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Fontaine Trailer, sister companies take traveling road show to the customer

IF Mohammed won't come to the mountain, the saying goes, the mountain must come to Mohammed. The same holds true for trailer customers.

Rather than buy exhibit space at a trade show and hope that customers come by, Marmon Highway Technologies has a different idea — pitch a tent in the customer's parking lot.

Marmon Highway Technologies, consisting of Fontaine Trailer and eight other trailer-related companies is on the road, bringing information about its products to the people who buy them.

One of the myriad companies owned by Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway, Marmon Highway Technologies, conceived of its “Ideas in Motion” traveling road show last year in an effort to get major fleets to understand who those nine trailer-related companies are and what they offer.

The Ideas in Motion private trade show will visit more than 12 customer locations across the United States this year. On May 25, the show stopped at Birmingham, Alabama terminal of Boyd Brothers Transportation, a primarily flatbed fleet based in Clayton, Alabama. Boyd personnel received news from all of the Marmon Highway Technologies companies: Fontaine Fifth Wheel, Fontaine Modification, Fontaine Spray Suppression (Fleetline, Hogebuilt and Nu-Line), Fontaine Trailer, Marmon-Herrington, Perfection, Triangle Suspension Systems, TSE Brakes (including Leland), and Webb Wheel.

A large tent pitched in the Boyd Brothers parking lot was the site of presentations. The tent housed exhibits for each of Marmon companies, along with a center screen where Kelly Dier, Marmon Highway Technologies president, spoke about how the Marmon companies fit together. He also gave his views on some of the trends affecting trailer manufacturing and the trucking industry.

Dier expects to see a reversal of the outsourcing that has characterized U S manufacturing in recent years. Among the reasons: rising fuel costs (perhaps $7 per gallon diesel within the next five years).

“Today it is common to source worldwide for cheap labor,” Dier said. “But logistics costs are going to get so high that companies will have to develop much tighter supply chains. This is a total change from what has occurred for the last 20-30 years, but it's a good thing. It will bring a resurgence of manufacturing to North America. It's going to be a hard transition. North American machine shops, foundries, and fabricators are gone and will have to be recreated. It's going to be a 20-year process, but the result will be good for the businesses and citizens of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.”

Dier said that despite the downturn in the industry in recent years, his company has continued to fund research and development. The nine Marmon Highway Technologies companies each had new products to show. Those will be seen in coming issues of Trailer/Body Builders.

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