It happened this month

June 1, 2009
Looking back at industry milestones of the past five decades

In our first June issue… The Hitch-hiker. Space Structures uses fiberglass reinforced plastic for both the exterior and interior surfaces of a new container that permits shipment of frozen or chilled goods via unrefrigerated trucks.

Renault Inc's new light truck has a front-wheel-drive design that eliminates obstructions inside the body and makes possible an “absolutely level load bed” that is only 14 inches from the ground.

Spencer-Safford Loadcraft Inc of Augusta, Kansas, adds 12,000 square feet of floor space and $150,000 worth of manufacturing equipment, and redesigns its line of pole trailers.

A new combo. To eliminate idle and seldom-used equipment, the Atlas Trailer Mfg Corp of Jersey City, New Jersey, develops a multipurpose extensible trailer that combines into one unit the features and function of two trailers (pole trailer and platform trailer).

Best of both worlds. Westland Trailer Company of Portland, Oregon, manufactures welded-aluminum automobile transport trailers that cut fuel and tire costs 10% and increase payload by one automobile.

June 1969 Systems approach. Fruehauf forms a new division, Integrated Systems and Products, to provide tailor-made programs designed to speed up transportation of goods from factory to user and reduce distribution costs.

Underride reaction. The industry protests a new standard that asks for a guard height of 18" and a guard capable of withstanding a force of 75,000 lb at the middle or either side.

Profit item for distributors. Ralph McGee, sales manager for Detroit Automotive Products in Warren, Michigan, says there is a growing demand for automatic locking differentials in the trucking field — especially for add-on units that can be installed locally.

June 1979 Regulations update. NHTSA is expected to make a revision of its five-year vehicle safety rulemaking plan that would require underride guards to “eliminate vehicle penetration under the rear ends of heavy trucks and trailers and to dissipate crash force, thus reducing accident severity.”

Keeping the flow. Southwest Body Truck Company in St Louis, Missouri, eliminates gaps in production by spending 75% of its time on government contracts, mostly with the military.

On top. Fruehauf's total revenue for trailer operations exceeds $1 billion in 1978, a new record. The entire truck trailer industry did not break into the $1 billion category until 1973.

Secret shop. BEBCO, a San Diego truck equipment distributor and manufacturer, doesn't have a sign out front, a listing in the telephone directory, or a disclosed mailing address. Its shop is strictly for utility and municipality work.

June 1989 Changing tide. The Northeast, the strongest geographic area for truck equipment sales during most of the 1980s, appears mired in a decline due to a drop in construction, a lack of snow, and competition from other distributors operating bailment pools.

Crystal ball. Wabash National Corp president Donald J (Jerry) Ehrlich says that tomorrow's trailer manufacturer will face a challenge to increase the productivity of the trailer in four areas: increased cube, increased payload, decreased operational cost, and increased utilization.

What's new in brakes. NHTSA conducts a two-year test and releases Antilock Brakes: a Technical paper, a 60-page report providing an update on the developing technology in safer braking.

Unveiling. Thiele Inc releases a new two-way, door-on-door tailgate with the capability of a no-obstruction barn door.

June 1999 Trending downward. After consecutive years of strong growth, trailer shipments are expected to ease slightly during the second half of the year and into 2000 before resuming a growth path similar to that of most of the 1990s.

Protecting their investment. The fairly new spray-on bedliner aftermarket is growing substantially and expected to reach $90 million in 1998, according to a study by Frost and Sullivan.

Severe service. International releases its 5000i Series — targeted for specific industries, including heavy-duty dump applications, refuse, municipal, and forestry.

As part of our 50th anniversary coverage, each month Trailer/Body Builders will present items of interest from archived issues.

About the Author

Rick Weber | Associate Editor

Rick Weber has been an associate editor for Trailer/Body Builders since February 2000. A national award-winning sportswriter, he covered the Miami Dolphins for the Fort Myers News-Press following service with publications in California and Australia. He is a graduate of Penn State University.