About Ironhorse Trailers

  Our Story and Team

Ironhorse Trailers designs, builds and distributes the best purpose-built personal motorcycle carriers in the world.  In fact, Ironhorse builds and distributes the only enclosed trailers specifically designed by bikers to haul motorcycles.  That’s why they are aerodynamic, strong but lightweight, rust and dent proof, and why they set a whole new standard for user-friendliness.

We are located at :

916 Red Rd Suite 1, McMinnville, TN 37110, United States

When and How We Started

Ironhorse Trailers was founded in 2002 in Lavergne, TN, near Nashville.  Our first home was a 4,000 square foot building on a side street.  During that time, all our fiberglass parts were supplied by one subcontractor and all our chasses were supplied by another.  By 2005, we had discontinued our original fixed top model, replaced it with two new flip top models and outgrown the building.  After a two-year search, we relocated to a new building about six times the size of our former one, on a four-lane highway, and only about seventy miles away.

Why We Started

After we started motorcycling in the nineties, it quickly became apparent that the distances to some of the places we wanted to ride were well beyond the distances we enjoyed riding.  So, like many others, we went to our local trailer dealer and plunked down a few thousand dollars for an enclosed metal trailer with square corners, the classic metal box cargo trailer.  Then we spent the rest of the day, including three trips to the hardware store, getting the trailer ready to carry bikes.

When our cherished 1970 Chevy pickup had trouble pulling it, we speculated that the motor was just old and tired.  So next we bought a 98 Ford Explorer with a V8 engine.  When that didn’t work either, we bought a 2001 Lincoln Navigator, hitched up the trailer, loaded our motorcycles and took off for an AZ vacation.  Twenty minutes and six hills later we finally realized it wasn’t the tow vehicle.  Rather the weight of the loaded metal box trailer just didn’t work well with modern high horsepower, low torque automotive motors.   But as we soon discovered, the weight was only half of it.  What made us realize how much shape mattered was having to hang on to one side of the steering wheel with both hands to keep from being blown off the road by crosswinds in AZ, NM and west Texas.

All in all, the AZ trip convinced us that there had to be a better way—an enclosed, streamlined, lightweight motorcycle trailer.  As longtime manufacturing management consultants, we knew that whatever the better way turned out to be, we were qualified to develop the necessary manufacturing process.  Since we were already fed up with extensive air travel and ready for a serious career change, starting a manufacturing company seemed almost like a predestined segue.

Where We Are Located and Why

The market for Ironhorse Motorcycle Trailers is anywhere in the world where there are discriminating bikers.  That includes the U.S. and many foreign countries.  We have, in fact, shipped trailers to Dubai, Qatar, Russia, Estonia, Georgia, Panama, Germany, Ukraine, etc.  But since we only have one location, the cost to ship our trailers effectively limits our trading area to North America.  And even then, the further away from our main location potential customers are, the more reluctant they are to buy an Ironhorse.

That’s why we are in middle Tennessee about halfway between Chattanooga and Nashville.  There we are within a day’s drive of roughly 80% of the U.S. population.  We’re in middle TN for the same reason much of auto industry has gravitated to this area.  Autos and trailers are both large and expensive to ship and generally the customer’s tolerance for shipping cost is limited.

How We Build Ironhorse Trailers

Over-dependence on subcontractors during our first five years left us with a strong desire to be more vertically integrated.  So when we moved to our new location, we immediately began building our own chasses but it was another couple of years before we started making our own fiberglass parts too.  Even then, every chassis went to a contractor for powder coating and a few trailers also went outside for custom painting but everything else was and still is done under one roof—ours.

For much of the year we produced strictly to order.  During the rest of the year, we produce mostly to order but occasionally build a trailer for stock to avoid wasting capacity.  All three enclosed models were built on the same line, one at a time, in an ever-changing make-to-order model sequence.

