The Ironhorse Brand
To the casual observer, Ironhorse trailers are best known for their unique look but buyers quickly get used to the look and talk more about how easy they are to load and unload, how easy they are to tow and how little they hurt gas mileage. By the time they get ready to sell or trade their Ironhorse trailer, what you hear from the owners most often is surprise at how well their trailer has retained its value, along with expressions of how refreshing it is to have friends at Ironhorse headquarters who really understand how motorcycling fits into their life and lifestyle. Julie and Ed Heard are those friends and are the co-founders of the Ironhorse Trailers business. Between them they bring to the party a couple of advanced degrees, several decades of operations management experience, and the shared passion for excellence evident in Ironhorse trailers and our manufacturing operations.
Behind the Brand
Ed is the chief designer and is responsible for the unique streamlined look of all our trailers, as well as the hinged top that lets you “have your cake and eat it too”. Specifically, with the top down our trailers are low enough to severely limit the wind-catching square footage at their fronts. Yet with the trailer parked and the top up, you can safely load and unload with no danger of cracking your helmet or your head. After 18 years, Ed probably has more experience designing and engineering streamlined enclosed motorcycle trailers than anyone in the world.
Julie is behind the widespread conviction among current and former Ironhorse trailer owners that they have a friend at Ironhorse’s headquarters. While she may not have set out with this goal in mind 18 years ago, her unusual memory made its achievement inevitable. Who else can remember buyers’ names, spouses, children and pets’ names, what kind and how many bikes they own, where they live, where they travel with their bikes, how long and wide their bikes are, etc. The looks on the faces of some of our current owners when she recalls details from some of their telephone conversations from a dozen or more years ago are priceless.
Motorcycle trailers are not a sideline; they are our only line!
All our craftsmen have been with us for years.
Because craftsmanship outlives every trend
Why We Started Ironhorse Trailers
We originally started motorcycling in the late nineties. It quickly became apparent that some of the places we wanted to ride were well beyond the distances we enjoyed riding. So like many others, we cruised over to a local trailer dealer and plunked down a few thousand dollars for the enclosed metal box trailer he recommended. Since it was a plain vanilla trailer, we spent the rest of the day running back and forth to the hardware store gathering the things we thought the trailer needed to be ready to carry our motorcycles.
When our cherished 1970 Chevy pickup struggled to pull the metal box trailer, we speculated that the motor was just old and tired. So next we bought a Ford Explorer with a V8 engine thinking that would put the inadequate pulling power issue to bed. When that didn’t work, we bought a Lincoln Navigator, hitched the trailer to it, loaded our motorcycles and took off for an AZ vacation. Twenty minutes and six hills later we finally realized that the problem wasn’t the power of the tow vehicles!
Instead we concluded that the weight of loaded metal box trailers just didn’t work well with modern high horsepower low torque automotive motors. But as we discovered on the way back from AZ, shape matters as much or more than weight. What made us realize that was having to hang on one side of the steering wheel with both hands to keep the whole rig from being blown off flat parts of I40 by crosswinds in AZ, NM and west Texas.
All in all, the AZ trip convinced us there had to be a better way—an enclosed, aerodynamic, lightweight motorcycle trailer. As long-time globe-trotting manufacturing management consultants, we knew that whatever the “better way” turned out to be we were well qualified to develop the necessary manufacturing processes. Since we were already fed up with the extensive air travel that our consulting careers demanded, starting a manufacturing company seemed almost like a predestined career segue
The Early Years
Our first Ironhorse home was a 4,000 square feet building in Lavergne, TN. For the first five years, all of our fiberglass parts were supplied by one subcontractor and all our chasses (steel) were supplied by another. Since we started off building only one fixed top enclosed model trailer, our original manufacturing processes were pretty basic. Even then, with all new people it was a struggle to build the same trailer twice. But training and repetition solved that problem and after a couple of years of selling direct to bikers who choose to trailer, it solved another one. Specifically, it taught us what bikers who choose to trailer really wanted/needed from us.
That insight led us to introduce two new flip top models in 2005 and discontinue the original fixed top model in 2007. The positive response to the new flip tops was strong enough to convince us that we had already outgrown our building. So by the time our original five year lease was up, we were ready to relocate. The new building we found was about six times the size of our original one, on a four lane highway and about seventy miles away from our original location.
Customer Contact Key Players
From the start it has been clear that JULIE is the key player. The ultimate multi-tasker, in the early years she was the sole salesperson, while also handling the marketing, finance, human relations and administrative duties. Looking back, it also became apparent that the one on one contact between Julie and individual customers was the primary non-product factor behind Ironhorse’s success. She not only supplied the insight into customer needs and preferences that convinced us that one model did not and would not ever fit the needs of all the bikers who choose to haul their bikes. Her one-on-one attention to individual customer’s needs throughout the sales and delivery process backed up by her memory for a prodigious amount of detail about each buyer was behind the pervasive belief among the customers that they had a friend at the top.
It’s been said that success breeds success. In our case, success also bred more work for JULIE, so much so that even with her almost unbelievably strong work ethic and broad skills bandwidth she had trouble keeping up. Consequently over the years we’ve lightened her load with various combinations of white collar people with different backgrounds.
