Western Trailers Roll Strong and Light
Since the beginning, when Western Trailers built quite possibly the first aluminum cattle trailer in the West in 1969, the company’s reputation has been built on quality, innovation, and service. The idea that “lightweight pays” became Western Trailers’ guiding philosophy and made them one of the nation’s leading trailer manufacturers.
In 2008, with no end in sight to increasing fuel prices and global competition, managers at Western realized that the company needed to become more efficient and innovative to survive. Driven by a spirit of continuous improvement, Western engaged TechHelp, part of the MEP National Network™, for help in applying the Principles of Lean Manufacturing to improve efficiency and culture. Western worked with TechHelp to identify and train “Lean Champions” who were tasked with driving and sustaining an ongoing Lean transformation of all operations. “Lean Thinking” became part of Western’s DNA. A side benefit was the creation of a “Stock Trailer Program” designed to meet the needs of customers interested in “ready-built” trailers.
Western expanded its Lean efforts by training supervisors in the “Training Within Industry” (TWI) methodology that helped supervisors train more efficiently, created standard work and improved job aids that led to improved quality.
Results of Lean & Stock Trailer Efforts
- $50,000 in savings from a reduction of rework
- 100 retained jobs
- $35.3 M in retained sales
- $3.5 M in cost savings resulting from productivity improvements across the enterprise
- $4 M invested in-stock trailer program infrastructure
- $36,000 invested in building employee skills
“Working with TechHelp to train our team and adjust our products & processes helped us survive the great recession and put us in a great position to profit during the economic recovery.”
– Jerry Whitehead, Owner, Western Trailers