North American truck trailer market heats up
The 2009 global recession rocked business and economies around the world. But the North American truck trailer market is rebounding with verve: new trailer construction was up 109 percent in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the first quarter of 2010, and the outlook remains bright.
There are three main reasons for the quick recovery,” says Jerrod Hoeft, director of national accounts for transportation, Sapa Profiles North America: “The first is a general upswing in freight and truck tonnage in North America. Truck tonnage in 2011 has increased by about five percent so far over the same period in 2010. Second, the age of trailers in use is at an all-time high, and they need to be replaced. Trailers are typically replaced after five to six years, but trailers on the road today are between eight and nine years old. Third, a shortage of drivers, and regulations regarding the number of hours a driver may drive in a day, are causing more relays whereby a trailer gets dropped off by one driver and picked up by another. Since the goal of fleets is to always have freight in motion, more trucks and trailers are needed.”
As the leading supplier of aluminium extrusions for the North American truck trailer market, Sapa is benefiting from this growth. Sapa has sixteen manufacturing facilities in North America, located close to Sapa customers, and the capacity within this network to serve customers of all sizes. In addition, many of the plants are dedicated almost solely to the transportation and trailer market. Sapa has, consequently, developed a high level of competence and technical knowledge to serve this market.
Ed Dzieza, senior purchasing agent for Great Dane Trailers, says: “We have some extrusions that only Sapa can provide or that would be very expensive for someone else to produce. Sapa is also big enough to supply all my needs.”
Sandy Kim, assistant manager for procurement at Hyundai Translead notes that “some shapes can be difficult to manufacture. If you need a special thickness or a special width that the local plant can’t handle, Sapa is sure to have a facility elsewhere that can do the job with the same level of quality: You don’t have to worry if the part comes from another Sapa facility.”
In coming months, Hoeft believes service will be the critical factor for continued success. “At the moment, we’re experiencing unprecedented demand for better and better service and quality, and increased competition. We also know our partners must get trailers to transportation fleets on time, every time, with the highest quality extrusions. Current conditions are putting us to the test. But, fortunately, we are always striving for improvement, and our track record is good.”
Outstanding, some might say. “Sapa is excellent about meeting our needs and communicating with us,” says Kim. “They keep me notified of possible problems so I can plan accordingly. They’re one of my best vendors. I love working with them!” Dzieza adds, “In an emergency, Sapa can get finished product to us in just a couple days. That’s amazing! Their service is phenomenal! They’ve set the industry standard and have the bulk of my extrusion business now. Sapa and Great Dane have a strong partnership, and the end result is better service and products for Great Dane customers.”