A couple of other folks you might talk to if you call are Jamie and Kristen. JAMIE joined us in mid 2017. Jamie’s diverse background includes motorcycle ownership, mechanical and electrical skills, direct telephone sales, highly developed verbal and interpersonal social skills, as well as social media and other computer-based skills made him a natural fit to take on much of Julie’s new product and replacement parts sales loads.
Highly Valued Subcontractors
MICK is not an employee, but we think of him as part of our team and he has been working with us for a dozen years. A former ad agency owner and motorcycle racer, he regularly turns our rough draft marketing messages into the polished, visually effective marketing materials that appear on our website, our FB page, in email and/or telephones responses to inquiries, and as hard copy brochures. , He is also the designer and producer of our visually effective Trailer Owner’s Manuals. He monitors our email traffic and calls our attention to issues and suggests solutions as well as pointing out opportunities to maximize the effectiveness of our FB page. He also prepares press releases and uses his motorcycle magazine contacts to selectively place them in the most appropriate magazines.
Kristin joined us in mid-2019 to take up most of Julie’s administrative workload. Her pleasant voice is typically the first thing you hear when you call Ironhorse on the phone unless she is in the factory itself checking on inventory and addressing employee needs and concerns.
CHRIS is another non-employee who is critical to our success and who also has been supporting us for many years. An Australian by birth and a citizen of the world professionally, he currently commutes from the U.S. to India where he is Chief Pilot for a large Indian corporation. Several years ago, while working in the U.S., he designed and developed our Ironhorse Motorcycle Trailers website while working in the U.S. and continues to keep it fresh and readily accessible to those searching for motorcycle trailers. It’s a sign of the times that while we rarely meet face to face, we are and will be eternally grateful to him for his efforts on our behalf.
Hands-On Craftsman With Over 5 Years of Seniority
Over the years there have been too many to mention—some left on their own initiative, others we encouraged to look for greener pastures. What follows is an introduction to those who have been with Ironhorse five years or more.
VICTOR has been with us since July of 2004 and is our top gun in the shop. Not only can he do any and every production job in the factory, he also builds plugs and molds, maintains the chopper and gelcoat guns and does most of the tasks usually reserved for plant and manufacturing engineers. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it involves electricity, carpentry, plumbing, welding, fiberglass fabrication or repair, if we can think it, Victor can do it. When Julie and I started the company, none of us knew anything about fiberglass fabrication and plug and mold building. We’ve all learned on the fly with Victor leading the way most of the time.
GUS joined us in September of 2009 and is second in command in the factory and another person we really rely on. He leads a cross-functional trailer assembly team and is primarily responsible for turning barely assembled trailers into a fully equipped finished trailer ready for delivery. He takes great pains to build flawless trailers and is a constant source of improvement suggestion which are typically implemented immediately. Always quick to help in other areas as needs change, in the interest of safety, we used to have to discourage him from running to do so.
MEDI and ROQUE have been with Ironhorse ten and eight years respectively and have long since mastered producing the individual fiberglass parts that together make up a complete Ironhorse trailer body. The fiberglass trailer body the world sees is the result of how hard and diligently they do their jobs. It sounds easy—just pick up a “gun” and shoot. At this point they are so highly skilled at building our fiberglass parts that watching them move around each large mold is like watching a ballet in action. But the missing key is “rolling”—a demanding activity that determines whether the lamination is sound or whether there are voids (air pockets) between layers. With help from less senior workers, MEDI and ROQUE are also the primary rollers.
JONATHAN has been with us over five years, heads our chassis and motorcycle wheel chock production, keeps our vehicle fleet rolling, and is an important human bridge between our factory shop and our offices. Along the way, JONATHAN and OSCAR (another over 5 years employee) demonstrated their adaptability by converting from cutting and welding steel chassis to cutting and welding aluminum ones—no small feat.
A number of other employees all play important roles too—at this point we have little turnover among our entire team. We value their learning ability, skills, work ethics, the work they do and their willingness to help one another. Most of all, we value their loyalty and do our best to live up to the examples they set.
TOUR OUR FACTORY
It all starts here, the chassis
Our skilled metalworkers precisely measure each part, and weld each part of the chassis using the skills gained over many decades or working in the field.
The chassis nears completion
After the initial build the chassis is sent for build and installation of the accessories and the motorcycle trailer starts to take shape.
Quality Control is important
At each and every step a Quality Control Inspection takes place. Each and every section of the buildup of the motorcycle trailer is checked, critiqued and approved.
Building with precision
Our craftsmen and women build your trailer with precision and skill.
From perfect cuts to perfect welds, you wont fault our motorcycle trailers
Our staff skills have developed over many years of work experience.
Our crew work in teams, where they synchronize the build of up each and every trailer.
The trailer takes shape
All our trailers are build on precise molds, the craftsmen build up the perfect trailer each and every time.
Our trailers are made with the best materials, resins, aluminum and glass. We pride ourselves on our Made in America by Americans badge of honor.
Ready to assemble
The chassis is built and tested, ready for the body.
Body and frame work is completed
The body shelss of a Widebody sit ready to install on the chassis.
GET IN TOUCH
We are looking
forward to hearing from you
GET IN TOUCH
We are looking
forward to hearing from you
916 Red Rd,
Phone / Email
info (at symbol) ironhorsetrailers.com
+1-888-793-6184 (USA and Canada)