Overdimensional Heavy Haul Trailer Manufacturing

Last Friday we turned in our first group project, homework for the first half of Developing Strategy.  (The second half is next April.) There are three teams in the EMBA cohort, and the other two teams have five members but ours has four.  So we decided to nickname our team the Fantastic Four.  (we’re still deciding who gets to be the Human Torch.)

The first wrinkle in the group project is that I had a trip scheduled for four of the 12 days we had to work on the project, and with two Sundays on top of that, if we were to try to get together it was going to be difficult.

The second wrinkle is that we had to do an industry analysis on an industry that none of us really realized existed.  And which doesn’t really sell direct-to-consumer so web sites weren’t going to be plentiful  The industry, you’ve already guessed (see title above) is the Overdimensional Heavy Haul Trailer Manufacturing industry.  You know those WIDE LOAD trucks you see on the highway?  Well somebody has to make the specialty trailers underneath the wind turbines and generators and stuff being transported behind the truck.  And I now know more than you’d ever want to about that industry, and later we’ll get to work on a company profile of a specific firm in that industry.

So the Fantastic Four (FF) stayed after class that Saturday to make a timeline for project deadlines and divide up the work.  We did some initial research, made some educated guesses, and divided up the sections of the profile outline among the team, and each got our marching orders for how much and what to write.  And then we set a goal to all have our sections in to the compiler (Allison volunteered) by 9:30pm on 9/30, the Monday after my trip.

True to form, I emailed my sections in at about 9pm that Monday.

During the trip, I thought about the writing.  My wife, who is amazing at research, helped me find sources of information in the industry, but since I took the economic sections, I was focusing on economic trends in light of what I could learn about the OHHTM industry, not looking at the nitty-gritty of the manufacturing process or the sale of the trailers per se.

The team project went amazingly well.  I really like the team I get to work with.  We had a good first draft by Tuesday, got some feedback from the professor, tidied it up some and got more feedback on Wednesday.  Wednesday night we had a short telephone meeting and set up the process for final, one at a time, revisions, and finished up with some time to spare.  I think the project looks great and that we’ll get a good grade, but even if I’m overly optimistic I think the work is safely enough for a strong B.  The team is great, though, and did great work (they definitely carried me on this project), so I think an A is a strong possibility.

It’s going to be nice working with this team over the next 14-15 months.  We gelled really well for not having any time for a face to face session, and I think we’ll do even better on the next project with a little more opportunity for that (I’m done traveling for a while now).  Projects like this are exactly why I chose this program, and I have yet to be disappointed.

Oh, and in case you’re curious, here are a few random facts about the OHHTM industry:

  • Heavy hauler semi trailers, commonly known as “lowboy” or “lowbed” trailers, resemble a flatbed semi trailer but are not included in the flatbed category
  • Heavy Haul trailers generally carry 25 tons of cargo or more
  • You can get a cheap used HHT for as little as $30,000
  • There are at least 56 manufacturers of OHHTs in the United States
  • Lowbed trailers are primarily used by the construction industry for carrying all kinds of large machines, big equipment, steel, and other cargoes.

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