When people transport and move their belongings, they like to make sure that the objects will be put into a container that will remain strong and protect them. That’s what Aluma KLM strives to offer with its aluminum trailers. Based in Bancroft, Iowa, the company is a manufacturer of single and tandem axel utilities, all-purpose and enclosed trailers, truck beds, motorcycle and snowmobile trailers, and other accessories.
President and owner Mike Lloyd says that the company’s history goes back to 1992, when its founder, Dean Maschoff, was asked by his friends to create an aluminum trailer to haul their golf carts.
After building several, Maschoff found that his lightweight trailers were in high demand. To keep up with orders, Maschoff founded the company and moved to a 12,000-square-foot facility in Bancroft to manufacture them.
When Aluma experienced more demand in 1998, the company doubled the size of its facility to 24,000 square feet. Eventually, Maschoff decided that he preferred to design the trailers and he sold the company to Lloyd and his siblings, Kevin and Lori Lloyd.
Leading Its Market
Today, Aluma operates from a 72,000-square-foot plant and employs a staff of 105. In addition, Maschoff still designs new models for the company. It builds an average of 50 trailers daily and ships them to dealers throughout the United States and Canada.
Mike Lloyd adds that Aluma classifies itself as a leader in the small to midsize aluminum trailer market. Aluma has about 80 different open-trailer models and 30 enclosed models. “Most of our trailers are aluminum except for the axel,” he says. “What makes us unique [is that we] design our aluminum extrusions all in house. We’ve got to make sure the customer sees the value in the product.”
The company has 300 dealers throughout the United States and Canada, with the largest concentration of dealers in the Midwest. The company plans to grow in other parts of the United States in the future.
Along with selling its own products, Aluma has partnered with three steel trailer companies: Belmont Trailers, Midsota Trailers and Diamond C Trailers. “We’re selling their product within our sales organization,” Lloyd explains. “Not only [does it] offer more product to the dealer, [but it] has helped offset our sales costs.”
Evolving with the Industry
A veteran of finance and accounting, Lloyd has worked at Aluma since 1994. He says that he believes Aluma’s level of quality has enabled it to succeed. “We focus on building a quality product,” Lloyd states. “We [also] have set up a dealer network that is very strong.”
Lloyd adds that the company has successfully weathered the economic downturn by employing talented salespeople. “As we saw companies that were downsizing, we were a little more aggressive,” he recalls, explaining that Aluma hired salespeople who have extensive experience in the trailer industry.
“It is an investment now but hopefully, [they will] make us stronger in the years ahead,” Lloyd says, but asserts that he considers all of its workers to be critical. “We’re really fortunate to have a great bunch of people that work for us.”
He adds that the staff has adapted well to new initiatives to improve safety and quality. For instance, ”We take feedback from the dealers and customers and implement the changes resulting in better trailers,” Lloyd says.
“We also have been a member of NATM for over 10 years,” Lloyd continues. “NATM stresses safety and regulation within the trailer industry and we have been a member of their compliance program for over five years. We want to make sure Aluma complies with industry standards and U.S. DOT’s regulations.”
“[We need to] constantly improve our product so it is more safe for the customer,” he adds.
Currently, Aluma has six manufacturing lines within its facility. “We have similar trailers going down each line every day,” Lloyd declaress. “Our goal is to have all the components within the work station so they have all the tools and materials at close range.”
He adds that, normally, Aluma adds three to four products to its lines annually. “We like to improve the existing products,” he says. “Be it a light change or a tire change, or a cosmetically stronger product, most of our models that we had 10 years ago are still with us.”
In addition, the company has implemented lean manufacturing techniques. “We use lean on the inventory side and from the organizational cleanliness [side],” he says, explaining that this has helped keep order and minimize clutter. “It’s worked out real well.”
Lloyd says that he sees a bright future ahead for Aluma, with growth opportunities that may find it branching out into other markets with aluminum products. In addition, the company will continue to “focus on the customer, and make sure their needs are met,” Lloyd says. “I think that’s where our growth will come from, too.”