Heil Trailer International is making its Kalyn Siebert plant in Gatesville TX home for its military production—including tanks.

Kalyn Siebert transitions into a multi-dimensional manufacturer

Dec. 1, 2013
Participating in five prominent industry segments, the Gatesville TX-based trailer maker takes integration to exciting new levels

FOR most of its history, Kalyn Siebert has had a reputation as a manufacturer of heavy-haul trailers. However, during the past year, this Gatesville, Texas, company has been focused on executing a strategic expansion plan that capitalizes on its expertise, capabilities, and experience.

Kalyn Siebert is manufacturing 208 of these special refueling vehicles for the US military. The Flatrack Refueling Capability system can be dropped in place, freeing the chassis for other uses.

Kalyn Siebert, a Heil Trailer International company, serves and supports oil and gas companies as well as the military. The company fabricates trailers that serve as platforms for specialized oilfield equipment and sophisticated defense systems. But Kalyn has now extended that expertise to include fabrication and installation of sophisticated equipment traditionally handled by other companies as well as getting more deeply involved in the service market.

“Kalyn is now a fully integrated, multi-faceted manufacturing and service company, with the resources, expertise, and experience to serve a broader range of markets, offering a diverse portfolio of high quality products, and support to meet the evolving needs of customers,” says Ryan Rockafellow, managing director at Kalyn Siebert.

Kalyn’s long-term plan supports four major business segments:

Frame for one of the Flatrack Refueling Capability (FRC) vehicles will be outfitted with self-contained system.

• Commercial. Commercial businesses include trailers built for the transportation, construction, and agriculture markets. Kalyn’s portfolio of trailers in this segment includes platforms, drop decks, double drops, extendables, hydraulic sliding axles, hydraulic and mechanical gooseneck construction trailers. Kalyn also has introduced a lightweight steel end dump trailer, the AltraLite.

• Energy. “We have been building trailers for the top companies in the energy business for years,” Rockafellow says. “Our role was limited to designing a custom trailer that would house the specialty equipment of other manufacturers,” Rockafellow says. “Today, in conjunction with Heil Trailer Oil & Gas, we are offering our customers a seamless option in which Kalyn also completes the build-out process in its integration facility here in Gatesville. We can build to the customer’s design, or we can engineer and manufacture our own.”

• Defense. Collaborating with Heil’s tank trailer experts has expanded Kalyn’s capabilities to provide integrated products for the military market as well. In July, the USMC awarded Kalyn Siebert a full-rate production order for 138 FRC (Flat Rack Refueling Capability) trailers. Kalyn received a subsequent order for 70 more FRCs in November. According to Bill Harris, director of military sales and business development, Heil expects to build over 300 FRCs for the Marines before the contract is complete.

If this trailer looks like it spent time in a war zone, that’s because it has spent time in a war zone.

Kalyn began manufacturing FRC tanks in Gatesville just over a year ago. With the exception of heads and baffles that are shipped down from the Heil plant in Athens, Tennessee, the Kalyn plant fabricates everything it needs to produce a tank for the FRC, including a certified ISO frame and aircraft refueling system. The FRC is a good fit for Kalyn as it combines Kalyn’s proven background in building durable chassis trailers to house specialty equipment with Heil’s tank manufacturing expertise.

• Parts and service. “We are putting more emphasis in this area, which is key to customer satisfaction,” Harris says. “We have a team of individuals to call on both defense and commercial parts customers, and we have a dedicated service manager overseeing the business. By having a professional team dedicated to focus on parts and service, we support the real time needs of our customers and increase our visibility for new trailers as well.”

Back to basics

Kalyn is placing more emphasis on its commercial business.

Kalyn is refurbishing tank trailers to like-new specs.

“The success we have had in the oil and gas industry as well as supporting the needs of the military made it difficult for us to consistently focus on our commercial business,” Rockafellow says. “But that is in the past. We are expanding our dealer base and assisting their efforts to grow the commercial business in their markets. We have grown our in-house sales team from one to six regional, in-market sales reps. We have strengthened our parts and service offering as well. In effect, we have retooled this business allowing us to reintroduce Kalyn Siebert to the commercial market.”

Improving processes

Overarching all of the segments in which Kalyn competes is a commitment to lean manufacturing.

