Trailer manufacturers are responding to e-commerce-fueled changes to the supply chain by expanding their operations and ramping up customization.
Last summer, Wabash National Corp. agreed to purchase Supreme Industries Inc., a truck-body manufacturer, for $364 million. Supreme is the second-largest producer of medium-duty truck bodies behind Morgan Corp.
“The addition of the Supreme truck body adds immediate revenue and profit opportunity, but also provides significant diversification into a high-growth segment driven by the ever-increasing adoption of e-commerce,” said Dick Giromini, CEO of the nation’s only publicly traded trailer maker.
At the start of the decade, Great Dane Trailers acquired Johnson Refrigerated Truck Bodies, which manufactures insulated fiberglass refrigerated truck bodies and all-electric refrigeration systems. The deal was Great Dane’s initial move into truck body manufacturing and helped it gain an early foothold into the “final mile” dry-freight vans that mount on medium-duty trucks. They are primarily suited for maneuvering through congested urban areas, the company said.
Besides acquisitions, trailer makers are emphasizing their abilities to build to customer specifications to meet evolving delivery needs. For example, late last year Strick Trailers added a 44,000-sq.-ft. production line dedicated to its custom trailer business in Indiana. Likewise, Stoughton Trailers opened a new refrigerated trailer assembly line in Wisconsin.
Other manufacturers including Hyundai Translead and Utility Trailer have suggested they are evaluating further steps they will need to consider as e-commerce changes delivery and distribution patterns.