America’s leader in dump trailers, Clement Industries has been maximizing profits for bulk material haulers for over 50 years. Pat Whiteman has the roadworthy details.
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It all started back in the 1950s when Clement Braswell started up shop. In the `60s, the company was purchased by Garwood Industries of Detroit, Mich. Then, in 1970, Clement was purchased again, this time by Sergeant Industries of California. Business proceeded as usual for another five or six years. Then came a pivotal point in the company’s history. A fellow by the name of W. Glen Hicks bought the company and formed Clement Industries, Inc. He became the sole owner, as he is today, serving as current chairman of the board and chief executive officer.
What Hicks brought to Clement was more than just a figurehead. In California, in the 1970s the bridge and weight laws were the toughest of any state. An engineer by trade, Hicks was fixated on the idea that maximizing payload is the best attribute for a dump trailer. Hicks spent his entire career developing trailers that increase payloads, and thus, increase profitability for customers. “It is ingrained in everything we do here at Clement and it’s built the company,” says Bill Garrison, vice president of sales. “Mr. Hicks’ engineering expertise and his designs put Clement on the map.”
Clement Industries’ factory and headquarters are located in Minden. La., about 200 miles due east of Dallas on Interstate 20. The company proudly serves the sand and gravel industry, mining industry, scrap and recycling industry, hazardous waste and solid waste industries as well as some government agencies.
The product that got the company started was the development of a bathtub style end dump trailer, which like its namesake, dumps out of the back end of the trailer. The first design of its kind in the industry, the Clement offering was lightweight while maintaining strength and payload. The end dump products are still an active part of its product line today and have been copied by competitors many times over since their introduction.
In 1982, road laws became more stringent and the federal bridge law went into effect.
The law required certain lengths of trailers and certain axle combinations. A five-axle rig in most parts of the country has a maximum legal gross of 80,000 pounds, which would include the weight of the tractor and the trailer. To meet the law, it required an end dump of 38 feet long. At the time, a 30-foot trailer was considered a long trailer.
So the whole industry was looking to see how it could increase gross payloads without increasing the length of the trailers. Glen Hicks’ engineering expertise came into play here when he developed a patented “bridger.” This sliding tandem slides out the back end and allows a 32-foot trailer to meet the 38-foot long bridge. The result? Although the weight of the trailer was increased, its ability to carry load was increased, and therefore payload was increased – in the neighborhood of three tons.
In 2001, Clement’s ScrapStar made a major impact on the industry. This scrap trailer was the largest end dump at the time at 37 feet long and 62-cubic yard capacity. Designed and configured for maximum profitability, this high-strength, abrasion resistant workhorse allowed the owner to haul a full spectrum of scrap. “The great thing about the ScrapStar is that premium components, which are usually just options on our competitors’ models, are standard features on the ScrapStar,” says Garrison. Clement Industries eventually introduced a 50-cubic yard version of its ScrapStar as well.
Then, to supplement its successful line, it introduced the MonStar with a length of 40 feet and an 89-cubic yard capacity. The MonStar is the largest dump trailer built. Haulers looking for strength and maximum payload choose MonStar. Yet Clement has reduced its trailer weight by using a longitudinal-free trailer design. Other features include 102-inch sides, a barn door tailgate, plus an inverted cylinder for trouble-free operation.
In 2003 Clement began producing aluminum trailers. “Prior to that we were all steel,” explains Garrison. “Of the dump trailer market, 65 percent of it is aluminum and 35 of the market is steel. We have been historically a steel manufacturer. We wanted to move into the aluminum market as well so we thought introducing this line would offer our customers some more options.”
In 2005 Clement introduced a new line of bottom dump trailers. Their simplistic design offered minimum cost to the customer and maximum return on investment. Clement utilized computer “finite element analysis (F.E.A.)” to develop an extremely strong, relatively lightweight trailer that was quite simple to manufacture. The results offer the Clement customer a “workhorse trailer” and long life at a reasonable price.
Another stand out in the Clement line is its frameless bridger roll-off trailer. Created by marrying its roll-off trailer with the bridger concept, the innovative hybrid marked the birth of a Clement exclusive. The original frameless roll-off trailer was built in 1965 and thought to be ahead of its time. The forte of the original Clement Roll-Off trailer was minimum weight with maximum payloads. Clement’s innovative team of designers took the popular Clement Long-Haul and adapted it to the nationally successful Clement “Bridger” concept. “The principle is simple,” says Garrison. “The `bridger’ is a patented sliding tandem that extends both the internal and external bridges. This addition makes it possible to haul dramatically larger payloads legally and with the advantages normally associated with shorter trailers. When the final destination is reached, the sliding process is reversed so that the load can be dumped over the rear tandem as usual.”
Just Down the Road
Clement’s extensive network of 50 nationwide dealers means Clement service and genuine replacement parts are “just down the road” for its customers. “We have locations throughout the United States and in several foreign countries,” says Garrison. “We are completely committed to marketing through independent distributors.”
Clement recently installed a completely modern new paint facility at its 170,000-square-foot manufacturing facility where its 200 employees work diligently every day meeting customer orders. Day-to-day dealings in the Minden facility are overseen by Glen’s son, Greg Hicks. Greg joined Clement in 1979 and has an industrial engineering/business economics background. He started with the company as director of operations, and was promoted in 1984 to general manager in charge of manufacturing and in 2000 to company President. Under his guidance, Clement has significantly increased both its manufacturing capability and dump trailer sales volume.
Recently, fuel costs have had a major impact on the industry and federal bridge laws continue to affect it, as they are being rigidly enforced nationwide, a situation that makes high tech, computer-aided construction, a Clement specialty, mandatory to ensure maximum profits for the hauler. “That’s what we do best – maximizing payload and offering the right trailer for the right application,” says Glen Hicks. “And that’s what we’re going to keep doing. It’s the Clement commitment.”