and trying to get the rules to change so that we could put exhaust and suspension and modify our vehicles, our hobby would completely go away. There isn’t another organization the size and scale of SEMA that’s fighting for your rights as an enthusiast. There just isn’t. Not in the automotive world.

10 (43m 12s):

No, there isn’t. And it’s necessary, right? Like don don’t know about you, but I feel like it’s like my right. Like as a, as an American, I want to, I want to be able to modify my vehicle. I want to be able to make the changes I want. So, and that’s being threatened right now.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (43m 29s):

It started with, everyone knows about emissions control systems, that’s the, you know, rolling coal and all this stuff, but it extends farther than that. It it, it might even eventually get to suspension. Like you can only build a vehicle if it has such, such and such aerodynamics because it needs to get x many miles per gallon and it could affect the whole vehicle. Like they can ultimately reach into every part of the aftermarket, not just something that affects clean air, right? No,

Sean P. Holman (43m 56s):

It could be something like, yeah, oh, your tires are too aggressive, so now you’re rolling. Resistance is too high. Bingo. And so now we’re gonna control what tires you have. Oh, those wheels that are made heavy duty for offroading well they’re too heavy because the rolling mass is, is bigger and that slows down the efficiency. Oh, you, you wanna do some suspension? Oh, well you can’t lower or raise it anymore, right? I mean, you just on your own ’cause your headlights will

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (44m 17s):

Be too high, too low and blind someone, it’s

Sean P. Holman (44m 19s):

A, it’s a slippery slope a lot, you know, that, that takes us away from, from doing the things that we love to do. And in part, I mean, cars are ingrained in the United States like they are aren’t in any other country in the world. America was always a massive landscape with, you know, cities far apart. It wasn’t like some places where it was a metropolis that grew out or it was a lot of tiny countries. And so cars are ingrained in the fabric of the country. I mean, that’s, that’s who we are. And it’s our ultimate, you know, expression of freedom is the automobile. And you have people who come from countries that are even similar in a lot of ways, but not totally the same as the United States.

Sean P. Holman (44m 59s):

Like maybe Australia, but in, in European countries. And you have them coming here going, this is amazing. Well,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (45m 7s):

The Australians are saying, look at that lifted truck. Well yeah,

Sean P. Holman (45m 9s):

What’s up with that? Because they could only do like, what, two inches or something like that. I mean, so they’re looking at something on forties and they’re just like blown away at how can you guys have it? It’s like,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (45m 18s):

Shh, stop talking about it.

Sean P. Holman (45m 21s):

Just enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Without, without speaking about it. Well, you can now, one of the things that I’ve always curious about when I talk to somebody who’s a business owner, especially a small business owner, as I have become a small business owner and realize, by the way,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (45m 34s):

Her, her by the way, Melanie’s small business, a little bigger than yours. Small

Sean P. Holman (45m 37s):

Business, probably about 4,000 times bigger than my small business. My small business is very small. It’s, it’s, I’m like, hmm, can we afford a Dr. Pepper for the studio this week? Like that’s, that’s that’s my budget right now.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (45m 48s):

Well, Holman is scrappy.

Sean P. Holman (45m 49s):

Yeah. So, well fortunately you can, you can loot now and not go to jail. So, right. Yeah. So it’s really

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (45m 56s):

Easy to go get Dr. Pepper. Just say, I am homeless and I.

Sean P. Holman (45m 58s):

Well I look homeless in my beard, right? Yes, you do. and I am disheveled from being in the desert for a week. So one of the things that I’m constantly in fascinated by is owning a business in California. Your, your family has had the business here forever. But not only do you own a business here, you manufacture here. And it’s like California used to be the epicenter of manufacturing. Whether it was automobiles, aerospace, whether it was aerospace, I mean, you think every C 17, DC 10, MD 11, 7 0 7 MD 88 90, those eight series DC nines, seven 17, all of those came from California. You think of Palmdale and the SR 71 and the B two bombers, you think of all the automotive manufacturing here.

Sean P. Holman (46m 42s):

And as time marched on and California has decided that they don’t like business, I can’t imagine how hard it is for a manufacturing company to keep it together and, and still make their products here and be able to survive. And maybe, you know, we’ve got a lot of people listening who are small business owners. I’d love to get your, your take on some of the challenges, but also how you persevere. ’cause this is a lot of people tell me, well just move. I’m like, why would I move my, my mom and dad live a mile from me? I know, all my family’s here. I, I. It’s 70 degrees year round. I’m two miles from the beach. Like

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (47m 13s):

Today, today was just under 80. Yeah. I,

Sean P. Holman (47m 15s):

I can deal with a lot of stuff because I, it’s, it’s pretty awesome to live here. And car culture is still here, right? Yeah. So I’m not leaving. So somebody like you who’s been here your whole life as well, what are the challenges and what are some of the things that you’re doing to, to mitigate it so that you can survive as a business?

