Utility Trailer History

E.W. Bennett and H.C. Bennett form Utility Trailer Company and build a single axle trailer that easily accommodates 60 bales of cotton. A ninety-five -year tradition of excellence, product quality and innovation begins.

Utility moves swiftly to establish itself as an industry leader. The company develops the first mechanical brake to be used on a trailer.

When World War I breaks outs, Utility builds one hundred patented Cable Reel Trailers for the U.S. government. It allows one man to pick up and move a huge spool of heavily loaded wire. The only power required is for a man to pull down the tongue of the trailer and push lightly.

In its very first year of business, Utility distinguished itself as one of America's two original manufacturers of truck trailers.
Utility History: 1914

Utility History: 1920's The roaring '20's are ushered in while a Federal Highway Act coordinates state highways and standardizes U.S. road-building practices for the trucking industry. By the end of 1920, the United States has 500,000 miles of surfaced roads, up from 190,476 miles in 1909.

But a post-war recession creates a difficult business climate for many American companies, including Utility. The company rebounds when it buys back from the government its one hundred Cable Reel trailers and sells them for profit.

Utility moves its factory to a larger location in the City Terrace area of Los Angeles and hires its first full-fledged design and production engineer.

In 1927, Utility is one of the first trailer manufacturers to use duralumin metal in an all-riveted frame. By the end of the decade, Utility trailers are being used by some of America's top corporations, including Pacific Telephone & Telegraph, Sunkist and Union Oil.

The stock market crash of 1929 creates massive unemployment and times are very tough. But America's highway system continues to expand dramatically with the opening of Route 66 - a continuous 2,200-mile highway that links Chicago and Los Angeles.

Utility makes the best of economic hardship and builds trailers out of available materials currently in stock. By 1935, the company is successful enough to purchase a steel foundry in Southgate, California. This means that Utility can now produce its own steel castings as well as sell them to other users.

The company also enters the "body" business instead of just building the "chassis." Separate design and production divisions are created at Utility and increased product innovation is the result.

Utility introduces the use of the elliptical spring running gear, plus an axle suspension system that eliminates weight transfer during braking. And, the company invents and patents the first shockless air operated pintle hook for doubles operation.
Utility History: 1930's

Utility History: 1940's The world is once again engulfed in war and nationwide gas rationing is imposed, but truckers receive T-stickers for unlimited supplies of gas or diesel fuel. A new Federal Highway Act establishes an arterial road network of 40,000 miles to reach 42 state capitols and serve 182 cities.

Utility's steel foundry is well positioned for the war effort with equipment, products and expertise. The foundry supplies all of the castings for the M5 Tank production in the west.

The trailer division has a government order to build 3,000 ammunition trailers. Prototypes are designed, built and tested and Utility produces 14 ammunition trailers a day.

Both the steel foundry and the trailer division are awarded the Army/Navy "E" Award for Excellence.

In 1944, Utility pioneers frameless trailers in the West. Utility is the first manufacturer to establish sales and service centers in every state West of the Continental Divide.

American troops are sent to Korea. President Eisenhower submits a ten year $ 101 Billion highway program to Congress.

Utility buys 40 acres in the City of Industry and relocates to its present headquarters. The company begins offering nationally known brand parts as optional extras. Utility introduces its monocoque aluminum van design and earns it's reputation for building strong, lightweight trailers.

Because of substantial changes in the industry, the steel foundry is liquidated and employees are handsomely compensated by the Employee Profit Sharing Fund.

Trailer financing helps boost sales and opens the way for further growth. Utility builds its first regional manufacturing plant in El Paso, Texas.

Utility pioneers the use of polyurethane insulation in refrigerated vans demonstrating once again its innovation and leadership.
Utility History: 1950's

Utility History: 1960's The turbulent Sixties! The Vietnam War, civil rights movement and the first man walks on the moon. The trucking industry is booming. The new Federal Highway Interstate System goes into effect and more Utility trailers are on the road than ever before.

Utility builds its third regional manufacturing plant near Salt Lake City, Utah. Assembly line methods utilizing more sophisticated tooling, jigs and fixtures produce a consistent quality product. The company also develops a converter dolly, which pulls trailers in tandem, using an innovative transpring counterbalance design.

Utility develops its proprietary foam-in-place insulation process which becomes a benchmark of the lightest weight refrigerated trailer in the industry.

An oil crisis grips the world creating a global recession. The 55-mile-per-hour speed limit is signed into law by President Nixon. Despite the country's energy problems, the trucking industry grows rapidly. Utility's share of market increases substantially. A nationwide, full service dealer network is now operational and the company ranks in the top seven trailer producers. Much of Utility's unprecedented growth is due to a staggering number of industry "firsts."

Utility introduces the lightweight Superstar Line of reefers and dry freight vans, which further enhance Utility's market position.

