Photo: Stephane Babcock

Photo: Stephane Babcock

Utility Trailer Manufacturing Co. is “fairly optimistic about 2017,” according to Craig Bennett, senior vice president of sales and marketing. After closing out the year with a 15.9% total market share, which includes a 54.2% share in the reefer segment, Bennett and his team are moving into 2017 with some new products and an eye on incoming federal regulations.

Celebrating its 103rd year in the trailer business, Utility is also “seeing some life in the flatbed segment,” he told reporters in a media event at the company's City of Industry headquarters in California. With the introduction of the 4000AE, the company is looking to increase its market share. With predictions for a decrease in the overall trailer market, Bennett is still optimistic. 

“The current estimates are showing a 10-15% reduction in trailers this year, and that would be a very manageable level,” said Bennett. “Nothing dropping off a cliff like it did in 2009.”

The trailer manufacturer is hoping that two new trailers it announced last fall -- the 4000D-X TBR, a composite dry van trailer, and the 4000AE, a combo flatbed trailer -- will boost the company’s market share.

The 4000D-X TBR is built to withstand repeated wall impacts and includes a bottom rail that measures 10 inches taller than a standard bottom rail.

“We think this is going to be a real winner for us,” said Bennett.

The 4000AE combines steel and aluminum to reduce weight, while still offering a price close to all-steel flatbeds. The company replaced the steel crossbeams with aluminum, which results in a 536-pound weight reduction.

Utility is also preparing for the incoming GHG Phase 2 regulations, pointing out that this is the first time the fuel economy includes the combination of the tractor and trailer, instead of just the tractor in previous instances. 

“It’s going to get increasing more difficult and challenging to achieve,” said Bennett. “We have actually designed a tail device that we have not introduced yet if this keeps going forward. But when it comes to 2024 and 2027, we have no idea yet how to achieve it. And there is no one in the industry right now who knows how to achieve those fuel economy results.”

The company is also conscious of how the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) affects food transport, manufacturing reefers that minimize any risk of contamination and offer temperature control. The 3000R offers an optional temperature management system that can monitor and record product temperatures.