A trailer built by Kaufman Trailers in Beaver City is built to carry more than just a load of cargo. The unexpected factory that surfaced in rural Nebraska in November of 2005 also manufactures trailers that carry the promise of hope for a small town. And that is certainly the definition of precious cargo.
Before Robb Kaufman of Lexington, N.C., set his sights on expanding his trailer business to the west, Beaver City was struggling to survive like most rural communities. Consolidation and the lack of job opportunities were causing this town of less than 600 people to dwindle. It’s difficult to maintain a population and entice people to return when the prospects of solid employment are slim to none.
Factories don’t open every day in struggling small towns. In fact, they hardly ever do. However, when an outspoken champion of Beaver City and a friend of Kaufman suggested to him that Nebraska was the best place to expand his business, Beaver City received a long overdue revitalization.
Looking west of the Mississippi
Kaufman was looking for a location west of the Mississippi in order to fulfill and market his trailers to a quickly expanding clientele. Beaver City had the labor, the land and the economic development incentives to lure in Kaufman Trailers. Before long, a 26,000-square-foot facility was built and began efficiently manufacturing a variety of trailers. In 2009, when most of the economy was still grappling as a result of the recession, Kaufman Trailers completed a 49,000-square-foot addition to its Beaver City factory. It was a testament to the fortitude of a well-run company.
The Kaufman Trailers’ location in Nebraska continues to operate in the same detailed fashion under the leadership of General Manager Shane Henderson. A native North Carolinian, Henderson began working on the assembly line and eventually transferred to Beaver City in 2009. Henderson, along with two other department managers, oversees 40 full-time employees who manufacture 30 different trailer models. And the location of the factory is never lost on Henderson and his employees.
“I realize this is a big deal for Beaver City,” Henderson said. “Kaufman Trailers pays well and pays weekly and that money gets spent right here in town.”
“We ‘train up’ at Kaufman Trailers,” Henderson said, speaking from experience. “We prefer to hire people with an interest in the work and then train them into the skills and methods that best suit them.”
Yet Kaufman Trailers is providing this town with more than just good paying jobs; it’s instilling pride in its workforce, which ultimately translates into a better community.
Plant Manager Mike Stalder, a Beaver City native, appreciates his job at Kaufman Trailers and realizes its importance in a time of unprecedented outsourcing of American jobs.
“I like working for a business that does so much for the community and pays competitive wages,” Stalder said. “They could buy machines to replace people but they choose to pay qualified workers and that helps to support our town.”
And that pride is evident throughout the Nebraska factory. Like a well-oiled machine, fabricators of various specialized skill sets manufacture trailers from scratch as soon as a purchase order arrives. A dedicated team works on the same trailer from the first cut of steel until it moves into finishing and quality control. Even though the trailers are produced in standard factory processes, Kaufman trailers continue to have one-of-a-kind quality, reminiscent of the first 16 foot tandem utility trailer Robb Kaufman built to sell in 1987.
That initial trailer has transitioned into a company that has three factories and employs more than 280 people. The attention to detail and passion for creating a quality product continues to be the driving force behind Kaufman Trailers.
Robb Kaufman has stated, “Kaufman Trailers is proof that the American Dream is still possible with perseverance and hard work.” He then acknowledges the company’s valued customers, “We never forget that without you, none of us have a job.”
I would imagine Kaufman’s employees in Beaver City would say the same thing to him.
Who to Contact
1025 9th St.
Beaver City, NE 68926