Superstar becomes a status symbol. The company invents and introduces its patented Barrier Door®, the first door in the industry which completely eliminates foam-piercing hardware in reefers. And, Utility pioneers the revolutionary waterproof electrical wiring harness system warranted for a full ten years, making it the most dependable electrical system in the industry.
Utility History: 1970's

Utility History: 1980's A decade of prolific economic growth. The Olympic Games are held in Los Angeles and attract a record participation of 140 nations. The Motor Carrier Act is signed into law and de-emphasizes the difference of state trucking regulations.

In 1981, Utility introduces the Tautliner® to the U.S., the world's foremost-patented curtain-sided convertible van to flatbed system. Its unique dual-function design combines the strength and weather protection of a van with easy and quick-loading advantages of a flatbed. A year later, the company adds the Tautliner Truck Body.
Utility opens its first Eastern Regional Manufacturing Plant in Enterprise, Alabama, which produces a new line of lightweight, highly durable flatbeds. A refrigerated van plant is later built in Marion, Virginia. Now all plants are dedicated to the manufacturing of specific lines of products.

In 1986, the company introduces its now legendary 2000R®. Its state-of-the-art design makes the 2000R, America's top selling reefer. Utility's track record as industry leader and innovator makes the company North America's #1 manufacturer of refrigerated trailers.

America goes to war in the Persian Gulf. Recession sets in and Bill Clinton is elected president, signaling major political change in Washington.

Utility continues to expand as a full line manufacturer with the building of its newest regional manufacturing plant in Paragould, Arkansas. This newest plant is dedicated solely to the building of dry freight vans. The advanced design of the Utility Dry Freight Van has already created a new industry standard.

A new line of multi-temp refrigerated trailers with a center wall with interlocking bulkhead systems, called the CenterSeal(r) is also introduced.

Now fresh, frozen and dry products can be hauled simultaneously.

The company adopts a new corporate identity with a new logo and a marketing strategy that truly dedicates Utility as an international company.

In 1994, Utility celebrates an eighty-year tradition of excellence, which has transformed a small regional trailer company into an industry leader.
Utility History: 1990's

Utility History: 2000's George Bush is elected President and immediately faces new challenges. America is attacked by terrorists, New York suffers the loss of the World Trade Center, and war begins again in the Middle East. The economy enters another recession. The transportation industry also faces a new set of challenges; rising fuel costs, and environmental mandates established by the government. Through it all, Utility continues its growth and keeps strong, celebrating its 95th anniversary in 2009.

Utility sets out to redefine the trailer industry by building three new innovative lightweight trailers. The first product introduced was the 3000R® refrigerated trailer. Historically, manufacturers simply adapted new designs into existing manufacturing facilities. From its conception, the 3000R was an all new product combined with a revolutionary new manufacturing process. This required Utility to build the new manufacturing plant in Clearfield, Utah that changed the way Utility reefers are constructed. Utility's commitment to continuous innovation results in the 3000R maintaining its position as the best selling reefer in the industry.

The 4000D-X® Dry Freight Van becomes a platform for innovation. It is the first dry van in the industry to be EPA Certified SmartWay. Utility integrates 3000R advanced foaming technology into its dry van and introduces the new 4000D-X Composite® trailer, making it the lightest, most productive composite dry van available today. Utility builds its second dry van factory in the east, in Glade Spring, Virginia. It is regionally located to better serve customers in the Mid-West, Canada and the Eastern seaboard.

Utility also introduces the totally redesigned 4000A® lightweight flatbed. Improvements in design and manufacturing made this flatbed lighter and stronger than its predecessor, ensuring better durability and fuel efficiency. Despite the economic downturn at the end of the decade, Utility's 3rd and 4th generation of family management has positioned the company for future growth to continue the legacy that started 95 years ago.

The first three years of this decade have seen their fair share of challenges. In 2011, Utility's former President, Walter Bennett passed away. This same year, Utility's Glade Spring dry van plant was struck by a tornado, and the promised economic recovery has proven to be anemic.

But Utility continued to experience significant growth, maintaining its leadership position in the trailer industry. In 2010, Utility made 100% LED lighting standard on all of its trailers and in 2011, Utility introduced the innovative Adjustable Load Securement System, and the next generation EPA SmartWay® verified Advanced Side Skirt, the USS120A-4.

Utility's 3000R continues to remain the preeminent and number one selling refrigerated trailer, while the 4000D-X Composite became the fastest growing trailer in the company's history. Significant milestones were achieved, among them were Utility adding a second assembly line at its Glade Spring dry manufacturing plant in 2012, and also manufacturing its 200,000 refrigerated trailer at its plants in Utah.

In 2014, Utility became the first manufacturer to include roll stability as a standard base specification on its 3000R. That year also marked the company's 100th year of building trailers. Utility commemorated this milestone anniversary with a yearlong celebration that reflected upon its long and rich heritage. Today, Utility continues to lead the industry with the same core values and principles first started with E.W. and H.C. Bennett, and with the ongoing focus for the next era of trailer technology and innovations.
Utility History: 2010's

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Every trailer manufactured and sold by Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company is backed by a 5-year warranty policy.