Great Dane Launches Trailer Plant in Canada

Great Dane Limited Partnership held the official sod-turning ceremony Nov 8, 2000, for its new manufacturing plant in Quinte West, Ontario, Canada. The Great Dane facility will build dry freight vans, and will be the first Canadian-based trailer plant building refrigerated trailers.

Attending the event were Jack Arthur, Quinte West mayor; Phillip Pines, Great Dane LP chief operating officer; Bill Kunkler, CCI chief operating officer; Mike Bialas, CCI real estate director; Tom Czapka, Great Dane LP vice-president of business development; Mike Thomas, Great Dane division vice-president of manufacturing; Dr Doug Galt, local member of provincial Parliament; Jim Flaherty, attorney general of Ontario; Christine Stewart, federal member of Parliament; and Lou Rinaldi, chairman of the Quinte Area Economic Commission.

In its first phase, the plant will cover about 325,000 square feet and will employ 500 people when operational. It will have the capacity to produce 6,000-plus dry freight vans and refrigerated trailers annually, which will serve markets across Canada and the northeastern United States.

Site construction is slated to begin in early 2001. Occupancy is anticipated in fourth-quarter 2001 with production scheduled to commence in first-quarter 2002.

Wabash National Responds to Moody's Report Wabash National Corp has announced a response to a recently published report by Moody's Corp as reported by Reuters and CBS MarketWatch. Moody's Risk Management Services published a report Dec 13, 2000, citing the default risk index of 9,000 North American publicly traded companies.

Donald J Ehrlich, Wabash National president, chairman, and chief executive officer, said, "While Wabash normally does not comment on third-party reports, we believe that a response is appropriate in this case. Moody's default rating system is a computer model that tracks over 9,000 publicly traded companies. Moody's included Wabash as one of five companies with a marked increase in default risk according to their default rating system. Many readers of this report could wrongly conclude that Wabash was among a small number of companies most likely to default within the next 12 months.

"However, in fact, under Moody's default rating system, Wabash has a lower default rate than approximately 70% of the 9,000 companies listed," said Ehrlich. "The Wabash default rating by Moody's RiskCalc in December was one third of one percent (0.33%). In other words, the likelihood of Wabash not defaulting was 99.67%, while the average default rating of the 9,000 companies was over 0.8%. The strength of the Wabash balance sheet continues to be even better with total debt at approximately 39% of total capital at year-end."

DOT Forms Transportation Export Council One of the last acts by outgoing Secretary of Transportation Rodney E Slater was the formation of a group aimed at exporting United States transportation know-how to the rest of the world. Called the Transportation Export Council (TEC), it is focused on stimulating economic growth and trade by advancing transportation-related exports, while enhancing US business opportunities overseas and encouraging US investment in sustainable global infrastructure development.

The TEC initially will focus on emerging markets in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia.

Beall Corp Adds Sales Rep Beall Corp has appointed Pedro Arroyo D as manufacturer's sales representative for Mexico. Arroyo has been in the transportation industry for several years, and his most recent position was as an independent sales representative with Century Wheel & Rim. He resides in the Mexico City area and will be responsible for new and used trailer sales. His phone number is 011-52-644-1630.

Sistemas Ecologicos has been named as a Beall service and warranty center for Mexico. Located in Guadalajara and owned by Beall customer Luis Velarde, Sistemas Ecologicos can be phoned at 011-52-3684-4337.

East Mfg Corp Adds Dealer Rocky Mountain Truck Center has joined the nationwide network of distributors for East Manufacturing Corp trailers. Based in Belgrade MT, the new dealer will handle the full line of East trailers and accessories. Randolph OH-based East manufactures frame and frameless dump trailers, aluminum and composite platforms, and refuse trailers. The company's heavy-duty trucking accessories include tool boxes, headache racks, fenders, and steps.

