Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Auto transport trailers that aren't built by Cottrell

Time was, there were several established companies building high capacity auto transport equipment.  Whether you wanted an open car haul trailer or enclosed, you had your pick.  Then came the Great Recession, and all the subsequent gyrations and dislocations within the micro economy that this created.

When it was all over, Cottrell trailers in Gainesville, GA reigned supreme. 

JM Trailers in Fontana, gone.  Delavan, sold. Then sold again. Boydstun, gone.

But while Cottrell may have been the biggest car trailer manufacturer to emerge unscathed from the hollowing out of the economy during the recession, there were several that kept plugging away:  Sun Valley Trailers, Wally Mo Trailers and Miller Trailers.

And in the economic recovery that followed, more green shoots appeared.  Lugo Manufacturing began building a trailer, and indeed is set to deliver it shortly.  Boydstun Trailers opened up a shop in Clackamas, Oregon and is also set to deliver their first trailer shortly.  The other day, I received a call from Lee Ireland, the former Boydstun warranty manager-- he's back at Boydstun building trailers.  (He'd been traveling around for Sierra Transport for the last few years.)  And we also hear that Delavan is building a new shop in Georgia.

There can be no doubt that Cottrell is the biggest auto transport equipment maker in the United States.  In fact, they filled this niche so attractively, they were in turn gobbled up by an even larger company who became majority shareholder.

But consider those "green shoots in the economy" , and those smaller trailer builders that survived the Great Recession.  You never know where the next great idea is going to come from.  It might come from a big company owned by a massive private equity firm.  It might come from a small start-up or a start-over.  In the long run, one thing is for sure:  diversity is good for everybody.