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The Ride to Success

Catom Trucking Grows Business Through Strong Partnership

From serving a few surrounding counties to spanning the entire Midwest, Catom Trucking has grown significantly over the years. But it isn’t catchy advertising or feet-on-the pavement sales efforts the construction and aggregates equipment hauling company credits for its success; they believe their customers led the way. 

Catom Trucking is able to fulfill unique customer needs with the help of Talbert Manufacturing and its comprehensive design process. (Photo Courtesy of Catom Trucking)

As the opportunity for construction projects increased year after year, contractors took the wheel, driving business and expanding into new territories. And when contractors needed dependable equipment hauling, Catom sat shotgun for the ride to help navigate the road to success. 

A Strong Start

Catom Trucking started in 1979 as a modest family owned and operated trucking company in Chicago. Tom and CathyStellman, Owners, recall the early days when they named the company by merging their two first names together. 

“We started out of our home with one truck and dump trailer hauling sand, gravel and asphalt,” said Tom. “We also leased one lowboy to pick up pavement equipment in the early mornings and evenings. It was a pretty simple operation.”

Many of Catom’s customers were earthmoving, roadbuilding and sewer contractors who relied on the company for getting their large equipment to and from jobsites. Catom was called upon by its ever-increasing customer base to haul everything from trenchers to excavators.

By 1995, the number and size of contracting companies Catom served grew to 25. Catom itself had grown, as well, to keep up with demand, running five trucks and 10 trailers. Up until this point, the trucking company was able to get by with “off-the-shelf” heavy-haul type trailers, but the size of equipment its clients needed hauled continued to increase and finally reached the company’s breaking point.

“Off-the-shelf” heavy-haul type trailers allowed Catom Trucking to get by in the early days of the business, but as clients’ equipment grew, so did the need for a custom solution. That’s when the company turned to Talbert Manufacturing for a solution.  (Photo Courtesy of Catom Trucking)
 

“For the first time, our customers were using 100,000-pound excavators, some of the heaviest at the time,” Tom said.

It was a logistical challenge not only for traveling through Illinois, but also across borders into other Midwestern states, where lower bridges and a multi-axle setups could be required. 

“We simply didn’t have a cost-effective way to haul the excavators in one load. The equipment would have needed to be disassembled and loaded onto multiple trailers, which was time consuming and more costly for our clients. Loading disassembled equipment also raised the risk of injuries. We knew it was time to look at a customized trailer.”

Catom needed a heavy-haul trailer that didn’t just serve the immediate need, but also could be used to haul a variety of other equipment, such as locomotives, and travel through multiple states. They knew this would minimize costs and prove to be more efficient not only for the business, but also their customers, as well. Plus, Cathy and Tom knew a trailer with the flexibility to haul a wide range of equipment would result in a strong ROI. 

Keeping Up with Demand

“We needed to grow as a company so we could grow with our customers and keep up with their demands, so we looked at what our biggest competitors were doing,” Cathy said. 

They noticed many of their competitors were running Talbert trailers. Catom already owned several standard Talbert units.

Catom Trucking owns and operates 30 custom Talbert trailers – 43 percent of its entire trailer fleet. The trailers help the company not only meet the needs of its current customers, but are designed to serve future customers as well. (Photo Courtesy of Catom Trucking)

Not only did Catom need to meet the needs of its current customers, but the company also had to ensure that whatever trailer they purchased could serve future customers. This included considering deck inserts and axle count and configurations. Because Catom had several other Talbert trailers in its fleet already, many of the components that would give them that flexibility were readily available; what one trailer needed for a specific load requirement could be pulled from another. 

The Talbert team met with Catom and its employees to discuss details. The criteria: 100,000-pound capacity trailer, achievable with multiple deck and axle configurations. 

Four months later, Catom’s first custom trailer was delivered: a six-axle raised rail trailer with a removable deck section. The design allowed Catom to install a beam insert or deck extension for longer, heavier equipment. Talbert also designed the trailer to go from six axles to seven or eight axles, which minimized the number of permits needed for traveling through other Midwestern states.