Josam Opens Two Centers Josam Products Inc of Orlando FL has opened two more training centers in North America. The manufacturer of truck and bus frame and alignment equipment is now represented in the Los Angeles CA and Chicago IL metro areas. Both facilities will offer commercial services as well as Josam training and sales support. Diversified Truck Center in California and Mid-City Truck Body in Illinois are established businesses opening new locations.

These shops are equipped with Josam truck frame correction tools and wheel alignment equipment. Operations will be patterned after the Orlando facility in which operators are trained in a "real" heavy-duty environment.

ERI Wins Patent Lawsuit In a federal court ruling posted Nov 29, 2000, in Oklahoma City OK, Easy Rider Inc (ERI), of Wewoka OK won its patent-infringement lawsuit protecting its Easy Rider air-ride hitches against Air Ride Hitch Inc and SouthEast Easy Rider Inc of Beech Island SC. Both companies were banned from manufacturing, advertising, selling, distributing, shipping, servicing, or repairing Easy Rider air-ride hitches or any similar hitch products.

Wabash National Corporation Reorganizes Truck trailer manufacturer Wabash National Corp is discontinuing international sales efforts and reorganizing its domestic business in an effort to reduce its debt load and adapt to a slowing trucking economy.

Based in Lafayette IN, Wabash no longer will build products for export outside the North American market, is abandoning international financing activities, and will consolidate several domestic operations to help put the company on better financial footing. The domestic businesses in question include its hardwood flooring facilities and certain underperforming retail and distribution locations, the company said.

Wabash said it expects these actions will result in fourth-quarter-2000 pre-tax charges of approximately $47 million, related to asset write-downs, severance, and other exit costs.

"The restructuring initiative responds to the changes in the domestic and international markets we serve and the continued strength of the dollar in our international export markets, especially against the Euro," said Jerry Ehrlich, president and chief executive officer of Wabash.

Brenner Tank to Consolidate Manufacturing Brenner Tank Inc, a manufacturer of transport tanks for the chemical, environmental, petroleum, food, and dairy industries, will consolidate its manufacturing operations, moving all processes to its headquarters in Fond du Lac WI.

Manufacturing at the company's Mauston WI plant will be shifted to Fond du Lac, while Mauston's service and used-tank center will remain open. About 80 employees at the Mauston plant will be affected. Some will be transferred to the Fond du Lac facility, others will elect early retirement, and some will be permanently laid off. Transition assistance will be provided by the company.

Same Acronym, New Name and Focus for TMC Reflecting the changing nature of today's trucks from rolling machines to information processing centers, The Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) is changing its name to the Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) and will enlarge its focus.

TMC will take over many of the functions previously addressed by the former Information Technology and Logistics Council, which was eliminated during ATA's reorganization.

Under the new plan, TMC will add four additional study groups to its current structure. These will focus on technologies relevant to information technology and logistics professionals: data interchange; automated data entry; business processes; and technology and communications.

"On the horizon, we see a definite convergence of activities and interests between the on-board and off-board technology worlds," said Bill Wolterstorff, general chairman of TMC and fleet manager for Sather Trucking Corp. "Consequently, the technical and information requirements of our industry are changing, and we want to help shape that change."

Wolterstorff has appointed a committee to examine and propose an appropriate board structure for the expanded council, which will be voted on at TMC's March annual meeting. While all current TMC members will retain their board seats, there also will be some representation from the IT/logistic contingent.

Attractiveness of Targets for Acquisition More than Skin-Deep, Guide Indicates Eleven companies in the United Kingdom trailer and towing equipment industries have emerged as the most attractive companies to buy, according to Plimsoll Publishing Ltd's Buying or Selling Acquisition Guide 2001.

For the first time, Plimsoll has put a current and future "price tag" on every company in the industry. Companies most attractive showed the greatest gap between current and future value.

"Valuing a company is complex. Ultimately there is no final answer; it's a function of agreement. A balance must be met between current worth and what it might be worth in the future," says David Pattison, general manager of Plimsoll.

