Fontaine Modification is launching a new business segment, Fontaine Auto Transport Modification Services, dedicated to supporting the auto transport industry. The business segment and its new modification center will be located in Gainesville, Ga., to be near Cottrell Inc., an auto transport trailer manufacturer.

The Gainesville modification center, Fontaine's seventh nationwide, is scheduled to be fully operational by the fourth quarter of 2012. Fontaine will continue to support all auto transport customer needs through the transitional period at its other modification centers.

"Most auto transportation companies in North America today own vehicles that are 10 to 15 years old and reaching the end of their lifecycles," says Will Trantham, president of Fontaine Modification. "Therefore, we believe there will be a serious upturn in the market in the next three to five years. More than 80% of the tractors Fontaine has modified for auto hauler purposes over the last two years have been sent to Cottrell to be fully converted into auto transport carriers. Dedicating a business segment to this growing market and placing it near the auto transport equipment leader was a natural decision."

New emissions regulations during the past 10 years have resulted in major changes to the tractors used for auto haulers. Some models have been eliminated, while many others have grown up to four inches taller. Four inches may not have a significant impact on standard over-the-road applications, but because auto haulers mount vehicle-holding bodies on top of the cabs, any loss in the amount of space available there can result in a significant decrease in the percentage load factor. In order to maintain the same hauling capacity, most auto transport companies have the cabs of new trucks modified.

The Fontaine Auto Transport Modification Services team will provide the modifications needed to convert tractors for use as auto haulers, including lowering cab heights. The facility will also offer APU installation, fleet service packages and any post-production services auto hauler customers may need.

Ivan Barnes has been promoted to general manager of the Fontaine Auto Transport Modification Services business segment and will relocate to Gainesville, Ga., in August. Aaron Gravely, production manager for the Volvo Auto Transport production line in Dublin, Va., has been promoted to operations manager of the Gainesville facility. He will report directly to Barnes.

Fontaine's other six modification centers are in Denton, Texas; Garland, Texas; Laredo, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Dublin, Va.; and Williamstown, W.Va. The Charlotte location also houses the company headquarters and Innovation Center for Research and Development.