The AccuAir Story – The Low Down on their Rise Up
To tell the AccuAir story we need to go way back. Back before social media, before Squarebody C10’s were classics and before Dustin and Reno Heon were reshaping Air Suspension in the automotive aftermarket. We need to go all the way back to Muff ‘n’ Stuff Mufflers, Gary Heon’s Muffler shop in Sonoma, California. This was the forge where the brothers began to shape the techniques, principles, and morals that would eventually solidify into the core structure of AccuAir.
As kids, Dustin and Reno were inundated with hot rods, welders, equipment, grease, gears and family trips to Goodguys events. This exposure shaped their passion, trained them to distinguish cool from crap and laid the foundation for building something right the first time.
AccuAir’s “Zero Compromise” manifesto was born during the build of Reno’s ‘72 Blazer. Aftermarket Air Suspension wasn’t ready to do what the Heon brothers needed it to do. There wasn’t a solution that could be simply bought, so instead of settling for the easy way out the brothers pursued the harder way, the right way – by building the system they needed from scratch.
The Heon brothers were trying to solve a problem that all aftermarket air suspension enthusiasts faced in 2001; there was no accurate or automatic solution for setting the height of a vehicle equipped with aftermarket air suspension. As a result of this void, air suspension systems were difficult to operate, handled poorly, and lacked overall reliability. After a multi-year pursuit involving electronic hardware, firmware, and industrial design, the first-ever aftermarket height-based electronic leveling system was born.
AccuAir’s public debut was at the Goodguys West Coast Nationals in 2001. The brothers brought an easy up, Reno’s ‘72 blazer and a glimpse at the future of Air Suspension. The AccuAir controller looked incredibly different back in these early days but the spirit and dedication to perfection was as recognizable as ever.
The show was a hit and AccuAir was well received by the hot rod community. The brothers had confidence that this automatic leveling technology alone could progress the future of aftermarket air suspension and officially founded AccuAir Control Systems, LLC in 2002.
Product adoption was a bit slower in the early days with only 1,000 AccuAir equipped vehicles over the first six years of business. Most of those early customers were derived from the classic car community. The group of supportive, long-time hot rodders that had faith in these “kids” provided the bump they needed to eventually break into other markets and grow the AccuAir brand to what it is today.
From 2006 to 2008 AccuAir developed its highly innovative “e-Level” electronic leveling technology with the unique ability to automatically learn the characteristics of ANY vehicle equipped with air suspension. The e-Level system combined ease of use with significantly advanced leveling performance at an affordable price and promised to have mass market appeal. This development harkens back to the mentality of doing things the right way instead of the easy way. They spent years perfecting the core firmware, electrical engineering and industrial design of e-Level to make sure that when it was ready for launch it would stand the test of time out on the open road.
The e-Level system has now been proven with tens of thousands of e-Level equipped vehicles still out there driving flawlessly some nine years later.
They branched out from their classic foothold and pursued specialty vehicles that could benefit from the leveling technology of AccuAir. Applications like ambulances and shuttle buses where the load is constantly changing adopted AccuAir to help maintain a level ride height no matter what circumstances they were faced with.
With the success of e-Level, AccuAir was able to focus their efforts on supplementing the product line throughout the years with even more innovative technologies. Let’s have a look at the current product line:
VU4 – The VU4 solenoid valve unit converts electronic control signals into airflow that fill or empty each of the four air springs on the vehicle. The clean and compact industrial design results in unmatched aesthetics to match its remarkable performance.
iLEVEL – The iLevel WiFi module and associated app for iPhone and Android offers our users the ability to control their e-Level system from their smartphone up to 200 feet away. Beyond the “cool factor”, the iLevel app also offers an intuitive menu-driven system setup and diagnostic feedback to the user.
REVOLUTIONARY MODULAR AIR TANKS “ENDO TANK” – The air reservoir is the largest single component in the air suspension system and is often visibly mounted for custom installations. Elimination of weld leaks, improved aesthetics, and a variety of finish options allow this product’s success to go beyond just air suspension applications in the aftermarket encompassing portable tanks, auxiliary air systems and set ups for off-road vehicles. The ENDO-VT revolutionizes this product by integrating the valves directly into the end caps of the ENDO TANK (patents pending). An innovative adjustable flow-rate design allows users to tune the speed of their air suspension, insuring that the vehicle will always lift and lower evenly from front to rear at a customizable speed. A proprietary D.O.T. approved fitting design with port filtration eliminates leaks and clogging.
ENDO-CVT (Compressor Valve Tank) – AccuAir is now developing the first-ever integrated air compressor-in-tank with the ENDO-CVT to yield the quietest and most efficient air management system on the market (patents pending). AccuAir has developed an exclusive supply contract for the aftermarket sale of the most innovative compressor produced today with Tier 1 OEM supplier Wabco, Inc. This compressor has proven through testing to be significantly quieter than competitors, vastly more energy efficient, and longer lasting containing unheard of standard features such as built-in regenerative air dryers to prevent freezing in cold climates. AccuAir has developed a field-installable isolated mounting system that allows the compressor to simply slide into the ENDO TANK and lock in place. AccuAir’s integrated compressor control ECU will allow the compressor to soft-start and soft-stop as well as manage over-temperature and desiccant regeneration.
While all of this product development was underway at Accuair, the company started to feel growing pains. Every day they felt less like the “little” guys as they shifted towards being one of the top names in air suspension. With the increase of product offerings came the ever-growing need for more facility space. The first move happened in 2012 from Grover Beach to San Luis Obispo. The new AccuAir HQ was engineered with the same mentality of any AccuAir product to make sure it met the expectations of Dustin, Reno and the rest of the growing AccuAir family. This is most notably seen with the immaculate white epoxy floors throughout the facility transitioning from receiving through to the engineering offices.
The 26,000 sq ft facility didn’t last long – as more and more products were added to the line it was quickly over capacity. Another, much larger move was imminent. The second move happened in 2016 when a 70k sq ft facility became available on the other side of San Luis Obispo. A complete overhaul to the mega factory was underway while the engineering team at AccuAir was working on the future products of the company simultaneously.
None of this would be possible without the men and women who show up to work each day at the new facility. AccuAir’s team currently consists of just under fifty passionate individuals that share the vision for the future of AccuAir and the future of air suspension. A love for cars and everything mechanical connects each team member to one another as well as the products that AccuAir develops, manufactures, and sells. The culture at AccuAir is best described as team and family all in one. There is a camaraderie and brotherhood that comes from working side by side, through thick and thin, and surviving the most difficult challenges together. Being an AccuAir team member is about giving 100% of yourself to accomplish your part of a very clear overall mission and not stopping until it is completed.
The original ethics and morals that Reno and Dustin learned and developed at their father’s Muff ‘n’ Stuff shop as kids can be found in every corner of the AccuAir facility, within every member of the team and embedded within every product that leaves the factory. AccuAir is about going the extra mile to do things the right way, a way that may not have been thought about before. The Zero Compromise approach is by no means easy, it has taken a long time and total dedication to get AccuAir to where it is today and Reno and Dustin have no intentions on slowing down.
Story and Photography courtesy of AccuAir