Kalyn also is producing detachable vans for the Red River Army Depot.

“We are a triple threat,” Rockafellow says. “We hold ISO 9001, 14001, and 18001 certifications.”

The Gatesville plant manufactures and refurbishes tanks, including water and refueling tanks. The company has received its U-stamp.

With these changes, Heil is consolidating its military production at the Gatesville plant—which just happens to be a quick trip down Highway 36 from Fort Hood, one of the Army’s largest domestic bases

To get everyone on the same page, Heil and Kalyn production personnel have been cross-trained at the Gatesville plant and Heil’s flagship facility in Athens, Tennessee.

Manufacturing vans

The Kalyn plant also manufactures the M129A4 replacement van body for military applications. The van is a two-axle semi-trailer towed by a five-ton tractor. Each van has 1943 cu-ft of space and is used to transport and store tools and supplies. The Army National Guard and Reserves currently has more than 1,000 M129 vans, many of which are quickly reaching the end of their useful life. The vans need to be replaced and Kalyn has a contract to do just that in 2014 for Red River Army Depot.

The new AltraLite steel dump trailer is Kalyn’s first for the dump trailer market.

Among Kalyn’s responsibilities under the program:

• Redesign and build a new van that eliminates leaking windows and roof seams.

• Improve corrosion control, exterior and interior finishing, refurbish van body and all components. The vehicles are required to operate at least 20 years.

• Improve lighting and electrical systems which includes exterior LED lights capable of meeting SAE photometric requirements when operating on either 12 volts or 24 volts. Switches mounted in the door jamb extinguish the 24-volt or the 110-volt lights when rear door opened. All air and hydraulic systems replaced with state of the art pneumatic systems.

New hydraulic removable gooseneck

Also new at Kalyn Siebert is the company’s 2014-model hydraulic removable gooseneck trailer. Redesigned and reengineered, the trailer eliminates approximately 400 pounds compared with its predecessor.

Kalyn now goes beyond manufacturing chassis that others complete. This will become a fully equipped frac’ing trailer.

Among the design changes are a revised neck-to-deck connection. The new design uses front deck pins that are 2.5 times larger and stronger than standard pins. Front deck pins and the corresponding paddles on the neck mate together for increased surface contact that decreases stress and allows for a safer, more positive connection.

Larger front deck pins and neck paddles, along with an improved alignment trough, make connecting and removing the gooseneck easier.

Utilizing neck shim support beams allows the product to be 15% stronger than standard T1 construction providing increased lateral stability.

New construction techniques, including machined high-strength steel castings, allow tighter tolerances throughout the neck and deck. Tighter tolerances result in less deflection in the shimming area resulting in easier operation and stability.

Serving a new market

Kalyn rounds out its line of specialty trailers by getting into the dump trailer market.

Introduced in August at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Kalyn Siebert’s new AltraLite steel end-dump trailer was designed specifically for road construction companies. It costs less than aluminum counterparts, and its design makes it competitive from the standpoint of weight.

”The construction industry is projected to see solid growth over the next decade, and demand for a durable, high-quality, lightweight steel option is strong,” Rockafellow says.

The trailer is the result of a four-year research and development program. Among the features:

• A higher dumping angle keeps all axles on the ground into the fifth stage of dumping.

• A bathtub design helps stabilize the trailer while it dumps by keeping the load centered close to the trailer’s centerline.

• A higher tailgate with a forward slant helps the tailgate close properly.

More to come

A 42-ft cutting table is essential for fabricating the company’s mainstay product—heavy hauler trailers.

With new products and approaches, Kalyn has made significant changes recently. But changes are nothing new for the company that was formed in 1961 as a manufacturer of canvas tops and named after two daughters—Katherine and Lynn.

Kalyn’s product line continues to evolve, from building boat and livestock trailers in its early days, to today’s heavy equipment trailers for the Department of Defense and light weight steel end dumps for the construction industry. The team at Kalyn Siebert anticipates building an even more diverse line of products in the future. ♦


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About the Author

Bruce Sauer | Editor

Bruce Sauer has been writing about the truck trailer, truck body and truck equipment industries since joining Trailer/Body Builders as an associate editor in 1974. During his career at Trailer/Body Builders, he has served as the magazine's managing editor and executive editor before being named editor of the magazine in 1999. He holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin.