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Trailer companies finding a home in Franklin County, Pa.

January 24, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A major reason why four manufacturers of dump and utility trailers are in Franklin County, Pa., has a lot to do with the history of manufacturing in the area, the head of the county's economic development authority said Thursday.

L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Authority, was speaking Thursday at an open house for Cam Superline, the county's newest maker of the small trailers.

The company is the first tenant in the new Wharf Road Industrial Park in Zullinger, Pa.

"This industry is utilizing the manufacturing skills of workers that is so well developed in this valley," Ross said. "There's a historic manufacturing base with companies like Grove Worldwide, JLG Industries, Ingersoll-Rand Co. and Jerr-Dan Corp. It dates back to when Grove started in business (1947) making farm wagons."

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In addition to Cam Superline, the four local trailer makers are E-Z Dumper Products and B. Foster & Co. Inc., both in Waynesboro, and Brimar Manufacturing in Chambersburg.

They make small and large utility trailers, hydraulic dump trailers and truck insert dumpers that can haul anything from a load of yard mulch to a bulldozer depending on the size and configuration.

Small construction companies, local contractors and landscape businesses are the main customers for small trailers, he said.

Business slumps in companies like Grove and JLG followed by layoffs of workers has created a ready pool of skilled welders, steel workers and other trades for the small trailer makers.

Wages aren't as high as earned previously. Workers in the trailer-making plants earn $10 to $15 an hour Ross said.

The nation's economic slowdown hasn't hit the small companies as hard, he said. "They're not recession-proof, but when I talked to the people in the four companies they all echo the same thing - that there is a market for their products," he said.

Lamar Lehman, 25, president of Cam Superline, said his company will add about a dozen new employees to its current work force of about 25 in the next year.

Donovan Bachtell, 44, president and CEO of the partnership that owns E-Z Dumper Products, LLC., said his company is building a 15,000 square-foot addition for a new powder coating operation. "It's the biggest in the area. We'll be the first in our industry here to use powder coating," Bachtell said.

E-Z Dumper, on Ninth Street, will increase its 60-employee workforce by about 15 percent in the next year, Bachtell said.

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