Wabash to build new plant; appoints new COO

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Wabash National plans to cut the cost of building new trailers with a new state-of-the-art production facility in Franklin, Ky., and changes to its plant in Lafayette, Ind.

These efforts are focused on optimizing existing production capabilities and do not involve the addition of new capacity.

The initiatives are expected to streamline production processes and improve manufacturing cost efficiencies in Lafayette; establish a strategically located, cost-leading, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Kentucky; gain access to an expanded labor pool to meet future workforce growth needs; and provide manufacturing capabilities in closer proximity to new customers

As well, the new facility and changes to the existing plant will drive margin expansion by reducing the overall average production cost per trailer; provide future opportunities to expand capacity at a lower cost point; and open manufacturing space in Lafayette for future growth initiatives.

“While the trailer market faces current headwinds, we are taking steps today to improve our long-term cost position,” said Wabash National President and CEO Dick Giromini. “Even at cyclically low production levels, these initiatives are expected to favorably impact our margins. When the demand for trailers improves, as industry experts expect over the next 12-24 months, we will be positioned to take full advantage of the benefits resulting from these initiatives.”

Current plans are to begin construction of the $25 million Kentucky facility in late 2008 or early 2009, dependent on market conditions. The 300,000-sq ft facility will produce both DuraPlate and FreightPro dry van trailers.

Meanwhile, Wabash named Joseph M. Zachman to senior vice president and chief operating officer of its executive management team.

Zachman has over 24 years of manufacturing experience including serving as Vice President and General Manager for TTM Technologies; President of CDR Corporation; and Director of Operations of Sanmina Corporation. He began his career with Delco Electronics Corp.

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