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These trailers haul live eels and that's no fish story

Netherlands native Martie Bouw makes a living hauling 800,000 pounds of eels a year up and down the East Coast. Bouw relies on a customized trailer that Reinke Mfg built for his specific needs of hauling live fish, resulting in a giant fish tank on wheels.

After working overseas in the fish industry for 12 years, Bouw moved to Arapahoe NC in 1991 to run Holland Seafood, an exporter for live eels founded in 1986. Today, Bouw runs the company, supervises four employees, and makes deliveries.

Holland Seafood transports live eels and other live fish along the Atlantic coast, picking up product from as far south as Florida and Mississippi and delivering it to New York, Pennsylvania, and Toronto. Once delivered to their northern destination, the eels are graded on their various sizes and shipped overseas, mostly to Europe.

According to Bouw, the key to his business is keeping the eels alive throughout transportation, and his two customized Reinke flatbed trailers make that possible. Reinke manufactures over-the-road trailer/chassis equipment and mechanized irrigation systems.

Each trailer holds 22 fiberglass tanks, a Hiab crane with a 42-foot reach, two air compressors. and two liquid oxygen bottles to keep the eels and fish alive.

“The eels have to be kept alive in order to be sold, and I needed a special trailer to haul such expensive equipment,” Bouw said. “No one else has trailers like this, so we receive a lot of comments on its looks.”

Bouw was introduced to Reinke almost three years ago, when he met Peggy Cromer, account executive at Innovative Transportation Services Inc, a Reinke dealership in Charlotte NC.

“I was shopping for a customized trailer and couldn't find anyone to build a trailer like what I wanted when I wanted it,” he said. “I talked to Peggy, and she said Reinke would build to most any specs.”

The trailers also include a front lift axle to save on tires. “We run a lot of empty loads on the way back from a delivery, so the front lift axle definitely helps,” Bouw said.

The trailer's gross weight is 85,000 pounds. It can carry 5,500 gallons of water when the tanks are full and canload 22,000 pounds of eels, ranging from 7 inches to 4 feet long.

Reinke chassis equipment and trailers have a lightweight — but strong and durable — design with a variety of options. Trailer designs include all-aluminum, combo (aluminum with steel rails), drop-deck combo (features special strong beams to eliminate stress points), and other specialty trailers. Chassis options include the lightweight Millennium Tank Chassis and 40-foot Container Chassis.

For more information about Reinke products and a full dealership listing, access

TAGS: Trailers
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