In it for the Long Haul
As Talbert Manufacturing approaches its eightieth year in operation in 2018, it has many things to celebrate. Chief among these are a number of industry firsts that have not only helped the company to grow as a reputable manufacturer, but have changed how trailers are designed and the way the industry operates.
This reliable designer and manufacturer of specialized transportation equipment and trailers for heavy haul applications has created a lasting legacy with its well-engineered and high-performance trailers. Its trailers are built to last and outperform the competition. Many of its competitors have even tried to emulate Talbert Manufacturing’s designs, though they continue to fall short.
Customers from the commercial, industrial, military and government sectors – a diverse cross-section that includes aerospace, energy, construction and manufacturing – have come to rely on Talbert Manufacturing’s standard products and customized solutions.
“A lot of people are following us and seeing how well we produce a product that helps trucking professionals do their job more safely and efficiently,” explained Sales Coordinator Gary Braasch.
“We have our partners, the wherewithal, the experience and the personnel who are knowledgeable about heavy haul to sit down and walk through each customer’s need,” says Andy Tanner, President. “We listen to the customers. We have going on eighty years of proven quality trailers that will meet and exceed customers’ needs for sure.”
Geisler credits the company’s reliable network of sixty dealers for their role in connecting customers in the US and Canada. “The nice thing about this industry is that it’s still an industry that is relationship-driven, and relationships mean a lot, not just to the end user who is pulling our equipment but also the dealers that we have throughout North America,” said Troy Geisler, Vice President Sales & Marketing. “We appreciate all of the relationships we’ve built over the years with our dealers, with our loyal customers.”
The goal is to enjoy controlled growth moving forward. It offers support to its dealer network as well as its customers to ensure quality is maintained, despite its efforts to grow into new markets.
Regardless of how wide-ranging its customer base may be, the company has devised a process by which customers’ needs can be met. The process is supported by an extensive knowledge of the transportation industry and its various regulatory structures.
“It’s the way we relate with our customers and try to help solve their problems,” Northwest Territory Sales Representative Russ Losh noted. “Every day, customers are having some kind of transportation issue, whether it is trying to negotiate state laws with certain loads to get from point A to point B, and we’ve just got a really good group of guys who get together and solve those issues for them.”
Through a personalized consultative process, customers’ needs are understood by Talbert Manufacturing’s well-trained and professional staff who then develop solutions that are as innovative as the customer requires. The company’s solutions improve safety, performance, efficiency and the ease at which even the heaviest and largest products can be moved.
“We don’t create a need; we’re here to fulfill a customer’s need to move equipment, product, what have you, from point A to point B. There are so many different variations in terms of the size, the width, the length, the height, the weight, but also, in each state, there are different variances as far as what’s allowed,” explained Vice President Sales and Marketing Troy Geisler.
Innovation and a passion for outstanding customer service began with Talbert Manufacturing’s founder, Austin Talbert. Though he lacked a formal education or engineering training, he made up for it with his ability to develop solutions to problems his customers were facing. Geisler referred to Austin Talbert as, “an innovator who was always tinkering.”
Talbert Manufacturing was originally established as Talbert Construction Equipment Co. in 1938, in Lyons, Illinois. It served the Chicago market with crane and construction equipment rentals and heavy haul transport services.
While Talbert was quickly regarded as a name to be trusted and a company who consistently delivered results, it was not until the advent of the first mechanical, detachable gooseneck trailers in 1946 that it had its claim to fame. The product was patented in 1947 and entered the Canadian market in the 1950s. The advance in technology improved the well-being of the equipment and the truck operator.
Prior to that, “lives were lost, equipment was damaged. It was a high-risk way of loading and unloading equipment. So that’s when he pioneered the first removable gooseneck in our industry,” explained Geisler. The design was innovative but designed to be simple and lightweight, yet durable and relatively low maintenance.
By 1957, Talbert Manufacturing had outgrown its existing space and built a new facility dedicated to specialty trailer manufacturing, in Rensselaer, Indiana where it still operates today. Eventually, the Lyons location closed. Its heavy hauling and crane rental divisions were sold, and a new era of growth would be ushered in for the manufacturer.
The 1960s saw advancements like the gooseneck trailer and a five-hundred-ton heavy hauler. A hinged frame-type gooseneck was introduced 1970 and is still in use today. Another industry first occurred in 1985, with its custom designed and manufactured railcar transporter.
Other firsts for the company include being the first trailer manufacturer to use high-strength heat-treated (T1) steel, the first to design and incorporate air suspensions and the first to use self-steering axles.
In 2008, the company built a ‘Schnabel-style’ tower for the wind power industry, and in 2010, it introduced a load dampening spreader bar. Throughout the years, Talbert Manufacturing continued to invest in itself to be able to achieve these innovative feats. Its in-house capabilities include design, engineering, manufacturing and finishing services such as painting.
Talbert hired very dependable and loyal employees like Arnold Braasch, who held several positions over the years. Braasch and his family moved to Rensselaer when the company relocated in 1957 to assume the role of general manager and chief engineer. He retired in 1996 after dedicating fifty years to the company.
His son Gary also joined the company, and the Braasch family has been integral to company operations. As Geisler said, “Talbert was basically the focus of the dinner table.”
Braasch was nominated for the American Truck Historical Society (ATHS) ‘Golden Achievement Award’ for his contribution to the industry by his son Gary. Austin Talbert was the recipient of the ATHS Founder Award several years before, and Talbert Manufacturing also received the ATHS ‘50 Year Company Award.’
The company is an active member of the Specialized Carriers and Riggers Association (SC&RA), Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA), as well as the National Trailer Dealers Association (NTDA). Its operations are ISO 9001 certified, and quality and safety remain priorities of the company as it continues to grow.
“Nobody wants to build a product that’s going to fail going down the road, that could potentially kill or maim or injure somebody, let alone damage equipment or cause hardship for the person who trusted you to build what’s needed,” Geisler emphasized.
Talbert Manufacturing core values are safety, durability and resale value and its products offer proven and unmatched engineered quality.
Over time, technology has advanced, and trailer deck lengths have grown from eighteen to thirty feet. Improvements have been made to support better weight distribution and axle loads via load positioning, improving performance and efficiency.
It is for these reasons that Talbert Manufacturing has been able to secure projects like Geisler’s personal favorite. The company supported the Kuwait Oil Company by designing, manufacturing and delivering two 250-ton trailers in sixty days to in aid of rebuilding the oil fields as the Kuwait War came to an end.
From Kuwait to Bowling Green, Kentucky, its products are selected and used for their durability when it is needed the most. At Bowling Green, its products played a role in the recovery efforts after a sinkhole swallowed multiple cars at the Corvette Museum,
The philosophy is quite simple, according to Braasch. “We continue to try to solve the customer’s problems, whatever they may be.”