NATM Hands Out Key Awards

The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) has presented three key awards: the first-ever Green Manufacturing Award to Engelbrecht Grills & Cookers, Paxton, Ill.; Outstanding Member Award to Michael Terry, Cimarron Trailers, Chickasha, Okla.; and Outstanding Associate Member Award to Optronics International, Muskogee, Okla.

The Green Manufacturing award was established to recognize the best innovation or novel solutions by a manufacturer in the trailer industry to positively impact our environment. Criteria for the award include being an NATM trailer manufacturing member in good standing and providing verifiable documentation of a “green” initiative or improvement at their manufacturing plant.

NATM partnered with PPG Industries, Strongsville, Ohio, a founding sponsor of the award who gave $5,000 to the organization of the winner’s choice. Representatives from Engelbrecht chose Pheasants Forever, a habitat conservation organization dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs. The funds will go directly toward the restoration of a 70-acre wildlife habitat in East-Central Illinois to be built by Pheasants Forever. The habitat will include different native grasses and trees providing a place for wildlife to next and education of the benefits of grassland habitats.

Chris Engelbrecht, owner of the company, said “It wasn’t so much going green, but planning an energy efficient company from the beginning and building from that.” They planned a company that was productive and profitable, and would be more and more “green” as time went on.

Last year, company representatives came across a large multi-fuel biomass burner that could burn whatever they were able to feed into it if it was dry enough. In central Illinois, they had two choices – corn or wood pellets. The drawback from the corn is that it needs to have less than 9 percent moisture content. Most farm corn is dried to 15 percent and that last 6 percent moisture takes a lot of heat to dry down. Their solution was to take the exiting hot air from the heater and run it through a corn drier they constructed before releasing the hot air into the building. The end result is that they used to go through 1,500 gallons of propane a winter and they are now down to three 100-pound cylinders a winter that go to a space heater on the coldest mornings. The vast majority of heat they use is from biomass. Their biggest carbon impact is drastically reduced.

Engelbrecht also has a windbreak and grass habitat around the building. This was established with the assistance of the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) which is a division of the USDA and the Pheasants Forever habitat conservation organization. Other initiatives include T-5 fluorescent energy efficient lighting, an idle function on all welders, a pneumatic press brake (more efficient than mechanical or hydraulic press brakes), minimizing “drop” (the material left over from cutting parts from the stock), and all “drop” is recycled.

The Outstanding Member Award is presented each year to an individual who has made significant contributions to the trailer manufacturing industry.

Terry has been active in NATM since its inception in 1987. He was one of the eight trailer manufacturers at the first meeting in Chickasha, Okla., Sept. 22, 1987. Terry was elected as one of the founding members of NALTM (National Association of Livestock Trailer Manufacturers) and was immediately elected as the first vice president of the organization – a position he would hold again in the future.

The Outstanding Associate Member Award is presented each year to a company who has shown outstanding support of NATM. Selection criteria is based on activities including membership recruitment, support of the convention, sponsorships and any other activities that promote NATM and the trailer manufacturing industry.

Optronics International has been an NATM member since 2002. Since that time, Optronics has supported NATM by exhibiting at the trade show, advertising and becoming a major NATM sponsor. Their representative, Brett Johnson, also has served on the association marketing and convention committees.

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