10 (47m 32s):

Yeah, I think it’s really interesting that you bring that up too. And like, we’ve seen the whole evolution, right? So we were here when it was the wild West and there were like basically no rules. I have this picture of someone who was bending because we’re he treated hot formed. We have these like crazy hot furnaces and there’s someone like bending metal. It’s a black and white photo, but they’re bending it and then putting it in an oil tank. But they’re smoky while they’re

Sean P. Holman (48m 2s):

Doing it.

10 (48m 3s):

But I feel like that’s the epitome though of right where we started here in California and just like we’ve lip flopped completely the opposite. And it’s not like home of the free right anymore. And especially in California, it feels like that. But I’m with you. My family all lives here. Don don’t wanna move, don don’t have, I’m not two miles from the beach like you, but we grow everything where I live and it’s like, I, it’s awesome. I don’t wanna move from here. Yeah,

Sean P. Holman (48m 33s):

You guys are in Visalia, which is the central valley, which is really the bed, the bread basket of a, of America. I mean all, all your fruits and vegetables and all that kind of stuff, all the

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (48m 42s):

Almonds come up from there. Like those wine country.

Sean P. Holman (48m 44s):

The almonds versus almonds thing, is that what that was? Almonds. Melanie. Is it almonds or almonds?

10 (48m 50s):

It’s almonds.

Sean P. Holman (48m 52s):

Thank you. What did

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (48m 53s):

You say with the L or no? L? Yeah,

Sean P. Holman (48m 54s):

L There’s an L

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (48m 55s):

Almond in the word. Almonds.

Sean P. Holman (48m 56s):

Almonds, almonds. Mond. That’s what you said. Almonds. Almonds, whatever. Okay. Anyway, so almonds. Hey, your, your little cutie oranges come from here. We got all sort, we had all sorts of stuff. Yeah. Anyway, the Central Valley is, is flush with amazing produce. And.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (49m 10s):

They have everything but water.

Sean P. Holman (49m 12s):

Well, that’s also because of politics.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (49m 14s):

Sadly. I, I love when you go up the fight freeway and it’s all the like hate Newsom. Yeah. Everything is anti-US all the way up to center Central Valley. He’s like, give us our water pack. We’ll cut off your food. Yeah. You know?

10 (49m 25s):

Yeah, totally. There’s plenty of challenges. But I think the big thing is just making sure we’re a team. I think the big thing is, is that we focus on that and we used to say family, but I, we talk about team a lot more because I feel like we’re like a football team. Right. We got people on defense, we got people on offense and we all gotta work together.

Sean P. Holman (49m 47s):

Who, what’s your longest tenured employee at Helwig?

10 (49m 52s):

We just had someone retire at the end of July. And They had been with the company for 40 years. Oh

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (50m 0s):

Wow. That’s cool.

10 (50m 2s):

About 40 years. and I have someone who’s younger than me who I I do we give away like shirts for your anniversary every year. It’s like a Hellwig shirt. They’re coveted because you can only get them if you’ve worked at Hule. And They change every year. So I give away shirts we do as a company, but I love to do do it because I get to see like, how long has this person been here? And someone who is younger than me just celebrated 25 years at Helwig. And then another person just turned 21. I’m like, if you were, you know, you could drink at this point So I was giving someone.

10 (50m 47s):

I was like, if you were a person, you could vote now. Yeah.

Sean P. Holman (50m 50s):


10 (50m 52s):

The Central Valley is a group of like hardworking people too. I think it’s also right that like agriculture area. So it’s not hard to find people who are, are willing to like put in that hard work too.

Sean P. Holman (51m 5s):

How many employees does Hellwig currently have?

10 (51m 8s):

We have 46.

Sean P. Holman (51m 10s):

Okay. So you’re still still a, a small, I mean that really is running like a family business at that point. Like you probably know everybody and and that’s a, that’s a tight group of people.

10 (51m 19s):

Yeah, it really is.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (51m 21s):

Yeah. How long does it take you to launch a, a new product? So You bring in a brand new, like for example, the, the new Tacoma’s coming out. Yep. Soon as you can get your hands on a Tacoma, you’re gonna inspect it. You’re gonna probably 3D scan it or however you bring it into the computer or do you do it old school? I don’t, don don’t. I’m curious how you do the prototyping and like we

10 (51m 40s):

Kind of do both. Yeah.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (51m 41s):

And So, what is it we play with both. What does it take to time-wise to get, you get the new Tacoma in on a Monday and then is it six months a year, a couple days? How does it long? Does it take you to get a finished product boxed up to a, a consumer?

