ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
A building originally erected for aluminum work will come full circle within the next few weeks.
Hillsboro Industries Inc., manufacturers of trailers and platform truck beds, will be moving production of its aluminum “Endura” line into the former Reynolds Aluminum Transhelter building at the corner of U.S. Highway 56 and Industrial Road, according to Susayn Brandes, company president.
The company will lease half of the building to start with, and hopes to occupy the entire building in time. Brandes said they have an option to buy the property if they wish.
The company hopes to start production out of the building within two weeks.
“There needed to be some electrical work done and some air brought in, obviously,” she said. “Then we’re going to seal the floors so we can keep it a nice clean facility-and hopefully start moving something (this) week.
“They have a lot of orders, so they can’t have much down time,” she added.
The success of the Endura line of aluminum trailers-produced with a high-end, high-tech manufacturing process for which the company received a patent in 1988-has moved the company beyond agricultural applications.
“That’s (company engineer) Tom Kaufman’s brainchild,” Brandes said. “It is something that consumers who are concerned about looks or about strength or about weight-who have precious cargo-are very interested in,” she said.
Brandes said haulers of classic cars and racing cars are prime examples of the kind of customers the trailers are attracting.
“We’re also are seeing interest for show trailers-people who might go to different shows and take their products out,” she said. “The Endura lends itself to that.”
Brandes said a lack of space and inadequate ceiling height are the primary reason for expanding into the larger and much taller building located less than a quarter mile to the north of the present plant.
“We’ve had some real production constraints in the facility we’re in,” she said. “For one thing, the ceiling height is so low in that building that we have not been able to build some car-stacker units as tall as our customers would like because we can’t clear the lights.
“This (new) building, being so much taller, will allow us to take orders for what the customer really wants.”
The former Reynolds building was one of the first to be established after the industrial park was developed east of Hillsboro in the late 1960s.
It has seen a variety uses over the years, from grain storage to battery recycling.
Brandes said Hillsboro Industries’ expansion will mean more jobs in the future, but the “timeline and number are yet to be determined.”
She did say Great Plains Ventures Inc., of Wichita, which owns Hillsboro Industries, has big plans for the company-though she said it is too early to elaborate.
“We certainly have some dynamic plans for growth overall at Hillsboro,” she said. “Great Plains Ventures sees Hillsboro’s market as being a really big market, and Hillsboro products are good products.
“Certainly we think we can improve our presence in those markets.”