“Strength Through Innovation”
By Al Tucker
A lot has happened at Titan Trailers Inc. since I first met their President Mike Kloepfer in 1973 at his farm-based manufacturing operation in Harley, Ontario. He had a vision then, with respect to fabricating specialized highway trailers that focused on innovative designs combined with efficient processes and highest quality finish. Fast forward to 2018 and my visit to the recently expanded 200,000 square foot Titan manufacturing facility in Courtland, Ontario. It can be accurately verified, that the name Titan Trailers also stands for, “Greatness Through Innovation”!
My first impression of their new $10 million stand-alone trailer finishing shop – clearly visible from Highway #3 – was that it looked like a Hanger for a 747 aircraft. My subsequent tour of the facility only reinforced that feeling. The attention to detail has Mike’s name written all over it. It features heated shop floors, hi-tech programmable overhead LED lighting, vinyl covered walls in the acid wash bay with a sophisticated water filtration system and an expansive south sloping roof design set up for the future installation of solar panels. Think “unplugged” from the grid, and Titan’s future hydroelectric energy cost savings will give them a further competitive edge.
With a current workforce of around 250 motivated specialists and the exclusive use of weight/fuel saving Aluminum in all future Trailer designs, combined with their continued incorporation of state-of-the–art robotic technology in the plants, production is gradually being ramped up from 800 units towards their objective of 1,200 units annually. If their plans sound overly ambitious for a family owned Canadian company, it’s because in recent years they have successfully expanded their market beyond Canada and the USA. A recent addition of a 21,000 sq.ft. assembly facility in Middlesbrough, UK, has been set up to service demand throughout the UK. Its location at this East coast port city will give Titan the opportunity to expand sales into the EU market. Combine this export plan with their decision in 2016 to appoint Thinwall™ Trailers Australia as their exclusive agent in Mount Gambier, Australia to assemble and market Titan bulk haulage trailers, further demonstrates the global appeal for Titan Trailers products. Titan’s walking floor semi-trailer for the waste industry along with a B-double grain hopper combo went on display at the “International Truck, Trailer Show” in Melbourne that spring. Titan Trailers Assembly Kits were created for containerized ocean freight travel to these locations. IKEA®, eat your heart out!
An example of their innovative achievements in fuel saving, smooth side technology, is their patented Thinwall™ double-wall extruded aluminum panel first applied to bulk material handling trailer designs. Keith® Walking Floor® and V-Floor™ conveyor systems are a popular customer specification.
Their most recent innovative success is in the form of a unique round-barrel shaped compacting trailer for the waste hauling industry. Nicknamed “The Titan Missile”, this compacting and futuristic trailer design is destined to revolutionize the industry. This safer, fuel saving design has more than met original expectations.
To keep pace with Titan’s expanding business and to meet their growing need for experienced aluminum welders, in 2015 Titan offered to work with Fanshawe College in the region. The company provided the College with a $40,000 grant to add essential equipment and to introduce a special aluminum welding course. In addition, an award program is offered to outstanding students annually through 2020. Titan now also offers an in-house aluminum welding school, where qualified applicants are paid a wage over the course of a 4-6 week program. Those who graduate by meeting Titan’s high-quality welding standards are pretty much guaranteed employment.
I’m convinced that the Titan Story already stands as an inspiration to other aspiring Canadian companies in the field of commercial vocational vehicle manufacturing. Far from being a corner office “suit”, Mike spends his day walking his plants; coaching, meeting with staff, monitoring the ongoing construction and inspecting the production process. He’s always looking for ways to fine tune his latest innovations. The 2nd generation of the Kloepfer family is already being groomed to “handle the torch” and to believe in the adage that, “The Only Way to Change the Future is to Invent It”.
My visit with Mike was an emotional 40+ year walk down memory lane. He confided that he has succeeded beyond his dreams, but he’s not finished yet.
Way to go Mike! TUCK☚