American Made Profile | September 30, 2015
B&W Trailer Hitches
The nation’s highways and byways take us to historic landmarks, scenic vistas, and remote wonders. These paths are filled with engaging stories. As you drive along, you may literally have one such story attached to the rear of your vehicle.
B&W Trailer Hitches is based in Humboldt, Kansas. Since 1987, their products have helped Americans haul their way from coast to coast — safely and securely.
FROM IDEA TO ICON.
The company’s National Sales Manager, James Works, knows B&W has come a long way on the road to success. “We started with a partnership between my father and another gentleman,” he recalls. “When I began with the company in 1997, I was employee number 19. Today, we have nearly 400 employees.”
In addition to B&W’s workforce, the company’s brick and mortar has grown in tandem, as well. “Our Humboldt facilities include seven acres under roof. And we ship our products internationally to points in Canada, Mexico, and Australia.” Not many companies can dream of, let alone actually experience, the type of success and growth that B&W has built. Works believes it comes down to good old-fashioned American quality products and solid leadership.
Work elaborates, “We offer a complete spectrum of towing products, including our line of receiver hitches, for a wide range of vehicles, from RVs to products that serve the golf and boating markets. We’re focused on creating products that people really need — quality they need to have to transport their families, campers, and trailers safely.” The company’s leading product is a creation that has taken a leadership role in the industry.
“Our number one (product) is the Turnover Ball Hitch. One of the things we feel really good about is the fact that it has become the replacement for the actual name of the product category,” Works points out. “It’s sort of like when people ask for Kleenex when they want a tissue or when they ask for a Xerox when they want a photocopier. In our case, people ask for a Turnover Ball or a B&W when they want a gooseneck hitch.”
TESTING THEIR METAL.
Like the roads that carry B&W products, the path for the company hasn’t come without a detour or two along the way. As with many other American companies, B&W had to steer its way through the economic downturn of 2008. But B&W didn’t just survive the tough financial time. They found a way to help employees and the community thrive with a rare spirit of resilience. In fact, the company’s story was feature in 2008, on NBC Nightly News, in the network’s “Making a Difference” series.
Works remembers, “During that tough time, sales and production were down, but we didn’t lay off our workers.” Instead, the company found a new answer—through service. "Employees signed up for three- or four-person teams. They got their full wages. But instead of coming here to work, they provided volunteer labor for a day to help with local projects, including maintenance on churches, playgrounds, athletic bleachers, and other community projects. We even built a baseball diamond.”
Works admits while other companies made the decision to announce layoffs at the time, B&W had the ability, and saw the advantage, to keeping people on the payroll. “When the economy started turning around again, we didn’t have to try to rehire our employees away from other employers, and we didn’t have to train or retrain employees on the jobs we have here.” Works continued, “It was a way to help our community, and stand with our employees. It’s a bond with our employees that builds a lot of mutual trust that we’re very proud of.”
Works expects the future to carry on in the same, strong way. “We’ve taken steps to continue to move ahead. We’ve bought a couple other companies that serve a wide range of products in a couple additional markets. In that way, we have some diversification as we move forward.”
“In today’s world, there are a lot of ways available to do things cheaper. But cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean better or easier.” Works explains, “We take extreme pride in what we do, and in the fact that we’re building this in America with U.S. citizens. Because of that, we don’t need to rely on exports and imports that can be affected by a lot of external factors. As a result, we don’t have to wait on a ship to come into port before we can serve our customers.”
And so goes the brand that is literally pulling for America. At the same time, wherever we go across this great land, all of us can pull for a red, white, and blue brand—B&W Trailer Hitches.
Learn more at www.turnoverball.com
Credits // Author: Wendi Wendt Photos Provided By: Short Stack