10 (51m 57s):

Yeah. So to a consumer that process is probably closer to like a few months.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (52m 2s):

Is everything the same KROQ Molly? Or do you choose different materials for different strengths or, and

Sean P. Holman (52m 9s):

Obviously different sizes as well.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (52m 11s):

You’re trying to get different spring rates.

Sean P. Holman (52m 12s):

Your bars hollow or solid.

10 (52m 14s):

They’re solid. So most of our bars are solid 41 40. The only ones that are not. So there is a caveat. We do have some car bars that are tubular. Okay. So we do tubular bars as well. Is

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (52m 28s):

That for strength? We’re really known. Is that for strength or weight or you’re trying to get the right spring rate. Okay. Weight.

10 (52m 33s):

Weight. Gotcha. Yeah. Yeah. So ch it’s heavy, right? But it’s a game changer versus like a, a tubular or a a lighter weight feel. Right? So we use 41 40 ch steel, we heat it up or heat treated hot formed. And so that process allows the, the bar to be really I, don’t wanna say rigid because it’s not rigid. It still allows you that flexibility in the vehicle, but it allows the it to constantly go back to its original form. So it really is like this ability to like have longevity in your, your sway bar.

10 (53m 14s):

And we stand behind our product. I mean it’ll be something that, there’s like two things my grandpa was hell bent on that will never change. Right. Is that we have a Lifetime warranty on all of our steel products and then someone will answer the phone when you call. We don’t put you through like that. You know that hell of

Sean P. Holman (53m 36s):

Press one. Yeah, exactly.

10 (53m 38s):

Now two. Yeah, totally.

Sean P. Holman (53m 40s):

Two things you brought up that, that I think are important to, to touch on. One is the, the flexibility. Obviously you’re creating a spring steel torsion bar that has to return to its sh shape and it’s on two ends of a suspension. So it’s every time you drive, every pothole, every undulation, every crown on the road, that bar is working back and forth. So it’s important to have the right steel for that and for something that it can have a Lifetime warranty ’cause it’s whole service life. It’s constantly being twisted back and forth. I can’t do that with the, you know, top of an aluminum can without it breaking off. And here you guys have, you know, 8,000 pounds or whatever the force is on this big old truck going down the road and it’s twisting back and forth.

Sean P. Holman (54m 21s):

The other thing I wanted to say, and you talked about being formed, once you get the shape, do you have like a jig? So. You can So from manufacturing repeatable It’s repeatable from manufacturing process.

10 (54m 32s):

Yeah. So we have, all of our bars have their own dyes so, so that we get that shape every time.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (54m 40s):

So Holman I don’t know that you know this. Okay. You know you saw the Humvee at Banks I did that is being hybridized for the US Army. Yep. Guess what kind of sway bars are on that?

Sean P. Holman (54m 50s):

I’m guessing Hellwig because they Yes sir. They do do military stuff. They

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (54m 54s):

Do custom For this particular application there was gonna be so much weight in batteries.

Sean P. Holman (54m 59s):

Oh, so did you do a little phone call and say wink wink not

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (55m 2s):

Die. So no I didn’t. Oh. So that’s

Sean P. Holman (55m 4s):

Just happenstance.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (55m 6s):

One of our I I didn’t, I didn’t, what I’m saying is, so it was Matt, one of Matt, you remember Matt Gamble? One of his team was working on this And, they called in all the specs And. they were stunned. I’m not joking. I remember when it showed up. They’re like, we ordered this like a week ago. And it’s here like all the specs to a t Perfect fit like a jam. And what

Sean P. Holman (55m 25s):

Is it like to fit like a jam? It just perfect.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (55m 27s):

Like it just, maybe that’s the wrong,

Sean P. Holman (55m 29s):

That sounded really

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (55m 30s):

Weird. It fit like a jam. It’s like it’s my jam. I. Don’t know what it meant by that. Fit. Like a

Sean P. Holman (55m 33s):


Jay “Lightning” Tilles (55m 34s):

Fit. Like

Sean P. Holman (55m 34s):

A glove. Okay. Yeah,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (55m 35s):

It like fit like a glove checking. I’m making up new sayings.

Sean P. Holman (55m 39s):

I, I am Just double checking. Just go with me on this. I’m going with you.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (55m 41s):

Yeah. Feel like a jam. Just go.