“We know Talbert trailers are built with high-quality, heavy-duty components,” Cathy said. “Having that along with specific features that are customized for our needs took our operation to another level.”

Catom could finally move some of the biggest pieces of equipment at the time in one load, which, as they predicted, saved time, hassle and money. Potential customers also took notice of Catom’s new capability, quickly moving them to the head of the pack of preferred companies.

“We started to receive opportunities to bid bigger projects,” Tom said. “Less than a year later, we needed a second custom Talbert trailer to keep up.”

The trailer may have been Catom’s second custom unit, but it was the company’s first 11-axle trailer. It also had a removable deck, jeep and stinger, which allowed heavier loads to be distributed more evenly. 


“That’s when we really thought we were going to town,” Tom said. “We were getting more and more big jobs because we were one of the few hauling companies that could accommodate the larger equipment, and having the two custom trailers really allowed us to serve these contractors quickly.”

Each trailer was basically several units in one. For example, Catom could install a beam insert onto the 11-axle trailer to haul a large excavator, then put in the flush deck and take off axles for moving a crusher or forklift. Catom could serve a wide range of clients with the custom trailers, which made for a healthy return on investment while providing a service that was ahead of the local competition. 

“We started using our Talbert custom trailers from day one and each unit has quickly paid for itself.”  

Built to Suit

Catom now owns and operates 30 custom Talbert trailers – 43 percent of its entire trailer fleet. This includes multiple lowboys ranging from 40-ton, 2-axle to 65-ton, 13-axle trailers as well as 40-ton Double Drop stretch trailers and sliding-axle tilt-bed trailers used for hauling smaller equipment. The latest model Talbert delivered, in July 2017, was a 13-axle unit custom designed to transport much heavier equipment than ever before. 

“Every inch of that trailer is built to our specs. We simply gave them the serial number of the Talbert trailer we wanted it compatible with, then sat down with their team to discuss details,” Tom said. “The process is like no other. Catom gets engineering, parts, quality control and sales all in one room so they really understand what we need – and what our customers need.” 

As equipment grew larger and became heavier over the years, the demand for trailers that could handle the equipment in one load increased dramatically. That’s when Tom and Cathy Stellman saw their modest trucking company experience significant growth and success, which they attribute to hard work and valuable partnerships.  (Photo Courtesy of Catom Trucking)

Catom isn’t about just making its customers happy, but its employees, as well. Stellman has “been in the trenches,” so to speak, and is familiar with what works. The company often looks to its drivers, too, for insight about what makes operations easier. 

“When we order Talbert trailers, we know what we are getting,” Cathy said. “If we need a 60-ton unit, we get a 60-ton unit, not a 60-ton-rated trailer that can’t really handle the load because of a weak neck. That’s one of the most impressive things about the Talbert trailers – the geometry of their goosenecks.”

Talbert pioneered the industry’s first mechanical removable gooseneck in 1947 and the first hydraulic removable gooseneck in 1962. The innovations revolutionized how equipment was loaded and hauled, making what was once time consuming and dangerous, quick and safe.

“What makes Catom successful? Plain and simple: When our customers have a need, we fulfill it and we fulfill it well,” Cathy said. “But, it couldn’t be done without suppliers like Talbert who mirror those same values. Any time our customers come to us with a special request, we’re meeting with Talbert to get it done.”

The road to success is never straight and can be sometimes difficult to navigate. But what makes that road to success achievable are the partners who are in it from start to finish. For Catom Trucking and its customers, that partner has been and still is Talbert Manufacturing.  

That partnership, coupled with hard work, keeps Catom Trucking growing both in terms of fleet and family ownership. Tina Stellman, Tom and Cathy’s daughter, has also contributed to the company’s growth since 1997 and shares with her parents the same passion for fulfilling customers’ needs. 

“We feel strongly about maintaining a family owned and operated business,” Cathy said. “As I step back from the business, I look forward to Tina continuing the great relationships, passion and customer commitment that has made Catom what it is today.”

