Utility Trailer Manufacturing marked the opening of its nationwide distribution center in Batavia Township with a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday, March 30.
The warehouse occupies the former Georgia-Pacific plant on Curliss Lane. Utility’s after market distribution center supplies the nation’s largest trailer-only dealer network with replacement parts for all of the company’s 50,000 trailers that remain on the road today. The Batavia location consolidates distribution previously handled from Utility’s Sharonville and Los Angeles facilities.
“This facility is three times the square footage in Sharonville but five to six times the cubic footage,” after market parts director Michael Moore said. “We have lots of room for growth.”
All but one of the facility’s 34 employees migrated from the Sharonville facility, but Moore said as the parts market expands Utility hopes to hire additional employees.
“This facility has been empty for two years and represented a loss of 100 jobs, we’ve brought in 34,” Moore said. “We will probably need more people in the future.”
As the warehouse expands Moore said Utility is researching automation of some of their inventory maintenance, however he said he does not anticipate full automation in the near future.
“We’re looking into automating some of our processes but we don’t have the volume to automate the whole place,” Moore said.
Utility Senior Vice President of sales and marketing Craig Bennett said recent economic pressure has caused many companies to shift focus from replacing older trailers to repairing their existing fleet, which places a higher demand on after market replacement parts. Utility maintains 105 dealers nationwide, which Bennett said provides carriers with the quick, local repairs they need to maintain productivity. Vice President Craig Bennett said the current political climate is focused on shipment by rail. The Curliss Lane warehouse has a railroad spur connected to the facility, which Moore said will be a significant benefit once completion of the new and larger Panama Canal lock system is completed. Moore said much of their parts are shipped by boat from China and once the ships are able to dock in Virginia the Batavia facility will have a direct rail line to receive those shipments.
In addition to warehousing and shipping, Moore said the facility will be used for light manufacturing. The facility currently has the capacity to manufacture custom-length roof pieces and aerodynamic side skirts. Moore said Utility hopes to expand their kit production as well.
The facility has been fully operational since the Sharonville warehouse closed in December 2010.