Made In America: Putco Inc. — Des Moines, Iowa

By Rob Mullner, Chief Enthusiast- US Auto Parts

A common refrain in the Auto Aftermarket is that “nothing is made in the US anymore” to correct that myth we are launching a new series called “Made in America”. Our first episode features Putco Inc. Putco produces a broad assortment of parts and their major categories including lighting and functional exterior components like step bars, truck bed accessories, grille guards and accent pieces to customize and personalize nearly any car, truck or SUV. Putco CEO James Elwell gave me a tour of the manufacturing plant and shared details on what makes Putco unique.





With over 127,000 square feet of manufacturing space and office off Interstate 70, Putco is located near raw materials, skilled labor and distribution channels to ship finished goods across the United States and around the world.

Speaking of raw materials, Putco consumes miles of sheet steel, tube stock and wire, along with millions of led lights and gallons of solder to create accessories that are easy to install by the average owner and create more useful vehicles and all the things we do with them.

An indication of Putco’s commitment to quality is their business relationships with manufacturers like Chevy, Chrysler and Nissan to name a few. These car brands and others look to Putco to tool up and produce accessories for their latest models, many of which are installed by new car dealers.

Putco recently won a contract to produce a sport bar for an upcoming Chevy truck. A large program like that requires tremendous planning, scheduling expertise and additional manufacturing capacity to comply with GM’s requirements.




On the lighting front, Putco has been an innovator in the LED category with multiple new products and applications for retrofitting existing halogen lights. Much skilled labor goes into the assembly and testing of Putco lights including a burn-in test prior to shipping. In addition to hand soldering and checking connections Putco also designs and produces circuit boards in-house.






After successful testing and final packaging the finish products go to the warehouse for stock or to the shipping department and on the way to an end user.



Putco is constantly brain storming new products and refining current products and has an in-house team of designers tasked with turning ideas into reality.


I enjoyed my tour of Putco and am very pleased to report that manufacturing is alive in well in the United States. If you would like to see the full range of Putco product available on JC Whitney please click here:

Author: JC Whitney

JC Whitney is the largest and oldest catalog and Internet direct-to-consumer auto parts and accessories retailer in America. Since 1915, JC Whitney has been filling the needs of customers by providing the right part at the best price. You can always shop with confidence at

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