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AmeriDeck enters trailer loader field

December 12, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Jerr-Dan Corp., EZ Dumper, Bri-Mar Manufacturing and CAM Superline Inc. all build small truck and trailer bed loaders in Franklin County, so it seemed natural for AmeriDeck to move into the business.

The local steel welding and fabrication industry, which consists of small manufacturers that employ less than 100 people, offers a skilled labor force for Franklin County.

"It's an emerging industry in Franklin County that got its start at Grove and Jerr-Dan," said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

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That helped AmeriDeck Inc. move into Greencastle.

"The fact that so much of this type of industry is in this area made sense to move here," said Jeff Barbour, general manager of AmeriDeck.

Barbour took over AmeriDeck, originally a Canadian company, when its owners were looking to move their operations to the United States and its larger customer base.

Barbour, of State Line, Pa., worked for 10 years in sales and marketing for Jerr-Dan before leaving to work for a competitor seven years ago.

He was sought out for the AmeriDeck job by an executive recruiter.

"I was intrigued by the prospect of starting up a company here," Barbour said. "I jumped at the chance. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, like being a pioneer. You seldom find a new product that you can take the ball and run with."

AmeriDeck opened for business a year ago in rented space at 145 N. Antrim Way (U.S. 11) in Greencastle.

AmeriDeck's product line, whose brand names are SuperDeck, PackMaster and ChoreMaster, still are being made in Canada, but only until the current inventory runs out, Barbour said.

"Right now we're selling about 10 units a month through our dealer network," he said.

Barbour is making a deal with a Franklin County manufacturer to have the units made here, he said. He declined to name the company until the contract officially is signed.

In Canada, the company specialized in hydraulic pickup and small trailer bed loaders to haul snowmobiles. Barbour said the market here not only will include recreational uses like snowmobiles, personal water craft, all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles, but will expand into landscape companies, outdoor power equipment dealers who sell lawn tractors and large mowers, and equipment rental companies.

The beauty of AmeriDeck products is that they can be loaded flat on the ground, which eliminates the need for ramps, Barbour said.

So far, AmeriDeck only has three employees - Barbour, sales coordinator Kim Roberts of Waynesboro and an on-the-road sales person.

The number of employees will increase as the business grows, Barbour said.

He envisions sales to increase to 400 units annually in another year. The units currently are shipped from the building in Greencastle. Barbour eventually sees AmeriDeck with its own manufacturing plant with between 40 and 50 workers, he said.

Barbour and Roberts are building their dealer network through contacts made at trade shows.

Barbour sees his future in the burgeoning sales of pickup trucks for recreational use.

"Pickup trucks represent 2 percent of all auto sales in the country," Barbour said. "They're selling 2 million trucks a year. All we have to do is tap into a small portion of it."

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