After Carlisle Acquisition of Ti-Brook, Trail King Expands Plant, Product Line

TRAIL KING has more than doubled the size of the plant where Ti-Brook trailers are built and added new product lines following acquisition of both manufacturers by the Carlisle Companies Inc in Syracuse, New York.

The conglomerate purchased Ti-Brook in September 1995 after acquiring Trail King Industries in June 1995. Carlisle is the parent company and operates both manufacturers under the name of Trail King Industries Inc, which has main offices in Mitchell, South Dakota.

Trail King manufactures hydraulic detachable gooseneck lowbed trailers, dump-style trailers, utility, and tag trailers at its main plant in Mitchell, South Dakota. Trail King also manufactures aluminum end dumps, refuse trailers, hydraulic detachable gooseneck lowbeds, hydraulic tail, and tag trailers in Brookville, Pennsylvania, and dropdeck platform trailers, dump trailers, and tag trailers in Green Pond, Alabama.

Prior to being acquired by Carlisle, Ti-Brook had a 75,000-sq-ft plant in Brookville. Following the acquisition, several additions expanded the plant to 170,600 square feet. The plant still manufactures trailers under the Ti-Brook label because of the reputation and name recognition of the product.

Brookville Plant Expands In 1996, a 90- by 500-ft addition was built for painting and finishing trailers. In this finish building, axles are aligned and trailers are washed with a phosphatizing agent to clean and etch the metal before painting in a 12- by 80-ft spray booth.

In June 1998, a 48,000-sq-ft addition was built onto the main plant providing more space for trailer manufacturing. In Green Pond, 20,000 square feet were added to the existing 36,000-sq-ft plant that builds dropdeck platform trailers, aluminum end dump, and pintle hook tag trailers.

Production in the Brookville plant is set up in work stations rather than an assembly-line process, says Larry Sessions, vice-president of operations. Bridge cranes with 7 1/2- and 10-ton capacities move trailers within each work station in the main plant.

Large plate and sheet materials are stored in a pit at waist height. Overhead cranes can easily move material to the assembly stations. The bridge cranes span the entire work area from the old plant through the new addition.

Since the purchase of Ti-Brook, over 100 employees have been hired at the Brookville plant, Sessions says. The combined companies have 800 employees -- 250 at the Brookville plant, 480 in Mitchell, and 70 in Green Pond.

Positive Corporate Culture The purchase has worked well for Ti-Brook, says Sessions, who is also a former co-owner of Ti-Brook. There is minimal involvement from the corporate office in day-to-day operations at the manufacturing plant in Brookville.

"Carlisle puts all its emphasis on the operating companies," Sessions says. "In terms of management, Carlisle is very decentralized."

Part of the reason Carlisle's management style is decentralized is because it purchases stand-alone manufacturers or "bolt-on" companies, Sessions says. By purchasing Ti-Brook and Trail King, Carlisle was able to combine two trailer manufacturers that complemented each other.

"Ti-Brook has a north-south presence with plants in Brookville, Pennsylvania, and Green Pond, Alabama, just outside of Birmingham," Sessions says. "Trailers built by Trail King are steel, and trailers built by Ti-Brook are aluminum."

Trail King primarily served the construction market with hydraulic-detachable gooseneck trailers for hauling heavy equipment, Sessions says. Before the acquisition, Ti-Brook built only aluminum end dumps and refuse hauling trailers.

Combined as Trail King, the manufacturers build Ti-Brook aluminum end dumps, and refuse trailers that account for 50% of production at the Brookville plant, he says. Trail King pintle-hook tag trailers, hydraulic-detachable gooseneck lowbed trailers, and hydraulic tail platform trailers account for the other half of production in Brookville.

Hydraulic Gooseneck Lowbeds Other trailers built at the plants include Trail King hydraulic-detachable gooseneck lowbed trailers up to 53-ft 11-inches long with carrying capacities up to 120,000 lb. A Trail King TK110 has a carrying capacity of 110,000 lb and comes with a 28-ft deck and an additional flip-down rear tandem axle used with decks of different lengths.

A lowbed trailer with a hydraulic fliptail was designed for the rental equipment market, Sessions says. The 11-ft one-inch tail lowers to ground level or up to dock heights of 58 inches. The tail provides easy loading and unloading of equipment on the model TK60HT, TK70HT, and TK100HT trailers, which have capacities of 60,000 lb, 70,000 lb, and 100,000 lb.

Trail King Trailers Smaller trailers built by Trail King at its Brookville and Mitchell plants are pintle hook platform trailers with capacities up to 50,000 lb, and rollback and tilt trailers. In addition, Trail King builds a bottom dump semitrailer at its Mitchell plant.

The bottom dump is built with an 18-, 20-, or 22-cu-yd hopper. The trailer is built with either tandem or tridem axles and has a standard single-point spring suspension with tandems or a multileaf spring suspension for tridems.

The bottom gate opening is controlled with a seven-inch hydraulic cylinder. For trailers that haul asphalt or other sticky materials, an eight-inch cylinder is recommended.

Mechanical gooseneck lowbed trailers are built in Brookville, Mitchell, and a joint venture with CIPSA, a trailer manufacturer in Puebla, Mexico. Besides mechanical gooseneck trailers, CIPSA is a manufacturer of dump trailers and dropdeck platform trailers.

"The joint venture with CIPSA allows for the manufacture of Trail King and Ti-Brook trailers for the Mexican market," Sessions says.

A specialty trailer built by Trail King at the Brookville plant is designed for hauling sheets of plate glass. The trailer has an A-frame deck. Brackets on the A-frame hold the glass.

Specialty Trailers Another specialty trailer built by Trail King is a beam trailer, which is designed to haul heavy equipment too large for a platform lowbed, Sessions says. Heavy equipment such as large dozers or excavators back over the trailer's beams, which pick up the frame of the bulldozer when the beams are raised by a hydraulic-detachable gooseneck.

Ti-Brook was founded in 1963 to build truck bodies for hauling coal in Pennsylvania, Sessions says. One of the company founders lived in Tionesta, Pennsylvania, and the other in Brookville.

The founders named the company Ti-Brook by combining the names of their communities, Sessions says. In 1983, Ti-Brook was purchased by the owners of one of its customers, Blue Square Inc in Bessemer, Alabama.

Blue Square had been using Ti-Brook trailers since 1982 for coal-hauling in Alabama, he said. The owners of Blue Square were Randy Gilmore and his father Hubert. Sessions was vice-president of Blue Square, which was sold in 1986 so he and the Gilmores could concentrate on running Ti-Brook.

"When we purchased Ti-Brook, it was doing $4 million a year in business and had 60 employees," Sessions says.

Combined sales of Ti-Brook and Trail King increased to $100 million in 1998 from $87 million in 1997, he says. The new additions will more than double the production capacity of the Brookville plant to roughly $35 million from $17 million before the acquisition.

"The plant was expanded for more capacity to better serve customers in the Northeast market," Sessions says. "It's been quite a challenge to manage this growth."

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