Hale Trailer Brake & Wheel held a grand opening of its newly expanded full-service facility in Delmar, Del.
The June 18 event brought hundreds of friends, family, vendors and customers (including one very important customer) to the southern Delaware area to help Barry Hale, founder of Hale Trailer, and his team celebrate the achievement at 35085 Sussex Highway in Delmar.
The expanded full-service facility covers 15,000 sq. ft. featuring four service bays on nine acres with an additional 23 contiguous acres. A new overhead service crane will soon be added to one of the service bays. At this location, there are five service technicians and two service trucks. Parts availability is on-shelf, same day delivery.
During the event guests were treated to music and a virtually never-ending supply of Maryland crab, barbecue, hot dogs, hamburgers, roasted chicken and more. Later, valuable door prizes were awarded, which included several flat-screen TVs and a boat — a Tracker 1448 MVX — won by Vance Pennington of Badger Electrical Inc., Newport, Del.
Barry Hale expressed his gratitude to all in attendance as well as to his customers over the years since the company’s founding in 1975; he also reiterated his commitment to serve customers in the area.
“This is a customer appreciation event, a vendor appreciation event, an employee appreciation event tonight,” he said. “Our motto is ’Commitment to place.’ We are going to be where our customers need us to be, we are going to put anchors in the ground so that we are showing our customers, our employees and our vendors that we are committed to place. We are a heavy inventory company. We stock the shelves in order to meet the needs of our customers.”
Ed Vogt (L) was Hale Trailer’s second significant customer. Here, he stands with his wife, Ann, and Barry Hale by a cart he hand made for Hale.
One very important customer made the journey down from Galena, Md., to help Hale Trailer celebrate the milestone. Ed Vogt, then president of Ed Vogt and son, was Barry Hale’s first customer, and the company’s largest sale early on.
Originally in the farming business with his father, Vogt found opportunity hauling loads of sawdust. Barry Hale acquired the trailers necessary to Vogt’s success. The eight trailers he delivered cost Vogt approximately $10,000. And those trailers were just the beginning.
“I bought most of the trailers from Barry over the years. A few of them I got elsewhere, but most of the trailers came from him. The majority of the live floors that we had put into the trailers came from him,” Vogt said.
Vogt also takes the credit for teaching Hale Trailer’s employees the correct way to install a live floor.
“We had bought two brand new Dorsey trailers from him and we had bought a couple of live floors from a gentleman up in Massachusetts. We had put those floors in old trailers and we took those floors and put them in these two new Dorsey trailers and we had major problems with them. Barry’s guys were new at it and they couldn’t figure out why I was having trouble. I finally figured out what was going wrong and I approached him and told him here is what I want you to do.
“When I made the proposal to Barry, I said look if it doesn’t work I will pay you for your time and materials to fix it. If it does work then it’s a freebee. Barry said OK. Well, it worked. I got lucky.”
At the June 18 event, Barry Hale surprised Vogt with a check for $10,000, in effect, paying him back for that first big sale that helped him successfully move forward with his fledgling business.
“We got the VIP treatment,” said Vogt. “The golf cart hauled us around, [we sat] with his family at what would be considered the head table. I’m thinking to myself ’well what did I do to deserve this? We just came down here to get a free meal.’
“Barry always figured that we did a lot to get him started, but knowing Barry for as long as I have, it was either me or it would have been someone else. We didn’t do anything special. I just didn’t think it warranted any of that. It was a business deal, but Barry looks at things a little different, I guess. But he’s a good man.”
The founding of Hale Trailer Brake & Wheel in essence started when Barry Hale worked for Atco Trailer Rentals.
“My brother was my boss,” he said. “I was making 150 bucks a week. I asked for a $10 raise and he said ’no.’ This was 1970. I worked for him for a couple of more years and then I broke out on my own.”
Barry Hale founded Hale Trailer Brake & Wheel in 1975.
“It was out of my house in Cherry Hill, New Jersey until 1977,” he said. “Then, in 1977, we built the Voorhees [N.J.] property and that has been expanded several times.”
Another key moment in Hale Trailer Brake & Wheel’s history is the acquisition of Atlantic Trailer & Equipment Sales Inc. of Sewell, N.J. in 2007. That brought on board
Atlantic’s owner, Bill Fryer, vice president of sales and his team of salesmen. This acquisition catapulted Hale into a major player within the Heavy Haul and Specialized arena.
Down in Delmar in 2001, Hale acquired the assets of a small storage trailer rental company, Shore Rentals, and that was the start of the facility there. In 2002, Hale acquired a nine-acre location in Delmar, where the facility stands now, from Homers Mobile Homes.
Jeff Finney, branch manager, has been at the Delmar location since 2004 and has seen a lot of change.
“When I came here, I think there were five employees and we had no shop, no mechanic, one driver, very little sales, mostly all storage rentals,” Finney said. “We slowly built it up and hired a mechanic. We are up to 19 employees now. We also acquired the 23 acres adjacent to us last year.”
Today’s facility in Delmar is a reflection of the company’s commitment to place, according to Finney, customers have responded positively.
“They are eager to come here,” he said. “They like doing business with us. We treat people squarely and fairly. From day one, we built this branch on integrity and we treat people right. People understand we are here to make a living, but we treat people right, and they think the expanded facility is fantastic. It’s almost like you build it and they will come and that’s what’s happening.”
And business is doing well, said Hale, not only in Delmar but across “our entire East Coast operation from Portland, Maine, to Jacksonville, Fla. We are seeing record activity in every business segment, trailer sales, rentals, parts and service.
“We have more than 12,500 units in our rental fleet including new, used, grain trailers, agricultural, refuse, lowboys, dump trailers, the whole kit and caboodle,” said Hale. “Everything we sell, we also rent.”
Hale has been busy “building out” its existing branch network. The Delmar facility is just one of four current infrastructure projects. In 2013, Hale constructed a new 15,000 sq. ft. branch facility in Scranton, Pa., (May 2015), the company opened a new 30,000-sq.-ft. parts warehouse and showroom in Voorhees, N.J., and a new facility is currently under construction in Jacksonville, Fla., with a 27,000-sq.-ft. building on 26 acres. A grand opening in Jacksonville is slated for early 2016.