Trailer dealer introduces scrap program to rid industry of old equipment
June 1, 2010
BRESLAU, Ont. - Does Challenger's recent order of 600 trailers (see pg. 34) signal the recovery of the trailer industry? Perhaps not on its own, but there's reason to believe the trailer industry is i...
BRESLAU, Ont. –Does Challenger’s recent order of 600 trailers (see pg. 34) signal the recovery of the trailer industry? Perhaps not on its own, but there’s reason to believe the trailer industry is improving.
ACT Research, a US researcher that tracks trailer orders, published recent data showing dry van orders are up 233% year to date through March. The industry’s improving health is also palpable on a local level, says Conny Weyers, president of Trailers Canada, the Stoughton dealer that filled Challenger’s 600-trailer order.
“The industry is sitting on a lot of old equipment and it’s pretty well being forced to rejuvenate itself,” Weyers said. “Nobody has bought any trailers to speak of in the 2000s.”
It seems the trailer industry is recalibrating, following peak sales of well over 200,000 units North Americawide in the late 90s.
“We don’t know what a normal year is anymore, because every year there’s been less and less,” Weyers said.
Since the trailer industry’s hey days in the late 90s, Trailers Canada’s Bob Breadner said fleets have been steadily reducing their truck-to-trailer ratio.
“They’ve been forced to, from a profitability standpoint,” he said.
The decrease in sales has forced trailer dealers to reinvent themselves. For Trailers Canada, that meant diversifying and focusing on maintenance as the US and Canadian economies dove into recession.
“Two years ago, we sat here and said ‘We can see this industry changing.’ It was moving quickly and you could see a storm coming,” recalled Weyers. “A lot of large companies in this area had closed down completely. We sat down and said we had to look at our company. Leasing and sales were coming down, so we went heavy into maintenance and that’s what kept us going.”
The company launched a mobile service that provides trailer maintenance right at a fleet’s own location. That segment of the business has grown so rapidly, Breadner said the company has had to turn away some business.
“We don’t want to mess up what we’ve got and we keep going back to our core values and understanding what made us successful,” he said.
The company now runs eight mobile service trucks around the clock, providing service within an 80-km radius, Breadner said.
“We hired when everyone else was firing,” Weyers added.
Looking back, Breadner credits Weyers with making tough decisions that helped the company survive the downturn.
“Two years ago, we had a lot of arguments about how conservative we should be,” said Breadner. “And I’m not conservative. But he was right. We backed off in certain areas and developed our service business.”
Now, the company is in the process of introducing a scrap program that will address the overpopulation of old, unroadworthy trailers. A third-party scrap company will visit a fleet, shred or tear up its trailers and haul them away as scrap. The program will target trailers that are 12-13 years old or older.
Many older trailers are worth little more than a grand, said Weyers, and they’re worth about the same as scrap metal. Of course, some trailers are worth more than others as scrap, and some will cost money to have hauled away.
“At least we’re providing an alternative,” said Breadner, noting most dealers will simply turn away old trailers. “Everybody is sitting with old stuff in their yards. We travelled down the states to learn about their scrap programs and figured out how to do it here.”
The scrap program will be up and running later this year, and Breadner said some local fleets have already shown interest. For more info on the new program, call 519-648-2273.