Volume 7 | Issue 5 | Year 2004

With close to 50 years in business, J&J Truck Bodies & Trailers has built a solid reputation with its extensive line of truck bodies and trailers. Now the company is wasting no time in heading toward a goal of capturing the attention of major companies in the waste transfer business.

Says Michael Riggs, the Somerset, Pa.-based company’s product development manager, J&J’s goal is to be one of the top three waste trailer manufacturers by 2006. J&J has already gained a significant market presence with its ClassicLITE TM, a 48-foot, 102-inch wide aluminum tipper trailer that weighs less than 12,000 pounds. “Our design team was able to take out 1,200 pounds from the existing tipper trailer design by engineering lightweight, high-strength steel and aluminum alloys into the trailer sub-assemblies,” Riggs says. “They are now working on a lightweight smooth side trailer design that will utilize standards developed for the ClassicLITE TM. However, the smooth side trailer will have strong aerodynamic walls.”

In addition, the sidewall consists of a double panel design that will not show dents or damage from material loaded on the inside. One advantage, Riggs notes, is that the side wall is much less labor intensive to manufacture than conventional trailers.

This goal is in keeping with the company’s shifting of gears to focus on the transfer trailer market, along with gaining market share in the commercial and municipal dump body market and producing trailers to even out valleys in dump body buying cycles. The company boasts a well-established line, offering close to 30 styles of dump bodies, trailers and specialty solutions, marketed under its DynaHauler brand.

Attention to customers
In fact, it is two of these styles that have been the cornerstones of a popular program that J&J initiated in February 2004. The Quick Turn Program allows haulers to have their trucks mounted with aluminum or steel dump bodies within 15 business days of delivery of the chassis to J&J’s Somerset plant. While options are limited, the company has included its more popular styles in this program.

“The response to the Quick Turn Program has been fantastic,” Riggs notes. “We’ve had many customers take advantage of this program.”

Another way J&J is attempting to help its customers is through its online customer service center. The center includes a troubleshooting section with frequently asked questions, a direct inquiry form, and a form to complete and submit online for warranty claims.

However, says Riggs, these are not the only business components that separate J&J from its competitors. He notes that the company pays a great deal of attention to quality.

“We take great pains to assure that we are sending out high-quality products to the marketplace,” Riggs says. “This becomes more apparent when you realize that we were one of the first dump and waste equipment manufacturers in the industry to obtain ISO 9001:2000 certification.”

He further notes that the company has spent considerable time reviewing and taking corrective action on nonconforming supplier products and issues that are identified by production personnel. Warranty claims are well documented, reviewed frequently and monitored for trends.

“We gather feedback directly from customers and report this information to executive level management during management review meetings,” Riggs says.

In addition, Riggs says that J&J uses only the highest quality materials and components.

“Component suppliers are monitored closely through the quality system for defective products and swift action is taken to correct and/or eliminate any defective components from the assembly lines,” Riggs notes. “We have bulldogs for final quality inspectors,” he adds. “If something is wrong, the product is corrected. Period.”

Such attention to detail and customer service began back in 1958 when Michael Riggs’ grandfather, Sidney, purchased J&J in order to add diversity to his core construction businesses. At the time, it supplied steel dump bodies to coal haulers and farmers. The company also began to focus on aluminum dump bodies, due to aluminum’s lighter weight and resistance to corrosion.

In the late 1970s, under the leadership of Sidney’s son William, J&J began to focus on acquiring contracts for state and municipal snow removal equipment. J&J is now a leader in the production of snow removal equipment, which has led to partnerships with such companies as Parker Hannifin Corp. and International Trucks that have produced highly technological snow removal equipment. By the early 1980s, J&J began to manufacture transfer trailers for solid waste, agricultural, recycling and municipal applications.

Reacting to trends
J&J continues to react to industry trends, just as it has since 1958. For example, says Riggs, the hauling industry is demanding lightweight durable products that allow haulers to carry more payload and still maintain the same product life cycle as the older, heavier designs.

“We’ve responded to this trend by designing lighter, more flexible dump bodies, such as the DynaHaulerTM/LWC dump body that utilizes high strength steel alloys,” he says. “The new designs eliminate rigid cross members and structural supports, and allow dump bodies to disperse load shock through the actual flexing of the body. The end result is a dump body that is lighter and more durable, a double bonus to the customer.”

“These same principles are being applied to waste and dump trailer products,” Riggs continues. “By utilizing high strength alloys, J&J has been able to reduce the weight and increase the strength of trailer bodies and components, creating lighter, stronger trailers.”

In addition, the hauling industry is looking more to purchasing products off the Internet. J&J is working on programs that will allow truck dealers and distributors to quote and purchase dump bodies, trailers and parts directly off its Web site. Customers will also have access to information and parts catalogs that are custom-generated from the serial numbers off their products.

All of this work takes place at the company’s 175,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Somerset, Pa. The trailer plant is 75,000 square feet, and the dump body plant is 100,000 square feet. The facility includes a computer lab with 18 stations for training new employees and skills development for existing work force, as well as a fitness center and cafeteria for the company’s 250 employees.

The engineering department uses programs such as Pro Engineer, Auto Desk Inventor and Auto Cad for computer-aided design, and Pro Engineer Mechanica for finite element analysis.

“These packages enable us to build and test virtual designs and shorten new product development time,” Riggs says.

While J&J is committed to utilizing state-of-the-art technology, it also remains committed to responding to customer needs and to design products according to those needs. As an example: While many waste haulers carry tonnage loads in tipper trailers or live floor trailers, certain customers require a trailer that uses a ram to eject the load out of the back of the trailer. This ejector trailer – in either steel or aluminum – in its various forms is a complex product with limited market share, says Riggs. While many waste trailer manufacturers have discontinued this product, J&J continues its production, which creates a niche market for the company.

“If a customer has a special need, we have an excellent reputation for custom fabricating products and options to meet those needs,” Riggs says.