Plimsoll has demonstrated in its analysis of the industry that the 11 most attractive companies could increase in future value by at least 50% within one year. Currently, 11 of these companies are loss-making, and all of them carry pre-tax profits far below average. The onus thus falls on a potential buyer to get a better return than the present owners.

Not all companies are potentially as good an investment as the 11 "cherry-picked." Although currently achieving healthy sales and profits, 25 companies showed that their current value was unlikely to be increased by more than 5%.

"Buying a strong, highly profitable company is risky because the company will command a price premium," says Pattison. "It could prove difficult to improve current profitability over and above its present level. Even increasing sales beyond what would be realistically predictable, these companies currently look overpriced."

Plimsoll created the Buying or Selling Acquisition Guide 2001 not only with the acquirer in mind but also the seller. The goal when selling a company is to make it as attractive as possible in order to obtain the highest value. Not only does it value every company in the industry, but it also looks at ways you could make your company more valuable within 12 months.

The guide contains 290 companies in total with 126 companies specially analyzed to show current and future values. Each company contains the latest four years of accounts from Companies House in England. Each of the entries also contains a 12-month plan proving how a company can be improved to enhance its attractiveness to a buyer. Companies presented may not be currently for sale.

For more information on the guide, phone 011-44-1642-257800; email: [email protected]; or contact Plimsoll, Broadcasting House, The Vanguard Suite, Middlesbrough, TS1 5JA United Kingdom.

Mack Trucks Again Boosts US Market Share Mack Trucks Inc closed 2000 with 28,210 United States Class 8 retail sales, which represented 13.3% of the heavy-truck market. This was an increase from 13.1% in 1999, meaning Mack's market share has risen consistently over the past eight years.

The US truck market experienced a sales decline in 2000, with total retail volume falling nearly 20% to 211,507 vehicles.

The Canadian market was down more than 9% in 2000, but Mack's Canadian subsidiary, Mack Canada Inc, outperformed the market by retailing 2,848 units. Mack's Canadian retail market share increased almost a full percentage point to 10.2%, up from 9.3% in 1999.

Mack Trucks Australia Pty Ltd, Mack's major overseas subsidiary, increased sales from 742 to 790 units, which represented a 14.3% share of the Australian heavy-duty truck market. This compared to an 11.9% share in 1999.

Year-end figures for industry exports are not yet available. However, Mack increased Class 8 exports to 1,666 units, compared with 1,363 units in 1999. As of November, Mack sales represented 21.3% of the total North American export market.

Site Provides Access to Tiedown Products S-Line.com provides the load securement industry with access to its full-line catalog. This web site will supply the transportation industry with 24-hour, seven-day-a-week access to view products and place orders, check weekly specials on select products, and provide account order status data. This Internet store is geared not only to trucking industry distributors, fleets, and owner operators, but also all transportation logistic carriers and anyone who requires tiedown safety products.

Survey Looks at Pay Rates in Marketing, Sales Abbott, Langer & Associates Inc has made copies available of the 230-page survey Compensation in the Marketing and Sales Field, 19th Edition.

The composite highest-income practitioner reported in this field (salary plus cash bonus and/or cash profit-sharing) is the president "A" (defined as a chief executive officer who has a financial interest or is owner of the firm). He is with a firm in a non-manufacturing industry not specifically studied, an insurance company, a bank or other financial service, an advertising agency, a construction/land development/engineering firm, or a wholesaler. The firm has 5,000 or more employees; has a total annual sales/budget of $1 billion or more; and is headquartered in or near Newark/Jersey City NJ, Louisville KY, Milwaukee WI, Detroit MI, Orlando FL, Los Angeles/Long Beach CA, Chicago IL, or Dayton OH, or outside metropolitan areas studied in Georgia. While the median president "A" has a total annual income of $350,000, highest-income individuals reported in this group make more than $1 million.

