As a teenager, my family lived for several years next door to a brick mason who had a welding shop behind his house where he did all kinds of welding as a second job. My first real job, at 16 years of age, was mixing “mud” and carrying brick for this brick-layer. He also taught me the fundamentals of welding as I “hung-out” in his shop at night.
My first utility trailer built to sell, a 16’ tandem, was welded together with a Lincoln “buzz box” stick welder that I had purchased for $130. I had no shop for this effort. My work area was the side yard of the mobile home park where I lived. An electric power cord with a breaker on the end was run through the mobile home screen door and plugged into the power panel in place of the clothes dryer breaker. The land-lord quickly tired of this and operations were moved to my dad’s back yard for the next two years where the same power cable was run to the woodshed. Sales averaged around two trailers a month for those first two years.
I took a second shift job at another furniture factory for the next three years, which gave me mornings and early afternoons to build trailers. The place we were now living at had a 13’x16’ metal building. I added 8’ to the front, making it 13’x24’. I bought a used gasoline powered welder for $1,000 and ran the exhaust pipe through a hole in the wall of the “new shop”. Sales averaged almost two trailers a week for that three-year period.
In May of 1992, I quit the furniture factory to go full time in trailer business. I had purchased about two acres at Lexington, North Carolina on North Silver Street (one of our current locations) and been clearing trees and building a new 22’x24’ shop a little at a time over the last year or so. My brother-in-law, Jarry Oldaker, joined me that spring. He is still with us. I well remember building the first Kaufman wedge car trailer with Jarry. Only the back half of the trailer fit in the shop, with the rest of the trailer being built out the front of the building. That winter another welder joined us. By the spring of 1993, there were several of us working out of that 22’x24’ shop and a bigger one was under construction. Over the years, we have built all the buildings at our North Carolina facility ourselves, except for one of the smaller shops, with our own people and the expert assistance of our long-term employee builder, Dave Smith. In 2005, we added a new 26,000 square feet facility in Nebraska. In 2009, we built a 49,000 square feet addition.
I am blessed to live in America, the greatest country in the world. Along the way, I have also been blessed in being joined by the right people who have made Kaufman Trailers what it is today. Tim Carter, President of Kaufman Trailers, is one of those people. He joined the company in the year 2000 and has been instrumental in the development and continued success of the company. Most of the current management team and many of the people involved in the production of Kaufman products have been with the company long-term. Kaufman Trailers is proof that the American Dream is still possible with perseverance and hard work. Today, Kaufman Trailers is a professionally managed organization that employs over 200 people. It exists for one reason: to give you, our valued customer, a high-quality trailer at the lowest possible delivered cost. We never forget that without you, none of us have a job. Your business with us is never taken for granted and we thank you for it!