No trailer or part of a trailer can move forward until the one ahead of it has moved on, thus making the line function much like a pipe with a vacuum on the outer end.  Wheel chock, d-ring and spare wheel and tire installation are some of the last steps, thus allowing late-stage customization. Typically, it takes about a week to build a trailer from start to finish but before Covid came along, lead times rarely exceeded 5 to 6 weeks.  We are not complaining but during the Covid era demand for our trailers was so great that short backlogs of 5-6 weeks became a thing of the past.

When it comes to purchased materials like steel, axles, lights, trim, hardware, tires etc., we rely on small quantities delivered frequently to the point of use.  A handful of tried-and-true vendors deliver materials weekly.  One vendor manages all the nuts and bolts and replenishes our work cell bins twice weekly.  As a matter of principle and working capital conservation, Ironhorse Trailers has NO storeroom.

The infrastructure that supports the one piece, not batch, flow through our facility includes clearly defined flow paths, single and multi-person work cells complete with tool shadow boards and dedicated parts bins and racks.  As a result, the kind of manual and electronic production and inventory tracking and reporting once so prevalent in U.S. factories is unnecessary and conspicuously, deliberately absent.

Workers in our facility get very good at what they do or get gone—our multi-skilled work force takes so much pride in the breadth and depth of their knowledge and the Ironhorse Motorcycle Trailers they build that they are self-policing.   Between that and the supervision built into the infrastructure, very little direction and correction are required.  The production line sometimes runs for days without anything more than an occasional minor hiccup.

Who Our Key Players Are

Julie is perhaps THE key player.  The ultimate multi-tasker, until recently, she was the sole salesperson while also handling the marketing, finance, human relations and administrative duties.  I, Ed, am the product designer, product engineer, and operations strategist.   We are the co­-owners and founders of Ironhorse Motorcycle Trailers.

Mick is not an employee.  Nevertheless, we think of him as part of our team.  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, on our FB page, in email and/or telephone responses to inquiries, and as hard copy brochures.  He monitors our FB 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

Chris is another non-employee critical to our success.  Several years ago, he designed and developed our Ironhorse Trailers web site while working in the U.S. and continues to keep it fresh and readily accessible to those searching for motorcycle trailers.   But maintaining our web site is strictly a sideline for Chris.  Originally from “down under”, his primary occupation is as a commercial pilot.  When we originally met him, he was flying small business jets.  Today he flies some of the largest around within flight itineraries that typically include multiple countries.

Victor has been with us since July of 2005 and is our top gun in the shop.   Not only can he do any and every production job in the shop, 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 or fiberglass fabrication; if we can think it, Victor can do it.  When we started the company, none of us knew anything about fiberglass fabrication or plug and mold building.  We’ve all learned on the fly with Victor leading the way most of the time.

Danny has been with us five of years and is our metal working go-to guy.  He has an extensive background in metal fabrication and managed our transition from steel to aluminum chasses without skipping a beat. He runs the metal shop that builds the chasses and motorcycle wheel chocks and manages our metal inventories.  A lot of workers know how, but Danny is one of the few who know how and why.  He excels at trouble shooting, fabricates our latest chassis brainstorm from the skimpiest of sketches and independently designs, develops and maintains our welding fixtures.

Oscar joined in February of 2006 and runs our tailgate/ramp cell.  He takes great pains to build flawless tailgates and makes frequent improvement suggestions which are typically implemented immediately.   Having come to us with a background in reverse image sheet metal art, he is the only guy whose “eye” Victor trusts when he’s building plugs or repairing curved surfaces.  Always quick to help in other areas as needs change, we had to discourage him from running to do so in the interest of safety.

Nikia came to us after several years as a support person in a couple of Japanese owned and operated manufacturing plants.  For us, she is not a shop employee nor is she strictly Julie’s assistant.  Instead, when it comes to keeping on hand the many different bits and bobs our team uses to build trailers and running the different errands and completing the various tasks Julie assigns her, she has made herself indispensable.

Others—in general we have very little turnover among our entire team.  We value their learning ability, their skills, their work ethic, the work that 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 example they set.

We have Dealership opportunities available

If you have a love of trailers, and feel you can be part of the Ironhorse Dealer network give us a call or email today.