Coopersburg businessman honored by SBA for life-saving truck tech

Roy grew his Coopersburg-based business from scratch starting in 1986 and now employees 80 people in two locations – the other is in Shoemakersville. He now has supply contracts with 19 Pennsylvania companies that make up about 90 percent of his parts vendors.

He’s being recognized for his business acumen and ingenuity. But for the men and women who work in road construction around the nation, Roy hopes it’s the product his company makes that is seen as the real hero.

Switching from used truck sales in 1992, Royal Truck began manufacturing traffic control and truck-mounted attenuator crash trucks.

These are specially designed vehicles that follow highway construction projects to provide an extra layer of safety for workers by being the first big object in a potential crash zone.

“Let’s say a distracted driver is coming along. He’s texting, or he’s drunk. What this truck does is act as the sacrifice for any vehicle impact,” Roy said. “We have accidents at worksites every day in this country and this acts really well to protect people.”

In fact, Roy noted that in 2017 there were 799 accidents at highway construction worksites, and his company helped protect lives at many of them.

When used correctly the trucks work, he said.

However, he said the biggest problem is that there had been no regulations or standards for the vehicles, and some aren’t as effective.

“If it’s not designed right, people are going to die,” he said.

He has worked to not only to design vehicles for optimum safety but to encourage Pennsylvania and other states to set standards for such trucks used at highway construction sites. Many states, including Pennsylvania, now have standards for such vehicles, but it’s a cause he continues to pursue.

Since highway construction sites are often moving, someone usually has to be inside a vehicle to operate and steer it.

“That’s the person with the most dangerous job on a construction site,” he said.

Royal’s next project has been to develop an attenuator truck that is automated, much like the self-driving vehicles being developed for the consumer market.

“You can remove that person from that most dangerous job,” he said.

Roy said the automated truck is still in development and testing is still underway, but he has high hopes.

“We’re years ahead of everyone. Innovation is probably our biggest accomplishment,” he said.

Roy was honored by the SBA ion May 10 at a ceremony at his Shoemakersville facility.

“I’m excited to celebrate Robert’s achievements and the support he received from the U.S. Small Business Administration to make his entrepreneurial dreams a reality,” said SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Michelle Christian. “He has taken his dedication and hard work, backed by SBA programs and our partners to create innovative products that help keep workers safe, create jobs and help drive the economy.”

She noted that the SBA helped Royal with its growth and innovation.

Lehigh University Small Business Development Center provided advice on financing the purchase of Royal’s second manufacturing facility in Berks County.

See real footage of Royal trucks in crash scenarios here:

Stacy Wescoe
Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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