1928: The Launch of a Pioneering Truck-Trailer Company

July 1, 1928

The Trailmobile Company of Cincinnati and the Michigan-based Lapeer Trailer Corporation – the two largest trailer manufacturers in the United States at that time – merged to become the Trailer Company of America. Levi Wade Childress, a St. Louis investor who held large stakes in numerous shipping enterprises, was selected as the first president of the Trailer Company of America. Cincinnati investor Frank H. Simpson became the new company’s vice president. The person designated as secretary-treasurer of the Trailer Company of America was St. Louis native A.J. Woltering, a U.S. Navy veteran who had been the Lapeer Trailer Corporation’s chief financial officer.

The new company established a pioneering role in transportation four years later when it acquired the Highland Body Manufacturing Company and started producing complete trailers with truck bodies. These new vehicles made the Trailer Company of America one of the first integrated truck-trailer manufacturing firms. (The above photo depicts one of the company’s 1934 models.)

The popularity of those vehicles was reflected in a November 1932 article in the Cincinnati Examiner reporting on the purchase of a fleet of the company’s trailer-trucks by the major supermarket chain Kroger & Baking Company. “The trucks and trailers, built for high speed work delivering food products to Kroger stores, are the very latest developments in automotive design and construction,” noted that article. “Built with all-steel bodies throughout and equipped with all known safety devices, the units will be among the most efficient transportation equipment in use by the Kroger Company.” 

By the end of the decade, the Trailer Company of America had shifted its focus from commercial models to military units. This shift was further cemented after the entry of the United States on the side of the Allies in World War II in 1941. The Trailer Company of America manufactured approximately 40,000 vehicles ranging from flatbed trailers to mobile offices for that global military effort, and in the process earned the Army-Navy Award for Excellence in War Production. 

In November 1944 — as the war approached its final year – the Trailer Company of America and its various holdings were reorganized as the Trailmobile Company. The name of one of the original businesses that had formed the Trail Company of America 16 years earlier was reintroduced because many of the vehicles were widely known anyway as Trailmobiles. 

Photo Credit: Coachbuilt.com

For more information on the Trailer Company of America, please check out http://www.coachbuilt.com/bui/t/trailmobile/trailmobile.htm

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