Talbert Manufacturing Names Top 10 Dealers of 2016

 Talbert Manufacturing named Hale Trailer Brake & Wheel of Voorhees, New Jersey, as its top dealer for the ninth straight year. This award recognizes a Talbert dealer for high performance in selling trailers, service and parts.

“Hale continues to lead our North American dealer network year after year. They’ve earned the reputation as a leader in selection, service and customer satisfaction,” said Troy Geisler, Talbert Manufacturing vice president of sales and marketing. “When it comes to trailers, Hale is really a one-stop shop for their customers.”

Hale is a full-service trailer dealership that sells new and used trailers and related equipment. The dealership also rents trailers, sells commercial trailer parts and accessories, and provides general service and repairs to trailer equipment. Hale covers the East Coast, from Maine to Florida, with 12 dealer locations.

Talbert also named Freightliner, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, as one of the Top 10 dealers and its Most Improved Dealer of 2016.

“Freightliner is a perfect example of what we look for in a dealer,” Geisler said. “They care about the success of their customers, which aligns perfectly with Talbert’s values.”

Freightliner is a perennial top Talbert dealer that specializes in the construction, material hauling and agricultural trailer business. The company, which serves western Michigan, employs more than 30 highly experienced truck and trailer service technicians.

The remaining Top 10 dealers, based on sales in 2016, are in alphabetical order below.

Columbus Equipment Company, of Columbus, Ohio, is no stranger to Talbert’s Top 10 and is a leading heavy equipment distributor that serves construction, mining, aggregate, lifting, paving, forestry, biomass, waste recycling, compost and landscaping industries. Columbus Equipment Company includes 10 locations across Ohio.

Coogle Truck & Trailer Sales, of Otterbein, Indiana, features a wide selection of new and used trailers for sale or rent and a fully stocked parts department. The family-owned company also offers custom trailer modifications and full-service repairs.

Leslie Equipment Company, of Cowen, West Virginia, is a consistent top Talbert dealer that has provided quality construction, forestry, mining, and oil and gas pipeline equipment for more than 40 years. The company is an award-winning John Deere dealer with eight locations throughout Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.

Lucky’s Trailer Sales of South Royalton, Vermont, is a family-owned business that has been a top Talbert dealer for many years. The company features a complete line of construction trailers, a large, well-stocked parts department and a full-service repair facility.

Monroe Tractor & Equipment, with 11 locations throughout New York State, provides equipment, parts and service for the agriculture and construction industries. Monroe is a family-owned business that has actively supported the trailer industry since 1951.

Reno’s Trailer Sales, of Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, has more than 150 years of combined experience in the trailer industry. Reno’s has a fully stocked parts department and a full-service, on-site repair facility. The company features a full line of new and used trailers for sale or rent.

Royal Truck & Trailer Sales & Service Inc., with four Michigan locations, carries a wide selection of new and used trailers for sale. The company also offers wheel reconditioning, service and fabrication and has one of the largest parts departments in the industry.

West Side Tractor Sales Co. is a Naperville, Illinois-based provider of construction and forestry equipment. West Side Tractor Sales Co. and West Side Tractor Sales of Indiana Co. have 10 locations throughout Illinois and Indiana. Each location is a full-service provider of heavy equipment maintenance, repair and rental services.
Talbert boasts more than 80 dealers across North America. To find or learn more about Talbert dealers, check out Talbert’s dealer locator.

Talbert Manufacturing named Hale Trailer Brake & Wheel of Voorhees, New Jersey, as its Top Dealer for the ninth straight year.

About Talbert Manufacturing
Talbert has been building world-class heavy-haul and specialized trailers to rigorous customer specifications since 1938. The company offers complete lines of heavy-haul trailers and specialized transportation equipment for the commercial, industrial, military and government sectors. Its trailers and equipment are used in applications as diverse as renewable energy, aerospace, heavy construction, in-plant material handling, manufacturing and processing systems and much more. More information: www.talbertmfg.com.