Ever since Western Trailers built what was quite possibly the first aluminum cattle trailer in the West back in 1969, their reputation has been built on quality, innovation and service. 50 years later, they have positioned themselves as one of the premier trailer manufacturers in North America. To commemorate that achievement, the company hosted an open house and truck show at their corporate headquarters in Boise, Idaho on Saturday, June 22 – and 10-4 Magazine was there to help them celebrate!
When the company started in 1958, they built truck bodies in an old fire station and later, in a converted gymnasium. In the late 1960s the owner, Jerry Whitehead, saw a market for better trailers that could be made lighter. Using his experience in the Idaho Air National Guard he began to incorporate aircraft aluminum into the design and manufacturing processes of a new breed of trailer. In 1969 they started making livestock and hopper trailers, adding flatbeds the following year. Since then, they have added all sorts of ag, forest, refuse, curtain and other specialty types of trailers. Today, Western has over 450 dedicated employees, and is guided by a group of managers and supervisors with an average tenure of almost 20 years.
The celebration actually started on Friday, June 21, when the company hosted a VIP party that included special presentations, awards and recognition from vendors, customers, the mayor of Boise and the governor of Idaho. After a luncheon, several of the VIPs did a tour of the manufacturing plant, which is just down the street from their main headquarters. Once all the festivities on Friday were done, it was time to get ready for the truck show on Saturday.
By the time we arrived at about 10:00 AM, the party was in full swing. Under clear blue skies, with temperatures hovering around 75 degrees, the weather could not have been more perfect. About 50 trucks were on the lot, and most were hooked to either Western or Great Dane trailers (there were also a few bobtails). In addition to the trucks, there was a live band, free face painting, a coloring contest for the kids, several food trucks, and a silent auction with some great products (all the proceeds from the auction went to the Idaho Truck Pac Inc., an organization dedicated to helping educate and elect state officials who understand and support the important issues regarding trucking).
Throughout the day on Saturday, plant tours continued for those who wanted to partake, while folks from Western walked around the lot and made everyone feel welcome. I was happy to finally meet Dawn Hickman, who handles their marketing and advertising, as well as Jerry Whitehead, the Chairman and CEO. Some other VIPs in attendance from Western included Clint Whitehead (President/COO), Dan Taylor (Western Region Manager), and many others. Everyone was so nice and friendly, it really made for a pleasant afternoon that went by too fast.
Judging for the truck show was done by the competitors and the people at the show. Each competitor was given the task of judging every other truck on the lot. From those scores, the winners were determined, with exception to the People’s Choice award, which, of course, was chosen by all the people in attendance at the event. Each person was given a ticket, and each truck had a paper bag sitting on the step. Once you chose your favorite, you simply dropped your “golden ticket” in the bag.
We were truly amazed at the amount of awesome trucks on the lot and where they came from – even some of our friends from California were there! It was obvious that truck owners who respect their equipment and keep it looking great, also appreciate a quality trailer – like Western – behind it. When it was time to finally announce all the winners, everyone gathered in the big tent and anxiously awaited to hear their name called. The simple but cool trophies, made by Western, were polished metal plates that had their 50th anniversary logo cut into them and the bottom bent for a stand.
To mention all the cool trucks would be hard because there were so many, but the one that stood out the most was Ryan Narte’s unique green Peterbilt 379 with a standup sleeper, which he just rebuilt. Featuring plenty of custom fabricated parts, flat black wheels and a beautiful interior, Ryan’s stylish rig took home the People’s Choice award. Some other standouts included a few sharp 2-axles from Hettinga, Mike Miller’s burnt orange Peterbilt, Josh Skidmore’s white and yellow Peterbilt and so many others.
It was a great day, filled with great trucks, great people, great food and great weather – it doesn’t get much better than that. Thank you to everyone at Western Trailers for your hospitality, and congratulations on your epic anniversary. Knowing how hard we had to work for 10-4 Magazine to hit our 25th anniversary last year, we can only imagine what it takes to make it to 50 years. Kudos to you, and here’s to 50 more great years. And the winners were…
COMMODITY TRAILER: 1st Cody Jayo of United Hauling; 2nd Nathan Lott of Nathan Lott Trucking;
3rd Brad Fleming of Oregon Trail Transport.
CURTAIN VAN: 1st Don Jennings of Big Rigs Tanker; 2nd Rick Bobington of Olmsted Trans.; 3rd Bryan Welsh of Farwest Steel.
BOBTAIL: 1st Mike Miller of Prizm Express; 2nd Ryan Narte of LMK Trucking; 3rd Bill Hartman of Hartman Farms.
MULTI-AXLE COMBO: 1st Jake Levin of United Hauling; 2nd Berry Prescott of United Hauling; 3rd Bryce Hoyt of United Hauling.
5-AXLE COMBO: 1st Steve Hettinga of Hettinga Trans.; 2nd Robert Kearsley of Kearsley Truck Lines; 3rd Casey Walker of Boise Boys.
SHOW COMBO: 1st Josh Skidmore of Skidmore Transportation; 2nd Elden Easterday of Gary Amoth Trucking; 3rd Rusty Bradeen of Rusty Bradeen Trucking.
HAY DOUBLES: 1st Mike Ragan of Hettinga Trans.; 2nd Sal Maestaz of Hettinga Trans.; 3rd Don Vanderstelt of D&P Vanderstelt.
OLDEST WORKING WESTERN TRAILER: Felix and Steve Anchustegui.
LONGEST DISTANCE TRAVELED: Scott Armas of Armas Hay Sales (Hesperia, CA).
PEOPLE’S CHOICE: Ryan Narte of LMK Trucking.