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Texas truckers now steer Oklahoma livestock trailer maker (With Video)

Shuttered during pandemic, Barrett Trailers gets new life with livestock-hauling truckers

Oklahoma livestock trailer institution Barrett Trailers gets new owners - Texas truckers that haul livestock. (Photo: Barrett Trailers)

Owners of a Texas trucking company and trailer dealership now own Barrett Trailers, an Oklahoma institution in livestock trailers. They are rehiring workers laid off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Check it out New trailer moving up in factory to the finish out!

Posted by Barrett Trailers on Friday, August 14, 2020

“We believe we can help the cattle hauler because we have a deep understanding of the cattle industry and we understand manufacturing well,” Stuart McNair, chief financial officer at Dee King Trucking in Amarillo, Texas, told FreightWaves on Friday.

A limited liability company, Crownfive LLC, created by the owners of Dee King and sister company King Country Trailer and Repair, along with a small livestock trucking company in Hereford, Texas, purchased Barrett from Wisconsin-based Stoughton Trailers. Neither Stoughton nor the buyers disclosed the price.  

36,000 loads and 700 trailer sales

Dee King has a fleet of 165 tractors and 275 trailers. Its customers include the massive JBS Beef meatpacking plant north of Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle and Tyson Foods in Amarillo. It hauled 36,000 loads of cattle and hogs in 2019.

King Country, a Barrett Trailers dealer which also sells Vanguard dry and refrigerated trailers, sold about 100 new and used cattle trailers among 700 trailer sales in 2019, according to Aaron King, a vice president of both King Country and Dee King. 

Dee King Trucking of Amarillo, Texas, hauled 36,000 loads of livestock in 2019. Its owners are part of group that purchased Oklahoma livestock trailer maker Barrett Trailers and is rehiring laid-off workers. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

A second LLC called Hauling Hooves is restarting Barrett operations. Barrett produced its first new trailer since March last week with eight workers rehired at the plant 40 miles south of Oklahoma City. Six more employees are expected back over the next three weeks. 

Barrett has a backlog of 10 to 20 trailers, enough work to last three to four months, said Michael King, managing partner at King Country Trailers. Livestock trailers sell for around $80,000 each.

“We’ll hire in an intelligent way,” McNair said. “We’re not just going to bring everybody back all at once. But we hope to grow the business over time.”

Livestock haulers and snowflakes

Unlike some trailer making where one size fits all, livestock haulers are more like snowflakes – each one is different.

“Everybody has a different eye for what they want,” said Aaron King. “In Texas, we have a lot of tandems. We understand that everybody has a little twist.” 

The vision for the Barrett business is to “be the voice and the friend of the cattle hauler. We want to be a blank palette that customers can come in and paint,” he said.

Succession of owners

Stoughton Trailers became the latest in a succession of Barrett owners in 2015, initially seeing a good fit with its line of grain-hauling trailers. It reevaluated the purchase in recent years.

“We are looking to focus on our core product lines and felt Barrett wasn’t a perfect fit for us in that direction,” Stoughton President and CEO Bob Wahlin told FreightWaves. 

Stoughton is best known for dry vans. Last week, it celebrated completion of its 50,000th van for United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS).

“We bring a different perspective,” Aaron King said. “We are truckers and haul cattle every day.”

Barrett was founded in 1973 by Cliff Barrett, who served in the Marines in World War II. The business almost immediately doubled in size from a single 36,000-square-foot building in Purcell, Oklahoma. It expanded several times before Barrett’s death in 1985, according to a 2015 story in Trailer Body Builder. 

The company later struggled through a series of owners, eventually filing for bankruptcy in 2005. After a year, its assets were auctioned off to an extrusion company.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler. 

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.