East Manufacturing is celebrating its first 50 years, and the company featured trailer #1, complete with the handwritten build sheet, at MATS this year.
East also announced it Special 50th Anniversary Trailer Packages, standard on each of its four aluminum trailer lines. The flatbed, drop deck, dump and refuse trailer packages include gold East nameplates along with 50th Anniversary logoed mud flaps. In addition, gold anodized flat hook tie downs are included on flatbed and drop deck trailers.
East will offer the package through the end of December, President and CEO Dave de Poincy told TBB at the show.
“We’re selling it in the aftermarket as well, so I think you’ll have guys replacing their mud flaps with that 50th Anniversary one,” de Poincy added. “Our customers have a lot of pride in our products.”
Indeed, the company located the first trailer through a VIN search about 10 years ago, finding it still in service for its third owner.
“We said we’d like to buy it back, but he wouldn’t sell it because he still used it every day. So we traded him out with a 1978 trailer for his 1968—which he was thrilled to get,” de Poincy said.
The first trailer was welded by East owner Howard Booher and the order agreement, along with standard specs, includes notes at the bottom of the sheet detailing several custom additions—and custom touches would become a hallmark of the trailer builder to the present day.
History of firsts
East also takes pride in innovation and “industry firsts,” de Poincy added, noting its 70 patents.
As to evolution of the product, the growing popularity of the all-aluminum trailer has been a noteworthy advancement over the first 50 years, de Poincy explained, citing weight savings, corrosion resistance, fewer paint issues, and the resulting residual value.
“We have many customers that have 1982 or 1989 trailers, and you try to talk them into buying something new, and they say, ‘these aren’t worn out yet,’” de Poincy said.
After several variations on the aluminum dump trailer, including a truck dump body in 1970, East designed its first Sludge Pusher Trailer in 1978 and Refuse Transfer Pusher Trailer in 1980. Debuting in 1983, the first Walking Floor Refuse Transfer Trailer was developed. By 1982, it was full speed ahead with the industry’s first aluminum flatbed trailer. By 1990, the first drop deck came on the scene. The MMX flatbed trailer followed the BST in 2002.
De Poincy also noted East’s Genesis smooth-sided double-wall design, invented by East in 2001 and since emulated throughout the industry. The Genesis is stronger, more aerodynamic and easier to clean, and will not show inside dents on the outside, like external post-style walls do.
In 2010 East introduced its Hybrid dump trailer, a design combination featuring a square-box with a round bottom, providing greater twist-resisting structural rigidity, a lower center of gravity, and a greater payload capacity comparable to a half-round trailer.
East, historically a premium, custom trailer manufacturer for the owner-operator market, started targeting fleets with its flatbed product in 2012, and is having its best year yet in fleet sales, according to de Poincy.
The company has grown to about 600 employees, after starting with 10. And more than 100 of those have more than 20 years of experience, and de Poincy quickly tallies the tenure of upper management: vice president of sales, 45 years; engineering manager, 45 years; vice president of manufacturing, 42 years; plant manager, 32 years. And hourly employee #1 still works for the company delivering parts, and was on-hand at MATS.
To commemorate its first 50 years, East will have an open house at its Randolph, Ohio headquarters for employees in July during its traditional shut-down period.
“We going to have a big party for the locals, basically,” he said.
Dealers will celebrate during the annual dealer meeting in September, including a plant tour and reception at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in nearby Canton.
“Everybody’s pretty excited about it,” de Poincy said. “50 years is a long time to be in business.”
Speaking more broadly about the trailer market, de Poincy echoed the optimism of other manufacturers at MATS—as well as similar concerns.
“Business is fantastic,” he said, reporting the backlog at East to be “as big as its ever been” at more than five months, compared to a typical 3 months.
But with aluminum prices rising late last year, East began to reduce discount programs in December, and then announced a price increase in February. With uncertainty around pricing following the Trump administration’s tariff plan for steel and aluminum imports, East has a difficult time securing material pricing commitments.
“We typically will lock in a contract for at least 50% of our purchase of aluminum, but we haven’t even been able to do that this year—it’s just a moving target,” de Poincy said. “We’ve sent out letters to every dealer and our fleet customers notifying them of the price increases. And if the tariffs end up creating other price increases, there will be a second round.”