Hitching success to support – Southland Trailer Corporation

Jun 1, 2018

When Lethbridge-based Southland Trailer was looking to take the next step to grow their business, they reached out to Technology Development Advisor Bill Halley of Alberta Innovates.

Bill was not only able to give them advice and support to help them adapt to a changing market and the various consumer demands, he was able to help them go beyond their traditional manufacturing processes and add value to a product they developed.

“Alberta Innovates has been a great resource that serves as a second set of eyes,” said Ryan Sailer, Southland’s General Manager. “Technology Development Advisors are independent, unbiased and Bill is very experienced in lean manufacturing. He provided input, helped make connections in the field and offered objective insights that have allowed us to move ahead with a greater confidence that projects would succeed on schedule.”

We doubled new product sales in one year, and hired an additional 15 full-time employees. We expect to continue this growth next year.

Guidance and funding from Alberta Innovates’ micro-voucher program helped Southland develop the intellectual property for their double knuckle hooklift: a new type of connection for a truck or trailer. This hooklift adds value to their products, sells at almost half the cost of a traditional hooklift and makes it easier to connect to any trailer.

“The Research and Development Associate program allowed us to expand our product offering more quickly and reduce our upfront investment cost,” said Sailer. “This provided us a stronger return on investment to green light the project. We doubled new product sales in one year, and hired an additional 15 full-time employees. We expect to continue this growth next year.”

This funding from Alberta Innovates also allowed Southland Trailer to design a new fabrication method using automated robotic welding to fulfil the new market demand. Furthermore, robotic welding made their trailers lighter, which in turn reduced fuel consumption and other related costs.

Southland Trailer has built trailers for over 35 years. The development of a new hooklift and new fabrication methods opened new markets which resulted in substantial new revenues.