Timeline of North American Semi-Trailer Manufacturing

Australian Auto Hauling Trailer with RacecarsBentley branded green enclosed auto trailerEuropean Drop Deck hauling commuter train

In order to understand the history of the U.S. cargo control industry, it is helpful to see the timeline of a related industry, heavy duty semi-trailer manufacturing:

Timeline of North American Semi-Trailer Manufacturing

1901 - Julius Heil founded the Heil Rail Joint Welding Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, pioneering the use of electric welding. By 1906, Heil began building truck bodies  and a variety of truck trailers for the newborn automotive industry.  )

1905 - William McCurdy founded Hercules Body as a spin-off of Hercules Buggy that supplied the then ubiquitous Sears-Roebuck catalog. (

1914 - August Fruehauf is credited for inventing the Semi-Trailer for lumber hauling. ( Fruehauf )

1914 - E.W. Bennett and H.C. Bennett form Utility Trailer Company and build a single axle trailer that easily accommodates 60 bales of cotton. ( )

1918 - John C. Endebrock uses his background in building horse carriages to develop what he called the “trailmobile” . The Trailmobile was an iron chassis mounted on wheels and springs towed behind a Ford Model T. )

1936 - Wally Byam sells the first Airstream Travel Trailer, the only travel trailer company to survive the Great Depression. )

1937 - Frank Strick applies his knowledge of aircraft engineering to the trucking business building the first “frameless” monocoque trailer body. )

1938 - The Steel Products Company hires William Lowndes, a trailer builder from Greenville, South Carolina and the company begins manufacturing flatbed trailers. Previously when Mr. Lowndes built trailers in Greenville, he called them by the name of Great Dane.                    )

1939 - T.A. Peterman is frustrated by the standard method of transporting logs by river or horse teams and refurbishes surplus Army trucks equipped with trailers specifically made to haul logs. Peterbilt Trucks are still a staple logging vehicle of the Northwest. ( )

1940 - John Fontaine begins in Haleyville, AL as a subsidiary of the Marmon Group.            )

1943 - Fruehauf Print ads of Platform Trailers show Chains restraining steel sheets in Birmingham, AL.

1950Pines Trailer Co. forms in Chicago & Kewanee, Illinois. A family-owned trailer manufacturer with plants in Kewanee, Ill., and Greenville, Miss, they merged with Great Dane in 1997.

1952 - Kidron Body Co. adds conventional truck bodies to their product lineup and are early adopters of aluminum and FRP (Fiberglas reinforced plastic) dry goods and insulated / refrigerated truck bodies. )

1952 - Monon Corp. manufactures trailers in Monon, Indiana. )

1956Federal Aid Highway Act, popularly known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act, is signed into law on by President Eisenhower.

1961 - Don and Carol Wahlin start Stoughton Truck Body. )

1962 - William Cunningham starts building trailers for private label manufactures. By 1968 he began marketing the first durable, heavy-duty flatbed trailer under the Transcraft name. )

1966 - Marcel Dutil manufactures 11 trailers in a barn behind his house in Saint-Georges, Quebec, beginning Manac Trailer. ( )

1969 - Don Landoll and a partner start Quick Service Welding Company on December 16, 1963 and Landoll makes their first equipment trailer by 1969. ( )

1974 - Gordon and Shirley Thomsen found Western Ag Sales and purchase Mitchell, SD-based Plains Industries and start making Trail King Trailers. (

1974 - President Nixon signs the National Maximum Speed Law or 55 mph law.

1974 - Brown Trailer Mfg. exits the business leaving a national branch network without a source of parts supply.  H. Joseph Hinton starts New Life Transport Parts Center.                                     ( )

1981 - Utility introduces the Tautliner® to the U.S., a curtain-sided convertible van to flatbed system.

1982 - Bud Reitnouer starts building Aluminum Flatbeds without welding. )

1985 - Wabash Trailers starts in Lafayette, IN and quickly becomes a powerhouse.              )

Old Newspaper Ad for One of the First Trailers