MAC Trailer has carried a vision of quality in manufacturing, customer service and people to the top of the trailer industry, according to David Gill.
MAC Trailer Manufacturing of Alliance, Ohio, is the trailer industry’s version of a speeder on the highway. From its truly modest beginnings in 1992, this company has raced ahead to crack the top 25 trailer manufacturers list as of last year. Mike Conny, its founder, president and guiding force, notes that of that top 25, 20 of those manufacturers also make vans, which MAC Trailer doesn’t. So, when you narrow this field to manufacturers making strictly trailers, MAC Trailer is actually among the top three manufacturers with a current estimated annual revenue of $75 million.What’s extra impressive about this eight-year-long drive to the top is that MAC Trailer accomplished its financial record without the benefit of acquisitions. The company didn’t “buy” its growth, in other words; it grew, as Conny explains, through emphasizing the quality of its trailers. “We raised the standards of quality in this industry,” says the justifiably proud Conny.
MAC Trailer’s product line consists of aluminum and steel dump trailers, aluminum and steel transfer trailers, aluminum flat beds and aluminum and steel truck bodies. Also part of the line is MAC Accessories, the brand name for its line of heavy-duty truck accessories. MAC Trailer manufactures its products out of two facilities at its Alliance location, which total 230,000 square feet.
The Quality Formula
It’s that manufacturing that Conny places such emphasis on when he talks about the success of his company. Quality, as he points out, was part of MAC Trailer’s equation from the moment it opened its factory. “We were one of the first to use a brighter aluminum, which made our trailers shine more,” Conny says. “We also stressed the high quality of our welding. We also use high-quality componentry. All of the components on our trailers are from top vendors in this field.”
The company backs its production with a strong warranty program. It offers a five-year warranty that is prorated 20 percent a year, a policy that is on the high end of industry. “Very few of my competitors do a warranty to this extent,” says Conny. Plus, MAC Trailer offers loaner products if its customers have warranty problems. Conny says, “Every customer of mine is a partner of mine and I want to keep him making money. If I do that, they’ll keep coming back to MAC Trailer. I never sell to an individual thinking that’s the last time I’ll see him.”
This philosophy extends to other customer service aspects of MAC Trailer’s business. The company’s goal is clearly to extend quality beyond its manufacturing; it stretches into the company’s delivery record as well. As Conny describes it, delivery is “crucial” to MAC Trailer – particularly considering the nature of his customers’ business.
“I have customers that have contracts with customers of their own,” he says. “They have trucks coming in and if I don’t make the delivery, they are letting their customers down, more so when considering the municipal waste business. For example, New York City will release a 3,000-ton (waste-hauling) contract and the hauler has to start that contract exactly when the contract calls for it. It’s crucial for the customer to have the equipment there because they have to bond the job. If my equipment isn’t there on time, they forfeit the bond and the job goes to next bidder.”
Given Conny’s understanding of this vital aspect of his customers’ business, MAC Trailer has moved heaven and earth to be there with deliveries. “When we give customers our word on delivery dates we usually hit them,” he states flatly.
It’s appropriate that Conny’s example involves municipal waste haulers, because he considers that one of the key growth areas for MAC Trailer now and in the years to come. “Two years ago, we decided to get into municipal waste trailers business,” he recalls. “We built an assembly line just for these products, and we’re now one of top manufacturers of transfer trailers (the generic term for this product category). It goes to show that when we open the doors to a new product, it’s accepted right away because of our quality record.”
Conny has also taken steps to get all 410 employees of MAC Trailer involved in maintaining this quality standard. “As president and owner, I meet and discuss problems with shop people to look for ways to improve the work place,” he says. “We meet for dinner once a month. These people have contributed a lot of dedication to our success.”
In fact, they have contributed in more ways than just feedback. Says Conny, “My key management is made up of people who have worked on the floor as welders. Eighty percent of my key management started as shop workers, and were asked to step up to the table and contribute. The advantage here is that they understand the product from ground zero. When a customer needs help, they understand the problem much more than someone who didn’t have this experience.”
And the Winner Is…
The combination of quality in manufacturing, customer service and people has done more than drive MAC Trailer to the top of its industry; it has gained the company recognition from the highest levels of business. In 1999, Ernst & Young awarded both Conny and MAC Trailer the Entrepreneur of the Year award for the state of Ohio, based on the company’s financial stability and aggressive growth. “It shows me how far MAC Trailer has come in the last seven years,” says Conny. “Until we received the Entrepreneur of the Year award, we hadn’t stopped to realize how fast MAC Trailer had grown. We just showed up for work every day and thought this is just how businesses are run.”
Judging from Conny’s vision of the future, it’ll keep happening for MAC Trailer. He expects the municipal waste business to provide future growth for the company down the road, and predicts the same from the company’s new product line: the aluminum flat-bed trailer. “I see new markets and fast growth in that area as well,” he says. “The customer base will be all over the U.S. The fastest growth areas will be the building industry and steel business. The flat-bed trailer is tied in to overall economy, because they haul everything from steel to palletized goods.”
Although MAC Trailer has grown without acquiring other businesses up to now, Conny sees boosting his business by this route in the future. “What we’re looking for down the road is to widen our manufacturing capabilities through acquisitions,” he says. “We’re looking to purchase similar manufacturing companies. There’s no time frame on this. I’m young and I can wait for the right opportunity to arrive. Our goal is to be a widely diversified trailer company.”