September 25, 2007

The Birth Of A Trailer



Watching trailers built from start to finish

A snowmobile trailer is just like every other snowmobile trailer, right?

Well, not exactly. Sure, they have some things in common, like they haul snowmobiles and they have tires, but even we were mildly surprised at the differences between one trailer versus another.

We came to this realization after touring three trailer manufacturers this past summer. We were allowed to watch the manufacturing process from start to finish, although we were able to move much faster than the trailers being built.

Each manufacturer has its own little processes that make it different from the next guy. Some of those processes we snowmobilers just take for granted but are a nice touch nonetheless. And seeing the build process gives us a little better appreciation for our trailers.

Of course, by going through during the summer, we didn’t catch any snowmobile trailers being manufactured but the process is very similar.

We were also allowed to take photos pretty much throughout each of the plants we toured. That allows us to give you a visual look at the building of a trailer.

Our Summer Trailer Tour started with Pace American and then Wells Cargo, both in Utah and finished with Featherlite in Iowa. Here’s a little background information on the plants we toured.

 

Pace American

Pace American’s Hurricane, UT, plant is one of four nationwide and supplies most western states, including California, Arizona, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming, as well as Alberta and British Columbia. Pace American’s Utah plant opened in April, 1994, and, according to plant general manager Ray Salley, business at that plant has quadrupled since it opened and the number of employees doubled.

We asked Salley what he thought the biggest change has been in the trailer industry over the past 5-10 years. He said, “Getting more in tune with our customer’s needs. The manufacturing process has changed much over those years, but it has been refined. It’s still a labor-intensive process. It’s not a sexy industry. It’s good ol’ American ingenuity. There are no robots out there doing the work. The trailers are handcrafted.”

 

Wells Cargo

We toured Wells Cargo’s Ogden, UT, plant, where nearly 200 workers are employed. The plant opened in 1982 and supplies much of the West, from Colorado north into Canada and everything west of that, including northern California and Nevada. The Ogden plant is just one of six Wells Cargo has across the country.

 

Featherlite

Featherlite’s sprawling manufacturing complex is located in the northeast Iowa town of Cresco. While most sledders know Featherlite for its snowmobile trailers, the company is also well known for its horse trailers and large transporter trailers that you see at all sorts of races from motocross to snocross to NHRA and more.







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