Maine News Motor Transport – January, 2004
Trailer Brake & Wheel, Inc.
Bangor, General Manager
Peter Higgins, Trailer Sales
Bob Kuni, Service Manager
Tony Leland, Parts Manager
Ed Enman, Rental Manager
Describe your operation (specifically what you do, where are your locations, # of employees, company philosophies, etc.)
Founded in 1975, Hale Trailer is a full service trailer dealership with twelve locations in the Eastern States from Maine to Florida. Headquartered in Voorhees, NJ, we sell just about every type of new
and used trailer and back it up with repair service and a 4 million
dollar parts inventory. What really sets Hale Trailer apart is our
rental and lease fleet. Started in 1985, the Portland office was
Hale’s first branch office and presently employs 24 of Hale’s 240
is the Hale Trailer story–how did it evolve into what it is
How we came to have a presence in Maine is an interesting story.
Almost thirty years ago at the age of twenty-five, Barry Hale started
renting trailers out of his house in Southern New Jersey. Soon this
expanded into buying and selling used trailers. He acquired some 1972
Gindy opentops and advertised them in a trade paper. Two businessmen
well known to most MMTA members, George Parke and Wayne Chaffee,
called him and brought the trailers (A.W. Chaffeee is still using
them!). Other sales were made in the New England area over the next
few years and when 48′ x 102′ wide trailers were made legal, Hale
Trailer was waiting with a large inventory on the ground. One of
the first customers was Merrill Transport of Portland, Maine. This
prompted Barry Hale to make a trip to Maine in 1984 to see these
customers and find out why they were coming all the way to New Jersey
to buy trailers. The answer he got was that there was no trailer dealer
in New England with a good supply of trailers on the ground. I was
working for a trailer leasing company at the time and some of his
contacts gave him my name.
He came to see me and we did a scientific marketing study that went
something like this…Gary Bangor: “Hire me”. Barry Hale:
ordered some new Dorsey Trailers for the Portland branch. My first
sale was to Cliff Pottle who came down from Bangor and bought eight
of them. Things went well, lots of other Maine companies began renting
and buying from us in Portland which prompted another exhaustive marketing
study…Gary Bangor: “Let’s build a big building”. Barry
We moved into our present location in 1989.
Left to right:
Peter Higgins, Ed Enman, Tony Leland
and Bob Kuni
are some of the key ingredients to Hale’s success?
Hale always says OK. Seriously, what I mean is we are not afraid
to take a chance. In addition to stocking hundreds of trailers
like 53′ vans, refrigerated trailers, composite flatbeds, etc., we
keep specialty trailers on hand like extendible flatbeds, dump trailers,
Walking Floor™ trailers for trash, bark and chip hauling, tag-a-long
trailers with air powered ramps, tanks, and more. Barry encourages
us to look for future trends, then order equipment to fill the need
that trend will cause. Sometimes we gamble and lose, but most of
the time it works.
Hale Trailer has forged strong, long term bonds with the manufacturers
whose lines we represent. There is a mutual respect and trust. This
benefits our customers with strong warranty support and products
customized for our market.
If I’m a potential customer, what are
the benefits to do business with Hale Trailer?
Some obvious reasons quickly come to mind. First, our huge inventory.
Since the marketplace changes quickly you can’t always tell what your
needs will be three or four months from now. If you land a new customer
and need trailers now to handle the extra business, you don’t have
to order trailers and wait. Call Hale and buy or rent the trailers
you need. If we don’t happen to have the trailer you need sitting in
Portland, chances are its at one of our other locations and your truck
or one of our four full time drivers will bring it to you. If we are
rented out of a particular trailer type and w have a new one in stock,
most times we will license it (with the help of MMTA staff) and have
it ready to go in 24 hours.
This large inventory leads to the second
reason; price. We usually order vans in groups of fifty or one hundred.
The small trucker who
only needs to buy one or two can get the volume pricing of someone
ordering dozens. Also, when you call or stop in to Hale Trailer your
questions will be answered by knowledgeable professionals. Each department’s
salespeople in Portland have at least 15 years in the trailers business.
issue(s) do you currently see as the most important to/having the
greatest impact on your business?
Some critical issues would be the general decline of the forest
and paper industry in Maine, the whole package of various Maine
taxes that stifle investment, and the lack of young mechanics entering
the work force. One development on the positive side, the new Turnpike
exit 7b comes right to our door.
What are the challenges your company
faces that maybe your customers don’t realize?
Keeping this large inventory is very expensive. Floor plan interest
is the cost of the convenience of readily available trailers. Then
comes the frustration of having 500 vans in stock but not the exact
one somebody is looking for. For example: Customer: “I’d buy trailer
A over there if only it was the color of trailer B and had a roll
up door like trailer C and cost $10,000.” When I point out
that I have such a trailer in stock right now for $10,000, sometimes
is “What else do you have?”
What made you join the AMMTA and give an example of how your MMTA
dues have added value to your company?
I joined 26 years ago. It was a different organization back then
when ICC regulated common carriers were the major members. There
was a staff
of two in a small Portland office. The only benefit was socializing
at a couple of functions every year. MMTA now produces benefits
for Hale that are just not available anywhere else. I can sell
in New York today, and the customer thinks I’m super man because
i have a license plate in his hand the next day. Having the expert
staff who can answer my customer’s questions about laws and overweight
permits contributes to Hale’s full service reputation.
An issue that came out at the MMTA long-range planning meeting
in Bangor last month was that of service industry representation
What are your thoughts on this issue being a service industry member
and a member of the Board of Directors?
prior to that meeting I though that service industry members were
expected to be supportive of MMTA, but in the background. After
feedback from member trucking companies, I now realize that more
vendor participation in the direction of the organization is desired
I will make more of an effort in that area.
What types of things
do you hear your peers and/or customers saying about Maine’s
business climate and/or about the trucking industry
We used to compete regionally, now many of us compete nationally
and even globally. The high cost of doing business in the state
has to change. When our competitors outside of the state do not
have the same fixed costs as we do (as in excise and personal
property taxes) the playing field is not level. Business never
so we all
have to keep getting better at what we do.