This month in our industry (September)

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

In our first September issue… Stepping it up. Walsh Body and Trailer Corp in Boston, Massachusetts, builds a new plant 30 miles to the south, starts its own line of knock-down kit bodies, and will build a Walsh-Dorsey van trailer.

Welded aluminum dump trailers by Lodestar Corporation of Niles, Ohio, have about one-third the weight of a steel dump trailer and increase payloads by as much as 4000 pounds.

Utility Trailer solves the problem of tearing up roads with heavy loads by designing a combination low bed/jeep that puts 50 tires on the road and uses sliding fifthwheels to balance the load over the various axles.

Dual-purpose threat. The Dual-Evans trailer carries automobiles from factory to dealers and is quickly convertible for a profitable return haul with dry-package freight.

September 1969

The power of mechanization. Warner Commercial Body Inc in Noblesville, Indiana, incorporates into its processes a hydraulic gang punch that perforates the upper and lower rails and corner posts of the Warner aluminum kit body.

The end of “blacksmith shop procedures.” Wausau Iron Works saves $250,000 per year by switching to semiautomatic Innershield welding process.

Reaching for the sky. Van Ladder Inc of Algona, Iowa, capitalizes on the mushrooming market for small compact vans in the utilities industry — and the new for one-man crews — by designing a new aerial ladder.

September 1979

Pumping out fire trucks. Fire trucks are just one of many products built under the Grumman banner, and they are produced two ways — custom pumpers built in the grand old tradition, and those that roll off the production line.

New use for old plant. Cresci Body & Equipment in Davenport, Iowa, recycles an abandoned sewage treatment plant into a truck equipment distributorship and manufacturing facility.

Down cycle. Attendees at the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association meeting are warned that trailer shipments in 1980 will drop by 45,000 units to 155,000 after pre-buying to avoid inflation and rear underride regulation.

Regulation update. Companies that alter completed vehicles such as pickups and vans generally will find somewhat more lenient weight restrictions and conditionally waived frontal-area limitations during the 1980 model year, according the Environmental Protection Agency.

September 1989

Hitting a home run. Utility opens the largest manufacturing facility in the world solely dedicated to building refrigerated trailers. The new plant in Marion, Virginia, has 325,000 square feet under a single roof.

Branching out. Omaha Standard, which had been manufacturing farm bodies, stakes, platforms, dump bodies, hoists, and liftgates, officially gets into the service-body business.

Money session. A manufacturer's sales of taxable truck trailers to a trailer dealer are tax-free, but only if both the manufacturer and the dealer are registered with the IRS, attendees at the TTMA convention learn.

“Unreasonable” rules. The NTEA claims that FMVSS 204 (Steering Column Rearward Displacement) applies dynamic (crash) testing provisions that place impossible burdens on small- and medium-sized companies in the truck body and equipment industry.

September 1999

Economy of scale. Godwin Manu-facturing's already bulging 350,000-square-foot facility adds a fully automated power coating line in Dunn, North Carolina.

Big business. According to the Economic Census conducted by the US Department of Commerce, the industry segment known as “truck trailer manufacturing” consisted of 388 individual establishments and industry shipments of $5.5 billion in 1997.

Snow job. Team TEMCO in Aurora, Illinois, supplies snowplows, snowblowers, and other snow- and ice-control equipment to some of the largest airports in the world, including Chicago's O'Hare and Midway.

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.