From humble small-town roots in the heart of Texas, Kalyn Siebert has grown steadily to become an industry leader in trailers for the oil-services industry and other heavy-duty users. William Bunch tells how this subsidiary of Heil Manufacturing is taking its business to the next level.
The soaring prices at the gasoline pumps over the last few years haven’t been bad news for everybody. Consider the case of Kalyn Siebert, a leading manufacturer of heavy duty and low-bed trailers and related equipment for specialty trucking uses.
Some of the top customers for the Texas-based Kalyn Siebert, a division of the larger industry name Heil Manufacturing, are the world’s leading suppliers of oil-patch services, including Schlumberger, Halliburton, and BJ Services. And all of those companies have been on a tear since the price of crude oil spiked up sharply in 2004, and oil exploration has expanded dramatically.
“Right now, the oil-field business is going great guns,” said Wesley Chandler, the director of sales for Kalyn Siebert, which is based in Gatesville, Texas, a small town in the east-central portion of the state near Waco. The company has sold its specialized rigs that can mount equipment for oil field drilling as far away as Russia or the Middle East; wherever in the world oil companies are looking for additional crude to meet the soaring demand for energy.
And as companies around the world also look for alternative sources of energy, Kalyn Siebert is there as well. Chandler noted that one of the newer product offerings from the firm is a trailer that has been specially geared toward the needs of customers that service the growing number of wind farms. He said a new trailer aimed at the wind power should be available in 2007.
A better mousetrap
“When we determine that there’s a market, that’s determined by our customer base,” Chandler explained. “They tell us what they require to haul a particular load, and what type of trailer that they need, our engineering people start looking at the product and how to do it a new way; to build a better mousetrap.’
A classic example involved 12 customized trailers that Kalyn Siebert recently designed and customized for a client: EastBridge Trailers, which needed a new type of trailer for hauling glass. Engineers with Kalyn Siebert worked for nine months on a special design that would reduce weight but also increase safety.
The new double drop glass hauler trailer was designed with a 50,000-pound weight rating, which includes a major load bearing section distributed on the main deck. Kalyn Siebert called upon its parent Heil Trailer International’s manufacturing and welding expertise to take advantage of lightweight aluminum components, in conjunction with a steel core, for trailer performance. Front, center and rear decks were constructed with safety in mind, allowing the drivers to work around the glass racks and tarps without fear of breakage.
The ability of Kalyn Siebert to find and take advantage of new markets goes all the way back to the entrepreneurial beginning of the company. In the 1960s, two doctors who lived and worked in Gatesville wanted to boost the local economy and create jobs, and they ultimately launched several businesses. In addition to Kalyn Siebert, the companies they opened, including one that made medical plastics and another that manufactures boat decks, are still in business there. In fact, Kalyn Siebert initially made trailers for the boat deck-business, but its mission has both expanded and changed dramatically in the years since its founding in 1968.
A source of jobs
In December 2000, Kalyn Siebert was purchased by a leading investment company out of New York City, Dover Industries.
Dover was able to create some synergy by placing Kalyn Siebert under Heil Trailer International, an industry leader with more than a century as an industry leader in fuel and other kinds of trailers. Under Heil, Kalyn Siebert has been able to continue as a unique brand name.
The unit also continues to serve as a leading source of jobs in Gatesville, fulfilling the firm’s original purpose. Chandler said that roughly 180 people work for Kalyn Siebert, all at the main site in Texas. The company’s 200,000-square-foot manufacturing facility currently sprawls across some 31 acres, and includes a number of upgrades, such as the recent addition of a shot blast booth as well as a proportioning high volume, low pressure (HVLP) paint system.
Chandler said that Kalyn Siebert has grown over the years by looking for industrial customers that haul heavy loads, including products that are customized for commercial users. In addition to the recent surge in oil exploration, the company has also profited from the American military build-up that has taken place since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“We build a lot of military products,” noted Chandler, who said that the company’s proximity to Fort Hood, which is just down the road and is the largest U.S. military base in the world, has driven increased business, including refurbishing trailers that have been damaged in Iraq.
The U.S. Marine Corps recently awarded a $61,100 contract to Kalyn Siebert for ground effect vehicles, motor vehicles, trailers and cycles. And the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive & Armaments Command in Warren, Mich., recently doled out a much larger contract, worth an estimated $2.89 million, for trailers.
Chandler said that biggest seller, though, has been Kalyn Siebert’s oil-field trailers, which he said are typically mounted on skids and have a rolling tailpipe at the rear of the trailer, with a winch that operates over the back. He said that customers like Halliburton and Schlumberger use them to haul vital equipment to a remote drilling site.
In 2006, Kalyn Siebert also unveiled a brand new product line, the Commander series, in both 51- and 55-ton versions, aimed at providing greater strength and stability to the company’s commercial customers.
The new Commander trailers come standard with a four-beam design, machine-welded 130,000-psi steel construction, allowing maximum strength-to-weight ratio. A lower deck height, some 20 inches, simplifies loading of equipment and reduces the center of gravity, improving load stability. And Kalyn Siebert lowered the crossmembers at the rear deck and throughout the rear section permitting boom transport, if required; and with no front bolsters forward of the first trailer axle, the new trailers enable the driver to load equipment much more easily past the rear drop.
“Zachary is a customer that we sell a lot to,” said Chandler, referring to a company that hauls bulldozers and other heavy equipment. “We tend to shy away from the commodity-type trailers.” In the year ahead, in addition to the trailers for the wind generation market, Kalyn Siebert is looking to introduce a new product line with a hydraulic tail for easier handling.
“We subscribe to Heil’s vision: Heil trailer is the best transportation solution provider in the world,” said Chandler. That they can do so while giving a boost to a small town in Texas makes that feat even more remarkable. It’s all a part of our motto: Going the extra mile for you!”