Badger Trailer and Equipment closes heavy duty body shop

A Milwaukee-based trailer equipment repair company recently downsized in an attempt to become more economically efficient and profitable. Badger Trailer and Equipment Corp., located at 422 S. 4th St., Milwaukee, recently closed its heavy duty body shop at 415 S. 3rd St. in Walker’s Point, laying off 12 employees, said Wayne Perrins, general manager for Badger Trailer.

“We took a look at our entire organization, and as a consequence of looking at the entire organization, it came down to the fact that we are not the same Badger Trailer we were 90 years ago, or even 20 years ago,” Perrins said.

The rising costs of health care and utilities were putting Badger Trailer in danger of losing profit, Perrins said. After reviewing the entire company, Perrins and Karin Lee-Fournier, president, realized that diversity would be the company’s strength in today’s competitive market.

Badger is looking to add more product lines and offer services that have a fast turnaround time, instead of the more labor-intensive work the heavy duty body shop demanded.

“We had to take a realistic look at the company, what the past had been, and face the brutal facts of what the future would be,” Perrins said. “It was a very hard decision to downsize the company, but we want to survive and we can’t if we are not going to change.”

Badger Trailer now has 26 employees. Perrins would not disclose the company’s annual revenue.

Badger Trailer is currently looking for a tenant to lease the 30,000 square-foot building on Third Street that previously housed the heavy duty body shop, and partnered with Milwaukee-based Colliers Barry to broker the lease.

The company continues to offer services to heavy duty trailers, including trailer chasse maintenance, Department of Transportation inspections, brake jobs, electric repairs on the trailer chasse and minor physical damage repair, Perrins said.

Structural, body and frame repair were the main services discontinued for heavy duty trailers.

Badger Trailer continues to serve as a full repair parts facility for semi trailers and is a full line dealer of Minneapolis-based Thermo King Corp. Badger Trailer also offers parts and service for Charlotte, N.C.-based Carrier Commercial Refrigeration Inc., Perrins said.

Badger Trailer also serves as a complete refrigeration and repair service provider for Thermo King in Milwaukee and the surrounding nine counties, including Dodge County and Jefferson County.

Badger’s entire offering of parts and repair services are available at Badger Trailer’s Milwaukee location, its Yorkville facility and through mobile service units.

“We want to focus on providing quality fast turnaround service for Milwaukee and Wisconsin,” Perrins said.

Badger Trailer is already working to become more diverse so that the company can remain profitable and have the ability to hire more employees and offer benefits including a 401(k) plan in the future, Perrins said.

Badger Trailer increased its mobile service and repair division from one truck to four trucks, expanding its geographic reach to the Wisconsin/Illinois border, Sheboygan, and adding a second truck in the Milwaukee area.

Badger Trailer’s goals are to continue to expand the mobile repair division to eight mobile trucks by the end of 2008, Perrins said.

“In the trucking industry, drivers are only allowed to drive a certain amount of hours and companies used to be able to have extra people to move the trailers,” Perrins said. “Now, companies are more stringent and don’t have extra people. The mobile service is a very sought-after commodity.”

Badger Trailer is currently in conversations with Delano, Minn.-based Arctic Fox Inc., a manufacturer of warming systems for cold weather, to join the dealer network, Perrins said.

Without the heavy duty body shop, Badger Trailer can offer service and repair services for light, small to mid-size trailers, including horse trailers, utility trailers and special purpose trailers.

“We need to make sure the market understands that Badger Trailer and Equipment is here to stay,” Perrins said. “We are here to stay for another 100 years.”

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