10 (55m 42s):

Are we now? Yeah, let’s just start using it. Yeah.

Sean P. Holman (55m 45s):

Like a jam coined here on the structural podcast. So I was gonna bring up a new products. ’cause I know you’ve got a couple. I know one of ’em is for the Bronco crowd. You’ve got sway bars. Yeah. Out for that. And then it maybe talk about those and what else is on the way that our listeners can look forward to.

10 (56m 2s):

Yeah, so we have the Bronco we’re getting into, and this might not be your crowd, but maybe someone you know in the household drives one. But we have like the Tesla three and Y coming out. And then,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (56m 16s):

Well Mel, well let pause you for a second. Hold on. Which one did you off road, why you wrote and was there a sway bars on that? Do you know there

Sean P. Holman (56m 22s):

Was a sway bar on that. Yeah. Okay. Got it. Yeah, I I did, did it help? Yeah. No, those, those cars, I mean they’re good ’cause the, from the standpoint of center of Gravity is really low to the ground. But when you start flinging them around, just like most stock vehicles, I, I think the manufacturers try to bias on the side of safe under steer. And a lot of people in performance cars really like that over steer where you could steer the throttle or, or whatever. And so that’s the perfect place for the sway bar upgrade. ’cause that car has a lot of performance and I’d love to kick the rear out if I could and drift around the corner.

10 (56m 55s):

Well I, you know, we’re coming out, it has a a two hole adjustables So, you know, you can get that flexibility too of what you, how if you want it. So if you want more over steer or under steer, you know, you can model it to what you want. We have the Gen three raptor coming out too.

Sean P. Holman (57m 12s):

Oh, very cool. Nice. And that goes back to Raptor’s a perfect example of, of talking about the flexibility versus rigid. A lot of people think that if you put a sway bar on that your vehicle isn’t gonna be able to flex anymore. And that’s not the case. And with you guys, you do offer the adjustment where you could set it stiffer or looser. So for example, on J’s T Rx, I’m sorry, Lightning Lightnings or I did that on purpose or on the Raptor, I’m sure you probably have the two or three hole setup as well. Where off road you might just change the in link position and then you go out, it takes five minutes. And then when you’re back on the road, you move the in link position and boom, you’re back into more of a streetable, everyday driving characteristics. And you can really have the best of both worlds.

Sean P. Holman (57m 53s):

And it’s, it’s better for those people who do get a Raptor t Rx, a truck that is really flexy walley soft from the factory because it’s got long travel suspension and it has to soak up, you know, everything. But if you’re driving it as a daily or you carry payload in the back, you definitely want to add some stability because I think as a stock truck, nothing in the back. Like they’re livable. But as soon as you start putting weight, it’s very apparent, very quick that they don’t have as much overhead as their, you know, non-performance variance.

10 (58m 22s):

Yeah, for sure. And the Raptor too. So like I tow with my Raptor, So I have helper springs on it. What I really didn’t realize that the Helper Springs would also help me with, I mean I knew they helped with Wheel hop. I just didn’t know there’s this one spot that I could, if I don’t, it goes from a two lane to a one lane. And if I don’t get the right jump, I will get stuck behind someone who wants to go much slower than me and I get Wheel hop and I’d sometimes lose my position. And So I we had put helpers on ’cause I, I’m towing and, and we were testing out some new product and stuff too, but I realized that that also helped with my, my Wheel hop.

10 (59m 5s):

So like took it away and, and no one beats me anymore.

Sean P. Holman (59m 11s):

Well I remember on the second Gen Raptor, they were notorious for having really bad Wheel hop and skate. So if you were doing like a decreasing radius turn, like on a freeway on ramp and it had broken pavement because the truck was in front of you. Oh yeah. It would chatter, it would chatter and slide and it would just, you would feel the whole chassis wanna rotate around the turn. That’s uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. Yeah. Especially when you’re merging. Like you have to accelerate on this on ramp to get on the freeway, but the faster you go, the worse the handling gets in that situation. I always thought that was really weird on that, that pre-live valve, second gen Raptors were notorious for that kind of stuff.

10 (59m 45s):

Yeah. I have a second gen, so that makes sense that Yeah, I I’ve experienced that.

Sean P. Holman (59m 50s):

Yeah. And it’s no bueno. Have you

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (59m 51s):

Had requests for Rivian yet?

10 (59m 54s):

I haven’t. It’s, and I just was with a group who had Rivian, but it’s a whole different setup underneath, so we haven’t been able to really look at it. But you know, I I can’t help myself. I peek underneath. I think someone even got a picture of me peeking underneath. I so, but it’s, it’s a very different suspension setup. Yeah.