At the other end of the income spectrum, customer service representatives have a median income of $14,700. Earning as low as $8,500, lowest-paid employees in this group usually are employed by wholesalers, retailers, chemical and allied products manufacturers, or a non-manufacturing industry not specifically studied; have between 250 and 499 employees; and have total annual sales or budgets of $10 million to $24.9 million. They are headquartered in or near Oklahoma City OK, Minneapolis/St Paul MN, Denver/Colorado Springs CO, Phoenix AZ, or Kansas City MO, or outside metropolitan areas studied in Iowa, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Oregon.

Copies of the survey are available for $550 from Abbott, Langer & Associates, Dept NR, 548 First St, Crete IL 60417.

Laser Shipments Climb in Third-Quarter 2000 At $173.1 million for third-quarter 2000, shipments of industrial laser equipment and systems for North America and United States exports were up more than 30% from year-earlier levels, according to the Laser Systems Product Group (LSPG) of AMT - The Association for Manufacturing Technology. Industrial laser equipment and systems shipments within North America by the 46 companies in the LSPG statistical program totaled $125.2 million while exports amounted to $48 million.

The LSPG report shows that Nd:YAG industrial laser technologies have increased shipment levels this period versus third-quarter 1999, while carbon dioxide industrial laser technologies have decreased slightly. Shipments for industrial laser applications such as cutting, welding, drilling, and marking were all up from year-earlier levels. The report shows cutting applications as the largest source of business activity in third-quarter 2000, accounting for just under half of all shipments. About 45% of all industrial lasers shipped were of the CO subscript 2 variety and more than 80% of total shipments were configured as a laser system (laser source plus workstation).

Holland Group Launches Holland OnLine The Holland Group Inc announces Holland OnLine, a web site with information about Holland technologies, products, systems and services-worldwide. Holland Neway, Holland Anchorlok, Holland Binkley, and Holland ProPar brands all are included in this site. The site is located at www.thehollandgroupinc.com.

Currently portions of The Holland Group site are still under construction. The Holland Group, Holland Canada, Holland Hitch, Holland Neway, Holland Anchorlok, and Holland Europe GmbH brand sites are currently available. In the near future, Holland will complete the Holland Binkley and Holland ProPar brand sites as well as other international sites.

Kinedyne Forms Sure-Lok for Special Needs Kinedyne Corp has separated its cargo control and wheelchair tie-down and occupant restraint product lines into two companies. Newly formed Sure-Lok Inc will handle special-needs products, and Kinedyne will continue to focus on cargo control products.

In 1999, Kinedyne introduced the trademarked name Sure-Lok. Creation of Sure-Lok Inc allows that company to focus entirely on wheelchair tie-down and occupant restraint systems. All products continue to be engineered, tested, and manufactured to meet or exceed government and industry requirements.

Sure-Lok Inc corporate headquarters are in Branchburg NJ. Kinedyne Canada will serve as exclusive distributor of Sure-Lok products in Canada. Robert M Joseph is president of the newly formed corporation.

Trailmobile Canada/Barnes Contract Expires Trailmobile Canada Limited has announced that its investor relations contract with the Barnes Organization expired in the first quarter ending Dec 29, 2000.

"We are continuing to use the Barnes Organization for transitional issues, and are appreciative of all their efforts and continuing support during this time," said Thomas Wiseman, president of Trailmobile Canada.

Until further notice, all investor relations issues should be forwarded to Frank Michalargias, chief financial officer of Trailmobile Canada.

A manufacturer of dry-freight trailers, Trailmobile Canada is majority-owned by Chicago IL-based Trailmobile Corp.

Same Legal Issue Can Rear Multiple Heads Dear Editor: I just read your December editorial. I agree that the verdicts in some of the trials are a bit scary.

My experience has been that cases such as this one result in a few more actions on the same issue. A few years ago, a chassis manufacturer was held liable for not installing a back-up alarm on all its chassis. Nothing has changed in the industry. The reason is that the same issue with similar facts can be tried again with a different result. It would take a class action or a series of suits to have a significant impact on an industry. That's the good news. Dick Toner Toner Associates

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