Three years ago, the Walters family of Bradenton, FL, bought out Globe Trailers, a small trailer manufacturer, and began a transformation.
Globe Trailers, which was founded in Bradenton 25 years ago as a custom manufacturer, has always had limited production. In 2003, just 33 trailers were manufactured.
The Walters family owns several businesses in the area and had been using Globe Trailers as a test site for American Torch Tip Company products, which was founded by John Walters in 1940 in Pittsburgh, PA, and was relocated to Bradenton in 1980.
Jeff Walters Sr., president of Globe Trailers, saw an opportunity to transform the company.
The first change was to limit the production to six types of trailers. The company currently manufactures a 35- to 65-ton lowboy, a 45- to 60-cu.-yd. demolition dump trailer, a 35-ton paver special trailer, a 20 to 30 ton tag along and a 6-ton low pro trailer. By focusing on lowboy and dump trailers, the company was able to streamline its manufacturing process, according to the company.
After limiting production, the next step was to increase quality through better engineering, materials and manufacturing processes.
“We automated everywhere we could,” Walters said. “We also put in high definition plasma cutters and built jigs and fixtures. The cutters increased precision in the cutting process. The jigs and fixtures increased accuracy and cut down welding time. We made a substantial investment in equipment to improve our manufacturing capabilities.
“We use T-1 steel in critical areas — the same steel that is used in armor plating for the Humvees the U.S. Army uses,” Walters said. “We are also using Rumber flooring for the lowboys because it comes with a 10-year manufacturer warranty and Ridewell Air Ride Suspensions.”
By improving automation, Globe Trailers was able to use space more efficiently, increasing manufacturing square footage and production.
In addition, much time and effort was put into the engineering end of the business. The size of the department was increased and programs were put into place to test for structural integrity. The sales staff also was increased and a percentage of sales was dedicated to advertising.
Working with Walters are several long-time members of the industry, including Russ Benuche, general manager; Jeff Coomber, manufacturing manager; Curt Homan, sales manager; and Jeff Walters Jr., chief of engineering.
Globe Trailers primarily sells direct to the customer, but has made provisions for special pricing for dealers.
“We are looking at setting up some dealers in areas where we can’t efficiently ship one trailer,” Walters said.
The transformation of the company has increased its capacity to build trailers. In 2005 alone, Globe Trailers manufactured 180 trailers.
Globe Trailers also has implemented a 10-year warranty on all of its trailers.
“We try to build the strongest, most durable trailer on the market, not the lightest,” Walters said. “By using good engineering, testing and the best materials, we can offer a non-prorated 10-year warranty. If you break our lowboy trailer and we can’t fix it, we will replace it — even nine years after it was manufactured.”
Warranty work is performed by Globe Trailers for local owners. However, due to its relationship with more than 3,000 welding companies through American Torch Tip, Globe Trailers will locate a local company for customers to handle warranty work out of the area.
Usually, the company does not build trailers and put them in stock. Rather, Globe Trailers works closely with customers to tailor to their specific needs.
“We build the risers, decks and tails and then join them together to build the exact trailer the customer wants,” Walters said. “While we have standard models, each trailer is really custom built.”
According to Walters, Globe Trailers will continue along the path of building quality trailers and continuing to increase its capacity.
“We can probably go to 600 trailers a year at our current facility, so we have a lot of room to grow,” he said.
A new gooseneck design also is in the works. This new design will move the power unit up into the neck where it can be removed for servicing or storage during winter months in northern climates.
For more information, visit www.globetrailers.com. CEG Staff