FRANKFORT, Ky. — Meritor this week celebrated production of its 10 millionth trailer axle. The event was marked by a ceremony at the company’s Frankfort, Ky. plant, where all its trailer axles for the North American market are now produced.
The Frankfort plant has been home to Meritor’s trailer axle production since 2001. The 195,000 sq.-ft. plant sits on a 30-acre site that was originally opened in 1994. Currently, 181 employees work there and the plant is running a shift and a half, producing trailer axles and brakes. The plant has received $2.2 million in upgrades over the past three years, increasing capacity and improving productivity.
“North America is the centre of our trailer business and what we do out of this facility serves as the centre for what we do globally,” Craig Frohock, general manager of Meritor’s trailer and aftermarket businesses said during a special ceremony at the plant. “This facility services the US and Canada market and this is where the core of our business is.”
Meritor also has an international presence, producing trailer undercarriage products in South America and the Asia-Pacific regions as well.
The ten millionth trailer axle was to be shipped to Wabash for installation in one of its trailers before being delivered to customer Werner Enterprises. Representatives from Werner were unable to attend the ceremony due to bad weather, but a wide variety of guests were on-hand, including media, political representatives, suppliers, customers and of course, the Frankfort plant employees who halted production to commemorate the milestone.
Meritor officials seemed upbeat about the pace of the recovery and their prospects for sales.
“The market is recovering at a nice, steady pace,” said Pedro Ferro, president of Meritor’s aftermarket and trailer operations. “We don’t see a recovery like we saw back in 2006 when the market really exploded and we saw dealers left with a lot of inventory and we were left with a lot of inventory and there was this big cliff. This time, I’m encouraged by the pace of the recovery. I think some segments of the trailer market are weaker than others; flatbeds have softened, construction hasn’t gotten back to where we think it should be. But I’m encouraged by the pace (of the recovery) this time and I don’t think we’ll have a boom and bust. I think the recovery will continue in 2013 and 2014. I’m very optimistic about it. As far as the whole trucking industry is concerned, I don’t think there’s going to be explosive growth this year, but it should grow at, I would say 3-4% between this year and next.”